Big bats power ASU, UA softball wins as Regionals begin

The Arizona and Arizona State softball teams have taken that first big step on the road to this year’s Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.  And it looks like they marched in lock-step through the first game of the Regionals.

Both high-ranked teams enjoyed the advantage of playing at home.

Both teams won their games by 10-0 scores, with No. 1 ASU taking just five innings to knock off North Dakota State and No. 10 Arizona needing one more inning to drop Harvard to the loser’s bracket.

(*Update: Both teams won their regionals.  ASU begins play at home in the Super Regional with a game Thursday against Texas A&M.  Arizona will host Oklahoma beginning Friday.)

Both teams threw their best pitchers, with Arizona’s talented sophomore Kenzie Fowler pushing her record to 24-7 with the win.  And Dallas Escobedo, the Sun Devils’ amazing freshman from St. Mary’s High School in Phoenix, extended her first-year mark to 28-3.

And, as expected, both teams pounded the ball.

Playing in Tempe at Farrington Stadium, Annie Lockwood notched a pair of home runs for ASU, and Sam Parlich and Kalyn Castillo each contributed another.  Lockwood’s solo shot in the fourth inning was her 15th this season, moving her up to seventh on the ASU all-time list.

And UofA’s Stacy Chambers lead off the bottom of the fifth inning with her 86th career home run in front of a packed home crowd in Tucson, establishing herself as the school’s new all-time career home-run leader.  And teammate Lini Koria wrapped the game up in the sixth with a walk-off grand slam after a pair of doubles and an intentional walk to Chambers loaded the bases.  The junior catcher/infielder logged five RBIs in the game and two extra-base hits.

Chambers, the two-time Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year at Cactus High School in Glendale, is wrapping up a college career that has seen her develop into one of the best power-hitting catchers in the game.

Arizona jumped to a 4-0 lead in the first inning on singles by Lauren Schutzler, Brigette Del Ponte, and Karissa Buchanan, combined with a two-run double from Kristen Arriola.

Arizona State also took care of business early, going up 2-0 in the first inning, when Castillo parked one over the left field fence, and then slamming the door with six more runs in the second.  Parlich homered to left and Rodgers let loose with a two-run double before Lockwood went to deep center for her three-run shot.

Both teams play again today, hoping to take the next step toward a berth in the Super Regionals, the final stop before Oklahoma City.

ASU (51-6) will face Long Beach State (38-16), which beat San Diego State in the opener, 6-2.  The Wildcats (41-16) will take on New Mexico State (44-15), which run-ruled Texas Tech, 9-0, in five innings yesterday.

(Photo: ASU Athletics)