ASU softball finishes Diamond Devil Invitational at 17-0

BY foxsports • February 23, 2014

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The No. 4 Arizona State softball team finished up its third home tournament in as many weeks with a doubleheader sweep of Drake and Idaho State on Sunday to close out the 2014 Diamond Devil Invitational.

ASU didn't need seven innings in either game, knocking off the Bulldogs in six with a 9-1 victory before putting up a season-high 13 runs against the Bengals in five-inning 13-1 win.

With the pair of wins, the Sun Devils improved to 17-0 on the season, having outscored their opposition 56-7 over the course of the tournament's six games in four days while giving up just three earned runs in that span.

The dynamic duo of Dallas Escobedo and Mackenize Popescue again was exceptional in the circle, as Escobedo gave up zero earned runs in 14 innings pitched on the weekend, striking out 26 and walking just two. Popescue had two victories and an ERA of just 0.70. Alexis Cooper also picked up her first two wins of the seasons, allowing a team-low opponent batting average of .125 in her two appearances.

The ASU bats came alive on the weekend, as the team combined for 14 long balls in the six games played -- notable since the Sun Devils entered the weekend with 15 home runs on the season.

Alix Johnson led the way with three home runs on the weekend -- including a grand slam in the final game -- while Jenn Soria, Cheyenne Coyle Chelsea Gonzales and Katee Aguirre each had two on the weekend.

Amber Freeman did it all at the plate, finishing the weekend with 11 hits on 15 at bats for a whopping .733 batting average. Soria led the team with nine RBI.

ASU 13, IDAHO STATE 4

In their final game of the 2014 Diamond Devil Invitational, the Sun Devils (17-0) run-ruled the Bengals (6-5) for the second time in 24 hours with a 13-4 victory at Farrington Stadium.

It did not take long for the ASU to get on the board, as leadoff hitter Jennifer Soria scored from second on an RBI single from Amber Freeman in the bottom of the first. Outfielder Elizabeth Caporuscio added another run on a RBI double up the first-base line, scoring outfielder Alix Johnson. The Sun Devils weren't done there, as first baseman Bethany Kemp hit a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring third baseman Haley Steele to give ASU a 3-0 lead after one.

In the second inning, the Sun Devils did not take their foot off the gas, putting up nine runs -- the highest single-inning tally of the season. It began as the first three batters of the inning; second basemen Nikki Girard, right fielder Bailey Wigness, and Soria, managed to load the bases. Johnson then approached the plate and took full count pitch over the right field fence for the grand slam and her third home run of the weekend.

With two outs in the same inning, Freeman scored with Girard at the plate on a wild pitch. Girard then walked, loading the bases, and Wigness -- in her second at bat of the inning -- singled over the shortstop, scoring Steele.    

Soria then stepped up for her second at-bat of the frame and drove a bases-clearing double to the wall, scoring Kemp, Girard and Wigness for the final three runs of the inning and giving ASU a 12-0 lead heading into the top of the third.

Due to a couple defense miscues in the third inning, the Sun Devils gave up four runs, but they added a run of their own in the bottom half the inning when Chelsea Gonzalez drove in catcher Sashel Palacios on an RBI single for the final run of the game.

It was a joint effort in the circle for ASU, as ace Dallas Escobedo gave up just one hit in two innings of work before Alexis Cooper pitched the final three innings, allowing the Bengals just one earned run and picking up the victory.

ASU 9, DRAKE 1

In their second matchup against the Drake in four days, the Sun Devils run-ruled the Bulldogs (2-13) in six innings in a 9-1 effort.   

The offense scored in bunches, with the first runs coming in the second inning on second baseman Chelsea Gonzales' two-run homer -- her second of the weekend -- to bring in Elizabeth Caporuscio and give ASU an early 2-0 lead.

After being held scoreless in the third and fourth innings, the Sun Devil offense again awoke in the fifth with a five-run inning. The first run came off a single from designated hitter Amber Freeman, scoring shortstop Cheyenne Coyle. Haley Steele then followed with an RBI single of her own to score outfielder Alix Johnson. With two outs, catcher Katee Aguirre hit a three-run shot over the left-center field fence to score Caporuscio and Steele, putting ASU in control.

In the sixth inning, the Sun Devils put up their final two runs, the first on a sacrifice fly by Johnson that scored outfielder Bailey Wigness and the second when Coyle scored from third on a sacrifice fly by Freeman.    

Pitcher Mackenzie Popescue moved to 8-0 on the season by surrendering only one run on four hits and a walk while striking out three.


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