Amber Freeman's first inning two-run home run (Photo: Brad Denny)
Following their thorough defeat in Game 1 of their Super Regional match-up against Louisiana-Lafayette, the defending national champion Arizona State Sun Devils had their backs against the wall. Needing a pair of wins on Friday night to advance to the Women's College World Series, ASU turned to pitcher Hillary Bach and hoped their offense could spring to life in order to keep their title reign alive beyond this Game 2.
They didn't have to wait long for an answer.
The Sun Devils started Bach after Game 1 starter Dallas Escobedo was roughed up for six runs in last night's loss, bringing her career ERA against ULL to a staggering 5.83. Bach had a daunting task, facing the Ragin' Cajuns No. 1 ranked offense.
Opposing her in Game 2 was not Jordan Wallace, who shut down the ASU offense to just a pair of hits, but the equally prolific Ashley Brignac, who entered the game with a 23-3 record and a 2.02 ERA.
The Sun Devils wasted no time in taking advantage of this change, as ASU was the designated away team in Game 2. Player of the Year finalist Katelyn Boyd lead off the game with a single, and after two outs, cleanup hitter Amber Freeman unleashed a bomb that tucked juuuuuust inside the left field foul pole to give ASU the early 2-0 lead.
Now with some momentum, the Sun Devils struck the big blow two innings later. After Boyd and Alix Johnson reached to open the third, Haley Steele laced a double to the right center field gap that plated both runners. Two batters later, the struggling Annie Lockwood absolutely crushed a Brignac pitch over the scoreboard in left field to make it a 6-0 Sun Devil lead. For good measure, Sam Parlich joined the longball party, driving a pitch deep to the opposite field that just cleared the right center field wall for a solo home run that capped a five run inning for ASU.
Perhaps inspired by seeing so many runners cross home plate, the Ragin' Cajuns strung together some baserunners and scored a run on a Brianna Cherry single, but Bach registered a key strikeout before any further damage could be done. In fact, that damage was undone in the next half-inning, when a bases loaded walk got the run back for ASU, and if not for a great diving catch by left fielder Katie Smith, the Sun Devils would have had many more.
By this point, the game would never be in doubt, but for good measure, Parlich hit her second home run of the night to extend it to 9-2. Those two home runs were a pleasant surprise, as Parlich had just a single long ball during the regular season.
Bach was efficient, scattering eight Cajun hits and stranding eight runners on base, while only surrendering one earned run.
With nine runs on ten hits, including four home runs, will the ASU offense roll momentum into Game 3, or will they struggle against Wallace again? The decisive third game of the series with a trip to the Women's College World Series will be starting shortly, so stay tuned for those results. Game broadcast will be on ESPNU.