Arizona State began the Tempe Super Regional on the right foot by fending off a late comeback by the Kentucky Wildcats to earn a 5-4 victory and a one to nothing lead in the best of three series.
Dallas Escobedo got the ball for the Sun Devils in game one and after a stellar performance in last week’s regional, Escobedo’s regular season problem of allowing the long ball, made its return on Saturday. Escobedo allowed four Wildcat homers in her six innings of work. She allowed four runs on seven hits while striking out two.
“Rise ball pitchers are susceptible if you don’t locate well,” Coach Clint Myers said. “Dallas pitched a good ball game, good enough to get the win,”
The Sun Devils jumped out to three run lead in the third on a three run homer by Cheyenne Coyle, her 20th of the season, tying a Sun Devil program record.
“With two strikes I tried to make an adjustment,” Coyle said. “I shortened up and she left me a good pitch to hit.”
Coyle went one for two at the plate including an RBI sac fly that scored Alix Johnson in the fifth. Johnson also had an RBI on three hits.
“I finally hit the ball the way I have wanted to hit the ball all season,” Johnson said. “You can’t go up there swinging for a home run, you just have put the bat on the ball,”
After falling behind 5-1 after five innings, the Wildcats answered with three runs of their own in the sixth. Solo shots from Lauren Cumbess, Krystal Smith, and Christian Stokes cut the Sun Devil lead to 5-4. Stokes was two for three on the night with both hits being solo homers.
Kentucky starter Kelsey Nunley completed her night by sending the Sun devils down in order in the sixth. She finished with six innings and five runs allowed on five hits with one strikeout.
Escobedo exited after the sixth allowing Mackenzie Popescue to come in and close it out. Popescue pitched around a walk to finish off the game and earn her third save of the season.
“We said it would be an exciting softball game and it was,” Myers said. “We had some key performances from Popescue to close the door and some key hits from Coyle and Johnson.”
Game two is scheduled for 2 PM on Sunday. If needed, game three will be at 5 PM.