Escobedo strikes out 16 in Sun Devils’ win

TEMPE, Ariz. — Dallas Escobedo struck out 16, Cheyenne Coyle had three RBIs and the Arizona State softball team defeated Southern Miss 6-0 on Saturday.

Escobedo’s stikeout total tied her career high, with her dominant performance coming almost exactly one month after she recorded 16 strikeouts in a March 28 victory against Arizona.

Escobedo (20-6) faced some difficulty early, with the Golden Eagles (22-27) putting runners on second and third in back-to-back innings before the Sun Devils (41-7) opened up a lead.

Southern Miss nearly struck first, as Sarah Evans led off the top of the second inning with a single and Selena Estrada followed with a double to the gap in right-center. However, Escobedo was able to escape the jam by striking out three straight Golden Eagles to end the frame.

An almost identical situation occurred in the next inning for Southern Miss, as Rachel Johnson led off the inning by bunting her way onto first and Morgan McKeever drew a walk. A wild pitch moved both runners, and the Golden Eagles had two runners in scoring position with no outs. But Escobedo once again struck out three batters in a row to get out of the inning.

ASU plated the game’s first run in the third inning. Right fielder Jennifer Soria led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second on center fielder Alix Johnson’s sacrifice bunt. Cheyenne Coyle then drove in Soria with a single down the left-field line. Amber Freeman followed with a double to left-center, but the Sun Devils stranded two runners, and the inning ended with the Sun Devils up 1-0.

ASU opened up the game up a bit in the fifth. Soria, Coyle and Freeman drew walks, loading the bases for third baseman Haley Steele. Steele delivered for the Sun Devils, knocking a single up the middle that scored both Soria and Coyle to give ASU a 3-0 lead.

The Sun Devils were able to build on their lead once more in the bottom of the sixth inning. Second baseman Nikki Girard singled, Soria blasted a double off the wall in right field and Johnson drew a walk to load the bases for Coyle. Coyle stepped in and hit a hard line drive that glanced off the glove of Golden Eagles third baseman Michelle Stringer, scoring both Soria and pinch runner Allie Butterfield and giving ASU a 5-0 lead. Freeman then followed with a sacrifice fly, allowing Johnson to score and advancing Coyle to third while stretching the Sun Devils’ lead to 6-0.