(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)
Arizona State sweeps Diamond Devil double-header, improves to 17-0
By Jake Gadon
Dominance on the diamond propelled the Arizona State softball team to two more wins on Sunday to help the team improve to 17-0 on the season.
In the first game, the Sun Devils took care of business against the Drake Bulldogs, winning 9-1 in six innings behind the stellar pitching of Mackenzie Popescue. Popescue retired the first three Drake batters she faced, only giving up one earned run in the game, which she gave up in the sixth inning off of a Hayley Nybo sac-fly that scored Sarah Ryan.
The Sun Devil bats came alive in the second as Elizabeth Caporuscio started a rally, doubling to left field that led to a Chelsea Gonzales home run to dead center, Gonzales’ second home run on the weekend.
The bats weren’t done yet, as Katee Aguiree stepped up in the bottom of the fifth and hit a three-run homerun, her second on the season.
The game ended on one of the more controversial calls of the weekend as ASU was leading Drake 8-1 when catcher Amber Freeman stepped to bat with shortstop Cheyenne Coyle on third base. Freeman hit a long fly ball that popped out of the left fielder’s glove before she nabbed it with her throwing hand. Coyle, thinking the ball was caught after the umpire signaled out, tagged up to go home and scored. Drake head coach Rich Calvert argued that Coyle left early, but the call was not overturned.
“I think we are playing well,” ASU coach Craig Nicholson said. “We started a bunch of different lineup the past three games, and different people are coming through on different days, and that’s a good thing down the road.”
The second game was the Jennifer Soria story, who exploded this weekend with two doubles, two home runs and nine runs batted in.
The Sun Devils started early with three runs in the first, highlighted by another Elizabeth Caporuscio double to right center.
“We (were) great. Espcially some of the younger girls they came in and did a great job”, Caporuscio said. “It feels great everyone hitting, people are hitting multiple home runs. As a team we are really coming together”.
Then, an Alix Johnson grand slam in the second knocked out Idaho State pitcher Haley Douglas, who gave up nine runs over an inning of work. The Sun Devils weren’t done yet as a bases clearing double by Soria ended a nine-run inning for the Devils.
“I’m just trying to stay relaxed and having a routine”, Soria, who hopes to get more playing time after this successful weekend, said.
Dallas Escobedo started the game, but only went two innings with no earned runs and four strikeouts. Alexis Cooper came in after and finished the Bengals chances off a come back, only giving up 1 earned run.
Soria, along with Alix Johnson, helped ASU put 14 over the wall at Farrington Stadium this weekend. Soria also led the team this weekend with nine RBIs in only nine at bats.
“I mean we are playing. This game put us at 17-0? We are coming together as a team, especially with the new coach staff “ Johnson explained. “People are really getting a feel of what ASU softball is all about.”
The dominance carried over to the circle as the all-star duo of Dallas Escobedo and Mackenzie Popescue finished the weekend almost perfect, only giving up one run and striking out 32 as both finished 2-0 on the weekend.
“The competition over the next couple of weeks is going to get a little better and that’s good for us,” Nicholson said. “We need to test ourselves against better ball clubs. How are we going to respond to that? It is important for us to continue to be prepared for what we will see in the next couple of weeks.”
The Sun Devils will be participating in the Louisville Slugger Invitational next weekend with the first pitch at 5 pm on Feb. 27 against Detroit.