March 8, 2014
Game 1 | Game 2
March 8, 2014
FULLERTON, Calif. -- Facing its third-straight top-10 opponent in less than 24 hours at the Judi Garman Classic, Wisconsin was forked, 9-1, by No. 10 Arizona State on Saturday afternoon in a contest that lasted just five innings.
“(Arizona State is) a great ball club,” UW head coach Yvette Healy said. “When you see them you can tell they’re a team that’s going to contend for a national championship.”
Despite a one, two, three inning by Taylor-Paige Stewart in the top of the first and a solo home run that Mary Massei blasted over the right-center field wall in the bottom of the frame, UW (9-9) was unable to sustain much offensive pressure against the Sun Devils (26-3).
Arizona State starter Dallas Escobedo picked up her eleventh win of the season, allowing just three hits and a run over 5.0 innings, while striking out six and walking none.
“They’ve got one of the best pitchers in the country,” Healy said. “We gave them a couple of extra outs early and put runners on base and dug ourselves into a hole and they made us pay for it.”
The Sun Devils responded quickly to UW’s early score by driving home six in the second inning. Haley Steele reached on an error to start followed by a catcher’s interference call on Chloe Miller, which put Cheyenne Coyle on with no outs. A subsequent walk, double off the wall and two-strike base hit just over third baseman Michelle Mueller’s head gave ASU a 4-1 lead.
The Sun Devils tacked on a few more before left fielder Maria Van Abel bailed her team out with a full layout grab out in left-center to rob Coyle of an extra-base hit and more runs on the board for her team.
Wisconsin used “small ball” in the bottom of the third to get a few runners on and over to second and third base, but Escobedo pitched herself out of the jam, getting Massei to roll over on a ground ball with two outs.
UW showed no lack of effort for the remainder of the game, though. On a foul pop in the top of the fourth, Miller tossed off her catcher’s mask, darted back to her left and sprawled out face first into the backstop, nearly making a SportsCenter Top 10-esque catch.
The Sun Devils plated a trio of runs in the fifth, forcing Stewart out of the game and Novak to move from her shortstop position to the pitcher’s circle.
Arizona State went on to complete the run-rule victory, marking the thirteenth time the team has won in that fashion in 29 tries this season.
“They’re a great team,” admitted Healy. “We’re happy to get the experience to play against them. We learned a lot from the game.”
The Badgers utilized a quick memory for its second game of the day, wiping away its earlier struggles and responding with a solid 5-0 shutout win over a streaking Long Beach State (15-6) club.
“It was a huge win for us,” Healy said. “Long Beach is a team that’s on a winning streak. They’ve got fifteen wins on the season already, so they know how to win. I was pleased with how we performed.”
Entering the game with an undefeated 3-0 record in the tournament with wins over Fresno State, Houston and San Jose State, the Badgers silenced The Beach with five runs on seven hits to bring the team’s tournament and season record back to .500.
Wisconsin utilized a lights-out pitching performance from Friday night’s winner Cassandra Darrah to shut out the 49ers. The senior went for 7.0 innings, striking out three, walking one and giving up five base hits.
Healy said she was the key to UW’s win.
“Cassandra threw one of her best games of the year,” Healy noted. “I’m really proud of her. She was pumping on all cylinders. It’s exactly what we needed.”
Darrah's battery mate, Miller, went 2-for-3 in the game with a run to compliment brick-wall play behind the dish.
UW capitalized on two errors, adding two hits and a squeeze bunt in the bottom of the second to put the Badgers on top, 2-0. The team never looked back.
Darrah pitched her way out of jams in the third and seventh innings to seal the deal for Wisconsin.
“To be .500 right now in this tournament and have a chance to walk away 3-2 after playing the host team tomorrow,” Healy said, “it’s exactly where we want to be."
Wisconsin will conclude its five-game tournament schedule against Cal State Fullerton at 11 a.m. CT tomorrow before returning home to Madison.