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WCWS Round 1: Escobedo vs. Luna

Dallas Escobedo will be key in how far the Sun Devils go in Oklahoma City, but ASU's big bats provide a safety cushion barring any trouble.

Dallas Escobedo is 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA this postseason.
Dallas Escobedo is 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA this postseason.

With its 11th trip in program history, the ASU women's softball team is heading back to Oklahoma City for the Women's College World Series.

Behind the lights-out pitching of Dallas Escobedo, the Sun Devils are making their seventh trip in the last eight years - the most of any team in the NCAA.

Escobedo (30-4) put the team on her back through tournament play, going 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA.

We Meet Again

The ASU women will face Texas' ace Blaire Luna (30-5), who also tossed a no-hitter and maintained an undefeated record in tournament play while holding a remarkable 0.97 ERA.

However, this will not be the first time the Longhorns and Sun Devils square off this season.

ASU triumphed with a 3-0 shutout over Texas and Luna on March 14th in the Judi Garman Classic.

Escobedo went the distance, giving up only three hits with 13 strikeouts.

Luna contained one of the NCAA's best offensive lineups through four innings before getting into trouble in the fifth and sixth. The senior still struck out nine Sun Devils, but suffered her first loss of the season.

Offensive Back-Up

As if Escobedo isn't enough ammunition as it is, ASU has the No. 4 scoring offense in the NCAA.

Averaging just fewer than seven runs per game, the Sun Devil offense is led by Bailey Wigness, Amber Freeman and Cheyenne Coyle.Wigness is hitting .375 at the bottom of the lineup, making it hard for any pitcher to find a groove through the bottom of the order.

In the two and three hole, Coyle and Freeman present a different problem with their big bats. Freeman's hit 18 big flies, 11 doubles and driven in 61 runs through 60 games. Her success this season has provided coverage for Coyle who sets the table for Freeman. Coyle has scored 67 runs with 11 doubles, 66 RBIs and 20 home runs for a .795 slugging percentage.

If the Sun Devils can score early, their chances of winning increase dramatically.

When they lead after the first inning, the ASU women are 23-0, but are just 2-4 when trailing.

Key to Victory

For the Sun Devils to walk away with a victory in game one, the strategy is the same as always: score early and let Escobedo take care of the rest.

The women hold a 24-2 record when they just simply score in the first inning.

Luna also has 105 walks through 229 innings this season, which force ASU hitters to stay patient and take pitches.

If the Sun Devils can wait for their pitch and put runs on the board early, they should have no problem maintaining their undefeated postseason record.

Notable Stats

When ASU's opponent scores 2 runs or less, the Sun Devils are 34-0.

ASU is 42-7 this season against right-handed pitchers.

The Sun Devils are 34-2 in non-conference games this season.

ASU ranks fifth nationally in home runs with 1.57 per game.

The Sun Devils rank second in slugging percentage (.572) of all teams in the WCWS. Only Oklahoma (.590) has a better percentage.

Texas has the fourth-best team ERA in the country with a 1.54. ASU ranks No. 25 with a 2.11.