Stanford in Women’s College World Series semifinals after another close win

AP photo by Nate Billings / Stanford pitcher NiJaree Canady, left, and catcher Aly Kaneshiro celebrate as Washington's Jadelyn Allchin (42) leaves the field after a Women's College World Series elimination game Sunday in Okahoma City. Canaday pitched a one-hitter in a 1-0 victory for the Cardinal, who will face two-time reigning national champion Oklahoma in the semifinals Monday.

OKLAHOMA CITY — Stanford's NiJaree Canady outlasted Washington's Ruby Meylan in a battle of Pac-12 freshman pitchers Sunday afternoon to push the Cardinal into the national semifinals.

Canady threw a one-hitter, and No. 9 seed Stanford beat No. 7 Washington 1-0 in a Women's College World Series elimination game.

Canady, selected as freshman of the year by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, struck out nine batters and didn't allow a walk. She credited Stanford coach Jessica Allister for helping her stay relaxed, saying she "always talks about slowing the game down, especially in this atmosphere, just trying to slow the game down."

"I try to take a lot of deep breaths and just throw each pitch the best I can," Canady added.

Meylan gave up four hits, struck out five batters and walked one.

"It's an old-fashioned pitchers' duel that we don't see much of, but it was going to be whoever bent first," Allister said.

Kylie Chung's RBI single in the sixth scored Taylor Gindlesperger for the game's only run. It was unearned because it came after a throwing error with two outs.

"I feel like our at-bats got better throughout the game," Chung said. "I feel like we all had confidence, if we just kept sticking with it, that something was going to fall."

Chung, a sophomore left fielder, was starting for only the 15th time this season. Allister said she was proud of Chung's perseverance.

"It's easy to think, I'm never really going to hit, but she continued to prepare, continued to prepare," Allister said, "and to see her get paid off now, it's fun."

Washington (44-15) had an opportunity in the sixth after two errors put runners on first and third with two outs, but a pop-up to center ended the threat.

It will be Stanford's third trip to the semifinals and first since 2004. The Cardinal (47-14) got there by scoring three runs in three games.

They will play two-time reigning national champion Oklahoma (58-1) on Monday. It is a double-elimination bracket and Oklahoma is unbeaten while Stanford has a loss, so the Cardinal will need to win twice Monday while Oklahoma will need to win just once to advance to the best-of-three title series that starts Wednesday.

Oklahoma is on a 50-game winning streak and leads the nation in scoring, batting average, ERA and fielding percentage. The Sooners defeated Stanford 2-0 on Thursday in the WCWS opener for both teams.

Stanford had a chance to score in the third against Washington. Gindlesperger singled up the middle with Ellee Eck on second, but center fielder Brooklyn Carter threw Eck out at home to end the inning.

Washington nearly didn't make it this far. The Huskies scored seven runs in the seventh inning to get past McNeese State 7-6 in a decisive regional game two weeks ago, then beat a strong Louisiana Rajin' Cajuns team to qualify for the spot in Oklahoma City.

Meylan said Washington fans have a lot to look forward to.

"The future is really, really bright," she said. "We have some amazing, amazing girls, and I know we have a really good class coming in."