TEMPE – The No. 7 Arizona State University softball team finished up the opening weekend of play with victories over Fresno State and UC Riverside on Sunday to wrap up the annual Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz.
The Sun Devils went 6-0 in the tournament, outscoring opponents 48-3 and allowing just a single earned run. ASU finished the weekend batting .430 as a team with 64 hits, seven home runs and 44 RBIs. Every Sun Devil that received at least two at bats got a hit on the weekend.
The pitching was exceptional as well as Dallas Escobedo and Mackenzie Popescue combined for a 6-0 record (three wins each) with a combined .20 ERA while allowing just a single earned run and an opponent batting average of .151.
The Sun Devils look forward to taking on the Tennessee State Tigers at Farrington Stadium on Thursday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m.
Complete recaps from Sunday’s action are available below.
ASU 11, UC Riverside 1 (5)
In their sixth game and final game of the Kajikawa Classic, the story for the No. 7 Sun Devils (6-0) was the same. The Sun Devils rolled the UC Riverside Highlanders (0-4) 11-1 in five innings, for their fourth run-rule game this season.
The offense for the Sun Devils picked up right where they left off from the game earlier in the day, coming out of the gates hot and led by Haley Steele and her six RBI.
In the first inning she drove in Cheyenne Coyle, Alix Johnson, Amber Freeman with her second career grand slam and followed that up in the second with a single into right scoring Alix Johnson and Abby Spiel.
In the third, Jen Soria scored from third on a passed ball. The Devils then added with a heads-up play from Bailey Wigness on the base paths when she stole second base, then advancing to third and eventually home on a throwing error by UC Riverside catcher Natalie Sanchez.
Moving to the fourth, the Sun Devils scored their ninth, tenth and eleventh runs as pinch hitter Sierra Rodriguez got her first hit and RBI as a Sun Devil in her first career at-bat, driving in Allie Buterfield. Wigness drove home Soria when she doubled down the left field line before Sashel Palacios put the finishing touches on the victory by driving in Wigness.
P Mackenzie Popescue again showed her bend-but-don’t-break mentality. Despite giving up five hits and two walks, Popescue kept her season ERA at 0.00 as the only run of the day was scored on a throwing error.
Popescue improved to 3-0 on the season and posted some impressive situation statistics, holding opponents to 0-16 with two outs while limiting the opposition to just a .143 batting average with runners on base.
In their first matchup on Sunday, the No. 7 Sun Devils (5-0) shut out the Fresno State Bulldogs (3-2) in their fifth game in the 2014 Kajikawa Classic, 7-0.
The Sun Devil victory came with P Dallas Escobedo’s signature on it, of course. The two-time All-American pitched her 29th career complete game shutout, only allowing two hits and tallying 10 total strikeouts, holding Fresno State's batters at bay. Defensively, the Sun Devils had a season-high two errors, but made up for it with several great defensive plays one coming from an inning ending diving pop-out catch made by C Amber Freeman.
The offense took form in the second inning when a walk from Bethany Kemp got the Sun Devils going. Successive base runners Chelsea Gonzales, Nikki Girard, Bailey Wigness, and Cheyenne Coyle followed Kemp. A Wigness chopper led to a bad throw home by the Fresno State shortstop, scoring Kemp for the first run of the game.
Coyle followed that with her ninth and tenth RBI of the season on a double to left field to score Gonzales and Girard. Wigness would come home on a passed ball for the last run of the inning, giving ASU a 4-0 lead early.
The Sun Devils weren’t done scoring runs as they added two runs in the third as Hailey Steele and Elizabeth Caporuscio scored, Steele on a sacrifice fly-out by Gonzalez, Caporuscio on a ground out by Girard.
And in the sixth, Coyle put the punctuation on it with a solo home run over the left field fence – her third of the season - for the Sun Devils sixth and final run of the game.
Escobedo improved to 3-0 on the year with an exceptional .37 era, holding opponents to a .079 batting average on just five hits with a 32 strikeouts.