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Sun Devils take care of first Pac-12 test

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In the first home series of Pac-12 play, ASU softball went to work. The Sun Devils swept the Oregon State Beavers and the wins came in a variety of ways. ASU pulled out the win in a back and forth game, a walk off, and a blowout victory.

The fielding, which has been sloppy early, tightened up as ASU only committed one error the entire weekend and now sport a .971 fielding percentage.

Two performances in particular stood out. Mackenzie Popescue’s pitching performance Friday night was particularly impressive. “Wild Thing” gave up only two hits and one unearned run in the win. Popescue singlehandedly kept the score tied at one until Cheyenne Coyle finished the game with a walk off grand slam. Popescue is now 15-0 with a 0.92 ERA.

“As a competitor I’m never satisfied,” Popescue said. “My plan is always to throw right at that hitter.”

Amber Freeman also broke out of a small slump on Sunday. After going hitless in her first five at-bats of the series, Freeman went 2-3 with two home runs and four RBIs on Saturday afternoon.

Coyle continues to be the team’s most valuable player. Despite going two for eight at the plate, the Florida transfer scored three times, had eight RBIs and both of those hits were home runs.

Coyle currently holds an amazing.781 slugging percentage and leads the team in runs (44), home runs (12), RBIs (42) and on-base percentage (.511) while tied for the most walks with Alix Johnson (27).

ASU also showed a willingness to adjust. After giving up six hits and four runs Thursday night, Dallas Escobedo came back with a two hit, zero run performance on Saturday afternoon. The Sun Devil pitching staff has a combined ERA of 1.61.

One through nine continues to make the most of their at-bats. Everyone who sees regular playing time is batting at or above a .315 average. In 1,021 at-bats this season, the Sun Devils have scored 287 runs, which is an impressive showing at the plate. This includes a .607 slugging percentage outscoring opponents by a total of 287-65.

ASU continued its dominance against right-handed starters and are now 27-0 in games started against right-handers.

As proven Friday night, the Sun Devils continue to close out games. ASU improved to 17-0 when leading after six innings. “We go into every ballgame expecting to win,” head coach Clint Myers said.

As Freeman proved Saturday, fast starts always favor the maroon and gold. ASU is outscoring opponents 153-20 in the first three innings of games this season.

“When we give her early runs, she (Dallas) can feel more relaxed out there and just throw her game,” Freeman said.

The weak spots of this team are few and far between as it heads to Stanford next weekend. Clint Myers is happy overall with the team to date so far. “Have we played the perfect game? No. Are we getting better? Yes.”

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