Pac-12 Softball: Cal Comes From Behind, ASU Beats Oregon in WCWS

The 2012 Women's College World Series opened on Thursday, May 31 in Oklahoma City, Okla. with four games between the Pac-12, SEC, Big 12 and Big East. The one, two, three and four-seeds all won to move into the winner's bracket for two games on Friday, June 1. The two elimination games will be played on Saturday, June 2.

DOUBLE ELIMINATION IN BRACKET PLAY

No. 1 CALIFORNIA 5, LSU 3: MAY 31

For just the second time this postseason the Cal Golden Bears (57-5) were trailing, down 2-0 in the top of the second against LSU (39-24). The Tigers had back-to-back hits and a walk to load the bases before Morgan Russell hit a 2-RBI single up right. But that was the end of LSU's lead and Cal won 5-3.

"Today was a great game for California," said Cal head coach Diane Ninemire postgame. "We fell behind early in the game, but Jolene hung tough on the mound for us, and we just really had a great combination of our power. But mostly our short game was the factor today that overturned the game for us. And it was just a tremendous effort by everyone on our team today to help the success of our program."

"We knew that, even though we were behind, that we still had to come back as a team, use our offense and our defense to make sure that we could come back," said Jamia Reid. "I just knew we could do it for Jolene [Henderson] because she was going to be working hard on the mound. Even though those two runs scored, she was going to work even harder so that us hitters could score some runs for her."

Britt Vonk was plated on Frani Echavarria's single in right in the bottom of the third and the Bears tied it 2-all in the bottom of the fifth. Jamia Reid singled and moved to second on a bad LSU throw. Vonk made a sac bunt, Reid went to third, Valerie Arioto went to second after a walk and steal and Echavarria (1 hit, 3 RBI) hit her first sac fly of the season to score Reid.

In the next inning, the sixth, Cal increased its lead to 5-2.

Victoria Jones singled up the middle, Cheyenne Cordes doubled off the left-field wall and Elia Reid came in to pinch run for Jones at third. Elia then scored Cal's third run on sister Jamia Reid's hit to the pitcher. Next, Vonk's single to right plated Cordes from third for the fourth run and after Arioto was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Echavarria, Echavarria earned her second RBI of the game with a groundout to first base.

LSU scored its final run in the top of the seventh but Cal won 5-3.

The Tigers scored three runs on eight hits, while Cal had five on seven.

In the circle Jolene Henderson earned her 37th win of the season. She has just two losses. She pitched a complete game with three earned runs on eight hits and five strikeouts.

"[LSU is] such a strong offense, they come up on me," said Jolene Henderson. "Every inning, they're ready to go, they're ready to swing, they're aggressive, and they want to come out on top just as much as everybody else, but we had a lot of heart.

"Coming from behind wins are stronger wins for us and they mean a lot more, and we just want to reach our goal."

Next the Bears take on No. 4 Oklahoma (51-8) on Friday, June 1 at 7 p.m. ET. The Sooners beat South Florida 5-1 on Thursday in the opening game. LSU and South Florida (50-13) will battle on Saturday, June 2 at noon ET in the first elimination game.

No. 3 ARIZONA STATE 3, No. 11 OREGON 1: MAY 31

In the final game of the opening day at the WCWS it was a Pac-12 matchup between Arizona State (52-9), the defending National Champions, and Oregon (44-17), the team that's playing in the WCWS for the first time since 1989. The result? A close battle. But, ASU won 3-1.

"I thought Dallas [Escobedo] pitched very well," said Arizona State head coach Clint Myers. "Oregon was an outstanding ballclub, a Pac-12 team that has really come a long ways, and they're going to be a force to be reckoned with for a long time. They've got great coaching, great athletes. So it was a good softball game."

"We had a couple of tough breaks here and there," said Oregon head coach Mike White, "but we fought till the last out. We were down by three in the seventh, and if it wasn't for a great double play by their third baseman [Haley Steele], we would have tied the game with no outs.

"I was proud of the way we played against the defending world champions. We out-hit them, 5-3, but good teams find a way to win games, and they did."

Arizona State took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Haley Steele scored from first on an Amber Freeman double. Then ASU added two unearned runs in the third after Oregon mishandled the ball, which allowed Talor Haro and Katelyn Boyd to score from third and second, respectively.

Three full innings passed before Oregon scored its single run of the game in the top of the seventh.

Christie Nieto started with a double off the left-field wall, Alexa Peterson walked and then pinch hitter Jamie Rae Sullivan hit a grounder to second to plate Nieto and advance Peterson to third with zero outs.

Sara Goodrum followed at the plate with a liner to Steele's glove at third base and Steele also got Peterson for the two-out double-play. Dallas Escobedo (24-6) then closed out the inning with a strikeout for ASU's win. Escobedo struck out five, walked one and allowed five hits with one unearned run.

"I did know what to expect for the most part, but [Oregon] did come out very aggressive," said Dallas Escobedo. "So I was kind of thrown off.

"But then going back to what I knew and what my best pitch was, and really focusing in and seeing what they were doing while I was pitching, I had to just focus in and mentally get through it."

In the circle for Oregon, junior pitcher Jessica Moore (32-14) pitched her 32nd complete game of the season and held ASU -- one of the country's top hitting teams -- to one of its lowest scoring games of the year. ASU came into the contest averaging 6.98 runs per game and ranked third in the nation.

Moore struck out three, walked four, gave up three hits and only one earned.

"We're ready to keep fighting," Jessica Moore said, "that's kind [of] our mantra all year. Our backs are against the wall. We'll have to put a lot of runs up on the board, and I'm going to have to pitch really well, and keep runners off base."

Next Arizona State takes on No. 2 Alabama (56-7) on Friday, June 1 at 9:30 p.m. ET. The Tide beat SEC rival No. 7 Tennessee 5-3 on Thursday in game three. Tennessee (52-13) will face Oregon in the second elimination game on Saturday, June 2 at 2:30 p.m. ET.

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