ASU softball runs past Minnesota 8-0, closes Littlewood Classic undefeated

Junior catcher Mackenzie Popescue (right) winds up for a pitch during the Sun Devils' 5-3 win over Northern Iowa on Feb. 15 (Photo by Dominic Valente)

Junior catcher Mackenzie Popescue (right) winds up for a pitch during the Sun Devils’ 5-3 win over Northern Iowa on Feb. 15 (Photo by Dominic Valente)

The ASU softball team saved its best for last.

In the final game of the Littlewood Classic, the Sun Devils (12-0) defeated Minnesota 8-0 in a lightning-quick one hour, 13 minute affair.

After sweeping doubleheaders Friday and Saturday, ASU played just one game on Sunday.

In ASU’s first game of the Littlewood Classic, the outcome was not decided until the seventh inning. However, in the last four games of the Littlewood Classic, ASU outscored its opponents 39-3.

“I think we all just calmed down,” sophomore catcher Amber Freeman said. “You start off panicky and finally today we just came together as a team. It’s getting used to each other and we’re really coming together.”

Junior pitcher Dallas Escobedo was her usual self on Sunday. The right-handed ace allowed one hit and one walk over five scoreless innings. Escobedo tallied nine strikeouts as well.

Escobedo said her pitch mixture kept Minnesota’s hitters off balance.

“I threw two changeups. … One was up in the zone, that was what got hit,” Escobedo said. “Being able to mix them (pitches) and keep them (hitters) on their toes. I really liked the umpire’s zone, so I kept throwing to where he was going to give me a good call. You find that out in the first and second inning.”

Freeman came to the plate in the third inning and launched her fifth home run of the season, a two-run shot, to deep center field.

Freeman said that early in the game, Minnesota pitcher Kelsey Kimminau kept the ASU hitters guessing with a variety of pitches.

During ASU’s first time through the order, only two batters reached base. Then over the final three innings of play, the Sun Devils plated eight runs off eight hits.

“First inning she was kind of keeping us off-balance,” Freeman said. “She had a pretty good drop ball and changeup. Once we were balanced in the box and cut down our swings, the offense really came around.”

In the fourth inning, junior designated player Lucy Aubrecht smacked a solo home run to deep left field.

In the fifth, ASU’s offense went off. Nine hitters were able to step up to the plate in game-clinching five-run inning.

Sophomore outfielder Elizabeth Caporuscio and sophomore first baseman Bethany Kemp each had RBI doubles in the frame.

Junior shortstop Cheyenne Coyle and sophomore third baseman Haley Steele each had run-producing hits in the inning as well.

“The most important thing about getting ahead on a team is scouting together good at-bats,” Steele said. “Coach (Clint Myers) pointed out at the end of the game even though we didn’t really get on (early) I had a two-out at-bat where I swung at a good pitch.”

 

Reach the reporter at justin.janssen@asu.edu