San Diego State softball will make it to the NCAA Super Regionals for the first time in program history, after a 6-3 win Sunday in Los Angeles.
With a fly out to left, the Aztecs defeated Liberty for the second time in three days. The victory sparked a giddy celebration as players hugged, jumped up and down, and eventually drenched head coach Stacey Nuveman Deniz.
SDSU (38-15) now must face No. 15 Utah (40-13) in a three-game series to see which team moves on to the College World Series.
San Diego State’s run since Friday included their opening win, 7-0, also over Liberty, and a second shutout victory, 6-0, over Grand Canyon.
They also dodged having to play the nation’s No. 2 seed, UCLA, on the team’s home turf no less, as the Bruins, in an upset, lost both their contests, each by one run, to end their season.
SDSU, the third-seeded team in the region, trailed the second-seeded Flames (40-22), through three innings, but scored the next six runs, thanks to home runs by Cali Decker, AJ Murphy and Jeweliana Perez.
The latter two homers came in the decisive sixth inning, when the Aztecs scored four runs to overtake Liberty.
Their defense kept them in the game in the first, though, as Liberty banged out five hits, but only scored two runs.
Rachel Roupe had the Flames’ third straight single and leadoff hitter Devyn Howard rounded third, headed for home, but Aztec center fielder Macey Keester relayed the ball to shortstop Jillian Celis, who threw to Decker for the first out of the inning.
After a double scored two runs, the Aztecs slowed Liberty’s momentum by cutting down Rachel Craine out at third when Celis threw to Murphy at third base. Decker then picked off Megan Fortner at second to get SDSU out of the inning.
The Aztecs improved to 6-0 this postseason, having won all three games at the Mountain West Tournament, which they hosted, prior to the regional. They are now 1-7 in NCAA Regional finals.
The Super Regionals begin Thursday, but specific times for the San Diego State-Utah series remain to be set.
The CWS begins June 1 in a double-elimination format. The final two teams play a best-of-three series for the national championship beginning June 7.
Note: Photo credit – The Aztecs celebrate as they complete their winning run at the NCAA Regional in Los Angeles; screen shot, @goaztecscom via YouTube.