Big Bats Propel No. 10 Sun Devils to Walk-Off Win Over Utes
TEMPE, Ariz. – No. 10 Arizona State Softball (28-5, 10-0) are off to their best conference start in Pac-12 history after walking off against the Utah Utes (20-18, 2-6), 10-9, in extra innings. Both teams combined for 24 hits, 19 runs and five home runs in front of 1,300 fans. The Sun Devils extend their winning streak to 18 games after coming from behind twice to stay undefeated in conference play.
The Sun Devil offense got out to a hot start, putting up five runs in the first inning, four of them coming from Makenna Harper's 2nd grand slam of the season. After that, the bats went quiet which allowed the Utes to get back into the ball game.
"I love our fight, it wasn't pretty tonight, but we found a way to to win a ballgame. At the end of the day, a W is a W," head coach Trisha Ford said. "We know that we can come back at any situation, we've proven it over and over again. What I really enjoy about this team is we don't panic."
With the Sun Devils down by three going into the sixth, Cyd Sanders tied things up with a towering two-run blast. The Sun Devils forced extra innings where the Utes added one in the top of the eighth giving them the lead.
After pinch hitter Mailey McLemore doubled to left center, the Sun Devils got two quick outs before Yanni Acuña and Sanders walked to load the bases. With the bases loaded, Jazmine Hill hit a blooper into right center to secure the Sun Devils 18th straight win of the season.
Freshman Mac Morgan got the start for the Sun Devils where she lasted four innings giving up three runs. Marissa Schuld came in for relief in the fifth inning and lasted three and two-thirds innings. Lopez came into the game in the top of the eighth to get the last out of the inning.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
Arizona State 10, Utah 9
In the first inning, Alynah Torres was walked, then Yanni Acuña hit an infield single, followed by Jazmine Hill hitting a single, then advancing on a throwing error by the shortstop, which allowed Torres to score the game's first run. Next up, Emily Cazares drew a walk to load the bases for the Sun Devils. Makenna Harper would smash a home run to left-center to lengthen the lead to 5-0 after the first inning.
After walking the first two runners, Morgan escaped the third inning jam to keep Utah off the board. The Sun Devils were unable to produce any runs in their half of the inning. The score remained 5-0 going into the fourth.
After two singles, a three-run home run by Utah made the game 5-3 after the fourth inning.
Then in the top of the fifth, Utah opened the inning with a single and an error, followed by a three-run home run to give the Utes a 6-5 lead. The next Ute batter hit a solo shot into left field to give them the 7-5 advantage. Another solo home run with two outs extended the Utah lead to 8-5.
Savannah Price singled into center with one out in the bottom of the sixth. Torres followed with a double to put two runners in scoring position for ASU. Acuña would hit a sacrifice fly to bring in Price to cut the deficit to two.
Cydney Sanders hit a two-run home run to tie the game at 8-8 going into the seventh inning, which ties the team with the most home runs this season with 12.
Both teams failed to score in the seventh inning, the game still tied 8-8 heading into the eighth.
After a single and a stolen base Utah had a runner in scoring position with two outs. The next batter hit a double to give Utah the 9-8 lead.
Senior Mailey McLemore doubled to center to kickstart the bottom eighth inning, then Acuña was walked, followed by a Sanders walk to load the bases for the Sun Devils. Jaz Hill walked it off for ASU with a blooper single over the infielders head toward center to bring in McLemore and Acuña.
Junior Jazmine Hill
On her walk-off:
"Looking for a strike, I honestly don't even remember, I zoned in and tried to keep the ball down because she had a pretty good rising pitch."
On coming back tomorrow after an emotional game:
"Come out agressive early, they definately wanted to come and win as it was a very close game. We just have to make sure that we have to come in tomorrow and get ahead of the count and and competitive at-bats."
On her recent success at the plate:
"I have to give a shout-out to the coaches honestly, making sure that they help me slow down, I can get a little crazy, but just as a hitter myself I try to make sure I slow the game down and not trying to do too much, while trying to punch a hole somewhere."
Senior Makenna Harper
On the team's performance
"This is a great team and once we play like a team we do great things. One important thing to remember down the road is don't ever count this team out because it's never over until it's over."
On the team's mentality when down in the game
"Our mentality is to pass the bat, get a runner on base and pass the bat. Trust your teammate behind you and that's what we do and we executed it really well."
On her grand slam
"I just wanted to be a productive out, hit the ball hard to make the defense do something. I connected and it worked so I'm extremely happy about that."
The Sun Devils are back at it tomorrow in game two of the series against Utah at 6:00 p.m. MST.
Fans can keep up with all the news and action of ASU softball this weekend and the rest of the season by following @ASUSoftball on Twitter and Facebook and @SunDevilSB on Instagram.
Game 1: Thursday 4/14 7:00 p.m. MST Arizona State 10, Utah 9
Arizona State, 10-0
Oregon State, 7-5 at Washington
Stanford, 5-5 at Cal
USA Softball/ESPN.com - T10
NFCA/USA Today - 13
Softball America - 10
D1 Softball - 11