Desert battle goes in Arizona St. favor
Notes: Eastern Connecticut's Rathbun improved to 13-0
It was a historic weekend in the desert as Arizona State posted the first road sweep of then-No. 7 Arizona in program history. Prior to last weekend, the Sun Devils had won just one game in Tucson since Arizona’s Hillenbrand Stadium was constructed in 1993.
ASU swept Pac-10 individual honors with senior Kaylyn Castillo and freshman Dallas Escobedo winning Player and Pitcher of the Week honors, respectively.
Castillo hit .429 on the weekend and caught all three games behind the plate. In the middle game of the series on Friday, Castillo sparked the Sun Devils comeback from a 9-1 deficit, providing the game-winning grand slam to complete the comeback.
Escobedo appeared in all three games of the series, allowing just seven hits and three runs. She had 21 strikeouts with just seven walks in 15.0 innings played. She held UA to a .132 batting average throughout the three games.
The series opener saw an 11-strikeout performance from Escobedo and a seventh inning grand slam from Katelyn Boyd for a 4-0 victory in Tucson. Game two on Friday night was full of dramatics. Arizona went out to a 9-1 lead before Arizona State stormed back for the 13-10 win, capped by Castillo’s grand slam and Escobedo coming in to close out the final inning in the circle. Saturday’s series finale saw an eight strikeout performance from Escobedo en route to the 8-3 win for the sweep.
The Sun Devils (42-5, 9-3 Pac-10) regained the top spot in both the USA Today NFCA and ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 polls after their successes last weekend.
Need to Know
• Northwestern junior Adrienne Monka earned NFCA Division I National and Big Ten Player of the Week honors following her performances against Ohio State last weekend. Monka drove in seven runs on a 3-for-3 performance at the plate with five walks. Dating back to April 16, Monka has reached base in 14-consecutive plate appearances, recording hits in her last seven consecutive official at-bats. She’s batting .609 during a current nine-game hitting streak. The Wildcats outscored the Buckeyes 26-2 at Sharon J. Drysdale Field in Evanston, Ill., last weekend.
• Wayne State (Neb.) first baseman Jennifer Radley earned NFCA Division II Player of the Week honors as she helped the Wildcats to six home runs in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play. Radley went 10-for-13 with two doubles, five home runs, nine RBI, six runs and six walks. She finished the week with a .769 batting average, .850 on-base percentage and 2.077 slugging percentage.
• Eastern Connecticut pitcher Molly Rathbun won three games and saved another for her team last week, as she improved to 13-0 on the season. The junior struck out 49, walking four as she allowed just one earned run on 10 hits for a 0.26 ERA. At the plate, Rathbun hit .333 with a team-high seven RBI, 14 total bases and two home runs, collecting her 100th career hit along the way. She opened the week with her fourth career no-hitter, striking out a school record 18 in a 5-0 Little East Conference road win against UMass Dartmouth. Later in the week, she avenged her only career LEC regular season loss with a six-hit 18-strikeout, 4-2 win against Rhode Island College. She then finished the week with a complete-game four-hitter in a 1-0 win at Trinity. She was selected as a co-NFCA Division III Player of the Week for her efforts.
• Cal State Fullerton head coach Michelle Gromacki earned her 400th career coaching victory on Friday with a doubleheader split at UC Davis. Gromacki’s landmark win came in the second game of the doubleheader and by an 11-4 margin.
• Lauren Hadenfield of Central Washington took home NFCA Division II National Pitcher of the Week honors, leading the Wildcats to three wins last week, including a sweep of then-No. 21 Western Washington and a win against defending NAIA national champion Simon Fraser (a school that is transitioning to Division II). Hadenfeld allowed just four earned runs on 10 hits with 15 strikeouts and five walks over 17.2 innings of work. She had a 1.59 ERA, limiting opponents to a .159 batting average.
• Virginia Wesleyan freshman MacKenzie Creech earned co-NFCA Division III Player of the Week honors, pitching the Marlins to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1989. Creech and Virginia Wesleyan captured the program’s first Old Dominion Athletic Conference championship since 1998 last weekend. Creech went 4-0 with a 0.70 ERA in the circle during tournament play, holding opponents to a .184 batting average. She tossed 30 innings, giving up 19 hits and striking out 27. In the tournament opener, Creech posted 10 strikeouts in a nine-inning win. On the tournament’s final two days, she twirled a two-hit shutout in the semifinals and a three-hit shutout in the championship game. She earned tournament Most Outstanding Player honors.
• ASA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week honors went to Florida’s Kelsey Bruder, who had two game-winning walk-off hits in Florida’s two wins against then-No. 3 Alabama, a first-pitch three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh in the Gators 6-5 win on Saturday and an infield RBI singe for the walk-off, 3-2, nine-inning victory on Sunday to take the series. In addition to her game-winning infield hit on Sunday, Bruder also had an RBI on a single in the bottom of the eighth on Sunday that scored Florida’s first run of the game and started the game-winning two-out rally in the eighth. Bruder also earned SEC Player of the Week honors.
• Seton Hall head softball coach Ray Vander May picked up his 400th career win last week as his Pirates defeated Georgetown, 7-3, in eight innings on Friday.
• Alabama-Huntsville continues atop the NFCA Division II poll for a sixth consecutive week.
• Linfield sits atop the NFCA Division III poll for an 11th consecutive week.
• Nicole Reed of Missouri Southern State went 4-1 last week and allowed only two earned runs while striking out 38.
• Murray State’s Jenna Bradley hit .692 with two doubles and four home runs last week to help the Racers to a 4-1 week.
• Long Beach State’s Sarah Carrasco hit .600 with four RBI, three doubles and three runs scored en route to a series win against Cal Poly and Big West Field Player of the Week honors.
• Grove City’s Amanda Sheppeck and Lauren Pennell won President’s Athletic Conference Hitter and Pitcher of the Week honors, respectively. Sheppeck hit .615 (8-for-13) last week with five doubles, a home run, four runs scored and four RBI. Pennell went 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA in two starts last week, allowing nine hits and one earned run in 11 innings.
• Western New Mexico’s Sarah Byrne hit five home runs and drove in 12 runs last week as the Mustangs went 4-0.
• Courtney Craig of Texas went 9-for-13 last week with four home runs and seven RBI as the Longhorns went 4-0.
• Brittany Parker of Utah went 4-for-4 from the plate with three home runs, eight RBI and four runs scored as the Utes swept games against Colorado State and New Mexico.
• UC Santa Barbara junior Krista Cobb had a 1.62 ERA in 17.1 IP including an eight-inning win against Cal State Northridge en route to Big West Pitcher of the Week honors.
• Becca Smith of Colorado-Colorado Springs led the Mountain Lions to three wins last week, giving up only four earned runs and striking out 22.
• Central Washington’s Samantha Petrich helped lead the Wildcats to a 4-0 week by hitting .667 with four home runs, seven RBI and a double.