The Arizona State softball team swept its Super Regional series against the Kentucky Wildcats to advance to the 2013 Women's College World Series.
After three dominating performances in Regional action last weekend, Sun Devil pitcher Dallas Escobedo faced adversity for the first time this postseason this weekend. The fifth-seeded Sun Devils hosted the Tempe Super Regional and the 12-seeded Wildcats brought a gritty power attack to challenge the Arizona State ace.
On Friday night, Escobedo surrendered four solo home runs to the Wildcat hitters, but the Sun Devil offense picked up the slack and led the team to a 5-4 victory. On Saturday, Escobedo bounced back in resilient fashion as she went all seven innings and struck out five in a 5-2 win.
Shortstop Cheyenne Coyle gave the Sun Devils an early 1-0 lead on a first-inning RBI single that knocked in Alix Johnson. Kentucky tied the game with a home run from Nikki Sagermann, and the teams would be deadlocked at two shortly thereafter.
In the top of the fifth, Haley Steele singled home Johnson which gave the Sun Devils the lead for good. That wouldn't be Steele's last hurrah, as she launched a two-run home run in the top of the seventh to pad the Arizona State lead.
While Kentucky certainly presented a challenge, the Sun Devils will no longer have the benefit of playing against weaker competition. The Sun Devils' side of the WCWS bracket is loaded with talent, including top overall seed Oklahoma.
Arizona State will kick off its quest for a second title in three seasons on Thursday evening against the fourth-seeded Texas Longhorns. On Saturday, Texas pitcher Luna Blaire threw a no-hitter to push the Longhorns past Florida State.
Blaire will almost certainly be in the circle on Thursday night when Arizona State sends Dallas Escobedo out for what figures to be one of the premier pitching matchups of the weekend.
If Escobedo can outduel Blaire, a showdown with Team USA softball standout Keilani Ricketts of the Oklahoma Sooners could loom on Friday night.
Regardless of how the WCWS shakes out, Arizona State has established itself as one of the nation's premier programs under Head Coach Clint Myers. In his eight seasons in Tempe, Myers has now guided the Sun Devils to two national titles and seven World Series appearances.