TEMPE -- The No. 3 Arizona State University softball team suffered its first loss of the season after splitting a Thursday doubleheader to open the Louisville Slugger Invitational in Tempe, Ariz.
ASU defeated Detroit 6-4 in the early game before falling in a dramatic 3-2 decision to SEC standout South Carolina in the second game. The Sun Devils are now 18-1 on the season.
The Sun Devils will look to bounce back from the loss on Friday night at Farrington Stadium as they face Florida International University at 7 p.m. MT. The game will be live-streamed online for the Pac-12 Network.
Complete recaps of tonight’s action can be found below.
South Carolina 3, ASU 2
The No. 3 Arizona State University softball team (18-1) suffered its first loss of the season against the South Carolina Gamecocks (14-2) in the second game of the doubleheader on Thursday night.
Senior pitcher Dallas Escobedo (8-1) hit two batters and gave up five hits and three runs in seven innings. Escobedo did strike out 11 Gamecocks on the night, continuing her streak of double-digit strikeout games.
Escobedo escaped a bases-loaded jam in the top of the second inning but gave up the first two runs of the game on a two-run home run by South Carolina’s Chelsea Hawkins.
The Sun Devil bats were silent for most of the game as ASU left six runners stranded on base. However, freshman Chelsea Gonzales had an impressive performance, going 3-for-3 with two doubles.
In the top of the seventh inning, Escobedo surrendered a leadoff double to Hawkins, who eventually scored on a sacrifice fly, giving the Gamecocks a 3-0 lead heading to the bottom half of the inning.
The Sun Devils made a thrilling attempt at a comeback in the bottom of the seventh inning, but it was not enough.
Elizabeth Caporuscio was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, and then Bethany Kemp hit a two-run home run over the scoreboard in left field, cutting South Carolina’s lead down to one.
Gonzales followed with a double to right center and moved to third base on a Nikki Girard single. Jennifer Soria pinch ran for Girard and stole second base.
With no outs and runners on second and third, the Sun Devils failed to tie the game or take the lead as Bailey Wigness struck out and Cheyenne Coyle and Alix Johnson flied out in order to end the game.
After the game, Gonzales called the loss a learning experience for the Sun Devils.
“We’re going to come back tomorrow and show what ASU Softball is all about,” Gonzales said. “Obviously, tonight wasn’t our night, but tomorrow is a new day, so we’re going to come back harder tomorrow.”
ASU 6, Detroit 4
The Sun Devils weren’t put into a position where they had to rally, but they did need to answer the call after a four-run fifth inning made it a 4-4 ball game against Detroit in the opener of the Louisville Slugger Invitational.
ASU put up three runs in the bottom of the third inning after Sashel Palacios was hit my a pitch and advanced by a bunt single from Bailey Wigness. That would said up an Alix Johnson RBI single to the pitcher to score pinch runner Abby Spiel.
Johnson and Wigness would both come home on an RBI double from Haley Steele that put the Sun Devils up 3-0.
After tacking on a run in the bottom of the fourth for a four-run lead, the Sun Devils were forced to make some plays after the Titans batted around the order in the top of the fifth, scoring four runs – only two earned – to even the game up.
Mackenzie Popescue (9-0) entered the game in relief of Alexis Cooper, who pitched 4.2 innings and gave up seven hits and two earned runs. Popescue allowed zero earned runs and two hits to quell the Detroit rally and give the Sun Devils a chance to win the game.
That chance came with two outs in the bottom of the fifth as junior transfer Sierra Rodriguez entered the game to pinch hit for Nikki Girard with runners on first and second. Rodriguez lined a hard single to right field, scoring pinch runner Allie Butterfield and providing the winning run for the Devils.
ASU would go on to add one more run in the bottom of the sixth on a Amber Freeman two-out double to left field that brought home Cheyenne Coyle to represent the final score. Five of ASU’s six runs in the game came with two outs.