ASU softball uses early home runs to secure sweep of California
The Sun Devils just seem to be getting better and better.
ASU softball swept its series against California with a 10-0 victory in five innings led by a bolstering multi-home-run game from junior catcher Amber Freeman.
The offense cracked the code of the Golden Bears' (20-14, 3-4 Pac-12) pitching staff and was unstoppable from the beginning.
Freeman got things started for the Sun Devils (35-6, 9-3 Pac-12) with a solo home run to begin in the first inning that was followed up with another home run in the third. Each was launched to a different side of the outfield fence and she later was walked to go a perfect 2-for-2 on the day.
The lineup would not let Freeman steal the show as both senior center fielder Alix Johnson and junior first baseman Bethany Kemp hit solo home runs of her own. Each of the first four hits of the day were launched over the fence and gave the Sun Devils a 4-0 lead by the third inning.
Every player in the Sun Devil lineup gathered at least one hit on the day, totaling 13 in the five-inning game.
Coach Craig Nicholson has been adamant that home runs are not the basis of a good offense, quality at-bats are, which the Sun Devils proved in the fifth inning with a string of hits that added another six the scoreboard.
Notably, freshman Chelsea Gonzales found herself in another bases loaded situation and executed a double to score two runs and keep the momentum building for this talented young player.
Freeman’s homers would not be her only contribution as she caught for senior Dallas Escobedo, who threw 10 strikeouts in her outing.
Escobedo recorded 23 strikeouts in her twelve total innings against the Golden Bears while only giving up six hits. She continuously shows her dominance in the circle under any circumstance and the offense can always relax when she’s representing in the circle.
The Golden Bears just couldn’t play at the same level as the strong Sun Devil team that forced a pitching change in the third. Offensively, the Golden Bears could not get much working and provided very little pressure against Escobedo.
The sweep is big for the Sun Devils, as each game of conference play at this point can affect who comes out as Pac-12 champion. ASU moves to second place in the Pac-12 behind an undefeated Oregon squad.
The Sun Devils return home to Farrington Stadium for their upcoming series against Utah beginning Thursday at 7 p.m.
Reach the reporter at Nkwit@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @NolanKwit