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Arizona State's Dallas Escobedo strikes out 16 USM Eagles in 6-0 win

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Dallas Escobedo tied her career-high in a seven-inning game with 16 strikeouts and Cheyenne Coyle went 3-for-3 with 3 RBIs in Arizona State’s 6-0 win over Southern Mississippi Saturday night in Tempe.

Escobedo (20-6, 1.65 ERA) also threw 16 in a win over Arizona March 28 for the No. 4-ranked Sun Devils (41-7), and she struck out 19 in a 12-inning game once, but she wouldn’t really measure this performance with her greatest.

“’This is not a good day,’ I thought,” Escobedo said. “I wasn’t really feeling it until the fourth. I felt like my speed was back up. It turned out pretty good, being able to stay with it and go in my zone.”

The Eagles (22-27) left two runners on base after Mackenzie Sher was caught stealing in the top of the first. The Sun Devils would also leave two stranded in the first after Coyle singled one that bounced off the center field fence and Haley Steele one off the shortstop’s mitt.

Escobedo faced her first jam in the top of the second. USM’s leading hitter Sarah Evans (.383 BA) singled and Selena Estrada doubled, before Escobedo struck out the next three. She would repeat the feat the next inning, leaving runners on second and third. After a straight flush in the fourth, Escobedo struck out her seventh consecutive to open the fifth.

“When I went out to the mound I talked to her about some mechanical stuff I saw with pitches, then after that everything clicked,” ASU catcher Amber Freeman said of Escobedo.

In the meantime, ASU took a 1-0 advantage in the bottom of the third, as Coyle drove home Jennifer Soria. Eagles freshman right fielder Arielle Pollock made a diving catch on Elizabeth Caporuscio to end the inning and strand runners on second and third.

With a full count, the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the fifth, Haley Steele singled to center to score Freeman and Coyle and increase the lead to 3-0.

ASU scored three more runs in the sixth. Coyle doubled home Nikki Girard and Soria, who had doubled herself, and a Freeman sacrifice fly brought home Alix Johnson.

“I thought we were a little flat today,” ASU coach Craig Nicholson said. “We weren’t sharp early in the game, we need to come out and play the whole game, later in the game we stayed disciplined with pitches to hit. We’re fortunate to have Dallas on the mound.”

Shelbee Rodgers (15-11, 3.81 ERA) tossed four strikeouts in the loss, and Rachel Johnson was 2-for-4 for the Eagles, who are 10-11 and in seventh place in Conference USA.

The same two teams conclude the series at noon Sunday from Farrington Stadium.

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