It would have been a dream come true for ASU softball to sweep its series against rival UA, but the Sun Devils couldn’t pull out the win in extra innings and settled with a 6-5 loss.
Neither the Sun Devils (32-6, 6-3 Pac-12) nor the Wildcats (29-8, 4-5 Pac-12) were comfortable in a game that could — and would — change with the single swing of a bat. The game took on a bit of a mirror image as each team reacted to the other’s success in startlingly similar fashion.
From the first two hitless innings, it was obvious that neither team was going to give the other an inch, but it became much more evident after a home run from junior catcher Amber Freeman was the first run to light up the board. Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, the Wildcats’ own junior catcher, Chelsea Goodacre, immediately responded with a homer of her own to tie the game early.
“When one team scored, the other team went back in the dugout and scored that inning,” Freeman said. “I mean, it’s always like that with a rivalry series, anything can happen. They fought, and we fought, and they were the ones that were able to pull it out.”
Pitching played a large part of the game with senior Dallas Escobedo in the circle, who began the game with five strikeouts in the first two innings. She would move on to record 14 in her nine innings in the circle, but timely hitting from the Wildcats foiled her performance.
“I think that I did good enough as far as I could,” Escobedo said. “Staying with my game and my plan and being successful with what I throw is the way I pitch. … Every batter could have changed that game.”
The Wildcats got nine strikeouts of their own during the entire 10 innings, with the game ending on a looking strike called with bases loaded.
The Sun Devils had the lead after a powerful hit from junior left fielder Elizabeth Caporuscio scored two runs to give the Sun Devils a two-run lead that would last until the final out of regulation time when the Wildcats tied it up in dramatic fashion.
The Sun Devils held the lead into the final out of regulation play thanks to a high fly ball to center, just short of being a home run, that ricocheted off the wall to score two runs and gave Caporuscio a triple.
This is when the Wildcats proved their desire to take home at least one win as they rallied at their last possible chance to squeeze two runs across the plate to push the game into extra innings.
A two-run shot from both sides pushed the game into the ninth inning before the Wildcats scored and held the Sun Devils in the 10th.
The Sun Devils were coming into the game looking for a sweep after winning a point in the Territorial Cup Series on Saturday, but coach Craig Nicholson said he thinks that the loss isn’t as important finding the trouble spots in his team.
“We didn’t play bad, but we definitely gave away some opportunities to win that ballgame,” Nicholson said. “We didn’t capitalize. We left too many runners on base and I thought they really picked who they wanted to pitch to tonight … and we didn’t get that key hit when we needed it.”
On the bright side for the ASU faithful, the two wins earlier on the weekend still gave the Sun Devils the series victory over their rivals and can take solace in that.
Now, the Sun Devils look toward the rest of their Pac-12 games and feel good about where they stand.
The Sun Devils will be traveling to Berkley, Calif., to begin their next series against California on Friday beginning at 3 p.m.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @NolanKwit