FULLERTON, Calif. – The No. 10/7 Arizona State University softball team extended its winning streak to five games with back-to-back wins over Texas and No. 16 Nebraska in a Friday doubleheader to continue the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif.
Dallas Escobedo pitch her third straight gem to knock off the 16th-ranked Huskers, 1-0 (8), in another one-hit effort and her third victory over a top-25 opponent this season. Amber Freeman had two home runs and the Sun Devil offense came alive in the morning game against perennial powerhouse Texas, jumping out to an early 7-1 lead and never looking back in an 8-3 victory.
The Sun Devils improved to 24-3 on the season with Friday’s victories and are now 3-1 against teams ranked in the top 25 this season.
ASU will round out the Judi Garman Classic tomorrow with another doubleheader, beginning against San Jose State at 10 a.m. PT/11 a.m. MT with a contest against Wisconsin to follow immediately afterward.
Complete recaps of today’s games can be found below.
#10 Arizona State 1, #16 Nebraska 0 (8)
The Sun Devils found themselves in unfamiliar territory in the second game of their Friday doubleheader at the Judi Garman Classic as the team was forced into extra innings for the first time this season against No. 16 Nebraska.
Bailey Wigness scored a walk-off single in the bottom of the eighth inning to score Elizabeth Caporuscio in a dramatic finish to a game that didn’t have many fireworks in regulation.
Neither offense could figure out the opposing pitcher and not a single runner advanced beyond second base through seven innings of action behind the exceptional performances of the ladies in the circle for both the Sun Devils and the Huskers.
Dallas Escobedo looked untouchable yet again in her third start in the last 72 hours, striking out 10 Huskers and allowing just a single hit with no walks and one hit batter in the game.
Unfortunately, on the other side of the contest there was another All-American in Tatum Edwards. The reigning 2013 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year had a gem of her own, striking out 10 Sun Devils with just one walk and five hits to keep the potent ASU offense in check through seven innings.
With the teams at an offensive impasse through regulation, it took extra innings and the international tiebreaker rule to decide the game.
In the top of the eighth inning, NU started with Edwards on second base. The senior advanced to third on a Dawna Tyson sacrifice bunt, bringing up MJ Knighten and the defensive play of the game. Knighten lined a foul ball down the first base line that landed right in the mitt of a diving Bethany Kemp for the second out of the inning while keeping Edwards in place on third base. Kat Woolman would foul out to Kemp on the ensuing at bat to bring up the Sun Devils in the decisive final half inning.
After a Kemp strikeout to open the inning, Caporuscio advanced from second to third on a Sierra Rodriguez pinch hit single to left field to bring up Wigness. The senior sent a sharp bouncer to Edwards’ left and the ace couldn’t corral the ball, allowing Caporuscio to score standing up to give ASU its second walk-off victory in the last four days.
Escobedo, who reached the 1,000 career strikeout mark yesterday, now has 1,018 in her career and 132 this season following Friday’s effort – her ninth double-digit strikeout performance of the season. It was the sixth-one hitter of the season for the senior ace, who is having a week for the ages.
Escobedo no-hit Longwood on Tuesday in a 1-0 victory, setting up her back-to-back one-hit performances against No. 5 Michigan and No. 16 Nebraska in the last two days. In those three games, Escobedo has posted a grand total stat line of zero runs allowed, two hits, 32 strikeouts, three walks, three hit batters and an opponent batting average of .031.
In ASU’s three victories over ranked teams this season (then-No. 7 Oklahoma, No. 5 Michigan and No. 16 Nebraska), Escobedo has picked up all three wins and allowed zero runs in three complete games with three total hits allowed, 31 strikeouts, zero walks, two hit batters and a .044 opponent batting average.
#10 Arizona State 8, Texas 3
The Arizona State softball team bats came alive to open day two of the Judi Garman Classic as the Sun Devils jumped on top of Texas early and never looked back en route to an 8-3 victory on Friday.
The Sun Devils had seven hits and eight RBI against the perennial powerhouse Longhorns, completing a Judi Garman sweep over the two teams that eliminated ASU from the WCWS last season after taking care of No. 5 Michigan yesterday.
ASU got on the board in the bottom of the first after Alix Johnson reached on a walk to start the game and advanced following a Chelsea Gonzales reach on a throwing error. After Amber Freeman ground out, Haley Steele sent a laser single to right center field to bring home Johnson and Gonzales and the Sun Devils took the early 2-0 lead.
After Texas added one run in the top of the second, the Sun Devils opened up the game in the bottom half of the inning after Bethany Kemp reached on a leadoff walk, advancing on a Katee Aguirre single and again on a Bailey Wigness bunt single.
With the bases juiced and one out on the board, Gonzales brought Kemp around with a single to left to set up Freeman. The defending Pac-12 Player of the Year shook off her ground out in the first inning and sent a long fly ball over the wall in right center for her first grand slam of the season to break the game open as the Sun Devils jumped out to a 7-1 lead they would never relinquish.
Freeman wasn’t done there as she came up to bat again to leadoff the fifth inning after back-to-back 1-2-3 innings for the Sun Devils. Facing a 2-2 count, Freeman showed off her strength with an opposite field blast down the right field line to extend ASU’s lead to 8-1.
The Longhorns tried to mount a rally in the top of the seventh inning as Stephanie Wong and Holly Kern each scored and Texas had the bases loaded with two outs on the board. Pinch hitter Marlee Gabaldon sent a harmless infield bouncer to Gonzales, however, who passed it to Cheyenne Coyle for the force out at second and the ball game.
Mackenzie Popescue did a masterful job holding the Longhorns at bay despite the fact UT outhit the Sun Devils on the day. Texas finished the game with 12 hits to the Sun Devils’ seven, but Popescue stranded 13 base runners to pick up her team-leading 12th victory of the season.
Popescue struck out five and walked three in the contest and got herself out of several binds, especially in the seventh with the Longhorns having a chance to cut ASU’s lead to just one.