ASU softball sweeps Stanford in walk-off fashion
A five-run seventh inning climaxed in another walk-off win for ASU softball.
This one, a three-run shot off the bat of senior shortstop Cheyenne Coyle, was the second in the series against Stanford and propelled ASU to a 7-5 victory.
Without a stellar defensive play in the outfield, however, it may not have happened.
It was the sixth inning. ASU needed to get through Stanford’s half without allowing any runs. The Sun Devils had scored two in the bottom fifth, but the Cardinal were still leading 5-2.
The Sun Devils got two quick outs in the top sixth, but a grounder went just out of the reach of sophomore second baseman Nikki Girard. Girard got another chance on the next hitter, but the grounder dribbled between her legs.
With the next at-bat came drama. A fly ball to the wall looked to be gone, but junior left fielder Elizabeth Caporuscio leaped, glove over the wall, and snagged the ball, robbing a three-run home run.
“The play that Liz made in left field probably saved the game,” ASU coach Craig Nicholson said.
The defense did have its miscues, and they were often costly. Senior Dallas Escobedo didn’t pitch poorly but did struggle in the fourth inning.
“We have to make the routine plays,” Nicholson said.
After a base hit and a pair of doubles, a routine pop-up to left field resulted in a bad throw by Caporuscio that sailed past the catcher and allowed the runners on second and third to advance.
“It’s almost like the same people that made the great plays made the errors,” Nicholson said.
Escobedo couldn’t snag a chopper, which allowed another run to score. A pair of outfield bloopers fell just out of the reach of senior center fielder Alix Johnson.
When all was said and done in the fourth inning, Stanford had scored four and taken a 5-0 lead.
“The nice thing with Dallas in that game is we get down 5-0 and she comes out and shuts them down for three innings and gives us a chance to get back in the ball game,” Nicholson said.
ASU was facing freshman right-hander Madi Schreyer, a pitcher who allowed 13 runs to the Sun Devils on Saturday. She was pitching better in this game, though, and Nicholson said she was throwing with more control.
It was not surprising that she had recovered from the brutal Saturday outing; Schreyer, prior to the game, posted a 16-5 record with a 2.37 ERA.
Errors ended up destroying Schreyer’s outing.
The bottom of the seventh began with a hard ground to third off the bat of freshman designated hitter Chelsea Gonzales. Stanford junior third baseman Hanna Winter dove but couldn’t reel it in, and Gonzales was on with a single.
With Johnson on via a single to left field, senior right fielder Bailey Wigness then hit a slow roller to the pitcher. The audience collectively let out their breath; it could be a double play and could ruin the game.
But it wasn't, and it didn't.
Schreyer dropped the ball. This loaded the bases for junior catcher Amber Freeman, a .456 hitter who had the previous ASU RBIs.
Freeman grounded the ball to junior second baseman Erin Ashby. Again, the hit looked to be a gift-wrapped double play. But it went between Ashby’s legs and two runners came home.
Coyle came up to the plate, and the rest is history.
“I was just trying to score the runner on third with a sac fly and get her home, but (Schreyer) just kind of left it right there,” Coyle said.
This gave ASU the three-game sweep against Stanford and gives it momentum over the week heading into a series against the UA.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or follow him on twitter @Logan_Newsman