ASU softball takes care of business in first two games against Stanford

ASU softball will be looking for a series sweep against Stanford on Sunday

Friday:

It’s not too often a softball team wins a game with six errors. However, the No. 8 ASU softball team went against those odds on Friday night by defeating the Stanford Cardinal 4-3 in walk-off fashion.

“I am happy that we figured out a way to get a win … I am not happy with what we showed on the field today,” ASU head coach Trisha Ford said. “I am not happy with our focus ... I don’t know if we have ever had that many errors in one game. I think that’s something that we absolutely need to tidy up.”

Although the Sun Devils defense might not have been their normal selves, they were able to take advantage of some opportunities at the plate. 

After falling behind 2-0 in the first inning, ASU mounted a rally that was sparked by the long ball. 

Junior outfielder Morgan Howe crushed a solo home run in the fourth inning to cut the Stanford lead in half, and freshman infielder Denae Chatman later hit a two-run home run to give ASU a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning.

Backed by sophomore pitcher Giselle “G” Juarez, who has been masterful all season, it looked as if ASU was ready to slam the door.

But Stanford had other plans. 

With an error and a single to leadoff the inning, the Cardinal got off to an ideal start to their seventh inning, and Juarez was pulled from the game.

Then entered ASU senior pitcher Breanna Macha.

Macha hit the first batter she faced, then came back from a 3-1 count to record a strikeout. An ASU error would allow the tying run to score, but the senior then bailed out her teammates, striking out the next two hitters to keep the score knotted at two.

“It’s fun (as a pitching staff), because Bre (Macha) got that win. That’s good for her,” Juarez said. “She had my back in that moment.”

After Macha pulled a houdini, the Sun Devils seized their senior pitcher’s momentum. ASU redshirt senior infielder Marisa Stankiewicz doubled, and sophomore shortstop Jade Gortarez calmly ended things with a shot into left field bringing home the winning run.

“We don’t give up. That’s not what type of team we are,” Juarez said. “We are a gritty team that will fight to the very last out. That’s our standard, and that’s what we did.”

Saturday:

In a complete contrast to Friday night’s game, ASU used an offensive barrage to take down Stanford 8-0 in five innings.

Six different Sun Devils picked up hits and RBIs, and ASU had a well-rounded win to roll past the Cardinal.

As for just a few of the key players leading the charge, ASU junior third baseman Taylor Becerra had three hits, Gortarez had two, and Howe singled for the Sun Devils.

In addition to the hit parade, ASU sophomore outfielder Kindra Hackbarth and freshman first baseman Danielle Gibson both left the yard. Gibson belted a towering two-run home run in the second inning, and Hackbarth hit a solo shot in the fourth.

“I have been struggling a little bit at the plate lately,” Gibson said. “... Every hitter goes through a little bump in the road, and I think that this is just building character for me and for the team. We have been able to win some ballgames as a team, and I think it has been cool that it’s not just one hero every single time.”


As for the pitching duties, Macha got the start on Saturday, and picked up where she left off on Friday. She delivered five innings of shutout softball, and it only added to what has thus far been a flawless weekend for the right-hander.

With one game left to play against Stanford on Sunday, ASU will look for back-to-back Pac-12 series sweeps on the team’s senior day. Macha will be one of six players honored prior to Sunday's game. First pitch is set for Sunday, May 6 at 1 p.m.

“It’s senior weekend, so you kind of just want to come out here and have fun,” Macha said. “I came out here playing loose and playing my game … These are going to be lifelong friends, and I always say that … I couldn’t ask for better teammates.”



Reach the reporter at atbell1@asu.edu or follow @AndrewBell7 on Twitter.

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