Video courtesy goaztecs.com
May 22, 2023 (Los Angeles) - The San Diego State softball team homered three times to rally for a 6-3 victory over Liberty Sunday afternoon and claim the NCAA Los Angeles Regional at Easton Stadium. With the win, the Aztecs (38-15) advanced to their first NCAA Super Regionals in program history and will play at No. 15 overall seed Utah next weekend.
SDSU, the third-seeded team in the region, trailed the second-seeded Flames (40-22), 2-0, through three innings but scored the next six runs, thanks in part to home runs by Cali Decker, AJ Murphy and Jeweliana Perez.
San Diego State went 3-0 in the NCAA’s toughest regional (RPI average of 32.00), outscoring the opposition, 19-3. The Aztecs also improved to 6-0 in the postseason, also winning all three games at the Mountain West Tournament from May 11-13 at SDSU Softball Stadium.
LU struck first in the bottom of the first inning, banging out five hits, but only scoring two runs as SDSU’s defense recorded three outs on Liberty baserunners. Rachel Roupe had the Flames’ third straight single and leadoff hitter Devyn Howard rounded third and headed home. San Diego State center fielder Macey Keester relayed the ball to shortstop Jillian Celis, who threw it home to Decker, who applied the tag for the first out of the inning. Rachel Craine singled to load the bases and Megan Fortner followed with a double to score two runs. The Aztecs, however, were able to get Craine out at third when Celis sneakily threw it to Murphy at third base for the tagout. With Sierra Kersten at the plate, Decker then picked off Fortner at second to get San Diego State out of the inning.
The Aztecs tied it in the top of the fourth as Celis singled and Decker followed with a home run over the left-field wall. It was her fourth homer over her last seven games and sixth of the season.
SDSU then put the game away with four runs in the sixth, including a two-run homer by Murphy and a solo home run by Perez. It was Murphy’s fifth homer of the season and the second by Perez. San Diego State scored its first run in the inning when Celis scored after a double when Craine at first base let Decker’s hard-hit ball go through her legs.
After LU had five consecutive hits to start the game, the Aztecs outhit Liberty, 10-2, the rest of the way. Celis (2 R, 3B), Espinoza and Murphy (2 RBI, R) each had two hits apiece for SDSU.
Pitcher Allie Light settled down after the five-hit, two-run first inning. Light (14-6), the MW Pitcher of the Year, allowed three runs on seven hits and no walks over 6 1/3 innings, striking out three. The Flames’ final run came on a solo homer by Fortner to lead off the seventh. Dee Dee Hernandez took over for Light with one out in the sixth and nobody on base and retired both batters she faced for her fifth save of the season.
San Diego State won its first NCAA Regional final game. The Aztecs are now 1-7 in NCAA Regional final games.
THE NOTE II
SDSU allowed its first run of the NCAA tournament with one out in the bottom of the first inning, snapping the San Diego State pitchers’ streak of 27 innings without giving up a run.
STAT OF THE DAY
The Aztecs advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals for the first time in school history.
SDSU will play at Utah, the No. 15 overall seed, next weekend in Salt Lake City. Dates and gametimes have yet to be determined as of 7:15 p.m. on Sunday.
 San Diego State 6,  Liberty 3
San Diego State (38-15) 000 204 0 -- 6 10 1
Liberty (40-22) 200 000 1 -- 3 7 1
Light, Hernandez (7) and Decker; Keeney, Estroff (6) and Hudson
W - Light, 14-6; SV - Hernandez, 5; L - Keeney, 27-12
HR: San Diego State, Decker (6), Murphy (5), Perez (2); Liberty, Fortner (10)
2023 NCAA Division I Softball Championship
Regionals - Double-Elimination
Easton Stadium - Los Angeles, Calif.
All Games on ESPN Networks
Friday, May 19, 2023
Game 1:  Grand Canyon 3,  UCLA 2
Game 2:  San Diego State 7,  Liberty 0
Saturday, May 20, 2023
Game 3:  San Diego State 6,  Grand Canyon 0
Game 4:  Liberty 2,  UCLA 1 (UCLA eliminated)
Game 5:  Liberty 5,  Grand Canyon 1 (Grand Canyon eliminated)
Sunday, May 21, 2023
Game 6:  San Diego State 6,  Liberty 3 (Liberty eliminated)