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Softball splits with Syracuse, will face Louisiana Lafayette in Super Regional

May 20, 2012

he Arizona State softball team (49-8) dropped Sunday's first NCAA Regional game to No. 25 Syracuse, 1-0.  The loss forced a deciding Game 7 in which the Sun Devils prevailed, shutting out the Orange, 4-0 to advance to the Super Regional round.

Arizona State will advance to the NCAA Super Regional, set to take place next weekend here in Tempe. Louisiana Lafayette sports a 52-4 record coming into the best-of-three series. Game times and days are TBD. Check back at the ASU softball schedule page, here, for upcoming information.

GAME TWO |  Arizona State 4, Syracuse 0
After an hour succeeding the first game of the Sunday bracket, Arizona State heated up its bats for its second faceoff of the afternoon. Dallas Escobedo came back with a vengeance to shut out the Orange, throwing eight strikeouts in the contest, bringing her total to 16 on the day. She is now 22-5 on the year. Syracuse pitcher Jenna Caira earned the loss and is 27-9 at the end of SU's season. 

In the first, senior Katelyn Boyd led off with a double and after Alix Johnson reached on a walk, Annie Lockwood knocked both runners in with a double of her own to make it 2-0. A couple of fielding errors from the Orange proved costly, plating Haley Steele to put ASU up 3-0 after one frame.

Escobedo and Caira dove into another fierce combat after the hitting spree in the first, with 10 strikeouts combined between the two pitchers, and 15 strikeouts total in the game. Escobedo's dominance showed especially in the fourth, fighting back from a bases-loaded one-out inning to strike out the final two batters to tumultuous applause.

Steele stoked the flame in the bottom of the fourth, launching a leadoff solo homer past the left field wall to widen the lead to the final score of 4-0.  The homer marked her 10th of the season.

GAME ONE | Syracuse 1, Arizona State 0
Jenna Caira pitched a complete game shutout for the Orange (43-15) as she improved to 27-8 this year while ASU's Escobedo took the loss and fell to 21-5 on the season, at the time. 

Like Saturday's matchup, Syracuse drew first blood in the first inning as Stephanie Watts lined the first ball she saw over the center field wall for a two-out solo shot to put the Orange up 1-0.  That homer proved to be all it would take for Syracuse as Caira took over from there.

Outside the homer, the teams were locked in a pitcher's duel for the rest of the game.  Escobedo fanned five of the first six batters she faced - the Watts homer the lone exception - and neither she nor Caira allowed a runner beyond second base through the remainder of the game.

The Sun Devils had their best opportunity in the fourth with runners on first and second.when Sam Parlich grounded a ball into the infield that looked like it would squeeze into the gap. But SU's Morgan Nandin made a diving grab that she scooped to Watts for the force out at second.

ASU put runners on first and second again with two outs in the fifth before Annie Lockwood grounded a ball to Caira for an out at first.

Escobedo struck out eight on the game and allowed just two hits and one walk for a gem of a game.  Caira struck out five and allowed just four hits while walking three over the course of the contest. The double-elimination format forced the seventh game of the Tempe Regional as Syracuse had lost to Arizona State on Saturday, 3-1.

The Devils move on to the second round of NCAA Championship play, hosting the Super Regional next weekend against Louisiana Lafayette. The three-game series will be played against the Ragin' Cajuns, in double elimination format. Days and times are TBD.