No. 11/13 Softball Hits Best Season Start Since 2016 with Win Over Utah
TEMPE, Ariz. -- No. 11/13 Sun Devil Softball finished the Pac-12 Invitational true to form, scoring six runs in one inning in another non-conference win over Utah on Monday night at Alberta B. Farrington Softball Stadium.
Arizona State (11-1) defeated Utah 11-3 to slide into the program's best start since 2016. Fifth-year Maddi Hackbarth brought the bark and the bite to the matchup, hitting two home runs in back-to-back innings. With three tonight, Hackbarth leads the Pac-12 in RBI with 20 so far on the season. The team's 28 home runs through 12 games also leads the Pac-12 Conference.
The Sun Devil pitching staff against the Utes consisted of fifth-year Cielo Meza and sophomore leftie Lindsay Lopez. The pair delivered a one-two punch in the circle, throwing seven strikeouts, allowing two earned runs, and issuing one walk in a full seven innings pitched.
With a 1-0 lead thanks to Hackbarth's solo dinger in the first, ASU let the big bats loose in the second as Alli Tatnall went for a solo leadoff home run with a full count. Makenna Harper and Denae Chatman both popped up to second base, putting the Sun Devils in a jam with two outs. Transfer Brittany Holland singled to the eight spot followed by a walk of Bella Loomis to bring up ASU hitting leader Kindra Hackbarth. Another RBI single to center field brought Holland home to extend the Sun Devils lead, all with two outs.
But ASU wasn't done scoring. In the very next at-bat, Jazmine Hill doubled with a ball that danced down the left line, giving both Kindra and Loomis ample time to step on home plate.
In Sunday's game against New Mexico, Maddi's hitting partner, Alynah Torres, went yard twice. It only makes sense for Maddi to level the playing field. With Hill in scoring position on third, Hackbarth went yard one more time for good measure to push the score to 6-0 over the Utes.
No Mercy. pic.twitter.com/jR88nXgb0x
— Sun Devil Softball (@ASUSoftball) March 2, 2021
ASU earned one more run in the bottom of the fourth off of an RBI single to right field that saw Loomis score.
Finished the homestand 11-1 ?? pic.twitter.com/SGi0QALlUo
— Sun Devil Softball (@ASUSoftball) March 2, 2021
UP NEXT: ASU travels to its first away games as guests of the Orange and Blue Classic hosted by the University of Texas, El Paso. The Sun Devils will play four games over two days against Montana, Incarnate Word, and UTEP, starting on Friday, March 5.
FACTS TO KNOW:
- Maddi Hackbarth leads the team's home run effort with six on the season. She's closely followed by sophomore shortstop Alynah Torres who boasts five.
- M. Hackbarth and Torres each notched two home runs in a game this weekend. Torres hit two against New Mexico on Sunday morning and Hackbarth hit two against Utah on Monday night.
- Lindsay Lopez went through an entire weekend of pitching with only one earned run against her.
- With an 11-1 start to 2021, the Sun Devils enjoy the best start to a season since 2016.
On confidence so far this season:
"Oh, I'm really confident. I've worked a lot on my mental side this year so just seeing that pay off so far, it just really makes a difference in my game and performance."
On comfort of having high-scoring offense while on the mound:
"It makes things a lot easier and takes the weight off my shoulders to just be able to take a step back, take a breath and pitch my stuff."
On her history of great performances against Utah:
"I don't know what it is, after that Sunday game against Utah three years ago where we came back, just something happened and there's something about playing them that gets me going. I think it's a Pac-12 thing, I know they're a gritty team, so we have to go full force ahead and not take any pitches off. So I just have that mindset.
On two home runs in one game milestone by both Maddi and Alynah:
"There's no competition. I just told her good job. Me and her are hitting partners, so we pick each other's brain, we go back-and-forth. I think our lineup - one through nine - just gets the job done.
On where the team is after a successful weekend:
"We're in a good place, but there's room for improvement. Every week we sit down and look at our blueprint as both individual and team play, and that's what we attack week-to-week. Given that this team hasn't experienced Pac-12 play, I think that we handled ourselves very well as a team during these games against Utah. I have a good feeling about what's to come if we just go game-by-game, pitch-by-pitch, and we know what we are capable of, that's what we're going to do."
On hitting growth through college career:
"Out of the three to four years that I've been here, I think I've gotten better at dialing in. As of right now, I think I am seeing the ball really well. I've learned a lot over the years, and I've gained a lot of experience knowing that I'm going to play this team again, I know they might not want to pitch to me, and I have to be a little bit more selective. I just try to sit a good pitch and get a good barrel on it and not overthink things - just keep things very simple, and that's what's paying off. I have a job to do, and that's what it is, whether it's move the runners over, get on-base, and that's what my focus is - to do my job for my team."
HEAD COACH TRISHA FORD:
On Maddi's first home run and her growth as a hitter:
"Maddi has worked really hard, and I think all of us who work softball know how much work she's put in. She's done a really good job of having good posture - really with Maddi; the goal is to make her hit a bad pitch because she can really hurt you in all different areas of the plate. So she's done a great job at being disciplined with her zone. And when Maddi is at her best, she's driving balls opposite field, and her direction is really good. So I think it shows a lot. Look at Maddi her first year and look at Maddi today - I think it's a totally different player, and I think a lot of that has to do with her and her work, but it also has to do with Coach Harger and what he does with our hitters.
On Lindsay Lopez allowing one earned run all weekend:
"She did a really nice job. With Utah, there are no secrets. They've seen Cielo and Lindsay, so they did a good job of recreating themselves and making sure that they don't look the same. Cielo did a tremendous job today; she started off and was hot and kept Utah off-balance. Lindsay is a really good one-two punch with her obviously, Cielo is right-handed and up, and Lindsay is left-handed and east-west with a nasty changeup. They're a really good match. It's still really early for us, and we're figuring out how we can use our staff and what it looks like."
On first road trip:
"We're excited to go on the road. It's good for us to travel before Pac play happens.. I like to be on the road at least one time. I don't like to leave Club Farrington very often, but going on the road once, feeling what that feels like, and with not having fans this year, there hasn't been that stadium feel, and that has helped us because no matter where we go, it's going to have that feeling. The team is excited to travel. They're just excited to play ball, and I think everything that happened last year put things in perspective, and I can really feel that they're just taking this in and enjoying playing softball.