OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Since their season was suddenly on the line, Kelsi Dunne and the Crimson Tide have made it impossible for their opponents to get them down.
Dunne pitched six spotless innings Friday night, Whitney Larsen and Kaila Hunt had RBI singles and second-seeded Alabama moved into the Women's College World Series semifinals with a 3-0 victory over Baylor.
Top-seeded Arizona State also made it to the semis, beating Florida 6-5 on Annie Lockwood's bases-loaded, infield single in the bottom of the seventh.
The Crimson Tide and Sun Devils each need just one win in two chances Sunday to reach the best-of-three championship series.
The tandem of Dunne and freshman Jackie Traina has put up zeroes for 30 1-3 innings since the third inning of a 5-2 loss to Stanford in their super regional opener.
Dunne said Larsen, a fellow senior, pulled the team together after that loss — which made it necessary for Alabama (53-9) to win back-to-back elimination games to reach the World Series — and told players to take a "fearless" mindset.
"Ever since then, we have come out and we've been fearless and we have fought together," said Dunne, who has 24 2-3 scoreless innings in a row. "We've just been playing. All cylinders of our game have been clicking together and coming together at the right time.
"Our defense has been phenomenal and we've been getting those timely hits that we have fallen short of before."
The Crimson Tide is trying to get to the championship round for the first time. It's also the first time Alabama has been in such a favorable position. In its last two trips to the World Series, the Tide rallied back for two wins in the losers' bracket but still needed two more to reach the finals.
Dunne (29-4) had given up 21 runs in 40 2-3 innings over six starts in those trips as a freshman and sophomore, then the top-seeded Tide got bounced in the super regionals last season when Dunne won her first SEC pitcher of the year honor.
She has allowed only five singles over 12 shutout innings at this year's World Series.
"Kelsi is in a zone right now," coach Patrick Murphy said. "It just warms my heart to know that a senior is in that position when she comes to her final performance in her career."
Amanda Locke drove in the first run for Alabama with a sacrifice fly in the first inning off of Whitney Canion (30-11). Hunt singled and scored on Larsen's two-out base hit in the fourth and then provided her own RBI single with two outs in the fifth.
Bama's best start at the World Series also comes with Tuscaloosa just over a month removed from the deadly tornadoes that killed 42 and damaged or destroyed more than 5,000 homes while the team huddled in a stadium basement.
"It makes you come closer, even closer than we were before," Dunne said. "We have such a supportive community, and they stick with us through the good and the bad, and we want to stick with them and help them celebrate something."
Baylor (46-14) faces one of two Big 12 rivals, Oklahoma or Missouri, and Florida (53-11) will play either Oklahoma State or California in elimination games Saturday night.
Arizona State (57-6) squandered a four-run lead before Lockwood led the way back against reliever Hannah Rogers (34-7).
She hit a solo home run just over the right-field fence in the fourth to tie it at 5 after Florida rallied for five runs in the top half of the inning.
Lockwood then smashed a one-hopper right at third baseman Kasey Fagan with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh. It bounced off of Fagan and toward the Sun Devils' dugout, allowing Katelyn Boyd to score the winning run.
"You just put it in play, and good things usually happen when you do that," said Lockwood, who was 3-for-3 with three RBIs and also walked twice. "I was just really trying to square up the ball and put it somewhere where no one could get it."
Fagan had already thrown out one Arizona State runner at the plate in the inning, but couldn't do it again.
"It was a thrilling game," Sun Devils coach Clint Myers said. "It was a thrilling win."
After falling behind 4-0 after Mandy Urfer's leadoff home run in the third, the Gators charged ahead with a five-run fourth inning. Tiffany DeFelice and Michelle Moultrie each hit two-run home runs, and Brittany Schutte hit a tiebreaking RBI double to center field. Aja Paculba scored before Kelsey Bruder was cut down while trying to score from first.
Dallas Escobedo (34-3) held down Florida — which leads the nation with 114 home runs — from there to win her 16th straight decision. She got around Moultrie's leadoff double in the sixth and also kept the Gators from scoring after getting a runner on second with one out in the seventh.
"We hit the ball good, we got runners on base," Moultrie said. "We just didn't score them, just couldn't move them in."
The Sun Devils jumped ahead at the start, getting an RBI single from Lockwood in the first before scoring twice the second inning off of starter Stephanie Brombacher's throwing error. Alix Johnson came in to score when Brombacher's attempt at a force-out at second sailed into center field, and Talor Haro advanced all the way to third before coming in on Boyd's single to make it 3-0.
"I made the wrong decision, so there's not much else to be said," Brombacher said. "I cost my team the game."
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