Golden Bears advance to face Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY — The nation's No. 1 seed rallied past its opponent Thursday afternoon, as the California Golden Bears moved into the winner's bracket with a 5-3 opening round victory over the LSU Tigers in the Women's College World series.

"Well, today was a great game for California," said Cal head coach Diane Ninemire. "We fell behind early in the game, but Jolene [Henderson] hung tough on the mound for us and we just really had a great combination of our power."

Trailing 2-0 after two, the Golden Bears began to cut into it.

They cut the lead in half in the bottom of the third when center fielder Frani Echavarria singled home designated player Britt Vonk.

Echavarria picked up her second RBI of the day and tied it at 2-2 in the fifth with a sacrifice fly to left.

Then, they basically put it away in the bottom of the sixth after adding three more runs to take a 5-2 advantage.

Left fielder Jamia Reid and designated player Britt Vonk connected on back-to-back RBI singles, and Echavarria brought home another on an RBI groundout to further help Henderson's cause and put her in line for her 37th win of the season.

"We knew that, even though we were behind, that we still had to come back as a team, use our offense and our defense to make sure that we could come back," Reid said. "I just knew we could do it for Jolene. Like she was going to be working hard on the mound. Even though those two runs scored, she was going to work even harder so that us hitters could score some runs for her."

LSU tried to make things interesting in the seventh, but could muster just one run on a two-out, run-scoring double off the bat of left fielder Ashley Langoni.

The Tigers brought the tying run to the plate in the form of shortstop Juliana Santos, but she grounded out to second to end it.

"Obviously it stinks to lose, but we pride ourselves on our defense, and that's something that we let slip a little bit," Santos said.

LSU took the early lead when second baseman Allison Falcon and designated player Ashley Applegate got it all going with back-to-back singles in the second.

After a walk, catcher Morgan Russell ripped a two-run single into right to put LSU up 2-0, but they just couldn't sustain it.

"I thought we started out really aggressive," said LSU head coach Beth Torina. "I liked how our offense swung the bat today. I think we have to give a lot of credit to Cal and their offense. They were just really tough and they keep coming at you, one through nine in the lineup."

With the victory, the Golden Bears are set for a 6 p.m. Friday showdown against USA National Player of the Year Keilani Ricketts and the Oklahoma Sooners, while the Tigers fall into the loser's bracket for an 11 a.m. Saturday start against South Florida.

As for this one, Echavarria led the way for Cal with three RBI and Reid went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI.

For the Tigers, Applegate finished a perfect 3-for-3, Langoni was 2-for-4 with an RBI and Russell had a pair of RBIs while going 1-for-3.

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