OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Lindsay James had three hits and Alex Sutton delivered two RBIs to lead California to a 4-1 victory over LSU in the semifinals of the Women’s College World Series.
It was the second game of the day between the Tigers and Bears. LSU defeated Cal 4-1 earlier on Sunday to force a second game. The Bears advance to their third consecutive national championship game.
LSU got a gutsy performance from senior pitcher Kristin Schmidt. Schmidt, who had thrown every inning that LSU had played in the WCWS, was replaced with two outs in the seventh inning. She received a standing ovation from both sides of the crowd.
“What more could a coach ask for,” said LSU head coach Yvette Girouard. “Kristin pitched her heart out. She really deserved the ovation. Softball is an enlightened community. Kudos to our sport.”
The Tigers seemed to have the momentum after knocking off Cal earlier in the day. Sara Fitzgerald carried it over to the second game with an RBI double in the second inning that gave the Tigers a 1-0 advantage.
Schmidt would show signs of fatigue, but pitched her way out of jam after jam. In the fifth inning, however, Cal exploded for four runs on four hits to take a commanding 4-1 lead.
Schmidt was able to retire the first two batters of the inning before giving up four singles and two walks. Chelsea Spencer and Sutton were able to pick up RBIs in the frame.
“I knew that it would be a dogfight,” said Cal head coach Diane Ninemire. “When we lost the first game, I told our players that we had to pull together.”
The Bears got a great pitching performance from Kelly Anderson. Anderson, who replaced Kristina Thorson in the first game, started the second game and tossed a complete game, giving up just four hits.
“It didn’t ven feel like a start,” said Anderson, who won her 25th game of the season. “The advantage of having two pitchers is that we can pick each other up.”
California will now face UCLA in Monday night’s national championship game, a rematch of the 2003 title game. The Bears won the 2002 national title, but dropped a 1-0 decision to UCLA last year.
“To have the opportunity to win a national championship means everything,” said Ninemire. “We are going to go out and leave everything on the field and have no regrets.”
It will mark the 11th time in the last 14 years that two Pac-10 teams have squared off for the championship.
For Girouard and LSU, it was a huge step for their program.
“I think that the SEC is getting better and better,” said Girouard. “You will start to see more of our sister schools here. It seems like we are always fighting the Pac-10, but I think our day is coming.”
Girouard led Southwestern Louisiana (now Louisiana-Lafayette) to WCWS appearances in 1993, 1995 and 1996. She took LSU to the WCWS in 2001, her first year with the program.
“When I made the transition, I had a red World Series ring,” recalled Girouard. “I told my players that they would have to replace it with a purple one. They did just that, and now we have another one to replace it with. This one is special. This was a team that was picked to win nothing in the SEC and won everything.”
Notes From the Diamond
- Kristin Schmidt leads all WCWS pitchers with 44 strikeouts.
- Cal and LSU split four games this season.
- Cal’s Vicky Galindo extended her hitting streak to 12 games, and is 7-for-14 in the WCWS.
- Tonight’s loss for LSU marked the first time this season that the Tigers lost when scoring first (45-1).
- Tonight marked the sixth “if necessary” game in WCWS history since the current championship format originated in 1994. The team that forced the game is now 3-3 in those games.