ASU softball splits doubleheader after rain cancelation

ASU softball traveled to Washington for a planned three-day series but was only able to play a doubleheader Friday because of rain cancelations on the first and third days of the weekend. The Sun Devils took both a win and loss and left 1-1 on the series.

The Sun Devils were, however, able to pack all the drama of a three-day series into just two games, with a seventh-inning comeback victory to begin the morning followed by a 10-inning battle in the afternoon that finished with a walk-off home run from Husky senior first baseman Hooch Fagaly.

UW senior pitcher Kaitlin Inglesby went perfect through six innings for the Huskies but ASU broke through that in the seventh with senior centerfielder Alix Johnson getting her Pac-12 leading 45th walk. Then with a runner on base, junior catcher Amber Freeman launched one over the center field fence to take the lead, before junior third baseman Haley Steele knocked out a solo shot of her own.

The back-to-back home runs gave them the lead they needed for senior pitcher Dallas Escobedo to close the game and take the win with 11 strikeouts and five hits.

The late-inning rally must have inspired the Sun Devils because their bats got working in the second game of the pair as they picked up 14 hits in the afternoon but stranded a season-high 15 base runners.

The Sun Devils scored in the second for an early 1-0 lead off an RBI single by sophomore second baseman Nikki Girard. Bases were loaded in the second, third and fifth innings but five Sun Devils went down on strikes with that opportunity and they couldn’t push any more runs across until the seventh.

Girard knocked in another RBI on the day with a double that scored junior first baseman Bethany Kemp in the seventh for an ASU lead. The Huskies recovered after a single from junior right fielder Kylee Lahners tied things at 2.

Finally in the 10th, Fagaly took the first pitch she saw and ended the game with a home run over the left field fence to split the weekend and take the 3-2 victory for the Huskies.

The double header was played after the game on Thursday afternoon was rescheduled because of rain. The series was to continue with a finale Saturday that was also rained out and ended the weekend early.

The Sun Devils have continued to show their improvement in late-inning games. The first game of the pair was the fifth time in six games the Sun Devils had come back for the victory after having deficits into the fifth inning or later.

This is much improved from the team that began the season seeming to produce better in the early innings of the game. The Sun Devils are still, however, having difficulties with the timeliness of their hits.

They have no problems getting runners on base but there is a lingering issue with stranding base runners that this team hasn’t cracked yet.

The Sun Devils get another crack at it with a home series against Southern Mississippi for a weekend off from Pac-12 play before entering two of their toughest competitors in Oregon and UCLA.

The series begins Friday at 7:00 p.m. back home at the Alberta B. Farrington Softball Stadium.

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