#14 Softball Clinches Series vs. #6 UW
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The No. 14 Arizona State (19-6, 2-3) softball team clinched the Pac-12 series against No. 6 Washington (22-4, 2-2) on Saturday afternoon in a big bat symphony, hitting three home runs, including two from Kindra Hackbarth, to secure the series with a 6-1 win.
The dominant pitching tandem of Allison Royalty and Lindsay Lopez in the circle and the explosive ASU offense set sail as the Sun Devils cruised to the series clinch in game one. The nightcap served as a non-conference slugfest, but the Sun Devils eventually fell 14-7 in a heavy bat battle.
"We just keep fighting. Like I said, I never feel like we're out, and I truly mean that. I feel even with two outs, I don't care if it's a full count, 0-2, I feel like we understand what it means to fight and how to pass the bat," said head coach Trisha Ford.
Timely hitting, good defense and GREAT PITCHING!! Here for it Devils!!
Finish the day STRONG ???? https://t.co/IcTCjPttbR
— Dallas Escobedo Magee (@dalpal12) March 27, 2021
Kindra Hackbarth, Jazmine Hill, Yannira Acuna, Alynah Torres, Bella Loomis all went yard on Saturday to push the team's long ball log to 56 through 26 games played. Acuna's homer was her first of the season as she became the 13th Sun Devil to tally a dinger in 2021.
"It feels really good especially beating a top sixth-ranked team and beating them twice and taking the series against them. We're just looking forward to tomorrow's game, looking forward to the sweep for the series. It's a good feeling just to put the past in the past and move forward and come together as a team to get a clinching win," said Kindra Hackbarth.
DEVS TAKE THE SERIES ?? pic.twitter.com/81tYcUG8WK
— Sun Devil Softball (@ASUSoftball) March 28, 2021
Down 7-1 in game two, ASU battled at the plate in an effort to close the run gap but eventually lost to UW. The pair faces each other again in the final conference contest to close out the series.
"It didn't go our way at the end, but we still put up a lot of runs, and I don't feel that anyone feels warm and fuzzy. Tomorrow could be a high-scoring game, or it could be a low-scoring game, but I feel like we're in a good position," Ford said of game two's result.
The two conference wins against UW are the first since the 2018 season when ASU clinched the series at home.
UP NEXT: The Sun Devils face Washington for the final time this weekend at Farrington Stadium Sunday at 12:00 p.m. MST.
GAME 1: ASU 6, Washington 1
HOW IT HAPPENED
- The Sun Devil defense started out strong and was led by Allison Royalty, halting UW to no runs and no hits.
- On offense, Kindra Hackbarth wasted no time swinging at the first pitch she saw for a leadoff home run in the first. A pop fly to center field from Alynah Torress brought home Hill and pushed the Sun Devil lead to two. Straight after, Makenna Harper singled and advanced to second, sending Tatnall to third and M.Hackbarth across home to put ASU up 3-0 with two outs in the bottom of the first.
- Royalty allowed her first hit with one out in the second but stranded the runner with two quick swinging strikeouts to finish the inning.
- In the second consecutive inning, the Sun Devil offense got things started with a leadoff home run from Bella Loomis that got Washington's starting pitcher pulled. K. Hackbarth followed that up with her second home run of the day.
- At the top of the third inning, ASU kept their defensive streak alive, with three consecutive outs and Royalty pitching no hits and no runs.
- Harper reached base on an infield single for the Devils' third leadoff hit of the afternoon. And K. Hackbarth continued her busy afternoon, drawing a bases-loaded walk in the third to tack on another run to the ASU 6-0 lead.
- After hitting the leadoff batter, Royalty sent the next three hitters back to the dugout for another scoreless inning.
- Sun Devil defense let the first Huskie runner pass home plate in the top of the fifth off a hit but shortly ended UW's at-bat with two quick defensive plays to keep the five-point lead. ASU left Loomis stranded on second and stayed quiet at the bottom of the fifth.
- Royalty's time in the first game finished with three hits, three strikeouts, and only one run in five innings of work. Linsdey Lopez stepped in the circle at the top of the sixth.
- Washington started off the sixth with a pair of singles. But that rally was promptly put to rest with three quick outs highlighted by a double play to end the inning.
- With the help of her defense, Lopez cruised through the Huskies' order to keep Washington off the board for the rest of the game.
6 runs and 9 hits ??
Devs take the series ?? pic.twitter.com/NqS1JuK39c
— Sun Devil Softball (@ASUSoftball) March 27, 2021
GAME 2: ASU 7, Washington 14
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Meza kept Washington scoreless, allowing only one hit and throwing two strikeouts to strand two runners on base. Likewise, the Sun Devils remained scoreless to close out the first.
- Meza continued to keep the Huskies off the board through the second, adding her third strikeout of the game. Offensively, Alynah Torres, had zero hesitation swinging on the first pitch and hitting a single down the right field line; after advancing to second on a wild pitch, Jordyn VanHook hit a single, sending Torres home before concluding the second inning 1-0 Sun Devil lead.
- Washington jumped ahead in the third inning to lead 7-1. Offensively ASU attempted to bounce back as Bella Loomis added one more to the scoreboard heading into the fourth inning 7-2.
- Yannnira Acuna kept up the offensive momentum with a homer to left center field, ending the fourth 8-3, and became the 13th Sun Devil to hit a home run this season.
- With Kindra Hackbarth on first after being hit by a pitch, Jazmine Hill helped the Devils rally and nailed a ball directly over the center field wall sending both her and Hackbarth home.
- Hill's offensive energy ignited the entire Sun Devil team. With Olivia Miller on first, Alynah Torres once again had zero hesitation and hit her second homer of the game, sending herself and Miller home wrapping up the fifth inning 12-7.
- Meza played five innings at the mound throwing three strikeouts before sophomore pitcher Lindsay Lopez stepped in as a relief in the top of the sixth.
- The seventh-inning rally fell short for ASU, ending the game.
FACTS TO KNOW:
- For the third time, this season the Sun Devils have managed to hit back-to-back home runs in a game.
- Yannira Acuna became the 13th Sun Devil to hit a home run this season.
Quotes from Coach Ford:
On over performance of the game-
"I think because they're a really good team and obviously are ranked pretty high. I just think besides all of those things, I thought we came ready to play today, and our Saturdays have now turned into very long days, but it is what it is, and I think that they had good energy. We talked about taking advantage of opportunities early on in the game. Sometimes we wait till the third, fourth, fifth inning to take advantage, and I thought we did a really good job in the first inning. Obviously, we had the leadoff home run; that's always good. I think we did a really good job of putting pressure on them really early and right away."
"I think Cielo is working through some things and did a great job and going out there and competing and giving us everything she had. I think tomorrow you're going to probably see a mixture of our staff of some type. I think Lindsay hasn't thrown a lot of innings quite yet, and I thought Royalty did a really great job today and keeping them off balance."
On tomorrow's game-
"It's going to be a tough game tomorrow, but our goal is to obviously win the series, which we did today. And then let's obviously take the third game for conference. This non-conference game we're kind of treating it as an opportunity to get some kids some at-bats and play some positions, which I think when you look at the long term of things, and you saw Washington do the same thing in the circle; you're just trying to continue to develop because this year's been a little different."