For the No. 5 ASU softball team, youth is not necessarily a bad thing.
This weekend, as ASU (36-9, 6-4 Pac-10) split a two-game series with No. 2 Stanford and beat conference rival No. 14 Cal on Friday, it was some of the youngest Sun Devils who did the most damage.
Freshman ace pitcher Hillary Bach started two of the team’s three games, which happened to also be the two games the team won.
On Friday against Cal, Bach, whose record has inflated to 21-3, pitched seven innings, giving up 11 hits and four runs — only one of which was earned.
While Bach’s performance on Friday was not quite spectacular, it was good enough to get the win considering she had some help from sophomore catcher Kaylyn Castillo, who hit a grand slam to give the Sun Devils a lead Cal couldn’t catch.
On Sunday, in the Sun Devils second game against Stanford, Bach took the mound again, and aside from a minor hiccup in the first inning that resulted in a Cardinal home run, she was lights out.
Bach pitched five innings allowing only four hits and one run while tallying four strikeouts.
“I’m becoming much more comfortable, more confident,” Bach said. “I can visualize my successes that I’ve had here, which makes it easier to play well.”
The Sun Devils won the game 10-1, a beat down that Bach humbly attributed to her teammates, who she said were behind her every step of the way.
“Stanford is a great team, so it was a successful day,” Bach said. “It’s really easy to pitch when your team puts up 10 runs.”
Three of those runs came from freshman shortstop Katelyn Boyd.
In the Sun Devils’ eight-run second inning, Boyd hit a towering home run over the center field wall scoring three of the team’s 10 runs.
“She threw me a ball on the first pitch, so I was looking for something belt high that I could hit hard,” Boyd said. Boyd said she was impressed, as she typically is, with Bach’s performance.
“Hillary is awesome,” Boyd said. “She gave up that home run in the first, but she’s great at regrouping and coming back.”
Sun Devil coach Clint Myers said he is pleased with the way some of his younger players are stepping up when the team needs them.
“Hillary did a great job mixing in speeds and location; again, she’s a freshman, there’s a lot of softball left ahead of her,” Myers said.
Myers said that the team is ready for the last leg of its season.
“You want to be playing your best softball in May and June, and we’ve made a lot of progress over the course of the season,” he said.
Other notable highlights from this weekend’s games included the performance of senior Kaitlin Cochran, whose three hits against Stanford on Saturday and one on Sunday, put her career total at 300, giving her the ASU all-time hits record.
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