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ASU softball mideseason by the numbers

With just 15 games left, several statistical trends have emerged for the Sun Devils

ASU junior pitcher Breanna Macha (99) pitches the ball during game one of a three game softball series versus the Oregon State Beavers at Alberta B. Farrington Softball Stadium in Tempe, Arizona on Saturday, March 25, 2017. ASU won 8-0.
ASU junior pitcher Breanna Macha (99) pitches the ball during game one of a three game softball series versus the Oregon State Beavers at Alberta B. Farrington Softball Stadium in Tempe, Arizona on Saturday, March 25, 2017. ASU won 8-0.

With just one month – and fifteen games  – remaining this season, No. 23 ASU softball sits at 23-12 with a 2-7 record in Pac-12 play.

Given that the Sun Devils have the next ten days off before their next game, this is the perfect time to take a look at the good and bad, by the numbers, of the season to this point.

Shut-down Pitching

It’s no secret why ASU is currently outscoring its opponents 174-77 this season.

The pitching rotation, specifically two lead juniors, has been stellar for the Sun Devils, shutting down even some of the best offensive teams in the country.

Junior pitcher Dale Ryndak leads the way with a 1.54 ERA through 18 appearances. In nine starts, Ryndak holds a record of 7-3, with two of those losses being 1-0 road decisions at No. 10 Washington and No. 2 Oregon.

Ryndak is on track for by far a career-best season, having already topped her strikeout total from last season with 55.

Fellow junior Breanna Macha, a fellow junior, is enjoying a similarly impressive season in the circle, standing at 8-5 with a 1.75 ERA.

"That's going to be one of our staples for us to be successful," head coach Trisha Ford said earlier in the season of her two-headed pitching monster. "Both Dale and Macha, I'm telling you guys, they're the real deal. They're going to battle and they're going to get us in a lot of games."

On the road again

With an 0-6 record in true road games and a 6-4 neutral-site record – good for a combined 6-10 away from home – it's becoming clear that Farrington Stadium is a fortress for the Sun Devils. 

To the Sun Devils' credit, their six road games were each three-game sweeps at two of the best teams in the Pac-12, both of which rank in the top ten: Washington and undefeated Oregon

Their 17-2 record at home, however, bodes well for their remaining schedule, with nine of their final 15 games at home. Those remaining home games also happen to be – for the most part – against the more difficult opponents left on the slate: No. 15 Utah, California and No. 9 UCLA.

With a three-game set approaching at rival No. 4 Arizona, the Sun Devils will certainly need to fix their road struggles if they want to compete with the top of the Pac-12. 

Live and die by the long ball

With 36 home runs this season as a team – good for 18th in the country – ASU is making strong use of the long ball. Specifically in Pac-12 play, the Sun Devils have gone deep 11 times in nine conference games.

Leading the way in that category are senior shortstop Chelsea Gonzales and senior catcher Sashel Palacios, each of which has eight homers to her name. 

For Palacios, who currently sits at a .323 batting average on the season, she has come on strong in the last several weeks after hitting just .232 in the first 20 games.

"I feel like I've really channeled my energy towards my teammates' at-bats," Palacios said after hitting a grand slam against Oregon State. "It released some of the pressure from what I felt on top of my shoulders, so I feel like that's what's really helped me regroup."

As for Gonzales, who was referred to by her head coach as the "epitome of a senior," she leads the team in batting average at an impressive .356 and has been a consistent leader at the plate and off the field in her final season so far.  

"A lot of the girls look up to the seniors, because we've been through it all," Gonzales said following a recent win over New Mexico State. "But a lot of them are stepping up too and we're learning from them, and that's a good thing. They can ask us questions whenever you need to."

The two of them have combined to account for 41 percent of their team's RBI this season, making it clear that the majority of ASU's run production comes from the deep ball.

Given the way their season has gone thus far, the Sun Devils have the chance to finish strong if they continue to play their game and find a little more run production against tougher opponents.

And when ASU plays at its highest potential, Macha believes her team can hang with the best of the best, as she made clear after a win over Oregon State.

"We can beat anybody in the nation," she said. "Once you hit well, you play defense well, I think this team has something special, we've always said it. We can beat anybody."

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