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ASU softball sweeps doubleheader to bring win streak to 11

Sun Devils outscore Minnesota 13-1 to sweep doubleheader against Gophers


ASU junior outfielder Morgan Howe (47) celebrates with head coach Trisha ford after safely arriving to third base buring the Sun Devils' 4-0 win over Minnesota on Sunday, Mar. 11, 2018 at Alberta B. Farrington Softball Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.

ASU softball upped its winning streak to 11 after a dominant sweep over the Minnesota Golden Gophers in a doubleheader in Tempe on Sunday. 

The Sun Devils outscored the Gophers 13-1 on Sunday, and with another strong performance, the Sun Devils have allowed only three runs in the month of March so far. 

Game one:

The Sun Devils won the first game against the Gophers 9-1.

The game was decided in five innings thanks to the No. 14 Sun Devils' four-run fifth, where ASU picked up single after single to load the bases and score their runs.

Although the Sun Devils streak of five straight games without allowing a run is over, senior pitcher Breanna Macha only allowed four hits and worked out of several jams where the Gophers had two runners on and no one out.

"I talked to our grad assistant, she kind of just tells me to stay in myself, throw my game," Macha said. "It is just the little reminders from the coaching staff really gets me back to my game."

ASU got its offense via freshman outfielder Nichole Chilson, who picked picked up a hit, two RBIs and two runs scored in her three plate appearances.

Sophomore catcher Maddi Hackbarth also provided two RBIs for the Sun Devils, getting on base every time she stepped up to the plate in game one via two walks and a home run in her three plate appearances.

The victory did not come without some cost for the Sun Devils as freshman infielder Danielle Gibson was a little banged up after a play at first. 

Gibson was visited by the team trainer and head coach Trisha Ford in the top of the third after stretching to catch a ball at first base. The freshman stayed in the game but was ultimately pulled in the fifth inning.

"She's fine, she's just got a couple of strains here and there but nothing major," Ford said. "There was no reason not to rest her so we went ahead."

After a scoreless top of the first, the Sun Devils jumped out to a 2-0 lead courtesy of a two run homer from Chilson.

The Sun Devils threatened in the second inning by putting runners on the corners with two outs, yet ASU was unable to capitalize as sophomore Kindra Hackbarth grounded out to first, ending the inning and the scoring chance.

That missed chance would loom large as the Gophers struck back for a run in the top of the third to make it a 2-1 game. That run was also the first one allowed by the Sun Devil pitching staff in over five games.

However in the bottom of the fourth, Maddi and junior outfielder Skyler McCarty hit back to back home runs to expand the Sun Devil lead to four runs.

As Macha kept the Minnesota offense in check, the Sun Devil bats continued to heat up as the afternoon progressed.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Sun Devils loaded the bases and scored four runs by simply passing the stick, hitting single after single to force a run rule win in over the Gophers by a final of 9-1.

Game Two:

The Sun Devils came out of the gate slow in the second game, but sophomore pitcher Giselle Juarez kept the Gophers off the board throughout the entire game, allowing ASU to scratch out a 4-0 win.

This was the Sun Devils' eleventh straight win as they outscored the Gophers 13-1 on Sunday and 19-1 throughout the entire series.

Juarez pitched a complete game on Friday to give the Sun Devils the win then, and nearly duplicated that performance on Sunday with seven more shut out innings, only allowing one hit.

On offense, the Sun Devils used small ball, scoring a run on a bunt single and a wild pitch. However, ASU also scored on an RBI double from junior outfielder Morgan Howe and a home run from Gibson.

Unlike the first game, both teams struggled to put hits on the board in the first inning as the pitchers from both sides kept the batters guessing.

In the second inning, the Sun Devils got a runner on base thanks to a hit batter, but they were unable to advance her.

In the circle, Juarez continued to dominate the Gophers lineup, keeping the Sun Devils within striking distance.

In the third inning, the Sun Devils picked up their first hit on a single from Kindra Hackbarth but couldn't do anything with it as the game stayed without a score through three innings.

The Gophers responded with a hit of their own in the top of the fourth, but the runner was thrown out trying to advance from first to second on the play.

ASU put forth the first real threat of the game in the bottom of the fourth when it put runners on first and second with no outs.

The Sun Devils then capitalized on a wild pitch and a passed ball, scratching across the game's first run to take a 1-0 lead.

After another shut out inning from Juarez, the Sun Devils finally started guessing right, as they scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a 3-0 lead in a wild inning that included two Gopher errors.

However, ASU was not done there. In the bottom of the sixth, Gibson, feeling no ill effects from her injury in game one, blasted a home run over the left field wall to give the Sun Devils a 4-0.

That was more than enough for Juarez who shut down the Gophers one more time in the top of the seventh to secure the doubleheader sweep.

What's next for ASU

The Sun Devils will continue their home stint with a doubleheader against the University of Iowa on Wednesday in Tempe. Game one will start at 4 p.m. MST. 

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