ASU softball rides offensive explosion to sweep of Kajikawa Classic
ASU softball proved that it's dangerous with bats in its hands after finishing its last day in the Kajikawa Classic by scoring 17 total runs in its doubleheader against Fresno State and UC Riverside.
Coach Craig Nicholson said he doesn't rely on these offensive outbursts frequently but expects the team to be tough outs.
“We’re tough outs on the plate,” Nicholson said. "It doesn’t mean we’re always going to go out there and score nine runs, but we want to be tough outs and make sure we’re having quality at bats.”
It only took until the second inning of the Sun Devils (6-0) first game against Fresno State for the offense let loose as they scored four runs from a combination of walks, hits and errors. The four-run outburst was capped by a two-RBI double by senior shortstop Cheyenne Coyle.
Fresno State changed its pitchers twice during the game but it made no difference to the Sun Devils, who scored another two runs in the third inning.
The Sun Devils held the lead 6-0 until the sixth inning when Coyle blasted a solo home run over the left field fence to give the Sun Devils a 7-0 lead for good.
In the second game against UC Riverside, sophomore second baseman Haley Steele made an impression early with a grand slam over the left-center field fence following two straight walks from UC Riverside sophomore pitcher Ashley Ercolano for a 4-0 lead in the first.
With two runners on base the next inning, Steele earned two more RBIs, singling past the reaching second baseman freshman Haley Harris. Steele's six RBIs come following three days in which she batted just .188.
“It felt great, (it's) a big relief,” Steele said. “It’s always that busting out of preseason (struggle). I’ve always had slow preseason starts, so busting out this early is a big deal.”
It wasn't just the offense that performed well; the pitching was also unhittable.
Fresno State took on the Sun Devils and experienced firsthand why nobody has been able to earn runs against their pitching staff. Senior starting pitcher Dallas Escobedo was infallible again this weekend shutting out the Bulldogs (3-2), allowing just two hits over seven innings.
Escobedo picked up ten strikeouts on the afternoon, while the defense behind her had a few mistakes, committing two infield errors on the day.
The two blemishes were the only real threat from Fresno State, as the rest of the defense was rock solid, avoiding all advances of the Bulldogs offense.
The Highlanders (0-4) came out offensively in the second with two straight singles over the middle infielders, but Girard made a heads up throw to third after bobbling a grounder to tag freshman designated hitter Sommer Wilson out at third and end the Riverside rally.
Baserunning also showed its importance as sophomore left fielder Jenn Soria moved to second after a single, stole third easily and scored standing on a wild pitch. Senior outfielder Bailey Wigness displayed her speed too after a wild throw on a stealing attempt to second sent Wigness rounding third and scoring to widen the lead to 8-0.
UC Riverside got on the board in the fourth inning after sophomore catcher Natalie Sanchez ripped a single to Wigness in right, sending Wilson around third to home making it 8-1.
The Sun Devils finished in the fifth following an RBI single from junior pinch hitter Sierra Rodriguez followed by a high, spinning pop to left from Wigness that resulted in a two RBI double, and moving to the final score of 10-1.
Email the reporter at email@example.com or follow @NolanKwit on Twitter