It may not have been breathtaking or awe-inspiring, but the No. 3 ASU softball team succeeded in the first round of the Women’s College World Series.
The Sun Devils (52-9) recorded just three hits, but benefited from a couple of mental lapses by the No. 11 Oregon Ducks. Freshman catcher Amber Freeman recorded the Sun Devils’ only RBI when she belted a double off the right-centerfield wall in the bottom of the first.
“Before the game I was honestly a little nervous, but when I stepped in the box, I told myself it was just another softball game,” Freeman said. “This has been my dream since I was a little girl. I just wanted to stay as calm and relaxed as possible. I just told myself to go out there and have fun.”
The Sun Devils scored two runs on an error by senior shortstop Kelsey Chambers to widen the gap to 3-0 in the bottom of the third. It was the first of two errors by the Ducks.
Sophomore pitcher Dallas Escobedo captured the win for the Sun Devils and struck out five batters in the process.
Escobedo won the program’s second national championship last year and said Thursday’s trip to the mound brought back memories. Yet she focused back on her performance against Oregon earlier this year as a guide on how to pitch against the opposition.
“They did come out very aggressive, so I was kind of thrown off,” Escobedo said. “I had to just focus in and mentally get through it.”
Oregon junior pitcher Jessica Moore, who was lights out when the teams squared off in late March, pitched well enough to be on the winning side of most bouts. Yet Oregon’s mistakes cost her. Oregon junior outfielder Samantha Pappas crushed a double on the first pitch of the game. The Ducks then got what looked to be a sacrifice fly that would give them the lead, but Pappas left third base early and was subsequently doubled up to end the inning.
ASU coach Clint Myers noted the Ducks have now become one of the stronger teams in the Pac-12.
“They have really come a long way and they are going to be a force to be reckoned with for a long time,” Myers said. “They have got great coaches and great athletes.”
The win was ASU’s first victory over a conference opponent in the Women’s College World Series since 2008, when it defeated UCLA en route to its first national championship.
ASU will face No. 2 Alabama, which won its opening contest against SEC foe No. 7 Tennessee, on Friday at 9:30pm ET.
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