ASU softball shuts out Creighton, New Mexico to dominate Opening Day

ASU vs. Creighton

ASU softball’s first game of the season mixed spices of offense, but it was senior pitcher Dallas Escobedo and the defense that starred in the 3-0 win over Creighton.

Escobedo was only three outs away from throwing a no hitter in her first performance, allowing only one hit and getting 14 strikeouts while only walking two.

The Sun Devils aggressive style on the base path emphasized by coach Craig Nicholson showed early as leadoff hitter senior shortstop Cheyenne Coyle drew a walk and stole second easily in the first.

 
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Senior outfielder Alix Johnson did her part defensively and stole a home run that would have cleared the centerfield fence if she had not leapt to grab it.

The Sun Devils responded when freshman Chelsea Gonzales drove a ball to the outfield, scoring two on her first at bat as a Sun Devil.

Creighton would be hitless going into the seventh when Escobedo gave up her first hit to senior outfielder Alexis Cantu, who Escobedo hit with a wild pitch in the fourth. Escobedo ended the game only giving up one hit, and stuck out more than half the total outs.

“Hopefully I can keep that up, doing that every game would be fantastic,” Escobedo said. “There’s more to build and it was just great to see how our team was as a whole.”

ASU vs. New Mexico

ASU defeated New Mexico in the second game of its doubleheader in a display of offensive prowess, ending the game in a run-rule call with the score 9-0 going into the bottom of the fifth.

Coyle began the first inning by nearly hitting one out of the park that was caught by sophomore Mariah Rimmer in center field. Coyle then completed a spectacular defensive play when she chased a grounder to the grass of left field between shortstop and third, throwing an off-balance rocket for an out.

Junior first baseman Bethany Kemp would score in the second inning after stealing second following a fielder’s choice. Sophomore catcher Katie Aguirre hit an infield grounder to second that Kemp opportunistically used to score from second the Sun Devils’ first run.

Coyle, who hit five home runs and was named Pac-12 player Of The Week after last year’s Kajikawa Classic, hammered a ball in the third that went well over the left field fence to advance the Sun Devils to a 2-0 lead.

The fourth inning began a defensive train with sophomore first baseman Nikki Girard’s single, followed by Aguirre’s free base after being hit by a pitch, and senior outfielder Bailey Wigness bunting to make the bases load. Coyle approached for her third at-bat of the night and hit a grand slam, extending the lead to 6-0.

“I’m not trying to repeat [last year’s performance] at all, I’m just trying to hit well,” Coyle said. “With two strikes I just try to get on the plate and defend everything.”

Junior catcher Amber Freeman then hit a homerun of her own after Johnson was called out for leaving her base before the pitch was thrown.

New Mexico relieved junior starter Carrie Sheehan in the fourth, with ASU scoring two after the switch.

“Its not one of those things where you get nervous before the game,” Nicholson said. “We’ve got great players, if we execute, go out and do what we got to do then we’re going to have success.”

The Sun Devils hit the field again Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Farrington Stadium.

Reach the reporter at nkwit@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @NolanKwit