Escobedo shuts out No. 5 Michigan in ASU softball’s win

FULLERTON, Calif. — The 10th-ranked Arizona State softball team earned its biggest win of the season Thursday with a 2-0 shutout of No. 5 Michigan to open the Judi Garman Classic behind the exceptional pitching of Dallas Escobedo.

With the Sun Devils playing away from Tempe for the first time this season at the Anderson Family Field in Fullerton, Calif., Escobedo threw her second consecutive shutout while holding Michigan (14-4) batters to just one hit and three total base runners on the day to improve to 9-2.

The senior pitcher came out firing, striking out Wolverines leadoff hitter Lyndsay Doyle for her 1,000th career strikeout. She became just the second player in ASU history to achieve that feat but didn’t stop there, striking out the side and five of her first six batters en route to a total of nine strikeouts on the day.

Escobedo retired the first 12 batters she saw and didn’t allow a base runner until she hit Caitlin Blanchard to open the fifth inning. Pinch runner Brandi Virgil advanced to second on a Sierra Lawrence sacrifice bunt and then to third on an Escobedo illegal pitch, but the ASU ace was unfazed, finishing off the inning and what turned out to be the Wolverines’ only real scoring chance.

The no-hitter came to an end on a Nicole Sappingfield infield single in the sixth inning, but Sappingfield would not advance beyond first base, and Michigan never put together any sort of significant rally.

The offense did the rest for the Sun Devils (22-3), giving Escobedo a 1-0 lead in the first inning.

Chelsea Gonzales reached on a single to center field and advanced on an Amber Freeman single. With two outs, Cheyenne Coyle drew a walk to load the bases for Elizabeth Caporuscio, who continued her recent tear with a single to right field to bring home Gonzales for what would prove to be the decisive run.

Caporuscio added another hit and an intentional walk in the contest and is now batting .545 (12 for 22) in her last eight games with a team-leading six RBI and 15 total bases. Her .682 slugging percentage and .615 on-base percentage also lead the team in that span.

Caporuscio did plenty on the defensive end as well, tracking down two long fly balls to the fence — including the final out of the game. 

ASU had plenty of other chances to build on its lead throughout the game, but Michigan pitcher Haylie Wagner was solid in relief duty for the Wolverines, who stranded a total of 12 Sun Devils.

But ASU eventually was able to add some insurance in the third, when Caporuscio scored on a throwing error by Sierra Romero to make it 2-0.

Romero, who entered the game batting well over .500 this season, was held to 0 for 3 with a strikeout.