OKLAHOMA CITY — Pinch-hitter Jazlyn Lunceford hit her first career grand slam during Alabama’s second surprising outburst Saturday, lifting the Crimson Tide past defending champion Arizona State 6-2 and into the World Series semifinals.
Coach Patrick Murphy replaced four-time All-American Brittany Rogers with a freshman who didn’t have a hit in over a month.
With two outs, Lunceford sent a 2-2 pitch from freshman Hillary Bach (31-11) onto the walkway at the front of the left-field stands to put the Crimson Tide ahead 4-2 in the fourth inning.
“I’m not going to lie. I was a little nervous going in, but after the first cut or two, I was ready,” said Lunceford, who had fouled off the previous two pitches.
After being mobbed by her teammates at home plate, she was greeted with a bear hug from Murphy, who had left his third base coaching box.
Alabama gave starter Kelsi Dunne (28-4) some added cushion with a pair of unearned runs in the fifth, including one on a double steal.
Katie Crabb hit a two-run home run in the top of the fourth for Arizona State.
“We thought we could hold it to a 2-0 lead,” Arizona State star Kaitlin Cochran said. “You just can never underestimate any team at the World Series. You never know what’s going to happen.”
ASU fell into the elimination game due to a 1-0, eight-inning loss to Pac-10 rival Washington on Friday.
The Crimson Tide (54-10) also beat eight-time national champion Arizona 14-0 earlier in the day, setting records for the most runs and biggest margin of victory in a World Series game.
“It could be the best day in the history of our program, especially since our backs were against the wall and it’s do or die,” Murphy said. “To eliminate Arizona and then the defending national champion on the same day is one hell of an accomplishment.”
Next up is a semifinal matchup Sunday against top-seeded Florida, with the Tide needing two wins to reach the finals. Georgia also won twice to reach the semifinals and will have to duplicate the feat Sunday against third-seeded Washington to advance again.
The losses by ASU, Michigan and Arizona left the semifinals void of any team that’s won the title before.