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ASU softball's offense leading team to impressive season

The Sun Devils' hot bats impact more than just the scoreboard


ASU infielder sophomore Jade Gortarez (15) hits the ball in a game against North Dakota State University at Alberta B. Farrington Softball Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, on Saturday, March 31, 2018.

Sophomore catcher Maddi Hackbarth stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the sixth on Feb. 9 — it was the second day of the Kajikawa Classic and ASU had dropped their season opener the night before by a score of 7-4.

Hackbarth knew her team needed a win in the worst way, which is why she was pinch hitting for freshman infielder Bella Loomis. The bases were loaded, and ASU already led 5-1, and a grand slam would invoke the run rule and end the game right there.

So she launched a 3-1 pitch over the left field wall to send the team home happy, with a 9-1 run rule walk-off win. 

Since then, the Sun Devils have piled up 10 more run rule victories and are outscoring opponents 228-80 on the year.

Given her roots as a pitching coach, head coach Trisha Ford said she noticed that ASU’s explosive offense has allowed her pitchers to be more relaxed on the mound. 

“If they make a mistake or we have good hitters in our conference, sometimes they hit good pitches,” Ford said. “They (ASU pitchers) know that we have the ability to come back and put up some crocked numbers.”

Ford said the best part of having the offense and pitching rolling at the same time is the team chemistry that is built as either side knows the other will pick them up.

“Honestly, from a pitching standpoint, the ability to just go up there and just be you, to just do your own thing and know that your teammate has your back is tremendous,” Ford said.

The offense shortening games to less than seven innings has allowed pitchers such as senior Breanna Macha and sophomore Giselle Juarez to pitch 230.2 of the 279 innings the team has played.

Senior pitcher Dale Ryndak highlighted the importance for she and Macha to keep their pitch count low after her run rule victory over Purdue on Feb. 9.

“I would much rather throw five inning than seven innings,” Ryndak said. “Keeping your pitch count low is really key for (Macha) and I, because we are older being 21. You are still young, but when you play all the time, your body is old.”

Ryndak said she feels the deadliest part of the ASU offense is not its ability to get the big home run, but that it can string together hit after hit and demoralize the opposition.

“People (opposing teams) are going out there and getting hammered on defense and then they have to try and do something on offense,” Ryndak said. “It is much more difficult for a team to try and do that than if we just score a run here and there with just a solo home run.”

Yet this is not just a one or two woman show for the Sun Devils. Out of the 10 batters who have started more than 20 games this season, six of them are hitting above .270, and four of those six have an average north of .300.

The position players on the Sun Devils' roster know these numbers are why it is so tough to crack the starting lineup.

Sophomore outfielder Brianna (Breezy) Wise made the most of her substitution into  the second game of a double header against BYU on March 30 by crushing a solo home run to left center.

“Everyone is good on this team, and everyone deserves an at bat,” Wise said on March 30. “You just got to take the moment and realize that this is your chance to shine and you might not get it again.”

ASU will look to flex its offensive muscles entering this weekend series with rival Arizona, which begins on Friday, April 20 at 5 p.m. MST.

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