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ASU softball blows eight run lead to Arizona

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No. 3 Arizona State traveled to Tucson on Friday night just two games back of conference leading Oregon and left a full three games back after a 10-9 walk-off loss to the unranked Arizona Wildcats.

Arizona had lost five straight coming into this year’s Territorial Cup matchup, but the southern rivals managed to erase an eight run deficit to hand the Sun Devils their eighth loss of the season and sixth in conference play.

ASU got off to hot start early, thanks in part to Arizona starter Shelby Babcock’s seven walks in the first three innings of the game. In the second inning, ASU had the bases loaded with two outs and they capitalized on an Alix Johnson two-run single that was followed up by Cheyenne Coyle’s 19th home run of this season to give the Sun Devils a 5-0 lead. The Sun Devils would extend their lead in the third to 8-0 after a three-run homer off the bat of Nikki Girard.

Dallas Escobedo was in the circle for ASU and spotted with an 8-0 lead, it seemed as though a Sun Devil victory was in the cards in front of a sold out Tucson crowd. However, the Wildcats struck right back in the bottom of the third by scoring three runs of their own.

Coming into Friday, Escobedo had allowed 28 home runs on the season and that bug came back and bit the Devils again as Arizona hit two in this game alone off Escobedo.

Arizona catcher Chelsea Goodacre hit both of the Wildcats homers, including a two-run shot in the fifth to bring the score to 9-6, and another two run shot in the sixth to tie the game at nine. Goodacre was three for four on the evening while driving in five of the ten Wildcat runs.

Escobedo would leave the game with two outs in the sixth and the game tied at nine. Escobedo’s line was five and two-thirds innings with nine runs, four of them earned. Her three strikeouts also tied her season low for strikeouts in a game that she started. Mackenzie Popescue came in to relieve Escobedo and get the final out of the sixth.

In the top of the seventh, Babcock sent the Sun Devils down in order to set up a chance for a Wildcat victory. After her rough start, Babcock settled down and only allowed one run in her final four innings of work. She pitched a complete game allowing nine runs on ten hits while striking out two en route to her 16th win of the season.

In the Wildcats half of the seventh, they loaded the bases with nobody out thanks to two hits and a walk. Popescue would then strike out the next two batters to bring up Halie Wilson.

Wilson had not gotten a base hit in her prior four at bats before batting in the seventh. With a 2-0 count, Wilson smashed a single to right that scored Kelsey Rodriguez to give the Wildcats a 10-9 walk-off win.

With the Wildcats victory, the Sun Devils are currently losing 97-92 in the Territorial Cup. These two teams will play twice more this weekend in Tuscon.

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