ASU softball drops game two of its Territorial Cup Series

ASU fell to its in-state rival on Saturday afternoon 4-1

Fresh off of a dramatic walk-off win on Friday night, the No. 8 ASU softball team fell to No. 13 Arizona, 4-1, in the second game of a Territorial Cup series in Tempe.

ASU had just two hits, and they made two errors that were countered by a consistent Arizona attack that continued to put runners on base in the early part of the game.

“There’s not always going to be a next at-bat,” ASU head coach Trisha Ford said of her team’s offense. “It shouldn’t take us three innings to get through our lineup, especially when I think that we should be dominating in the box (the batter’s box). It took us a long time to get back up to the top of our lineup, so they better come out with some tenacity tomorrow.”

On Saturday, Arizona sent out its sophomore right-handed pitcher Alyssa Denham. Denham threw a complete game, two-hit gem while only striking out two hitters.

The sophomore from Texas continued to keep ASU’s hitters off balance, and she was able to rely on her defense while limiting solid contact to complete the Arizona victory.

As for the lone run of the game for the Sun Devils, that came courtesy of ASU junior center fielder Morgan Howe, who had a solo home run in the fourth inning after Arizona jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top half of the fourth.

ASU freshman infielder Denae Chatman recorded the only other hit of the game for the Sun Devils, but aside from a couple of free passes from Denham, the sophomore right-hander was virtually spotless.

“It was just staying behind the ball and letting it travel,” Howe said of facing Denham. “I think at this level and in this conference, we are very used to seeing mid-high 60’s ... she wasn’t overpowering, and she wasn’t blowing it by us, so it’s just transitioning from getting your foot down ... to letting the ball come to you and drive it.”

Arizona’s offense came in the fourth inning, but that is not to say that the Wildcats didn’t have their chances. 

ASU sophomore pitcher Breanna Macha had to work with multiple runners around her in each of her first four innings, but she was able to battle and continue to work around tight situations.

“She’s a bulldog. She’s giving us everything that she has and we are going to figure it out and start hitting behind her,” Ford said of Macha. “She’s working her tail off and doing the things that we are asking her to do, and we just have to be better in the box.”

Macha’s fourth run of the game was unearned after an ASU throwing error, and despite the loss, the senior managed to go the full seven for ASU, striking out four Wildcats.

In Saturday’s game, Macha worked alongside ASU freshman catcher Rylee Maston, who received her first start of the season behind home plate.

After the game, Ford noted that she was looking to give sophomore catcher Maddi Hackbarth somewhat of a rest behind home plate in order to keep her healthy toward the end of a grueling conference season, but both Macha and Ford were pleased with Maston’s performance behind the dish.

“I was so excited for her,” Macha said of Maston. “She has worked her tail off this entire season, so just having her get her chance and be the good teammate that she has always been this entire season … she did a really great job.”

On the flip side for the Wildcats, redshirt freshman outfielder Carli Campbell and sophomore infielder Reyna Carranco had two hits and two RBIs to power the offense for Arizona.

With a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning, Carranco delivered a big hit with a two-RBI double that gave Arizona some breathing room, and her offense was backed up by a couple of sparkling defensive plays at second base to erase a couple of potential ASU hits.

With the series split at one game a piece, the rubber match of the Territorial Cup Series will be tomorrow, April 21 at 5 p.m. PST.

“Forget about today and forget about the day before. It’s a new game (tomorrow),” Howe said. “We just got to come out here, play our game and make our adjustments early.”

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