TEMPE, Ariz. — The third-ranked Arizona State softball team powered its way to an 11-0 start Saturday, shutting out Illinois Chicago 15-0 in five innings and and then beating Illinois State 7-1.
In the opener of the doubleheader, the Sun Devils hit two grand slams — one by Cheyenne Coyle and one by Katee Aguirre — in the fifth inning, a feat ASU also accomplished on April 20 of last year against Stanford.
In the nightcap, Dallas Escobedo struck out 14 to improve to 7-0 and Alix Johnson carries the offense, going 3-for-4 with a run scored and three RBIs to extend her hitting streak to three games.
GAME 1: ASU 15, ILLINOIS CHICAGO 0 (5)
ASU jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Amber Freeman was brought in from second on a single to left-center by Elizabeth Caporuscio. The Sun Devils stretched their 1-0 lead in the second with the help of four straight bases-loaded, two-out walks, the last of which — to Cheyenne Coyle — plated Abby Spiel to make it 2-0. Johnson and Bailey Wigness came then came around to score on an error to extend the lead to 4-0.
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After a three-run fourth, ASU broke things open in the fifth with eight runs on two grand slams and four hits. In just the second at-bat of her career, Aguirre — coming up as a pinch hitter — launched just four batters after Coyle hit one of her own.
With a lead of 15-0, the Sun Devils kept the Flames off the board in the bottom of the fifth to earn the mercy-rule win.
Mackenzie Popescue pitched four complete innings, striking out five in her fourth win of the year. In her second appearance in the circle, Alexis Cooper closed out the final inning and struck out one. UIC’s Devin Miller took the loss to fall to 0-5.
GAME 2: ASU 7, ILLINOIS STATE 1
ASU took control in the second inning, as Nikki Girard scored the first run of the game during Bethany Kemp’s at bat, Sam Parlich followed with an RBI to score Haley Steele, and Johnson homered later in the inning to make it 5-0.
Johnson’s long ball was her second of the year and 18th of her career, and she would go on to finish with three hits, three RBIs and one run scored.
Illinois State didn’t go away, as Jhavon Hamilton scored in the top of the third on a Dallas Escobedo wild pitch.
The Sun Devils responded, though, getting back-to-back homers from Steele and Kemp in the third to make it 7-1. Escobedo did the rest, earning her seventh win of the year by striking out 14, just one shy of her season best.