ASU advances to WCWS with win over Kentucky

TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona State softball team is headed back to Oklahoma City.

ASU pulled away late Sunday for a 5-2 win over Kentucky in Game 2 of the Tempe Super Regional to take the series and earn the program’s 11th all-time trip — and third in a row — to the Women’s College World Series.

The Sun Devils will open WCWS play at 4 p.m. Thursday against Texas.

The series-deciding game against Kentucky was tied twice before ASU was able to take control in the top of the seventh on a two-run homer by Haley Steele. Dallas Escobedo earned the win, her second of the weekend and fifth straight in the postseason, to improve to 30-4 on the year; she is 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA in this NCAA tournament.

Kentucky finished the season 41-21 overall, with ace Kelsey Nunley taking the loss for the second straight day to end the year 27-11.

Cheyenne Coyle got things started and continued her dominance in the series with an RBI single to right in the top of the first that plated Alix Johnson from second base to put ASU ahead 1-0.

Kentucky tied it in the bottom of the second with its fifth homer of the series, a solo shot to left-center by Nikki Sagermann. It was the third full-count long ball of the weekend for the Wildcats.

The Sun Devils went back on top 2-1 in the top of the third when Steele singled in Coyle, but Kentucky answered again, getting an RBI single to center from Emily Jolly to make it 2-2.

That was all the scoring until the seventh, when Steele connected for her 11th home run of the season, a two-run shot to left. After ASU added an insurance run, Escobedo put the game away with a three-up, three-down bottom half to finish off the series.

The Sun Devils will be seeking their second NCAA title in three years, as they won the Women’s College World Series in 2011 before finishing fourth last year.