The No. 7/5 Arizona State University softball team was looking to rebound from its offensive struggles following yesterday's 3-2 loss to Oregon State in the team's Pac-12 opener. The Sun Devils did that and more on Saturday as the team rolled over the Beavers, 11-0, in five innings to even the weekend series in Corvallis, Ore.
Alix Johnson and Bethany Kemp each had home runs in a five-run fifth inning to help the Sun Devils (27-4, 1-1 Pac-12) put the hammer down on the Beavers (10-16, 1-1 Pac-12) and earn the team's first Pac-12 victory of the season.
After managing just two runs against Oregon State yesterday, the Sun Devil bats came alive in the second game of the three-day series as eight of the nine ASU starters picked up a hit in the game.
Bailey Wigness appeared in the two-hole for the first time this season and sparked the ASU offense with three hits and a walk, reaching base on all four at-bats on the day and scoring two runs in the process.
Haley Steele added three hits on four at bats as well with two RBI while Kemp led the way with four RBI on 2-of-3 hitting with a walk.
Mackenize Popescue was solid in the circle, pitching a complete-game shutout as she improved to a team-leading 14 wins on the season. Popescue struck out three and walked two as she picked up her third shutout of the season.
ASU doubled its offensive output from Friday's game in the first inning on Saturday. Alix Johnson reached on a leadoff walk and was advanced on a masterful bunt hit by Wigness. An Amber Freeman walk set up a Haley Steele RBI single to left field to plate Johnson and give the Sun Devils an early 1-0 lead.
Facing two outs and the bases loaded, Kemp drew an RBI walk to extend ASU's lead to 2-0, bringing up Elizabeth Caporuscio and a two-RBI laser to center field to give ASU a 4-0 lead through one.
After a scoreless second and third innings, the Sun Devil offense poured it on in the fourth. Wigness reached on a leadoff walk and back-to-back singles by Freeman and Steele loaded the bases for Cheyenne Coyle, who drew an RBI single.
Kemp would follow that up with a single to left field to score Freeman and give the Sun Devils a 6-0 lead through four.
ASU put the game away in the fifth as Johnson set the tone for the inning with a leadoff solo shot to right field for her sixth of the year.
The brought up Wigness, who reached for the fourth time of the game on a single to the shortstop and an advance on a throwing error. Steele brought Wigness home with a single to center field and was replaced by pinch-runner Allie Butterfield.
Coyle rocketed a ball to the fence in left center field on the next at-bat, bringing home a charging Butterfield from first on the double. Kemp would bring Coyle home and wrap up the scoring as she launched her team-leading eighth home run of the season to left field for the decisive 11-0 lead.
The Sun Devils return to the field tomorrow at Noon p.m. PT/MT for the rubber game as they look to win the first Pac-12 series of the season. A live blog of the event will be available via www.TheSunDevils.com.
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