After making quick work of Drake in their Sunday morning matchup, the Sun Devil softball team carried the momentum of its 9-1 win over the Bulldogs into its afternoon game against the Idaho State Bengals. Arizona State cruised to a 13-4 victory in the second game of the double-header, improving its record to 17-0 on the season.
The Sun Devils got off to a fast start swinging the bats, scoring three in the first inning and nine in the second to take a 12-0 lead after just two innings. Already having seen Idaho State's starting pitcher Haley Douglas in their Saturday night matchup, the Sun Devils were able to take advantage of her quickly in seeing her for the second time this weekend.
Jennifer Soria had a huge weekend, and earned the right to start at center field and bat lead off for the Sun Devils to finish off her breakout performance in this tournament. She got the offense moving early and often against the Bengals, going 3-4 with three runs batted in.
Soria said that seeing Douglas the night before played a big role in helping her stay relaxed and confident at the plate.
"I think I had an advantage after seeing her (Douglas) last night," Soria said. "So I kind of knew what she was going to throw me. I just focused on staying relaxed and letting it come to me."
The dominant nine-run second inning was fueled by a huge grand slam over the right field fence by Sun Devil senior Alix Johnson. That was Johnson's only at bat of the game, but it was enough to contribute four runs batted in and start the nine-run rally that put the game out of reach for the Bengals.
Johnson was pleased to end her weekend on a grand slam, but said she's more concerned with staying consistent at the plate and getting on base.
"Hitting home runs and grand slams is great, but base hits is all I'm aiming for." Johnson said. "I'm just getting my grove back."
Soria also made a powerful impact in the second inning, ripping a double down the right field line with the bases loaded to score three runs. With such a large lead, coach Craig Nicholson was able to work in some of the younger players who swung the bats well and proved that the Sun Devils will have great depth down the road.
Johnson was thrilled with Soria and the younger players stepping up.
"She's awesome (Soria), a lot of younger players are stepping in there with a lot of confidence. I love to see that from our younger players." Johnson said. "Being a senior, I'm so proud seeing us all come together."
Dallas Escobedo capped off an excellent weekend by silently shutting out the Bengals for the first two innings. She was relieved by Alexis Cooper in the third after the Sun Devils took a 12-0 lead. Cooper allowed four runs, two of them unearned to finish the game with a 13-4 victory.
Nicholson was very pleased to see the younger players stepping up and says the depth will help them down the road, and he hopes to carry the focus and energy from this weekend into next weekend's tournament.
"We're playing well," Nicholson said. "We started a bunch of different lineups and had different people coming through on different days which is good for down the road. We just have to stay focused and not take anything for granted going into next weekend."
Diamond Devil Invitational Tournament Notes
- Arizona State won four of its five tournament games this in mercy-rule victories.
- The Sun Devil offense scored 48 runs in its five tournament games while the pitching staff gave up just seven runs altogether.
- Arizona State used all four of its pitchers this weekend for the first time this season. Alexis Cooper pitched in two games and Jenna Makis made her season debut in relief on Saturday night.
- The 17-0 start inches the Sun Devils closer to last season's program record 21-game winning streak to begin the season.
- Dallas Escobedo and Mackenize Popescue are each sporting earned run averages below 1.00 this season.