OKLAHOMA CITY — It took until early Sunday morning to complete the task, but the LSU softball team extended its season with a 5-3 victory against Alabama in the Women’s College World Series at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
Allie Walljasper threw six strong innings, fellow freshman Carley Hoover got the final three outs and the Tigers scored all of their runs in the first two innings to take control.
LSU (52-13), which dropped into the losers’ bracket after a 4-0 loss to Florida on Friday, will play Michigan at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, less than 14 hours after it eliminated the Crimson Tide (48-15). It needs to win that game to force a winner-take-all second game for a berth in the championship series. If the Wolverines, 2-0 in the WCWS, win the first game, they will be in the championship series.
“I don’t think it matters what time they have to play,” Tigers coach Beth Torina said after her team got started more than two hours later than scheduled because Auburn’s 11-10 elimination-game victory against UCLA lasted 10 innings — and 4 hours, 13 minutes. “They’re so fired up that they’ll show up and give it everything they’ve got, no matter what.”
Alabama, which stayed alive by beating Oregon 2-1 on Saturday afternoon, finished 48-15.
Walljasper (16-5) held the Crimson Tide scoreless after allowing a first-inning run until the seventh. She walked one and did not strike out a batter.
“I just tried to make quality pitches to keep my team in it,” Walljasper said. “I just trusted the process.”
After the first two Bama batters reached on infield singles in the seventh, Hoover relieved Walljasper. Hoover got a strikeout before throwing a wild pitch that put the runners in scoring position.
A walk to Haylie McCleney loaded the bases and brought the tying run to the plate. Jadyn Spencer’s sacrifice fly and another wild pitch made it 5-3 before Marisa Runyon grounded out to Sandra Simmons at first base.
“You can’t tell that they’re freshmen,” catcher Kellsi Kloss said of Walljasper and Hoover, “because they’re so mature in the way they conduct themselves.”
Walljasper walked Demi Turner on four pitches to start the game. A wild pitch moved Turner to second and, two outs later, Runyon singled her home for a short-lived 1-0 lead.
Bailey Landry started a rally in the bottom half with a one-out single. One out later, she stole second and came home on a single by Sahvanna Jaquish, who took second on the throw home.
Kloss followed with an RBI double and came all the way home on first baseman Leona Lafaele’s throwing error after the cutoff.
“I thought my team came out really strong,” Torina said. “They were ready to play even with the delay. They came out prepared.”
Walljasper allowed leadoff singles in the second and third but retired the next three batters in each inning.
She had her first 1-2-3 inning in the fourth, then retired three straight after the leadoff hitter reached on Bianka Bell’s fielding error in the fifth.
An error by Simmons and a single by Runyon put Bama runners on first and second with none out in the sixth, but Walljasper got two flies to left and a pop to short.
“It was just a typical LSU-Alabama game,” Tide coach Pat Murphy said. “It was just a really good game, right to the very end.”
Follow Les East on Twitter: @EastAdvocate.