TEMPE – The No. 7 Arizona State University softball team beat the Penn State Nittany Lions, 9-1, in a quick six innings on Saturday afternoon at Farrington Stadium in Tempe.
Mackenzie Popescue allowed zero earned runs for the second-straight time, pitching six complete innings to improve to 2-0 on the season.
The Sun Devils (4-0) had a shaky start to the game after some miscommunication in the outfield followed by a bobble on an infield grounder allowed the Nittany Lions (2-2) to jump out to a quick 1-0 lead out of the gates. Like last night against N.C. State, however, the Sun Devils responded admirably.
Cheyenne Coyle singled to lead off the bottom of the first and was plated by Haley Steele two batters later to even things at one.
After a scoreless top of the second, the ASU bats began heating up in their half of the frame as Coyle logged a sacrifice fly to score Chelsea Gonzales and that set up a three-run jack by Alix Johnson for her first homer of the year as ASU expanded its lead to 5-1.
The Devil’s defense was a brick wall from that point, allowing no more than 5 batters an inning while posting several highlight reel plays behind Popescue.
One of those came from right fielder Bailey Wigness, who made a remarkable diving catch in the top of the second to help keep Penn State at only one run. Chelsea Gonzales was solid in her first start at second base, making several tough plays and keeping the PSU lead runners at bay.
As for the offense, Amber Freeman and Bethany Kemp as the former went 3-for-4 on the day while Kemp went 2-for-3, both being doubles.
ASU added three more runs in the sixth inning with Elizabeth Caporuscio hitting a double to center field that scored pinch runner Jenn Soria to provide the eight-run lead to log the run rule victory.
Center fielder Alix Johnson – who had just one RBI coming in to the evening - had a game high four RBI’s and the only home run of the game, contributing to the final score.
The victory gives ASU some more momentum going into their double header Sunday against Fresno State at 11:30 a.m. MT and UC Riverside at 2 p.m. at Farrington Stadium that will wrap up the opening weekend of the season. Watch both games being streamed live online via the Pac-12 Network.