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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

No match for Escobedo

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona Wildcats softball team took on the Arizona State Sun Devils on Thursday, April 21, 2011, at Hillenbrand Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. A seventh-inning Sun Devil grand slam lifted the visitors to a 4-0 win.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Arizona Wildcats softball team took on the Arizona State Sun Devils on Thursday, April 21, 2011, at Hillenbrand Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. A seventh-inning Sun Devil grand slam lifted the visitors to a 4-0 win.

Shelby Babcock pitched a gem for six innings of the biggest game of her young career. Unfortunately, the game lasted seven innings.

Babcock allowed just two hits in the first six innings, going pitch-for-pitch with ASU’s freshman ace Dallas Escobedo, who took a perfect game 5.1 innings and earned a shut out win, 4-0.

Arizona’s freshman pitcher showed tremendous poise in the top of the fifth inning, when Babcock was able to get three Sun Devils out after the leadoff batter reached third. Any hit into the outfield would have scored Arizona State’s Kayla Ketchum, but Babcock produced a line drive straight to second, a strike out and weak grounder to short to escape the jam.

Babcock faced a similar situation in the next inning, downing two straight batters with a runner on second.

“”I thought Shelby threw a hell of a ballgame and gave us an opportunity,”” head coach Mike Candrea said after the game.

The trouble came in the seventh when the Sun Devils loaded the bases with one out and the scored tied at 0-0. The next batter hit a weak grounder that allowed the Wildcats to preserve the shut out with a force at home. Then came short stop Katelyn Boyd, ASU’s leading home run hitter. Boyd hit the second pitch she saw over the center field wall for a grand slam, and four Wildcat hitters later the game was over.

Babcock summarized her mistake simply.

“”I left the ball a little bit too over the plate to a really good hitter,”” she said.

Boyd’s home run was perhaps a fitting end to a game where every pitch mattered and the teams were dead even until the very last inning. Babcock was outstanding for six innings, but one mistake may have cost her the biggest win of her career.

The Wildcats had only one real chance on offense. In the sixth inning a two-out single to shallow left field by Karissa Buchanan loaded the bases. Arizona’s next batter was Brittany Lastrapes, who leads the team with a .467 batting average. As the excitement in Hillenbrand Stadium reached a fever pitch, Lastrapes went down on strikes.

“”We played a good team and we didn’t give ourselves a lot of chances offensively,”” Candrea said. “”And when we had a chance we didn’t cash in.””

On the other side of the ball, Escobedo was dominant throughout the game. The freshman allowed just one hit and two walks. The Wildcats will likely see her again on Saturday, the final game of their series.

The two remaining tilts are tonight at 7 and Saturday at 1 p.m.

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