The ASU softball team had only three hits but they sure made them count.
Senior first baseman Bethany Kemp hit a walk-off grand slam to win 8-4 after Oklahoma intentionally walked the previous two batters and the Sun Devils (8-4) handed No. 4 Oklahoma its first loss in 10 games.
With a runner at third base and two outs in the seventh inning, Oklahoma opted to intentionally walk senior third baseman Haley Steele and senior catcher Amber Freeman, two of ASU's top power hitters.
"It's one of those things, pick your poison I guess, right?" ASU coach Craig Nicholson said. "They decide they want to pitch to Beth. We had just talked about be ready for the first pitch because it’s hard to throw eight balls in a row and then make a really quality pitch on the first pitch… They rolled the dice, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have done the same thing.
Kemp, a three-year starter at first base, said OU's decision to pitch to her motivated her.
"I think a lot of that was anger but you come up with bases loaded, winning run’s on third, you just got to put the ball in play," Kemp said. "It just went out by chance.”
ASU got its other four runs on a three-run home run from senior Sierra Rodriguez and a sacrifice fly from Steele.
Freshman pitcher Dale Ryndak pitched the complete game for ASU, allowing eight hits, four runs (three earned) with two walks and two strikeouts. She shut out the Sooners, who have one of the top offenses in the country, in four innings the previous night.
Ryndak said pitching coach Boo Gillette's message to her before facing the Sooners was, "Don’t look at the name on their shirt, just throw your own game, throw the pitches to the batters. They put their pants on the same way you do. They’re not any more special than you are."
Ryndak pitched well in the Littlewood Classic and made a number of strong defensive plays after ASU had a poor pitching showing in the Kajikawa Classic.
She threw 19 innings over the weekend, allowing 15 hits, six runs (three earned) to go along with four walks and 11 strikeouts. Ryndak credited playing other positions in high school for her defensive prowess on the mound.
Rodriguez had ASU's other big hit in the game, a three-run home run to center field.
She began the year in right field but moved from her tradition spot on Sunday. She started at second base with junior Nikki Girard (.143 season average) on the bench. Nicholson didn't say whether the move would be permanent but said ASU may not have a set starting nine all season.
"She's really settling in nice at that leadoff spot," Nicholson said.
The lineup move also put junior Allie Butterfield in right field. The speed at the bottom of ASU’s lineup allowed for Rodriguez's home run. Spiel pressured Oklahoma’s defense on a bunt attempt, reaching on an errant throw and Butterfield kept the inning alive with an infield single with two outs.
Oklahoma would tie the game at four in the sixth inning with three runs, making it seven runs in the inning over two days. But the Sooners were downed 1-2-3 in the seventh, setting up Kemp to win it for the Sun Devils.
Up next for ASU is the Diamond Devil Invitational from Feb. 20-22 at home.
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