TEMPE – Elizabeth Caporuscio logged her first career grand slam and Dallas Escobedo had 13 strikeouts as the No. 7/6 Arizona State University softball team took care of California, 7-2, in the first game of the series in Berkeley, Calif., on Friday.
The Sun Devils (33-6, 7-3 Pac-12) won for the sixth time in their last seven games with the victory, evening the team’s record in true road games to 2-2.
ASU wasted no time jumping on top of the Golden Bears (20-12, 3-2 Pac-12). After Cal starting pitcher Stephanie Trzcinski put out the first two ASU batters in the top of the first, Amber Freeman singled to center for the ASU first base runner of the game.
Haley Steele advanced Freeman to third on a double to center and Cheyenne Coyle loaded the bases with a walk.
That brought up Elizabeth Caporuscio, who took the first ball she saw over the fence in right field for her second homer of the season and first career grand slam. It also improved Caporuscio to 5-of-9 (.556) this season with the bases loaded, two more hits than any other Sun Devil on the roster.
Caporuscio reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced to second on a Bethany Kemp single to left. Nikki Girard was hit by a pitch to load the bases again with two outs, bringing up Chelsea Gonzales. Gonzales continued her spree of clutch hitting, lining a hard ball at the shortstop that bounced off her glove and into left field to bring home Caporuscio and Kemp and give ASU a 6-0.
The Golden Bears answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the third as Victoria Jones singled to open the inning and came home on a Cheyenne Cordes homer to dead center three batters later to bring Cal back within 6-2.
ASU added some insurance in the top of the sixth as Alix Johnson drew her Pac-12 leading 40th walk of the season to put a runner on with two outs for Freeman two batters later. Freeman logged her second hit of the day with a double to left center to bring home Johnson and give ASU the decisive 7-2 lead.
The Sun Devils provided all the offense Escobedo needed to pick up her 15th win of the season.
On a week where the senior ace was selected first in the National Pro Fastpitch draft and was named as a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award, Escobedo pitched another solid outing. Escobedo finished with 13 strikeouts while giving up just three hits and two walks as she improved to 15-5 overall this season. She continued to rack up the strikeouts, now laying claim to a nation-leading 218 strikeouts with 43 of those coming in her last three starts.
The Sun Devils return to the diamond tomorrow for the second game of the series, which is set to begin at 3 p.m. PT and will be broadcast live on the Pac-12 Networks.