ASU softball dealt first loss during doubleheader split

Third-ranked Sun Devils come up just short in 3-2 loss to South Carolina after pulling away from Detroit in early game for 6-4 win.

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The No. 3 Arizona State softball team suffered its first loss of the season during a Thursday doubleheader to open the Louisville Slugger Invitational.

ASU defeated Detroit 6-4 in the early game before falling in a dramatic 3-2 decision to SEC powerhouse South Carolina in the second game. The Sun Devils are now 18-1 on the season.

ASU will look to bounce back from the loss Friday night at Farrington Stadium against Florida International.

SOUTH CAROLINA 3, ASU 2

ASU (18-1) suffered its first loss of the season against South Carolina (14-2) in the second game of the Thursday's doubleheader.

Senior pitcher Dallas Escobedo (8-1) hit two batters and gave up five hits and three runs in seven innings. She also struck out 11.

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 in the third.

The Sun Devil bats were silent for most of the night, as ASU left six runners stranded. However, freshman Chelsea Gonzales did her part offensively, going 3 for 3 with two doubles.

In the top of the seventh, 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 mounted a thrilling 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 Bethany Kemp hit a two-run home run over the scoreboard in left field, cutting South Carolina's lead to one.

Gonzales followed with a double to right-center and moved to third base on a Nikki Girard single. Jennifer Soria then pinch-ran for Girard and stole second base. But 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 to end the game.

After the game, Gonzales called the loss a learning experience for ASU.

"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 didn't have to rally in the early game, but they did need to answer the call after a four-run fifth inning made it a 4-4 ballgame against Detroit in the opener of the Louisville Slugger Invitational.

ASU put up three runs in the bottom of the third inning to take control. Sashel Palacios was hit my a pitch and advanced by a bunt single from Bailey Wigness, setting up an Alix Johnson RBI single to score pinch runner Abby Spiel. Johnson and Wigness would both come home on an RBI double from Haley Steele that made it 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 -- two earned -- to even things up.

Mackenzie Popescue (9-0) entered at that point in relief of Alexis Cooper, who pitched 4 2/3 innings and gave up seven hits and two earned runs. Popescue allowed no earned runs and just two hits to quell the Detroit rally and give ASU a chance to pull away.

That chance came with two outs in the bottom of the fifth when 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 an Amber Freeman two-out double to left field that brought home Cheyenne Coyle. Five of ASU's six runs in the game came with two outs.