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Arizona State improves to 12-0 with win over Minnesota

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The Arizona State softball team is racing toward the record books.

Dallas Escobedo threw a complete game one-hitter and the Sun Devil offense exploded for five runs in the top of the fifth inning in an 8-0 victory over the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

The Sun Devils needed just five innings to record a mercy-rule victory and improve to 12-0 on the young season.

With the win, Arizona State inches closer to the best start in program history, a 19-0 mark set in coach Clint Myers’ debut season in 2006.

In the first few innings of Sunday’s matchup, the Sun Devils and Golden Gophers appeared primed for a pitchers’ duel.

While Escobedo struck out four of the first six batters she faced, Golden Gophers’ starter Kelsey Kimmanau made it through the first two innings unscathed as well.

However, in the third inning, the Sun Devils finally broke through as catcher Amber Freeman unloaded on the first-pitch of her at bat and belted a two-run homerun to center field.

“Once we were balanced in the box and cut down our swings, you could see our offense really came around,” Freeman said.

Freeman’s homerun gave her team a 2-0 lead, and designated player Lucy Aubrecht added a solo shot of her own in the fourth inning to give the Sun Devils a 3-0 cushion.

The Gophers would try to respond, but Phoenix native Kaitlyn Richardson’s single in the bottom of the fourth inning was the only hit that the Minnesota offense could muster against Escobedo.

Escobedo recorded two strikeouts in four of the five innings she pitched and added a single strikeout in the third inning to reach a grand total of nine strikeouts on the afternoon.

“I really liked the umpire’s zone so I kept throwing to where he was going to give me a good call. You find that out in the first and second innings and you keep going with it,” Escobedo said.

Though Escobedo didn’t need the extra run support, the Sun Devils provided her with plenty of offense to go around.

In the fifth inning, Bailey Wigness hit a leadoff single that ignited a five-run rally. Six different Sun Devils reached base as Arizona State batted around as the maroon and gold pushed the lead to 8-0.

Coach Clint Myers was most pleased with the patience his hitters displayed and noted that they were selective throughout the game.

“We’re starting to get better quality at bats. If we can continue to have quality at bats, it enhances our chance at success,” Myers said.

Armed with an eight-run advantage, Escobedo showed off her rise-ball in the game’s final frame by striking out Paige Palkovich and Brandi McGregor before getting Erika Smyth to fly out to end the game.

Sunday’s win marked the fourth time this season the Sun Devils have recorded a win by the mercy rule and they hope to carry over their success into next weekend’s four-game series against Portland State.

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