ASU softball pulls out late-inning comeback to sweep Stanford

The No. 8 ASU softball team defeated Stanford 3-2 on the team's senior day

With the hopes of picking up a seventh straight win on Sunday afternoon, the No. 8 ASU softball team pulled off a 3-2 comeback victory on the team’s senior day.

Six ASU seniors were honored, and on a day that was all about seniors, one freshman came up big for the Sun Devils.

Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning with the tying run on first base, ASU freshman infielder Denae Chatman stepped to the plate and delivered a two-run home run to left center field to give the Sun Devils a 3-2 lead.

The home run served as a sense of deja vu for Chatman, who supplied a similar two-run shot in the sixth inning of Friday night’s game in the exact same situation.

“I think it’s confidence,” Chatman said of her home runs. “It’s having more at-bats and being more comfortable in the box, and being there and helping my team out.”

The big fly served as Chatman’s third home run over the last week, and the freshman has continued to hit her stride at the right time.

While Chatman's home run was the game's high point for ASU, the rest of the game was a battle with a resilient Stanford team.

Stanford scored one run in the first inning, and one run in the second inning while facing ASU senior pitcher Dale Ryndak, and ASU never had a three up, three down inning against the Cardinal.

On the scoreboard, Stanford outhit ASU and made fewer errors, yet the final score tilted in favor of the Sun Devils, leaving Stanford scratching their heads in a series where they had opportunities to possibly steal a game or two on the road.

“Stanford doesn’t have a great record (in Pac-12 play), but they can swing it,” ASU head coach Trisha Ford said. “Coach Allister (Stanford’s head coach) ... she has that team playing hard. You look at the Pac-12 conference, there hasn’t been a lot of times that they have been blown out ... I commend Stanford. Know that they are going to get better.”

In the fifth inning of Sunday’s game, ASU junior outfielder Skylar McCarty hit a home run against Stanford sophomore pitcher Nikki Bauer, sending it over the left center field wall to make the score 2-1.

Chatman’s home run later proved to be the difference, but Bauer’s performance was not understated in a hard-fought loss. 

Aside from Chatman and McCarty's home runs, ASU junior outfielder Morgan Howe had two hits. She has continued to string together quality at-bats in the middle of the Sun Devil lineup.

In the circle, ASU used three pitchers to pick up a win. Ryndak started Sunday’s game, and was later relieved by sophomore pitcher Giselle “G” Juarez, who threw 4.2 innings out of relief. Odds are she would have closed out Sunday’s contest if it were not for a special moment on ASU’s senior day.

After recording two quick outs in the seventh inning, Juarez was relieved by ASU senior pitcher Breanna Macha, who came into the game to a huge ovation. She proceeded to record the final out of the game for the Sun Devils.

“I know most people when they are getting pulled, they are down,” Juarez said. “But it was Bre’s (Macha’s) last out. I couldn’t be more excited for her. I was all smiles ... When she came out, I was so happy. It gave me chills. I am glad that she got the last out here, and that is what she works for.”

ASU’s six seniors were honored with their families on the field after the game, and while Sunday might have been their final regular season home game, there is still plenty more softball to be played for the graduating class.

With a 42-9 overall record, there is a good chance postseason softball will be played in Tempe. Whether those games run through regionals and into super regionals has yet to be determined, but ASU can come to find out next weekend when they duel it out with No. 1 UCLA for the final three games of the regular season in Los Angeles.

“It’s a dream come true. We talked about this six months ago (before the season started),” Macha said of possibly hosting a regional. “It’s finally coming true, and it just shows that all of our hard work and all the work that we put in, it’s going to pay off, and it has paid off thus far.”

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