Fresh off a pair of dominant mercy-rule wins in which the Sun Devils scored a combined seven first-inning runs, No. 23 ASU softball came into Saturday's series finale at Stanford looking to strike early once again and complete the sweep.
Although things may have gotten hairy in the late innings, the Sun Devils found a way to get the job done.
Thanks to some extra-inning heroics by senior shortstop and top hitter Chelsea Gonzales, ASU picked up its third-straight victory over the Cardinal by a final of 7-4 in nine innings Saturday afternoon in Palo Alto.
Through six-and-a-half innings, it appeared the sweep was locked up, as the Sun Devils, led by a dominant outing from junior pitcher Dale Ryndak, entered the last of the seventh with a 4-1 lead.
Two walks and one game-tying home run later, Ryndak's day ended with a halt, and fellow junior Breanna Macha came in to stop the bleeding, with the game tied 4-4. She set up for Gonzales’ go-ahead three-run homer in the ninth that ultimately sealed the win for ASU.
The Sun Devils’ offense finally got things going in the top of the third, as a lead-off single by sophomore infielder Taylor Becerra sparked a three-run frame. A bases-loaded walk by redshirt junior infielder Margaret Stahm and a two-run double by sophomore outfielder Fa Leilua brought in the runs that opened a 3-0 advantage.
ASU once again loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, but a double play grounded into by senior catcher Sashel Palacios killed that rally and kept the Sun Devils from building their lead.
In the fifth, Stanford scratched across its first run, breaking Ryndak's perfect game and no-hitter in back-to-back at-bats. A one-out walk set up sophomore Whitney Burks for an RBI double, cutting the lead 3-1.
However, the Cardinal couldn't mount the perfect comeback, as the extra-innings win brought the Sun Devils' record to 26-12 on the season and 5-7 in Pac-12 play.
The Sun Devils will be back home for a key three-game set with No. 14 Utah next weekend. The first game of the series starts at 4 p.m. MST Friday at Farrington Stadium in Tempe.