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No. 7 ASU Softball avoids sweep with win over Oregon

Sun Devils shut out Ducks in series finale to end a two game losing streak

ASU sophomore catcher Maddi Hackbarth (13) throws the ball to the pitcher in a game against Oregon at the Alberta B. Farrington Softball Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, on Saturday, April 14, 2018.

ASU had not lost two games in a row all season, so after the team dropped its second straight on Saturday, sophomore pitcher Giselle Juarez knew she had to give her team a chance on Sunday.

That is exactly what she did, pitching seven innings allowing no runs on three hits to give No. 7 ASU a 4-0 win over the Oregon Ducks. Before Sunday's game, the Ducks had outscored the Sun Devils 14-1. 

Juarez had an usually shaky outing in the first game of the series, allowing five runs, two of which were earned, in seven innings pitched on Friday. The lefty used the lessons learned from that outing to help her in the series finale.

"I used it (Friday) somewhat, but at the same time I let it go," Juarez said. "(I) just reminded myself that I can beat these hitters and I just need to focus on me and what I need to do."

The Sun Devils' offense for the game was provided by sophomore infielder Jade Gortarez, who was 3-3 with three runs and finished a single shy of the cycle.

Gortarez said that she came to the ballpark early on Sunday to watch some videos of her at bats from the past two games and talk things over with her coaches.

"I was like 'Man I need to get a hit today'," Gortarez said. "I was 0 for the weekend before today, and that is why I put in the extra work before the game."

Head coach Trisha Ford said the team showed a lot of fight, and she was proud that ASU did not concede the series sweep.

"Our focus, our at bats were way better today, we were not swinging at bad pitches," Ford said. "When you swing aggressively at good pitches good things are going to happen, and they(ASU) bought into themselves and that plan today."

Sophomore catcher Maddi Hackbarth left the game after taking a foul ball off the mask with one out in the top of the sixth.

The Ducks went three up, three down in the top of the first, as the Sun Devils took their first lead of the series in the bottom half thanks to a Gortarez double a RBI single from freshman infielder Danielle Gibson.

Juarez responded by shutting down Oregon in the top of the second to keep ASU's 1-0 lead safe, the teams continued to trade zeros but in the bottom of the third, the Ducks pulled their starter, junior Megan Kleist in favor of sophomore Maggie Balint.

The strategy did not pay off for the Ducks as Gortarez launched a no doubt home run over the center field wall for her second extra base hit of the day to give ASU a 2-0 lead.

In the bottom of the third the Devils put runners on first and second with one out which prompted the Ducks to change pitchers once again as sophomore Miranda Elish took the circle.

ASU was able to score a run to take a 3-0 lead, but left the bases loaded after a 6-2 ground out and strike out ended the inning.

In the bottom of the fifth, Gortarez stayed on fire picking up her third hit of the day, this time in the form of a triple. The infielder scored when the next batter, outfielder Morgan Howe knocked an RBI single to center field which gave ASU a 4-0 lead.

From there Juarez slammed the door shut to secure her 18th win of the season and give ASU a confidence boost before their weekend series with rival University of Arizona which starts on Friday at 5 p.m. PST in Tempe.

 Reach the reporter at and follow @JoshZaklis on Twitter.

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