Late Game Heroics Lead to Saturday Sweep
TEMPE, ARIZ.- The No. 13 Arizona State (24-10, 5-6) softball team evened things up in their conference series with Stanford (23-10, 4-4) as late game heroics in both games of a Saturday doubleheader led the Sun Devils to the sweep. ASU, sporting camouflage "Salute to Service" jerseys, cruised to a 10-6 win in the first game. And in the second, Jazmine Hill walked it off with her seventh home run of the year in the bottom of the seventh inning giving the Devils the 5-4 victory.
Game one was a low scoring back and forth battle that blew up in the sixth inning when Alynah Torres sent one out of the yard with the bases loaded and Yannira Acuna followed right up with a homer of her own. The Devils' overpowering offense proved too much for Stanford to overcome.
— Sun Devil Softball (@ASUSoftball) April 10, 2021
Coach Ford noted her team's bounce back after a tough loss Friday, "As a team, we answered back today which is really what was important to me. I thought yesterday we kind of got smacked in the face, and Jaz and Alynah are the future of our program, and it's important that Kindra didn't have her best day, and we had other people step up and get us a team win. That's really what I thought was great."
Allison Royalty started things off in the circle for ASU, and after allowing three runs in the first she came back to dominate allowing only one run in four more innings of work. But it was Lindsay Lopez who got the win after recording the last six outs of the game and allowing only two runs.
In the second game of the day, a non-conference contest, it took a minute but the Devils picked up right where they left off. Maddi Hackbarth brought two runners home in the third to get the Devils on the board and take the early lead, but Stanford would take it right back. The Cardinal led from the fourth on, but ASU kept it very close. When Stanford stretched their lead to two, the Devils clawed back, and went into the seventh tied before Hill called game.
Hill said, "You know it's a lot of excitement, definitely a big relief knowing that we didn't have to go to any more innings. My plan was to just put the ball in play and see what happens"
CLUB FARRINGTON ??
JAZMINE HILL WALKS IT OFF?? pic.twitter.com/mJBm2DT52Z
— Sun Devil Softball (@ASUSoftball) April 11, 2021
Maddi Hackbarth had another busy afternoon. The senior catcher added five more RBIs to her Pac-12 leading 47 on the season.
UP NEXT: The Sun Devils will look to clinch the series win on Sunday against Stanford at Farrington Stadium at 12:00 p.m. MST.
GAME 1: ASU 10, Stanford 6
HOW IT HAPPENED.
- Stanford got out to an early 3-0 lead in the first. Maddi Hackbarth wasted no time getting the Devils on the board with a two run homer in the first.
- The Cardinal made a pitching change in the first inning after two Sun Devil hitters were sent to first base on illegal pitches. ASU started the second with quick defensive plays to keep the Cardinal off the board. Jazmine Hill doubled to left field and brought home one advancing the score to 3-3 at the bottom of the second.
- Some key catches in the outfield kept the Cardinal off the board in the top of the third. To end the third ASU kept quiet and stranded one.
- In the top of the fourth Stanford reclaimed the lead with a booming solo shot over the scoreboard making the score 4-3.
- The Sun Devil offense woke back up in the bottom of the fifth starting with Maddi Hackbarth's leadoff walk. A single down the right field line from Yannira Acuna advanced a runner to third and tacked on another point for the Sun Devils tying it up 4-4 with one out. With runners at the corners the Cardinal defense stepped up to prevent any further damage.
- Allison Royalty retired to the bench at the beginning of the sixth and Linsday Lopez stepped in the circle keeping the Cardinal scoreless.
- Alynah Torres sent one over center field with bases loaded to put the Sun Devils up by 4 and directly after Acuna homered over the right field wall securing a 9-4 lead with one out in the bottom of the sixth. Loomis added to the scoring with an RBI single up the middle to bring Harper home and stretch the lead to 10-4.
- Stanford tried to climb back in the top of the seventh with a pair of singles bringing in runners cutting the lead to 10-6. But Lopez was able to take care of business and secure the game one win for the Sun Devils.
GAME 2: ASU 5, Stanford 4
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Cielo Meza started in the circle for the Devils making quick work of Stanford in the first.
- In the top half of the second, Montana Dixon cranked a double off the top of the wall to score a runner and put the Cardinal on the board. Meza responded with two quick outs to strand two and keep the score at 1-0.
- In the bottom of the third, Bella Loomis singled up the middle and stole second to move into scoring position. Jazmine Hill drew a walk to also get on base, and Maddi Hackbarth smacked a double to bring them both home and take the lead.
- Dixon got her second hit of the day in the top of the fourth with a moonshot over the centerfield wall to tie things back up for Stanford. Royalty got back in the circle for the Devils, this time in relief, and quickly ended the inning.
- Makenna Harper and Denae Chatman got things started off in the fourth with back-to-back singles, but two fly outs stranded them and the score stayed tied.
- Taylor Gindlesperger singled in the fifth, and Eleni Spirakis brought her home with a two run no-doubter to reclaim the lead, 4-2.
- In the bottom half of the fifth, Hill sent one off the wall and turned it into a triple, setting the table for M. Hackbarth to bring her home. Hill tagged up on a flyout and scored giving Hackbarth the RBI and making the score 4-3. Alynah Torres got in on the fun with a single off the wall, but would finish the inning stranded.
- In the bottom of the sixth, Makenna Harper led off and crushed a ball to deep right field to make the score 4-4.
- Royalty pitched a three up, three down inning in the top of the seventh setting up the offense with the chance to walk it off.
- Jazmine Hill proved the hero, sending a rocket over the left field wall for the walk off win and the sweep.
FACTS TO KNOW:
- Torres and Acuna's back-to-back bombs marked the fourth time this season the Sun Devils have hit back-to-back home runs.
- Alynah Torres hit the Sun Devils' fourth grand slam of the season.
- Maddi Hackbarth hit her sixteenth home run of the season, inching closer towards the program record of 20.
- Lindsay Lopez earned her tenth win of the season in game one.
- Kindra Hackbarth leads the team with sixteen stolen bases in eighteen attempts.
Quotes from Jazmine Hill
On if there was anything special contributing to her performance today-
"Just my vision this whole week. I think my biggest thing was to work on my mental side of the game, and the coaching staff and some of the girls helped me a lot with that so that was my biggest thing. Making sure I control that during each at bat."
On how it felt to hit the walkoff home run-
"You know it's a lot of excitement, definitely a big relief knowing that we didn't have to go to any more innings. My plan was to just put the ball in play and see what happens but… yeah."
On having a big day alongside teammate Alynah Torres-
"It's fun, I think me and Alynah have a lot in common. I think for both of us our biggest thing was to work on our mental game and just making sure if she's down I pick her up and if I'm down she picks me up. We just pick up off each other."
Quotes from Alynah Torres
On her performance today-
"I mean it's such a relief. I mean I go day by day, pitch by pitch, and pretend like every day is opening day. So I don't like to dwell on the past, but just play in the present and win ball games. So I'm happy that I could contribute today to the team and that all that really matters at the end of the day is that we got the dub."
On playing against Stanford P Alana Vawter-
"Yeah our mindset was just honestly square up in the box and get a good pitch. I feel like yesterday we weren't swinging at good pitches. So overall I think we were just sticking to a plan and going for the pitch that we wanted and laying off the change up, and just driving the ball the other way, not trying to do too much."
On her grand slam in game one-
"Yeah I was seeing her well today. I just honestly went with the new mindset like, 'Okay, last at bat I was up 2-0 and I probably should've swung at that pitch.' My next at bat that mentality was just, 'See ball, hit ball, and swing at a strike.'"
Coach Ford press conference:
Q: On the sophomore's performances today...
A: "As a team, we answered back today which is really what was important to me. I thought yesterday we kind of got smacked in the face, and Jaz and Alynah are the future of our program, and it's important that Kindra didn't have her best day, and we had other people step up and get us a team win. That's really what I thought was great. Royalty had a big inning in that seventh inning for us which I thought was huge. Just as we go along, all of these game experiences that they're getting and making me have gray hair, is going to pay off and I just have to keep telling myself. I was really impressed and a little worried that Jaz's ball was not elevated enough, she hit the snot out of that ball but I was hoping it was gonna clear the fence. Just really happy and the biggest thing is they're putting in the work. Jaz has been struggling a little bit, and she continues to come in for extra (work), making sure she's a good teammate, not pouting. Those types of things, and I think the game knows, and you live for these moments that she was able to help us win that game.
Q: On Makenna Harper's clutch gene…
A: "That's the Harper gene, I tell you. It's nothing really fancy. She's probably one of the most competitive kids I've ever coached and I think she is somebody that is starting to learn and really dissect the game, and she figures it out. When you have a true competitor like Harper, you might get her a couple of times, but I really like the way that she fought back today…. We've had some trouble with that changeup, and I thought she did a tremendous job. When you're dealing with a pitcher that throws two pitches, and you hit a changeup hard I think it really changes that dynamic. For me I credit some of the balls that we hit after that home run off the change up to Harper because when you start to bang the timing, when that's what changeup does it messes with your timing, everything else simplifies. Those are the things that I talk about as a team that are really important that the normal fan doesn't understand and realize.
Q: On Cielo and using all three pitchers in the doubleheader games…
A: I thought Cielo came out today and looked much better. I thought she had some good swings and misses, I thought she looked good on the mound. I think she needed that more than anybody. She was just battling with a little bit of some stuff, and I think she took a break and a moment and gathered her stuff and came back out and ready to go. For me, I am really excited and actually just happy for her. She was able to come out and compete on the mound today, and we're just going to build on that. I thought Royalty did a good job today. Allison and Lindsay have seen both of them a lot, so it is important to start working that offspeed and start looking like a chameleon, you can't look the same every single time. I thought we still needed to work on the free bases and hit by pitches, and those types of things but I thought Royalty as this last game went on, she got better and better. That offspeed was working, she was hitting both sides of the plate and that is going to be key for us. Lopez did a great job coming in today after Royalty had thrown most of the first game, and I thought she came in and did what she does: hit spots, and change speeds. Tomorrow is going to be a barnburner, I think we;re gonna throw the table, the house, everything at them tomorrow and leave everything on the field and it is what it is. It is our conference series that's on the line tomorrow.