No. 20 ASU softball opened play with a win and a loss during Thursday's action at the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, California. After being shutout for the second straight time by No. 14 Michigan, the Sun Devils turned things around for a mercy-rule win against Cal State Fullerton.
No. 14 Michigan blanks ASU once again
Despite an outstanding performance by freshman pitcher Giselle Juarez, the bats faltered and ASU dropped its first game of the classic by a final of 2-0 on Thursday afternoon against No. 14 Michigan.
The loss marked back-to-back defeats to the same Michigan team for the Sun Devils, who also failed to score when they faced the Wolverines Sunday afternoon.
Juarez (2-2, 1.42 ERA) tossed a complete game for ASU and struck out seven batters in the losing effort. She struggled early, however, hitting a batter and walking another on the way to allowing the game's first run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the first.
That lead remained intact throughout as Michigan senior pitcher Megan Betsa absolutely mowed down the Sun Devils, allowing just two hits through seven innings while striking out an unprecedented 16 batters and walking just one.
The closest ASU came to plating a run was in the top of the third, when a single by sophomore center fielder Skylar McCarty set her team up with two runners on and just one out. The next two batters, however, struck out swinging, as the Sun Devil bats continued to struggle.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Wolverines added to their lead with a triple into left field by sophomore catcher Katie Alexander, giving Betsa the breathing room to finish things off in the seventh.
ASU bounces back to rout Cal State Fullerton
It didn't take long for the bats to finally wake up in the Sun Devils' second game of the doubleheader, as ASU picked up three hits in the first two frames against Cal State Fullerton.
The Sun Devils had the offense going early and ended up getting the run support they needed en route to a bounce-back win over Fullerton, topping the Titans Thursday night by a tally of 10-1 in six innings.
Despite loading the bases with two outs in the second inning, the Sun Devils failed to capitalize off of their early hitting as McCarty grounded out to end the frame.
That changed in the third, however, when senior shortstop Chelsea Gonzales – the team's best hitter, batting .381 on the season – ripped a two-run home run to open up a 2-0 advantage.
Lightning struck five more times in the fourth as three bases-loaded walks and a Gonzales single – her third RBI of the day – increased the lead to 6-0.
Junior pitcher Breanna Macha was outstanding on the mound for ASU, going for a five-inning win while striking out three batters and allowing just two hits.
Another four-run inning in the sixth and a shut-down bottom half from junior pitcher Dale Ryndak closed things out on a dominant win for the Sun Devils.
ASU will be back in action on day two of the Judi Garman Classic Friday at 11 a.m. MST when they face Baylor.
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