On a rare cloudy day in Tempe, the ASU softball team’s unblemished record was put under a cloud of doubt.
After starting the season with 21 consecutive wins, ASU (21-1) was beaten in every facet of the game in a 6-2 loss to Baylor (19-3).
“It was a pretty good run,” Myers said. “We’ve said all along that North Carolina and Baylor are going to be two very tough teams. They outperformed us. They outhit us. They outpitched us.”
Baylor pitcher redshirt junior Whitney Canion (9-2) kept ASU’s bats off-balance all afternoon with 11 strikeouts. ASU scored a season-low two runs on four hits against Baylor. Neither run was earned.
“Anytime you are facing a leftie pitcher, it’s a little bit more difficult,” junior outfielder Alix Johnson said. “She was slinging the ball, and she was throwing the ball pretty firm, hard. Probably one of the best pitchers we’ve faced so far. We just need to get more comfortable with a left-handed pitcher up at bat.”
Johnson reached base three times. She said she didn’t see many off-speed pitches, but the slower pitches fooled some of her teammates.
“It’s obviously disappointing,” Johnson said. “No team wants to lose, especially when we’re on a 21-0 winning streak. Stuff happens. We’re going to lose games.”
Junior pitcher Dallas Escobedo (11-1) didn’t have her best stuff on the mound and took the loss for ASU. Escobedo lasted just three innings on the hill and allowed four runs and three home runs.
In the first inning, ASU scored its only two runs of the game. Johnson and junior shortstop Cheyenne Coyle led off the game with walks.
Baylor tried to pick off Johnson at second, but Johnson bolted for third. Baylor second baseman freshman Robin Landrith’s throw to third sailed into ASU’s dugout. Johnson was awarded home and Coyle advanced to third.
Later in the inning, Coyle scored on a sacrifice fly, meaning ASU put two runs across without a hit.
Just when it felt like the game was settling into a pitcher’s duel in the third inning, Baylor’s offense geared into full throttle.
With two outs, Baylor hit back-to-back home runs off Escobedo. Escobedo struck out the final hitter that inning, but her day was over.
For nearly four weeks, when ASU faced adversity, it bounced back. It was unable to respond against Baylor.
Johnson and Coyle reached base again in the third trailing 4-2, but their teammates stranded them both.
Junior pitcher Mackenzie Popescue entered in the fourth inning, but she too was victimized by the long ball. Landrith made up for her earlier defensive miscue with a two-run home run.
It was the fourth home run given up by ASU on the afternoon, all of them coming against freshmen.
“We know we’re a better team,” Escobedo said. “We’re better (at) pitching than we have shown. It’s just a learning experience. Of course you don’t want to lose when you’re on such a streak, but hey, sometimes you’ve got to get checked.”
In the sixth inning, ASU had another solid opportunity to get back in the game. With runners at first and second and one out, ASU squandered the chance with back-to-back strikeouts.
In the seventh inning, ASU didn’t have much hope. The first two hitters were retired and Coyle ended up striking out to end the game.
“These are the type of games that you have to go out and really do the things you practice,” Myers said. “It is what it is. We just weren’t good offensively. They got six runs all on home runs. If those were singles, we’d probably still be playing.”
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