TEMPE – In a game where offense was at a premium, the No. 10 Arizona State University softball team (21-3) was certainly glad to have Dallas Escobedo in its corner as the senior pitched a no-hitter in a walk-off, 1-0 victory over Longwood on Tuesday evening in Tempe.
Nikki Girard’s fielder’s choice with no outs in the bottom of the seventh was the difference as it brought home a sliding Bethany Kemp for the walk-off run and a 1-0 victory over the Lancers (6-4).
Prior to that, however, it was a battle of attrition between both offenses with exceptional pitching to blame.
Escobedo (9-2) struck out 13 batters and allowed three walks and one hit batter as she put on a clinic in a game where the Sun Devil offense needed her behind them. It was the third solo no-hitter of Escobedo’s career and fourth no-hitter with a combined no-hit performance added to the mix.
The senior started the game out a little shaky as she hit the second batter she faced and walked the fourth. She struck out three in the inning and that set the pace for the game as that third strikeout started a march of 13 straight Lancer batters that Escobedo put down in order.
Escobedo had two more walks in the sixth inning but got out of the frame with another strikeout before striking out two and getting a groundout in the seventh to cap off her day.
An exceptional pitching performance almost went for naught as the Sun Devil batters struggled to get into an offensive groove against Lancer pitcher Elizabeth McCarthy. The freshman pitcher went the distance, striking out three with only one walk while giving up five hits in the contest.
Most of those base runners would harmless as no Sun Devil reached third base through the first six innings while McCarthy pitched three 1-2-3 innings in that span.
The Sun Devils found their groove when it mattered most however as Bethany Kemp reached on a leadoff single to left field and advanced to third on a single to right by Elizabeth Caporuscio right behind her to become the only ASU player to log multiple hits in the game.
Girard came to the plate and sent the 0-1 pitch to the Longwood second baseman, who tried to throw Kemp out at home but a sprawling Kemp avoided the tag and scored ASU’s first walk-off victory of the season.
The Sun Devils improved to 21-3 on the season with the victory as the team heads on the road for the first time this season to take part in the illustrious Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif. ASU will kick off the tournament on Thursday against No. 5 Michigan at 3 p.m. PT.