TEMPE - The adage in sports is that games are often decided by the team that wants it more. With a berth in the Women's College World Series at stake Sunday, that was clear.
No. 5 Arizona State defeated No. 12 Kentucky 5-2 at Farrington Stadium, winning the Tempe Super Regional and advancing to the Women's College World Series for the 11th time in program history and the seventh time in eight seasons under Clint Myers.
ASU (50-10) will play its first WCWS game against fourth-seeded Texas at 4 p.m. Thursday in Oklahoma City. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
"We said it in August when we started (fall practice) - this is a very good ballclub," Myers said. "Today they proved that they were a very good ballclub because they're going back to the College World Series."
The Sun Devils are undefeated thus far in the postseason, with junior pitcher Dallas Escobedo having picked up all five wins. After three brilliant performances in last weekend's regional and a bit of a struggle Saturday against Kentucky, Escobedo found the middle ground Sunday, surrendering two runs on four hits.
Kentucky (41-21) twice came back to tie the score after ASU took early leads, but the Sun Devils never trailed. Escobedo (30-4) struck out five and walked three in seven innings.
Sophomore third baseman Haley Steele was the offensive hero for ASU, going 3 for 4 with four RBIs, including a huge two-run homer that made it 5-2 in the top of the seventh.
Steele worked a 3-2 count against Kentucky starter Kelsey Nunley (27-11) before crushing a change-up deep to left field for her 11th home run of the season.
"We're still improving," Myers said. "That's the scary part."