ASU softball hit the road for the first time this season to the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif., and after four weekends at home the Sun Devils (22-3) proved they could play on someone else’s turf with a 2-0 victory over Michigan.
Senior Dallas Escobedo started in the circle after coming off a no-hitter on Tuesday against Longwood, and continued her hot streak throwing a hitless game into the sixth inning.
She would go on to throw nine strikeouts, passing 1,000 total on her career, and only allow one hit with no walks against the No. 5 Wolverines (14-4). Escobedo said that she said she had several illegal pitch calls against her, but after sorting out the issue the team played everything else smoothly.
“We felt great. I was excited to be playing somewhere different,” Escobedo said. “The girls were excited to get out of Arizona and see some change.”
Escobedo took her first two losses of the season this past week in the Louisville Slugger Invitational, so coming out and throwing five perfect innings after a no-hitter to a top ranked team is an obvious morale booster to Escobedo and teammates alike, Escobedo said.
Junior Amber Freeman was back in to catch for Escobedo after resting a twisted ankle for precautionary measures before coming into the Classic. Freeman is Escobedo’s usual catcher and is a driving force for ASU softball, making her presence on the field a welcome sight.
“She did very well. Her ankle might be a little sore but she pushed it through,” Escobedo said. “Being able to us through to get the job done was very good of her.”
Freeman would get two hits on the night but would have a pinch runner once arriving on base.
The Sun Devils did however deal with a problem that has haunted them lately, the inability to score with runners on base.
Throughout the game there were nine hits, and twelve runners left on base with only two runs scored. Several times the bases were loaded and the Sun Devils failed to score. Only one of their two runs was earned, as the other was reached on a misfire from the shortstop in the third inning.
Early in the year the Sun Devils were a powerhouse at the plate, racking up enough runs to run-rule almost half the teams they played. The Sun Devil bats are working again but they are still struggling to get the clutch hits do major damage.
Regardless, getting the bat on the ball is the first step and the Sun Devils proved they could do that, with six players earning at least one hit.
The Sun Devils will have plenty of time to work on this in the rest of the Classic as they take on Texas and Nebraska on Friday, and San Jose State and Wisconsin on Sunday in doubleheaders.
None of the Sun Devils’ opponents are ranked, but fellow Pac-12 top-10 teams No. 7 UA and No. 6 Washington will also be in Fullerton. This is the first taste of the talent coming up this year, but ASU doesn’t plan on changing anything.
“That’s the way we play ASU softball, and everyone’s happy,” Escobedo said. “There’s going to be pressure coming up, so we have to go one game, one inning at a time.”
Reach the reporter at Nkwit@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @NolanKwit