Over the course of the first two games of this Super Regional, the defending champion Arizona State Sun Devils had been a tale of two teams.
In Game 1, their ace Dallas Escobedo continued her career-long struggles against Louisiana-Lafayette, surrendering six runs while Ragin' Cajun freshman Jordan Wallace tossed a complete game shutout that completely stymied the Sun Devil lineup.
Facing a do-or-die in Game 2, ASU's lineup sprung to life and punished Ashley Brignac, crushing four home runs while Hillary Bach held ULL to just one earned run in the Sun Devils' 9-2 win.
Now with a Women's College World Series bid on the line, Escobedo would once again face off against Wallace in Game 3. Could Wallace cool off the Devils' resurrected attack, or would the Sun Devil freight train to Oklahoma City and the WCWC be too strong to stop?
The answers came quickly and decisively. In a mercy rule shortened game, they had to.
After Escobedo registered a pair of strikeouts in a sharp first inning, Alix Johnson ended Wallace's shutout streak on just her sixth pitch, launching a majestic home run over the right field fence to give ASU the early 1-0 lead. The power was in ample supply, as the next batter--Haley Steele--crushed another home run that bounced off the scoreboard in left field for a 2-0 blitz on Wallace.
The slugging did not relent in the second inning. Elizabeth Caporuscio launched a two-run jack to straightaway center to extend the lead to 4-0. A few quiet innings passed before Johnson struck again. After Talor Haro singled, Katelyn Boyd notched a double before Johnson's crushed her second homer of the game to make it 7-0.
With the early blitzkrieg taking care of the needed offense, Escobedo's redemption unfolded in dominating fashion. Showing greater control and working the lower parts of the strike zone, she confounded the No. 1 ranked offense in the country for the first five innings, holding them to just a pair of hits, while striking out six.
However, the Cajuns fought back in the sixth inning to make it interesting. They loaded the bases with no outs for the nation's leader in RBI, Christi Ogeron. However, Escobedo got her to pop up to third base, then struck out Matte Haack before Brianna Cherry gave the fans a skipped heart beat on a long drive that ultimately was caught by Caporuscio.
The Sun Devils then did the merciful thing and ended the game with the mercy rule. Haro reached with a single, and was advanced to third for Steele, who promptly fired off the game winning single.
This will be Arizona State's 10th ever trip to the WCWS, which will begin on Thursday May 31st. Stay tuned to House of Sparky for full coverage.