ASU softball falls to No. 3 UCLA in extra innings

TEMPE, Ariz. — A pair of home runs by UCLA pitcher Ally Carda produced the tying and go-ahead runs as the second-ranked Bruins defeated the third-ranked Arizona State softball team 9-5 in nine innings on Friday at Farrington Stadium.

With the win, the Bruins (47-6, 18-5 Pac-12) squared the weekend series with the Sun Devils (44-9-1, 15-6-1) at one game apiece after ASU took the opener 2-0 on Thursday night.

Bailey Wigness had two of ASU’s seven hits in the game while Chelsea Gonzales led the Sun Devils with two RBI coming courtesy of her pinch hit in the second inning, which gave ASU its first two runs of the game.

The Sun Devils were an out away from taking the second game before Carda’s solo shot tied the game at 5-5, forcing the contest into extra innings.

Each team had a runner in scoring position in the eighth, but both pitchers, ASU’s Dallas Escobedo and Carda, did not allow anyone to cross the plate.

Gracie Goulder led off the UCLA ninth with a bunt single. She would advance to second on a sacrifice and would score on Carda’s home run to center field that gave UCLA a 7-5 lead. Later in the inning Mysha Sataraka would connect on another two-run shot to extend UCLA’s lead to 9-5.

Wigness led off ASU’s half of the ninth with a single, but the next three Sun Devils would go down in order.

On Thursday, a two-run home run by Amber Freeman in the bottom of the first gave ASU all the offense it would need in its eventual win. The Bruins would flip the script on Friday as Stephany LaRosa connected on a 2-2 pitch that sent the ball over the center field wall to give UCLA a 2-0 lead in the top of the first.

After going down in order in the first inning, the Sun Devils would rally with two runs of their own in the second inning to knot the score at 2-2. With runners at second and third and two outs, Gonzales came in to pinch hit for Katie Aguirre and singled to left to bring home Elizabeth Caporusico and Bethany Kemp.

The game would not stay tied for long, as two of UCLA’s first three batters in the top of the third reached base on bunt singles. A single by LaRosa loaded the bases, setting up Sataraka, who singled to left field to plate two runs and once again give the Bruins a two-run advantage, 4-2.

The Devils would get the second out of the inning on a fielder’s choice, but the Bruins would load the bases again after Alyssa Tiumalu drew a walk. Escobedo, who recorded a two-hit shutout on Thursday, would come on to replace starter Mackenzie Popescue at that point and got the first batter she faced to foul out to get ASU out of the inning.

Like the Sun Devils, the Bruins would bring in the ace of their pitching staff, Carda, to start the third inning. A pitcher’s duel would ensue as Carda (six) and Escobedo (six) would combine to retire the next six 12 batters they faced.

A leadoff double by Nikki Girard to start the bottom of the fifth inning would break the stalemate and ignited a three-run rally for the Devils that would put them in the lead by inning’s end. After Girard’s double, ASU’s next two batters, Jen Soria (walk) and Wigness (single) would each reach base safely to load the bases with no outs.

Abby Spiel, who came in to pinch run for Girard, and Soria both scored on the ensuing at-bat as a ground ball hit by Alix Johnson was botched by UCLA’s infield. Johnson was thrown out after trying to take second on the error.

Coyle would cap the rally with a single to left field, scoring Wigness to give ASU its first lead of the game, 5-4.

The Devils would threaten again after Freeman walked to put runners on first and second with one out. But ASU would strand the two runners, as consecutive fly outs ended the inning.