By Connor Johnson, SDA Media Relations
TEMPE, Ariz.—Dallas Escobedo had 16 strikeouts, Cheyenne Coyle had three RBIs and the Arizona State Sun Devils softball team (41-7) defeated the visiting Southern Miss Golden Eagles (22-27) 6-0 on Saturday.
The 16 strikeouts by Escobedo (20-6) tied her career best in a regulation game, and her dominant performance Saturday came almost exactly one month after she recorded 16 strikeouts in a March 28th victory against the University of Arizona.
Escobedo faced some difficulty early, with Golden Eagle runners on second and third in back-to-back innings before the Sun Devils opened up a lead.
Southern Miss nearly struck first, as Sarah Evans led off the top of the second inning with a single and Selena Estrada followed with a double to the gap in right-center. However, Escobedo was able to escape trouble by striking out three straight Golden Eagles
An almost identical situation occurred in the next inning for Southern Miss, as Escobedo found herself in trouble in the top of the third inning. Rachel Johnson led off the inning by bunting her way onto first and Morgan McKeever drew a walk. A wild pitch moved both runners, and the Golden Eagles had two runners in scoring position with no outs. But Escobedo once again struck out three batters in a row to escape the inning.
ASU was able to score the game’s first run in their half of the third inning. Right fielder Jennifer Soria led off the inning with a walk, and advanced to second after center fielder Alix Johnson laid down a sacrifice bunt. Cheyenne Coyle then drove in Soria with a single down the left field line. Amber Freeman followed with a double to left-center, but the Sun Devils were unable to score any more in the third and the inning ended with ASU up 1-0.
The Sun Devils opened up the game a little bit in their half of the fifth. Soria, Coyle and Freeman drew walks, loading the bases for third baseman Haley Steele. And Steele delivered, knocking a single right up the middle that scored both Soria and Coyle and giving ASU a 3-0 lead.
ASU was able to build on their lead once more in the bottom of the sixth inning. Second baseman Nikki Girard singled, Soria blasted a double off the wall in right field and Johnson drew a walk to load the bases for Coyle. Coyle hit a hard line drive that glanced off the glove of Golden Eagle third baseman Michelle Stringer, scoring both Soria and pinch runner Allie Butterfield and giving Arizona State a 5-0 lead. Freeman then followed with a sacrifice fly, allowing Johnson to score and advancing Coyle to third while stretching the Sun Devil lead to 6-0.
Arizona State will attempt to sweep Southern Miss on Sunday afternoon, as the Sun Devils and Golden Eagles will square off at noon PT.