OKLAHOMA CITY – Washington coach Heather Tarr watched Bryana Walker hit two of the first three batters she faced and sail another pitch to the backstop in the first inning against Nebraska.
She took time for a mid-inning speech Thursday, telling the Huskies they were down but not out in their Women’s College World Series opener. She was right: Sophomore Kimberlee Souza slammed a walk-off home run in the eighth inning to complete a 4-3 comeback victory.
“The good thing is we bounced back,” Tarr said.
Down 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh, Washington (44-15) tied it when Victoria Hayward lined a ball that slid under Brooke Thomason’s glove into right field for a triple. Hooch Fagaly’s sacrifice squeeze scored Hayward to send the game to the eighth and set up Souza’s heroics.
The home run was Souza’s eighth of the season and moved Washington to a winner’s bracket game today against Tennessee. Nebraska (45-15) will play Florida in an elimination game Saturday.
Making its first trip to the WCWS since 2002, Nebraska took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Gabby Banda scored on Brooke Thomason’s sacrifice fly after being hit by a pitch.
Walker also hit Taylor Edwards in the first, and Banda went to third on a wild pitch.
UW answered in the bottom of the inning when Kaitlin Inglesby lined a 2-1 change-up over the wall. Inglesby’s team-leading 12th home run of the season also brought Hayward home.
Walker settled down to retire the next six Nebraska hitters before running into trouble in the fourth inning and leaving in place of Inglesby.
Tatum Edwards scored in the fifth for Nebraska to tie it after reaching on a fielder’s choice.
Tennessee 9, Florida 2: Melissa Brown had a two-run double in a three-run first and Ellen Renfroe limited the Gators (57-8) to four hits and struck out nine to guide the Volunteers (50-10).
Texas 6, Arizona State 3: Kim Bruins hit a two-run home run in a four-run fifth to help the Longhorns (50-8) defeat the Sun Devils (50-11). Texas will play Oklahoma tonight. ASU will play Michigan in an elimination game Saturday.
Oklahoma 7, Michigan 1: Keilani Ricketts threw a no-hitter and had 12 strikeouts as the Sooners (53-4) topped the Wolverines (50-12). Ricketts, the Collegiate Softball Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, improved to 32-1.