Just about everything went right for the No. 2 ASU softball team in their nonconference schedule.
Then the calendar flipped to conference schedule and their fortunes flipped as well in the first game.
After stranding eight runners on base, ASU (29-3) lost their Pac-12 opener 3-2 to No. 12 UCLA (24-4) on the road.
Junior pitcher Dallas Escobedo (15-3) allowed two home runs to the Bruins. UCLA came in averaging 1.58 home runs per game, ranking third in Division I.
In the first inning, UCLA sophomore first baseman and pitcher Ally Carda tattooed Escobedo for a two-run shot to left.
Escobedo cruised through the next three innings, getting two double plays from sophomore first baseman Bethany Kemp.
In the fifth inning, ASU tied it up.
Freshman designated player Nikki Girard hit a solo home run to lead off the inning. Later in the inning, sophomore third baseman Haley Steele tied the game on a sacrifice fly.
The Pac-12 foes wouldn’t stay tied for long.
In the sixth, UCLA senior outfielder B.B. Bates hit her 14th home run of the season, a solo shot, to catapult the Bruins back in front. Bates now has the second most home runs in Division I.
Two batters later, junior outfielder Alix Johnson robbed Carda of a home run to center. Johnson took the defensive momentum with her to the plate and doubled to left to begin ASU’s last chance in the seventh.
However, nobody advanced Johnson to third and ASU didn’t score in the inning, ending the game.
ASU stranded eight runners in the game. In the fourth and seventh innings, ASU led off the frame with a double.
The Sun Devils couldn’t capitalize in those situations and didn’t advance the runner in either inning.
ASU matched their season low in runs with two. The main reason was the Sun Devils went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
The other time ASU scored two runs this season was in a 6-2 loss to Baylor, when the Bears handed ASU their first loss of the season.
Carda started the game at first base for UCLA and later picked up the win on the mound. She allowed one hit in 1.2 innings after entering moving to the mound from first in a 2-2 game in the sixth.
ASU could see Carda (15-2) on the hill again tomorrow with a first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m.
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