TEMPE – Good teams still find a way to win, even when they don’t have their best stuff going and the No. 5 Arizona State University softball team exemplified that on Saturday afternoon as the squad wrapped up the Littlewood Classic in Tempe, Ariz.
The Sun Devils rallied from behind to beat Illinois State, 4-2, before capping the doubleheader with a 7-4 victory over San Jose State in a contest where the team had to hold off a vicious Spartan rally. With the effort, ASU finished the tournament with a perfect 4-0 record along with the non-tournament victory over Tennessee State on Thursday to compile a 5-0 record over three days.
Bethany Kemp was the star of the weekend on offense, finishing the five games in the last three days with five hits, five runs and four home runs for a wicked 1.417 slugging percentage while accounting for 17 total bases.
In two appearances, pitcher Dallas Escobedo allowed just two hits and two runs while striking out 23 batters in two complete games. Escobedo thwarted the defending NCAA Champions in No. 11 Oklahoma in a one-hit performance that saw the Sun Devils post a 7-0 victory.
Up next for the Sun Devils, the will take on the Drake Bulldogs on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. at Farrington Stadium before taking part in the Diamond Devil Invitational that weekend.
Complete recaps of Saturday’s action can be found below.
By Patrick Wagner, ASU Media Relations
Arizona State 7, San Jose State 4
In their second game of the double-header and their last of the Littlewood Classic, the No. 5 Sun Devils (11-0) fended off the San Jose State Spartans (7-3), 7-4, at Farrington Stadium on Saturday evening.
It did not take long for the Sun Devil offense to put a run on the board as SS Cheyenne Coyle advanced and scored from third on a throwing error from San Jose 2B Devin Caldwell. The Spartan attempted to catch OF Alix Johnson in a pickle after the Johnson got stuck between bases on a steal attempt; but Caldwell tossed the ball into the dugout, allowing Coyle to score and put ASU up 1-0 in the first.
In the second 1B Bethany Kemp took a full count pitch deep to left for her first home run of the night, putting the Sun Devils up by two, and it wouldn’t be the last time the Spartans heard from Kemp.
The Sun Devils put four more on the board in the third, two coming from a bases loaded throwing error by Caldwell, which would have ended the inning, scoring both DH Amber Freeman and 3B Haley Steele. In the following at bat, 2B Nikki Girard singled to right field, OF Elizabeth Caporuscio scored from third and Kemp - scoring for the second time – came home from second as the Sun Devils took a 6-0 lead.
Keeping on track, Kemp belted her second solo homer of the afternoon in her third at bat, scoring her third run and putting the Sun Devils up by seven. Over the course of the weekend Kemp had five hits, four of which came on home runs.
On the mound for Arizona State, Mackenzie Popescue, pitched a complete game. The senior gave up nine hits but allowed only one earned run, battling through the sixth and seventh innings that saw the Spartans threaten, putting three runs up in the third and one run up in the seventh. Popescue battled, however, picking up her team-leading sixth victory of the season as she improved to 6-0.
Arizona State 4, Illinois State 2
In their first game of a double header on Saturday, the Sun Devils beat the Illinois State Red Birds, 4-2.
In the circle, Dallas Escobedo threw seven innings of work, allowing the Red Birds only two hits - one being the two-run homerun by Red Birds 3B Sara Bradley that accounted for the only two runs allowed by Escobedo on the day. The Sun Devil ace also threw eleven strikeouts while only walking one batter.
Escobedo improved to 5-0 on the season with the victory and has given up just three runs over the course of the weekend.
The Sun Devil offense was not without it’s own struggles as the team were were without a base runner until the fourth inning where C Amber Freeman chopped a double into left field but the team was unable to capitalize as ASU found itself in a 2-0 whole through 4.5 innings
The rally came in the fifth inning however as, with two on, 2B Nikki Girard put a double into right field scoring both OF Elizabeth Caporuscio from third and DH Chelsea Gonzalez from second.
After, the Sun Devils managed two more successive base runners to load the bases. That brought up OF Alix Johnson who launched a double to the left field wall, scoring OF Bailey Wigness and PR Allie Butterfield and giving the Sun Devils a 4-2 lead that they would not relinquish.