Caporuscio hits slam as ASU softball handles Cal

TEMPE, Ariz. — Elizabeth Caporuscio hit her first career grand slam and Dallas Escobedo struck out 13 as the seventh-ranked Arizona State softball team beat California 7-2 in the first game of the series Friday.

The Sun Devils (33-6, 7-3 Pac-12) won for the sixth time in their last seven games, evening the team’s record in true road games at 2-2.

ASU wasted no time jumping on Cal (20-12, 3-2 Pac-12). After Golden Bears starting pitcher Stephanie Trzcinski set down the first two Sun Devil hitters in the top of the first, Amber Freeman singled to center to give ASU its first base runner of the game. Haley Steele advanced Freeman to third on a double to center and Cheyenne Coyle loaded the bases with a walk.

That brought up Caporuscio, who took the first ball she saw over the fence in right field for her second homer of the season and first career grand slam. It also improved Caporuscio to 5 for 9 (.556) this season with the bases loaded, giving her two more hits than any other player on the team in those situations.

ASU extended the lead in the top of the third. Caporuscio reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced to second on a Bethany Kemp single to left, and Nikki Girard was hit by a pitch to load the bases again with two outs, bringing up Chelsea Gonzales. Gonzales continued her spree of clutch hitting, lining a shot at the shortstop that bounced off her glove and into left field to bring home Caporuscio and Kemp and make it 6-0.

The Golden Bears answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the third, as Victoria Jones singled to open the inning and came home on a Cheyenne Cordes homer to dead center three batters later to bring Cal back within 6-2.

ASU added some insurance in the top of the sixth. Alix Johnson drew her Pac-12-leading 40th walk of the season to put a runner on with two outs, and Freeman followed with her second hit of the day, a double to left-center to bring home Johnson and extend the advantage to 7-2.

That was more than enough offense to give Escobedo her 15th win of the season.

Capping off a week in which the senior ace was selected first in the National Pro Fastpitch draft and named as a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award, Escobedo finished with 13 strikeouts while giving up just three hits and two walks to improve to 15-5 overall this season. She now has a nation-leading 218 strikeouts, with 43 of those coming in her last three starts.