The No. 3 ASU softball team’s offensive production skyrocketed against the pitcher with the best ERA in the nation and all it took was the lineup to completely ignore half of the plate in Saturday’s 6-0 win over LSU.
Sophomore outfielder Alix Johnson had a bounce back game as she blasted ASU’s only home run of the Women’s College World Series to go along with the single she got in the fifth inning.
After striking out four times to Alabama sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina, Johnson started to not worry too much about the inside of the strike zone and instead focused on balls tailing away from her.
“Did it look like I was looking for the outside pitch,” Johnson asked. “Because I was. I really was. It makes it a lot easier when you are focused in on one side of the plate, and you’re expecting that pitch to be there. So it was a good pitch to hit and thankfully I hit it out.”
Junior second baseman Sam Parlich had a similar approach with her two RBI single in between the shortstop and third baseman for LSU. She added to her performance offensively with a nice defensive game combining with senior shortstop Katelyn Boyd on two double plays, something they hoped to do more often this year.
“We talked about this all year,” Parlich said. “How we wanted to roll a double play, and we finally get two in a game. We were really happy.”
The game didn’t always look easy though. Senior pitcher Hillary Bach dealt with some illegal pitch calls that brought coach Clint Myers and pitching Coach Chuck D’Arcy out of the dugout to argue in the fourth inning. At one point D’Arcy called a conference with all three just to discuss what was going on. Bach stayed resilient and stranded runners on the corners to end the inning.
“It was something that I haven’t really experienced a lot of,” Bach said. “I’ve had a couple of calls, but have always been able to come right back. So it’s something I’ve never been called for. It was good practice, and I think we overcame it well, and my defense was incredibly helpful through that, just getting me out of the innings so I could go out to the bullpen and work on it, and then they had a long inning where I could work on coming back from it.”
The decision to rest sophomore pitcher Dallas Escobedo ended up turning out great for the Sun Devils, who will send her out to pitch the first game against No. 4 Oklahoma on Sunday at 10 a.m. PT.
“We were completely confident in Hillary’s performance all year long,” Myers said. “Look at her numbers. Look at the games. We had to beat Lafayette twice. Who pitched the very first game? This young lady here. Why would we not pitch her tonight?”
For as well as the Sun Devils’ offense did, Myers said there is still room for improvement. One of the biggest steps the lineup can take is continuing to have long at bats early. Those not only tire out pitchers, but also give the hitters an idea of what to look for.
“Personally from my at bat, I got to see a lot of different pitches,” Parlich said. “After that at bat, I went back to my teammates to give them a heads up of what I saw and what they could possibly see.”
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