After a blazing start to the 2013 season, the No. 3 ASU softball team (7-0) looks to continue its hot start in the Littlewood
Classic in Tempe.
ASU outscored its opponents 45-2 in the seven-game opening weekend, which included a victory over now-ranked Kentucky.
Junior pitcher Dallas Escobedo and junior shortstop Cheyenne Coyle were named Pac-12 players of the week.
Escobedo (4-0) won each of her four starts and allowed just one run. She also struck out 39 hitters. In one of her wins, she pitched five perfect innings. In addition, Escobedo picked a save in relief.
Coyle sparked the ASU offense throughout the Kajikawa Classic. She hit .474 on the week and slugged 1.263.
Just about everyone in ASU’s starting lineup is swinging the bat well, except All-American junior outfielder Alix Johnson.
ASU coach Clint Myers said Johnson made up for offensive shortcomings with leadership and on defense.
“You can take the zero-fer at the dish and go out there and manage to control the emotions and lead the team and set the example,” Myers said. “I may not be helping you right now offensively, but hey, I am going to be a whiz on the defense, and we together are going to win,”
Last season, ASU didn’t sprint out of the gate. They started 5-2.
“Last year it was like we went 5-2, and that was just not acceptable,” Escobedo said. “We kind of just looked back and said, ‘This year, that can’t happen. This is our house, our tournament. Teams can’t just come in here and beat us in the first week that we’re playing.’”
The most impressive part about last weekend was the pitching. As a team, ASU has a ridiculous 0.15 ERA.
“This is a good team,” Myers said. “We’re young. We got some people trying to figure stuff out. We had great pitching all weekend long. If you have good pitching, good defense, which we do have, timely hitting, you usually have a chance of winning.”
Junior pitcher Mackenzie Popescue, who hasn’t allowed an earned run all season, agreed with Myers’ sentiment.
“It was really good,” she said. “We had great defense, great hitters. It’s really good to come out with seven wins.”
ASU takes on Northern Iowa and Michigan State Friday in the Littlewood Classic. The Spartans went 11-42 last season and didn’t win a single game in the Big 10 or even at home.
Despite the Spartans’ ugly 2012 record, ASU should keep an eye on senior Kylene Hopkins, who hit .392 last season.
Northern Iowa had a good year in 2012 with a 38-16 overall record.
The Sun Devils then square off against Illinois-Chicago and Illinois State Saturday. In terms of RPI, Illinois State is the best team ASU will face. The Redbirds’ RPI in 2012 was 48.
The next day, ASU concludes the Littlewood Classic with a game against Minnesota. The Gophers and Illinois State competed in the Littlewood Classic last season. ASU beat both teams in run-rule decisions.
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