No. 8 Softball Splits First Two Games At The NFCA Leadoff Classic

Feb. 22, 2002

COLUMBUS, Ga. - The eighth-ranked Arizona State softball team (10-3) split its opening two games during their first day of pool play at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Georgia. ASU opened the tournament with a 2-1 loss to 24th-ranked Mississippi State, but bounced back with a 4-2 win over Connecticut to move to 1-1 in pool play.

In the first game, Mississippi State posted their first run in the first inning off two ASU errors. ASU tied the game in the third inning after manufacturing the run. Missy Hixon singled to center field to open the inning. Nichole Thompson then sacrificed Hixon to second. Kara Brun followed with a single to left field, moving Hixon to third. Phelan Wright brought Hixon home with a sacrifice fly to left field.

The game then appeared headed for extra innings. In the bottom of the seventh, ASU pitcher Erica Beach (6-1) struck out the first two batters, but hit the next batter to put the eventual winning run on. After a wild pitch to move the runner to second, Mississippi State's Iyhia McMichael doubled to right field to bring in the winning run.

In the second game against UConn, the Sun Devils got on the board first in the second inning, courtesy of a Wright solo home run over the center field fence. However, the Huskies would hit a solo shot of their own in the third inning to tie the game a one a piece.

In the fourth inning, ASU sent nine batters to the plate, scoring three runs to seal the win for pitcher Kirsten Voak (4-2). Wright doubled to right field, capping a nice 2-for-3, two run, one RBI game. She was followed by a Voak walk and a Jennifer Forner fielder's choice that loaded the bases. Erin Wardein then singled to center, driving in Wright, while Hixon hit an infield single to drive in Forner. The final run came when Brun walked with the bases loaded, bringinng in Wardein.

UConn would get one run back in the sixth inning, but Voak then shut the door to end any other threat. Up next, ASU will face 10th-ranked Michigan in their final game of pool play on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. After that game, the Sun Devils will find out which bracket they will be placed in with a game at either 5:00 or 7:30 p.m.

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