The difficult thing about starting on top is that there is only one direction to go.
Bearing resumes of victories that would be the envy of nearly anyone who ever stepped on a softball diamond, the senior class of Arizona State played its final game together Sunday after winning the national title as freshmen and advancing to the College World Series as sophomores and juniors.
They won 90 percent of their games at Farrington Stadium (153-19), but the last one, a 5-4 loss to Michigan in the regional round of the NCAA Tournament, was devastating.
The Wolverines needed to beat ASU twice Sunday, and after two home runs in the top of the seventh of the second game put them into the lead, centerfielder Lyndsay Doyle denied junior catcher Amber Freeman of the walk-off home run.
Dallas Escobedo, who went 37-3 and 10-0 in the postseason as a freshman, was shaken in the first inning, loading the bases and walking home two batters. She composed herself to pitch a complete game, and finished four wins short of Katie Burkhart’s school record.
“We all have our own memories,” Escobedo said. “Big games that are our favorites, the opportunity to step on that field and put on this jersey is…(holding back emotions)...not a lot of people get that, and we’re just thankful for every game.”
Outfielder Bailey Wigness led off the seventh, but grounded out.
“Obviously, we’ve had a great career here, three trips to the College World Series in four years, not many senior classes can say that,” Wigness said. “It didn’t end the way we wanted, but we had a lot of fun, we’ve grown together as a senior class, we’ve experienced major transitions together, and it’s hard right now, but I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Having been the thief of many home runs herself, centerfielder Alix Johnson spent the final seconds of her remarkable career between first and second base, as the tying run watching Freeman’s fly ball.
“I just feel that we’re extremely blessed,” Johnson said. “All four of these years, we’ve gained so many great relationships, and I couldn’t be happier to have gone through this with the girls I have, so when it comes down to it, it’s bittersweet.”
Most fairy tales have a dream that comes true at the end, only this one had one at the beginning.