ASU softball sweeps final day of Judi Garman Classic

FULLERTON, Calif. — The No. 10 Arizona State softball team wanted to end its first weekend on the road with a statement and did so on Saturday with five-inning sweeps of San Jose State and Wisconsin on the team’s final day at the Judi Garman Classic.

The Sun Devils jumped on San Jose State early on their way to a 10-1 victory before taking care of business against the Badgers in a 9-1 rout to wrap up the weekend. ASU improved to 26-3 on the season after finishing the weekend 5-0.

Dallas Escobedo was brilliant at the Judi Garman Classic, pitching two one-hitters against nationally ranked teams in a 2-0 victory over No. 5 Michigan and a 1-0 victory over No. 16 Nebraska. Escobedo gave up her first run in four games in the first inning against Wisconsin, but she rebounded to pitch four solid innings to close the game out without another scratch.

Escobedo finished the weekend 3-0 with just five hits and one earned run allowed while pitching two complete game shutouts.  She allowed an opponent batting average of just .079 in the three starts and struck out 25 batters while giving up zero walks.

Offensively, the Sun Devils had five home runs on the weekend, with Amber Freeman leading the team with two homers — including her first grand slam of the season — and seven RBI.  Bailey Wigness was the most consistent hitter in the five games, finishing at .600 with a team-leading .667 on-base percentage and the game-winning hit in extra innings against Nebraska.

Complete recaps from the final two games of the Judi Garman Classic can be found below.

ASU 10, SAN JOSE STATE 1

The Sun Devils opened the Saturday doubleheader as the visiting team for the first time this season and wasted no time taking advantage.

Alix Johnson led the game off with a walk to bring up freshman Chelsea Gonzales, who took a 1-0 pitch down the left-field line and hooked it around the foul pole for her fourth home run of the season and a 2-0 lead right of the gates.

ASU didn’t take its foot off the gas pedal in the second as Elizabeth Caporuscio, Katee Aguirre and Bailey Wigness all reached to bring up Johnson, who reached on an error that scored Caporuscio. Gonzales walked to reload the bases and set up Haley Steele, who cleared the bags with a double to the left-center gap and a 7-0 lead.

The Sun Devils would add two more in the third. Caporuscio reached on a leadoff double and advanced on a Katee Aguirre single. Wigness then plated Caporuscio on a single to shortstop, and Abby Spiel scored as a pinch runner on a Johnson single.

Johnson added the final run of the game with a solo shot to left for her fifth home run of the season and a commanding 10-0 lead.

Mackenzie Popescue was again solid for the Sun Devils, escaping a first-inning jam with runners on second and third and proceeding to mow down nine of the next 11 batters to put up a shutout through four innings. 

The Spartans would add a run in the fifth inning off Alexis Cooper in relief, but the damage was done, and ASU picked up its 12th run-rule victory of the season. Popescue earned the victory, her team-leading 13th of the season, to improve to 13-1.

ASU 9, WISCONSIN 1

The Sun Devils entered the final game of the weekend knowing they couldn’t overlook a Wisconsin team that had defeated No. 7 Arizona just over 12 hours earlier and previously gave No. 6 Washington a run for its money.

After ASU went down in order to open the game, Dallas Escobedo gave up her first and only run of the weekend on a solo shot by Mary Massei, putting the Sun Devils in an early hole.

But they dug out of that quickly, scoring six runs in the second inning to take complete control.

The first four ASU batters of the second inning all reached base without a hit, as Steele got on via error, Cheyenne Coyle reached on a catcher’s interference call, and back-to-back walks by Caporuscio and Bethany Kemp loaded the bases and scored Steele. From there, the Devils blew the game open. Nikki Girard launched a double that bounced off the center-field wall to score Coyle and Caporuscio, Wigness reached on a walk and Johnson scored Kemp on a single down the right-field line.

Amber Freeman then hit a two-RBI single to left to score Girard and Wigness, and the Sun Devils found themselves in command with a 6-1 lead.

ASU went down harmlessly in the third and fourth, but the bats came alive again in the fifth. Caporuscio reached on a fielder’s choice and scored from first on a Kemp double to left field, bringing up Girard again. The sophomore shook off her recent hitting woes with a monster blast to left field for the her second home run of the season and her third and fourth RBI of the game, giving ASU a 9-1 lead.

Despite allowing the home run in the first, Escobedo pitched another gem, striking out six and allowing just two other hits. Wisconsin challenged again in the fourth, putting runners on second and third with no outs, but Escobedo drew two groundouts to get out of the inning safely.

Back-to-back 1-2-3 innings to end the game gave Escobedo her 11th win of the season.