ASU upends Washington 2-0 to begin Pac-12 play

No. 13 ASU softball gave the No. 1 team in the country its first loss of the season on Saturday night

The No. 13 ASU softball team handed the No. 1 team in the country its first loss of the season on Saturday night, upending the Washington Huskies 2-0 at Farrington Stadium. 

In front of a packed house in a game that had the feel of a game in late May or early June, ASU picked up two runs in the first inning, courtesy of freshman first baseman Danielle Gibson — and that would be all the Sun Devils needed.

Gibson finished the game with two hits, including a two-out, two-RBI double that was just inches away from clearing the left center field fence for her eleventh home run of the season.

She has continued her rampant tear in her freshman season, and going into her first game in Pac-12 play, the freshman was calm, cool and collected against one of the best teams in the country.

“I came in not too nervous,” Gibson said. “I just try to play my game, stay comfortable and see ball, hit ball.”

Following Gibson’s big hit in the first inning, the Washington bats ran into the buzzsaw that has been ASU sophomore pitcher Giselle “G” Juarez

Going into Saturday’s game, Juarez had recorded seven games with double-digit strikeout totals. On Saturday, the sophomore phenom delivered yet another gem — but this time, there was a little extra significance facing a Husky team that has hit .360 as a team this season.

Facing a lethal opponent to open the conference slate, Juarez was dominant, striking out 11 Huskies while allowing just three hits after her team helped her out early in the game.

“It gave me a ton of confidence,” Juarez said of her team’s early lead. “To put up two runs in the first inning off of Washington ... we were ready. We were fired up and ready to go after we did that, and that was so exciting and it gave me so much confidence.”

Along with Gibson and Juarez, there were four Sun Devils who were playing in their first Pac-12 conference game after transferring from other schools.

One of those players was junior center fielder Morgan Howe. In Saturday’s game, Howe was 2-3 with a run scored, and the game was all she could have imagined after transferring from the Mountain West Conference.

“This was something that you dream of,” Howe said. “You play travel ball for so long and you go on so many road trips and you wake up for so many early mornings … this is what it’s all for. It was just really exciting.”

Lost in the dominance of Juarez and the big crowd on hand was Washington freshman pitcher Gabbie Plain.

After giving up two runs in the first inning, Plain threw five scoreless innings while striking out three Sun Devils in an efficient performance.

With a slim margin of error in a well-played, clean game, the freshman right-hander sustained a tough first loss of the season.

Nonetheless, ASU handed Washington its first loss of the season, and although the game was just the first of many in Pac-12 play, it had the feel of a game that softball fans are liable to see in a super regional or even in Oklahoma City.

Up next, ASU has two games left to try to win the series against a Husky team that is likely chomping at the bit to get back to action tomorrow. First pitch for game two between ASU and Washington is set for Sunday, March 18 at 2 p.m. MST. 

“We got to take another punch,” ASU Head Coach Trisha Ford said. “It’s doing what we did today. Come out ready to go from the first inning, pitch well, play solid defense ... nothing changes for us. We got a win. We still got two more games and tomorrow is a new day.”

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