FULLERTON, Calif. – The No 10 Arizona State University softball team picked up its biggest win of the season with a 2-0 shutout over No. 5 Michigan behind the exceptional pitching of Dallas Escobedo to open the Judi Garman Classic.
Playing away from Tempe for the first time this season at the Anderson Family Field in Fullerton, Calif., Escobedo pitched her second consecutive shutout as she held the Michigan (14-4) batters to just one hit and three total base runners on the day to improve to 9-2 on the year.
The senior pitcher shook off several illegal pitch calls on the day and came out firing as she struck out UM leadoff hitter Lyndsay Doyle for her 1,000th career strikeout. She became just the second Sun Devil in ASU history to achieve the feat but didn’t stop there, striking out the side and five of her first six batters en route to a total of nine strikeouts on the day.
Escobedo retired the first 12 batters she saw and didn’t allow a base runner until she hit Caitlin Blanchard to open the fifth inning. Pinch runner Brandi Virgil advanced to second on a Sierra Lawrence sacrifice bunt and then on to third on an Escobedo illegal pitch but the ASU ace was unfazed as she took down the side and, with that, the only viable Wolverine challenge of the game.
The no-hitter came to an end on a Nicole Sappingfield infield single in the sixth inning but she would not advance beyond first base and UM would never stage any sort of rally in the game.
ASU’s offense did the rest to pick up the win for the Sun Devils (22-3), taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning and never letting go.
Chelsea Gonzales reached on a single to center field and advanced on an Amber Freeman single. Facing two outs, Cheyenne Coyle drew a walk to load the bases for Elizabeth Caporuscio, who continued her recent tear with a single to right field to bring home Gonzales for what would prove to be the decisive run.
She also added another hit and an intentional walk in the contest and is now batting .545 on 12-of-22 hitting in her last eight games with a team leading six RBI and 15 total bases. Her .682 slugging percentage and .615 on-base percentage also pace the team in that span.
Caporuscio did plenty on the defensive end as well, tracking down two long fly balls to the fence – including the final out of the game.
ASU had plenty of other chances to build its lead throughout the game but Michigan pitcher Haylie Wagner was solid in relief duty as far as getting out of binds and was instrumental in Michigan stranding a total of 12 Sun Devil batters in the game.
That being said, ASU racked up nine hits on the stingy Michigan defense and eventually was able to add some insurance in the third as Caporuscio scored on a throwing error by Sierra Romero to give ASU the 2-0 lead. Romero, UM’s star player who entered the game batting well over .500 this season, was held to 0-3 batting on the day with a strikeout.
The Sun Devils return to action tomorrow morning, as they take on Texas at 10 a.m. PT in the first game of a doubleheader that also features No. 16 Nebraska.
-ASU lost to Michigan both times the teams played last season, including at the Judi Garman Classic, and the victory provided a bit of vengeance after the Wolverines eliminated the Sun Devils from the WCWS last season.
-Escobedo’s last 48 hours have been as impressive as anyone after the ace no-hit Longwood on Tuesday night in a 1-0 victory. In her last two appearances, Escobedo has racked up 22 strikeouts, no runs, one hit and just three walks. She is now 2-0 against team’s ranked in the top 10 this season, giving up a grand total of two hits combined in those games.