TEMPE – The No. 5 Arizona State University softball team overcame an early two-run deficit behind the strong relief pitching of Mackenzie Popescue to defeat Tennessee State, 10-3, on Thursday in Tempe, Ariz.
After scoring one in the first, the Sun Devils fell into their biggest hole of the season in the top of the second against the Tigers, giving up three runs in the top of the second to fall into a 3-1 hole. The three runs given up matched the total ASU had given up in six total games heading into the evening.
Mackenzie Popescue entered in relief, picking up the last out of the second inning as she went on to retire 13 straight batters before giving up a leadoff double in the seventh inning. The senior posted four strikeouts and took down 16 of the 17 batters she faced in 5 1/3 inning of work.
With the performance, Popescue picked up her fourth win of the season and maintained her Pac-12 leading ERA of 0.00 in four appearances this season.
Junior Bethany Kemp got the rally started for the Sun Devils with a solo shot to open the bottom of the second, cutting the Tigers lead to one. After back-to-back singles by Nikki Girard and Katie Aguirre, the Tigers walked three straight batters as the Sun Devils would end up scoring four in the inning for a 5-3 lead they would never relinquish.
After a scoreless third, the Sun Devils scored runs in each of the next three innings including solo shots by Nikki Girard (1) and Haley Steele (2) in the fifth and sixth innings.
Elizabeth Caporuscio continued her hot streak with a two-out double in the fourth to score Alix Johnson and pinch runner Abby Spiel. Caporuscio now has a hit in each of the six games she has played this season, the only Sun Devil with a hit in each game she has played.
Seven Sun Devils ended up earning at least one RBI on the evening while seven Sun Devils also scored a hit in the game.
Arizona State now turns its sights to the Littlewood Classic for the rest of the weekend, beginning tomorrow at 6 p.m. MT as the Sun Devils take on the defending NCAA Champion, Oklahoma at Farrington Stadium. The Sun Devils will then follow that game with a contest again SIU-Edwardsville at 8:15 p.m.