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WCWS: Pinch-Hit Grand Slam Powers Alabama Into National Semifinal

OKLAHOMA CITY – A pinch-hit grand slam home run by Alabama freshman Jazlyn Lunceford powered the Crimson Tide to a 6-2 victory over defending NCAA Champion Arizona State on Saturday night at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City. 

Alabama (47-19) advances to Sundays semifinals, where they must defeat top-seed Florida twice in order to advance to the Championship Series. Arizona State ends its season with a 47-19 record. 

The teams traded zeroes for the first three frames. Arizona State got on the board first in the fourth inning. Krista Donnenwirth led off the inning with a single, but was erased on an Talor Haro fielders choice. Katie Crabb followed with a home run just fair down the left field line to give the Sun Devils a 2-0 lead. 

Alabama answered in dramatic fashion in the bottom half of the fourth. Cassie Reilly-Bocca drew a leadoff walk and was sacrificed to second by Ashley Holcombe. Whitney Larsen was then hit by a pitch and Kellie Eubanks walked to load the bases. After a Jen Fenton fielders choice resulted in an out at the plate, head coach Patrick Murphy elected to pinch-hit for All-America leadoff hitter Brittany Rogers, brining in freshman Jazlyn Lunceford. 

Lunceford responded, fouling off a number of pitches before cranking a grand slam home run over the left field fence to give the Crimson Tide a 4-2 lead after four innings. 

Bama added another pair of runs in the fifth inning. Kelley Montalvo led off the inning with a single, but was erased on a one-out fielders choice by Reilly-Bocca. After Holcombe was hit by a pitch, Reilly-Bocca scored and Holcombe went to third on a Larsen single combined with an ASU error. With runners on the corners and two outs, Murphy ran a double steal, which scored pinch runner Jessica Smith from third base to make the score 6-2 in Alabama’s favor. 

After giving up the ASU home run in the fourth inning, Alabama starter Kelsi Dunne retired 10 straight batters before walking a batter with two outs in the seventh. She finished out the inning with her ninth strikeout of the game. She improves to 28-4 on the year. 

ASU’s Hillary Bach struck out four and walked four while allowing four hits in the loss. She concludes the season with a 31-11 record.