ASU softball rallies, pulls away from Tennessee State

TEMPE, Ariz. — The No. 5 Arizona State softball team overcame an early two-run deficit behind the strong relief pitching of Mackenzie Popescue to defeat Tennessee State 10-3 on Thursday.

After scoring one run 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 behind 3-1. The three runs given up matched the total ASU had given up in six games combined heading into the evening.

Popescue then entered in relief, picking up the last out of the second inning and going 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 innings 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 on the 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 3-2. After back-to-back singles by Nikki Girard and Katie Aguirre, ASU batters drew three straight walks, giving the Sun Devils two runs and a 4-3 lead. They would end up scoring four runs in the inning for a 5-3 advantage they would never relinquish.

After a scoreless third, ASU scored runs in each of the next three innings, getting solo shots from 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 ASU players ended up earning at least one RBI on the evening. Seven players also had at least one hit in the game.