Dallas Escobedo: There's No Comparison

Escobedo and the Sun Devils will host Super Regional action this weekend. - Allyson Cummings (Walter Cronkite Sports Network)

After a historic weekend in Tempe, Dallas Escobedo reestablished herself as the premier pitcher in college softball.

Some of the world's greatest athletes have often been criticized for their failures on the biggest stage.

Doubters said Peyton Manning couldn't win a Super Bowl. Eventually, he did. Skeptics thought LeBron James would never win an NBA title. Eventually, he did.

The best athletes in any particular sport will always have their doubters, so it's natural if people want to question Arizona State softball pitcher Dallas Escobedo.

After all, Escobedo is one of the faces of college softball, an All-American talent in one of the country's best programs.

But what makes Escobedo different from the top athletes in other sports?

When all eyes are on her, Escobedo always delivers.

It took Manning seven seasons to win his first NFL title. For James, he needed nine years, and a change of scenery, to secure his first ring. But for Dallas Escobedo, she needed less than five months in a Sun Devil uniform to establish her legend.

In 2011, the Saint Mary's of Phoenix product compiled a 37-3 record en route to a magical freshman season that she capped off with a Women's College World Series title.

As a freshman, Escobedo took home All-America honors and earned the WCWS co-Most Outstanding Player award.

In leading Arizona State to the 2011 title, Escobedo became the first freshman pitcher to win the championship game since Heather Compton did it for UCLA in 1990.

So when Escobedo took the circle this weekend for the Tempe Regional, no one doubted the Sun Devils.

Despite struggling through a sophomore slump (Ok, 24-8 and a 2.32 ERA is hardly a slump), and surrendering 32 home runs during this, her junior campaign, Escobedo proved why she remains one of the faces of college softball.

Come game time, Escobedo rose like her rise ball and delivered a performance for the ages.

On Friday afternoon, Escobedo went toe-to-toe with WAC Pitcher of the Year Amanda Pridmore and tossed a no-hitter against the San Jose State Spartans.

On Saturday, she threw a one-hit shutout against a Georgia Bulldogs team that launched 93 home runs this season.

On Sunday, she returned for her third consecutive start and befuddled Georgia yet again with a third straight complete game to lead Arizona State into the Super Regionals.

Throughout the weekend, Escobedo matched her mid 60's heat with pinpoint precision and surrendered four hits in 21 innings of work.

Just like any sport's best player, it's nearly impossible to find a comparison.

Of the 64 teams in action this weekend, only one team had a pitcher come close to matching Escobedo's dominance.

Jordan Wallace of Louisiana-Lafayette threw 21 innings of shutout softball, but she also allowed 21 base runners. As for Escobedo, she allowed just nine.

After watching Escobedo retire opponents with ease, ESPN's Beth Mowins began describing Escobedo's best pitch as her "rambunctious rise ball."

Escobedo's phenomenal regular seasons statistics don't quite stack up with all-time greats like Jennie Finch and Cat Osterman. However, it's hard to argue with her greatness in crunch time.

Over three seasons, Escobedo has racked up a 17-4 postseason record and thrown the first no-hitter in Arizona State postseason history.

Furthermore, she'll have plenty of chances to add to her resume. This weekend, the Sun Devils will host the 12th seeded Kentucky Wildcats in Super Regional action.

In four games of regional play, the Wildcats mustered just nine runs and six of those came in one victory. If the Wildcats' offense continues to sputter, the stars should align for another sensational weekend for Escobedo.

If Escobedo can continue to thrive in postseason play, she'll soon see her name in a new category. She will no longer be one of the best pitchers in this year's postseason; she'll be one of the best postseason pitchers ever.

As the tournament progresses, an increasing number of fans will tune in to catch a glimpse of her greatness. But as her performances indicate, that's just the way Dallas Escobedo likes it.

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