TEMPE, Ariz. – Chelsea Gonzales’ three-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning capped a four-run rally for the Arizona State University softball team in its 4-1 win over Michigan on Saturday in the NCAA Tempe Regional.
With the win, the Sun Devils (46-10-1) advance to Sunday’s regional championship game at 2:30 p.m. at Farrington Stadium. ASU will face either Michigan or San Diego State. The Sun Devils need to win only one game to advance to next week’s NCAA Super Regional.
“Our approach today was to work to stay inside the ball,” said ASU head coach Craig Nicholson. “We made some adjustments in the middle of the game and most of our righties got off the plate a little bit.
“We may have been a little over aggressive early on, but I think that we did a better job the second time through the (batting) order making sure that even though we made an adjustment, we still got a pitch to go with the adjustment.”
ASU fell behind early after the Wolverines (43-13) reeled off three straight hits to start the game. Sierra Romero’s single to left scored teammate Lyndsay Doyle from third to produce Michigan’s only run of the game.
Despite having runners at first and second with no outs, Michigan not able to push anymore runs across the plate as Sun Devil pitcher Dallas Escobedo struck out two of the next three batters and got another to pop out to end the threat.
ASU got only two hits and was not able to advance any runners past second base through the first three innings. The Sun Devils’ first two batters of the fourth inning would get on base after Cheyenne Coyle was hit by a pitch and Amber Freeman followed with a single. Later in the inning, a fielding error by the Wolverines on a ball hit by Elizabeth Caporuscio enabled Coyle to come home and tie the game at 1-1.
The game’s decisive moment would come later in the inning when Gonzales came up with two outs and runners at first and second base. After starting the regional with a two-run shot in ASU’s 8-0 win over Dartmouth on Friday, Gonzales would come through with an encore performance as she sent the second offering from Michigan pitcher Haylie Wagner over the center field fence to give ASU a 4-1 lead.
After giving up three hits in the first inning, Esobedo would only allow a walk and a single the rest of the way as the senior struck out seven batters to improve to 24-7 on the year.