Susalla goes 4 for 4, leads Michigan past UCLA
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Kelsey Susalla nearly made history at the Women’s College World Series on Friday night.
Michigan’s right fielder went 4 for 4 and knocked in three runs to help the Wolverines defeat UCLA 10-4. The junior had a chance to tie the event record for hits in a game, but she walked in the seventh inning. She would have been the first player with five hits in a seven-inning game.
”She’s going out there with the confidence I know she has,” left fielder Kelly Christner said. ”Seeing the ball really well, attacking early in the count. Even if she has a bad swing or a bad pitch or bad at-bat, she comes back and attacks at the very next one.”
Abby Ramirez went 3 for 3 and scored three runs, and Christner added three hits and three RBIs for the Wolverines, who finished with 15 hits.
UCLA scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning to chase Michigan starter Megan Betsa, but Haylie Wagner stepped in and allowed just one run the rest of the way. Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said she appreciates the fact that she has multiple pitchers she can depend on.
”We don’t have to live and die with one pitcher,” she said. ”We don’t have an ace, we have a deuce.”
Hutchins said she was proud of the rally.
”We weren’t just down, they were going after us,” she said. ”And that is one heck of a hitting lineup. And I think it’s the best one we’ve seen all year. They were just going to threaten the whole game.”
Michigan (58-6), which won the national title in 2005, is one win away from the championship series. The Wolverines would have to lose twice on Sunday to be eliminated.
Michigan broke a 4-4 tie in the top of the fifth inning when Susalla singled, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Lindsay Montemarano. The Wolverines then scored twice in the top of the sixth and three times in the top of the seventh.
The play of the game was Michigan center fielder Sierra Lawrence’s diving catch of what would have been a hit by Delanie Spaulding in the sixth inning.
”I just think that seeing her make that play, I knew I could trust my defense,” Wagner said. ”And I just knew that no matter where the ball was hit, they were going to get it done. If it was catchable, it was going to be caught.”
UCLA (51-11) faces elimination Saturday against the winner of the Tennessee-Auburn game on Saturday night. The Bruins remain confident that they can still make a run at the title.
”The best part about where you’re at in this tournament is now, you’re in a situation where there’s no other options,” UCLA coach Kelly Inouye-Perez said. ”I have a great deal of faith in this team. Great fight. They play together. They have each other’s backs, and we’re not done yet.”