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The Reign Continues: Softball Opens 2021 in Walk-off Fashion

Feb 11, 2021

TEMPE, Ariz.-- Need a walk off? Fifth-year Alli Tatnall is the queen. The Sun Devils swept opening day in Arizona State Softball fashion, with big bats and a fighting attitude. ASU defeated Brigham Young 7-2 in the first game of the doubleheader and protected the sweep with an overtime walk-off win to top Brigham Young, 7-5, on Thursday night at Alberta B. Farrington Softball Stadium. 

Fifth-years came back loud and proud to start 2021. In addition to Tatnall's walk-off, fifth-year senior Cielo Meza got the start for the Devils in the season opener, where she recorded 11 strikeouts and just one walk. The Hackbarths had their own showcase as Maddi hit the RBI single to tie game two and Kindra scored two runs and notched an RBI through two games.

This was the first game for the Sun Devils in over 11 months after the 2020 season was cancelled due to COVID. The Kajikawa Classic continues through the weekend and includes ASU matchups against Seattle and Utah (which will count as non-conference). 

Game 1: ASU 7, BYU 2

Cielo opened the game with a strikeout, leaving her right where she left off in 2020. BYU jumped on an early lead off of a solo home run. 

In the bottom of the second, Alynah Torres reached first base with a hit bouncing off the pitcher, and a base hit up the middle from Alli Tatnall had the Devils with runners at first and second with one out. Jazmine Hill dropped a line drive into right to load the bases for ASU. Makenna Harper struck out, but a passed ball in the dirt brought Alynah Torres in from third base to tie the game for the Devils. 

Kindra Hackbarth reached third base in the bottom of the third off of a single to left field, a stolen base, and a sac bunt from Bella Loomis. A ball in the dirt brought Kindra home to give ASU the 2-1 lead. With two outs in the inning, Jazmine Hill batted with the bases loaded and singled up the middle to bring in Denae Chatman and Maddi Hackbarth, putting the Devils up 4-1. Tatnall came home during Makenna Harper's at-bat to make it a 5-1 game, but Jazmine Hill was thrown out at third to end the inning. 

BYU got a run back off of solo home run from Bridget Fleener in the fourth inning to make it 5-2.

ASU stranded a few runners in the bottom of the fourth and fifth innings but held onto their lead backed up by Meza's strong performance holding the Cougars to two hits through five innings.

The Sun Devils tacked onto their lead in the bottom half of the sixth inning, with a lead-off single from Hill, to set up Harper for a 2-run home run to dead center, putting the Sun Devils up by five. 

Freshman Allison Royalty made her collegiate debut at the top of the seventh to serve as Meza's relief. Royalty made quick work of the Cougars, collecting a strikeout and allowing just one hit to give ASU their first win of the season. 

Game 2: ASU 7, BYU 5

Lindsay Lopez got the start in game two versus BYU, picking up two strikeouts to end the first inning.

ASU stranded a runner on base early after a walk to Bella Loomis. 

The Cougars picked up their first run in the second inning after a hit by pitch and a single put two runners on base. A sac bunt brought a runner to third, and with one out Marrisa Chavez singled in a run for BYU. 

Alli Tatnall gets the first hit for the Sun Devils with a double in the second inning, but she gets left on base.  

BYU landed on the board first, putting the score to 1-0, and went on to hold the Sun Devils offense quiet through the third inning. 

Maddi Hackbarth led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a double and reached third with a stolen base. Alynah Torres collected an RBI to Maddi in from third for the Sun Devils' first run of the game, but Torres was out at first. Alli Tatnall hit a triple to right field but was left stranded to end the inning. 

Makenna Harper hit her second home run of the season with a solo homer in the bottom of the fifth inning to bring the Sun Devils within one run. With a fielder's choice on K. Hackbarth's single, ASU had a runner at first. K. Hackbarth stole second and third to set a runner up in scoring position for ASU, but two pop-ups ended the inning. 

BYU extended their lead in the top of the seventh inning after back-to-back doubles put them up 4-2. Freshman Royalty replaced Lindsay Lopez in the circle and inherited a runner at third. A single to right-center brought in another run to put the Cougars up 5-3.

ASU battled back in the seventh, with Hill leading off with a single to left and Harper following with a walk. Kindra Hackbarth hit one out to deep center, bringing in Hill and advancing Harper to third to bring the devils within two. Loomis went out at first off a fielder's choice but earned the RBI for Harper to pull the Devils within one. On a full count with two outs, Maddi Hackbarth singled up the middle to tie the game at 5-5. 

The Devils get two easy outs in the top of the eighth, and Allison Royalty ends the extra inning with a strikeout to strand two cougars on first and second. 

Denae Chatman popped up a sac bunt to bring Ali Tatnall to the plate after a quick pitching change for the Cougars. Tatnall lined the second pitch of the at bat to dead center for her first home run of the season to bring in Alynah Torres from second and end the game for the Devils. 
Coach Ford noted how Ali continues to come up clutch for the Devils, "I think Tat is our walk-off queen, that's what I told her. I mean, she's just simply amazing. She's done this time and time again."

Up Next: 

The Sun Devils will finish Kajikawa Classic play this weekend, facing Seattle on Friday and Utah on Saturday. After the tournament, ASU will stay home to host the GCU Purple Classic tournament, where New Mexico, Oklahoma, Portland State, and Iowa State come to town from Feb 26-28.