The No. 7 Arizona State University softball team rallied in the bottom of sixth inning, scoring five runs to erase a two-run deficit and defeat the Utah Utes, 7-4, completing the sweep at Farrington Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The win came on senior pitcher Dallas Escobedo's 22nd birthday as she earned her 18th victory of the season. Escobedo struck out two batters and gave up three earned runs in seven innings pitched.
Escobedo's unearned run came in the third inning after an illegal pitch that lead to a walk, an outfield error and a sacrifice fly that tied up the game at 1.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, lefty Alix Johnson hit an RBI single to the opposite field, scoring Abby Spiel and giving the Sun Devils a 2-1 lead.
ASU (37-6, 12-3 Pac-12) would eventually miss out on a huge scoring opportunity in the fourth, leaving the bases loaded after hitting into an inning-ending double play.
After a scoreless fifth inning, the Utes (16-19, 3-11 Pac-12) answered back with a three-run home run by Marissa Mendenhall in the top of the sixth, giving them a 4-2 lead. Mendenhall also hit a home run off of Escobedo in the first game of the series.
However, the Sun Devil bats came in clutch in the bottom half of the inning.
Cheyenne Coyle hit a sacrifice fly to right center with the bases loaded as Sierra Rodriguez scored and Bailey Wigness advanced to third.
Junior catcher Amber Freeman then lined a RBI single to left field, scoring Wigness and tying the game up at 4.
With runners on first and second, Haley Steele hit a 2-RBI double to right center, giving the Sun Devils a 6-4 lead. Steele leads the team in RBI with 41.
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— ASU Softball (@ASUSoftball) April 12, 2014
Freshman Chelsea Gonzales ended up knocking in another run after a fly-ball single to center field that got lost in the sun and dropped harmlessly.
Escobedo went into the circle in the top of the seventh inning and retired the side in order to give ASU a 7-4 comeback victory. It was ASU's fourth victory in the last five opportunities when the team has come back after trailing following the fifth, sixth or top of the seventh innings this season. That's notable as ASU was 0-5 in such games to start the season prior to the recent streak.
After the game, Freeman and Steele talked about the team's patience at the plate when the game is on the line.
"We never freak out," Freeman said. "We don't press."
"I honestly love the pressure," Steele said. With modesty, Steele also said, "I didn't even know I lead the team in RBI. It just so happens that I hit fourth and my teammates get on base for me."
On a weekend where he earned his 1,000th victory as a head coach, Craig Nicholson said that the Utes were a scrappy team and played hard in all three games.
"I don't know that we played great, but I thought we competed well." Nicholson said. "Finally, our offense got going there in the sixth inning thankfully."
Sun Devil Softball will head out on the road next weekend to play a three-game series against No. 10 Washington, beginning Thursday, April 17 at 4 p.m. PT. The first two games of the series will be broadcasted on the Pac-12 Networks.
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