ASU softball beats Indiana and Saint Mary's to win five straight

Sun Devils extend their win streak to five games as they close out Kajikawa Classic

Indiana

Following a 9-1 six inning win over Notre Dame on Saturday, ASU came into the final day of the Kajikawa tournament feeling good about their offense.

However, in Sunday’s early game, it was the pitching staff that lead the No. 23 Sun Devils to a 2-1 win over the University of Indiana Hoosiers.

“I think they are figuring out a way to get W’s," head coach Trisha Ford said. "There is no ugly wins. The key with this game is who makes adjustments quickly and frequently as the game goes on. If you make adjustments, then you usually end up with the W.” 

After giving up four runs in four innings on Friday, senior Breanna Macha pitched six innings while collecting five strike outs and allowing just one run.

To close the game, sophomore Giselle Juarez came and struck out the side in the seventh.

"I know Giselle compliments me really well," Macha said. "So, to know that she has my back just as much I would have hers, it’s exciting to see what we can both do.” 

The offense was led by junior Morgan Howe who continued her hot start by going 2-3 with a double and two RBI's to drive in the only two Sun Devil runs. 

Both teams had a tough time getting the bat on the ball in the first. The Sun Devils picked up a hit from sophomore Jade Gortarez but stranded her on base as the next two batters were retired.

While Indiana would allow the occasional base runner, Macha did not allow a single Hoosier to reach base through three innings.

In the bottom of the third, ASU was able to play some small ball after a single from sophomore outfielder Kindra Hackbarth. Howe took full advantage of the opportunity driving in the run with a two-out RBI single to center.

In the top of the fourth, the Hoosiers were finally able to break through for a hit against Macha, but they were unable to cash in as ASU held on to its 1-0 lead.

Macha continued to deal as she collected five strike outs through five innings pitched, keeping the Hoosiers off the scoreboard and, for the most part, off the bases.

The Sun Devils were able to cash in again, this time in the bottom of he fifth when Howe ripped a RBI double expanding their lead to 2-0.

The Hoosiers were not giving up, as freshman Makayla Ferrari hit a leadoff home run to right field making it a one-run game. 

Macha did not let the home run phase her and she bounced back to get three quick outs.

In the seventh, Juarez took over and locked down the win for the Sun Devils with three strike outs and extended the team's winning streak to four straight games.

Saint Mary's

After a slow offensive morning, the Sun Devils broke out their bats for the evening game as they pounded the Saint Mary's Gaels 8-4 in 5.5 innings.

ASU was led by Howe, who continued to stay hot going 3-3 with three RBIs and a home run.

“I thought (Howe) had a lot of quality at bats," Ford said. "(Howe) can hit. She is just a pure hitter. I loved that they kept pitching to her today.”

Howe said that her at-bats were kind of a blur, but she expects to provide more power for her team on a game-to-game basis.

"I don’t (really) remember anything," Howe said "I think I am seeing the ball pretty well right now.”

The Sun Devils also got some offense out of sophomores Maddi Hackbarth and Gortarez. Hackbarth went 2-3 with three RBIs and Gortarez drew three walks with three runs scored. 

Senior Dale Ryndak started the game for the Sun Devils but had trouble keeping the Gaels off the base paths, allowing six hits and three unearned runs in two innings of work.

“I think (Ryndak) just didn’t have her 'A' stuff tonight," Ford said. "She didn’t throw bad, but we didn’t play great defense behind her so those kind of compounded.”

ASU then turned to sophomore Alyssa Loza who held the Gaels to one run in four innings of work, earning the win.

Howe made sure ASU did not miss its chance and knocked a double into center for her second double and third RBI of the day.

The Sun Devils were not done there, thanks to hits from junior Fa Leilua and Hackbarth, ASU put two more runs on the board to take a 3-0 lead.

Saint Mary's came back strong loading the bases with one out to start the second. However, after getting the second out, an error by Gortarez led to three runs scoring and the Gaels tying the game at three.

ASU was quick to reply with a two-run single by Hackbarth with the bases loaded and took a 5-3 lead heading into the top of the third. To start that inning the Sun Devils changed pitchers putting Loza in the circle.

Both teams continued to trade zeros until Howe launched her third home run of the season over the center field wall in the bottom of the fourth to give ASU a 7-3 lead. 

ASU and Saint Mary's traded a few more runs, but Loza held Saint Mary's in check and pitched a shut out frame in the top of the sixth to give ASU its fifth straight win.

ASU will back back in action on Friday to take on North Dakota in Tempe to kick off the Littlewood Classic.


Reach the reporter at Joshua.Zaklis@asu.edu and follow @JoshZaklis on Twitter.

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