TEMPE – The No. 3 Arizona State University softball team (19-1) rebounded from their first loss of the season with a run-rule victory in five innings over the Florida International Panthers (12-6), 8-0, on the second day of the Louisville Slugger Invitational.
Sun Devil pitcher Mackenzie Popescue pitched five scoreless innings to pick up her tenth win of the year, dropping her ERA to 0.53 in the process. Popescue gave up just two hits and retired 21 of 23 batters faced on the day with no walks and two shutouts.
Popescue was backed up by a phenomenal Sun Devil defense that did not yield a single error for the second consecutive game. They didn’t have much reason to do much as the senior pitcher was phenomenal as she became the first Sun Devil pitcher to reach double-digit wins and is now 10-0 on the season.
With Popescue on her game, the ASU offense did the rest scoring early and often, putting runs on the board in three of the first four innings at the plate.
In the first inning, designated hitter Amber Freeman singled to center to score outfielder Alix Johnson for the first run of the game. The second run in the inning came off the bat of Cheyenne Coyle who with a one out single drove in second basemen Chelsea Gonzales from third to give the Sun Devils a 2-0 lead through one.
In the second inning, the scoring barrage continued with the Sun Devils putting up four runs to spread the lead. Gonzales reached on a fielder’s choice, scoring outfielder Jennifer Soria before coming around herself to score from second off a single from third baseman Haley Steele. Pinch runner Abby Spiel touched home after a bases loaded walk from outfielder Elizabeth Caporuscio, Steele then came around on another bases loaded walk from first basemen Bethany Kemp.
After going scoreless in the third inning, the Sun Devils put up their final two runs of the game in the fourth. Coyle scored from third on a single to center field by Soria. Soria then came around to score on a shot down the right field line by Johnson.
The victory was ASU’s 10th run-rule victory in 20 games this season and marked the seventh shutout of the season and the second under Popescue’s watch. The senior has given up just four earned runs in her 10 appearances this season.
The Sun Devils will turn around to face the Panthers for a second time on Saturday. The game time is set for 7 p.m. MT at Farrington Stadium.
In the event of inclement weather, the Sun Devil softball operational staff will meet tomorrow morning and make a decision as to how the schedule of the day will proceed. Be sure to follow @ASUSoftball on Twitter for schedule updates throughout the day.