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Top-seeded Cal wins to open women’s CWS

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Frani Echavarria got her third RBI of the game during a three-run sixth inning for California, helping the top-seeded Golden Bears rally past LSU 5-3 on Thursday in the opening round of the Women’s College World Series.

LSU (39-24) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning when Allison Falcon and Ashley Applegate each singled before both scored on Morgan Russell’s double to right.

Cal (57-5) cut the deficit in half in the third. Britt Vonk reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced to second on a walk to Valerie Arioto. With two outs, Echavarria singled to right field to score Vonk.

Echavarria then tied it 2-2 with a sacrifice fly in the fifth.

In the sixth, Jamia Reid drove in the go-ahead run, Vonk had an RBI single and stole a base, and Echavarria added a run-scoring groundout.

Ashley Langoni hit an RBI double for the Lady Tigers in the seventh to complete the scoring.

Cal will take on Oklahoma on Friday night after the fourth-seeded Sooners beat South Florida 5-1 earlier Thursday. LSU will play USF in an elimination game on Saturday.

Lauren Chamberlain hit a two-run home run and Keilani Ricketts struck out 11 to lead the Sooners. Ricketts, the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, struck out 10 or more for the 23rd time this season for Oklahoma (51-8).

South Florida (50-13), playing in the WCWS for the first time, took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning on an RBI double by Kourtney Salvarola.

Oklahoma answered with Chamberlain’s homer in the bottom half of the inning. Ricketts’ triple highlighted Oklahoma’s three-run sixth.

In the first night game, No. 2 seed Alabama scored four runs in the first inning and turned it over to sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina in a 5-3 win over Tennessee.

Traina matched the Crimson Tide’s single-season mark with her 38th victory. The SEC pitcher of the year allowed four hits and worked out of jams in the sixth and seventh innings in a complete-game effort.

Alabama (56-7) batted around in the first inning, chasing Tennessee starter Ivy Renfroe after just five batters. Cassie Reilly-Boccia doubled, and Kayla Brand, Jennifer Fenton, and Kaila Hunt each scored a run for the Tide during the outburst.

Tennessee (52-13) scored its only runs in the second on Melissa Davin’s two-run homer.

The Tide on Friday will take on third-seeded Arizona State, which took its first step in defending its CWS title with a 3-1 win over Oregon in the second night game.

ASU (52-9) pushed the game’s first run across when Amber Freeman doubled off the right field wall to score Haley Steele.

Freeman increased ASU’s lead in the third when she slapped a grounder to shortstop Kelsey Chambers, who misplayed it off her chest as the runner crossed in front of her. The error allowed both Katelyn Boyd and Talor Haro to score and gave the Sun Devils a 3-0 lead.

Playing in the WCWS for the first time in 23 years, the Ducks (44-17) were without first baseman Kailee Cuico, who was suspended in the Super Regional for two games. Oregon’s home run and RBI leader sat in the stands.

Oregon threatened in the seventh after Christie Nieto — playing in place of Cuico — doubled off the left center fence and scored.

But ASU’s Haley Steele speared a line drive at third and stepped on the bag for a double play.

Dallas Escobedo closed out the win by striking out pinch hitter Hannah Melick with a runner on second to improve to 24-6.

The Ducks will face Tennessee on Saturday.