Softball eliminated in 4-0 decision

By The Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — Freshman Dallas Escobedo threw a five-hit shutout, Mandy Urfer hit a two-run homer and top-seeded Arizona State beat Baylor 4-0 on Sunday to reach the finals of the Women’s College World Series.

Annie Lockwood added an RBI double and Lesley Rogers a run-scoring single for the Sun Devils (58-6), who will face Florida or Alabama in the best-of-three series starting Monday night.

“We’re excited,” said Sun Devils coach Clint Myers. “When you have the opportunity to play for a national championship, that’s what you set forth (to do) the first day when your team comes together. We have two seniors that were here in 2008 and we have a young freshman (Escobedo) over there that have been a big reason for our success.

“So we’re excited,” Myers said. “We’re very happy and the hard work has paid off. But we’re not done yet. We still have some more work to do and some more games to play.”

The offensive struggles continued for the Bears (47-15), who scored just two runs in four games at the World Series — both on game-ending home runs in extra innings. They left five runners on base and never got beyond second against Arizona State’s young phenom.

Escobedo (35-3) got the better of Whitney Canion (31-12), who hurled a 13-inning shutout to get the Bears into the semifinals. The Sun Devils’ freshman shares second place with former All-American Katie Burkhart for most wins in a season.

She walked one and struck out eight in her complete-game shutout.

The Sun Devils, who are back in the championship series for the first time since winning the title in 2008, scored twice in the second and once each in the fifth and seventh innings.

The two runs in the second came on Ufer’s 12th homer of the year and her third in the NCAA tournament. Arizona State added another run in the fifth on Lockwood’s RBI double, Rogers’ RBI single in the seventh inning added to the cushion.

Baylor needed 13 innings to eliminate Missouri 1-0 on Saturday night, and Canion said she was “mentally exhausted” for the game against Arizona State.

“Our dugout last night was awesome and they didn’t give up today,” she said. “So I feel like that’s what pushed me, was seeing my teammates around me.

“I feel like I stayed with all my pitches and everything because of the team around me,” Canion said. “My gas tank was empty but they kept me going — the dugout, everyone cheering for me. They kept saying they were behind me and everything and that just kept me going. So it was definitely the team around me. Everyone was just positive the whole time.”