ASU softball closes the curtain on its 2017-18 season in Oklahoma City

The ASU softball team was eliminated from the postseason in a 2-0 loss to the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday

On a hot and muggy afternoon in Oklahoma City, the ASU softball team drew the curtain on its 2018 season with a 2-0 loss to the back-to-back defending national champion Oklahoma Sooners.

In a pitching duel, the Sooners put up their two runs courtesy of a solo home run and a late insurance run to put away ASU.

Backed by the stellar performance of Oklahoma senior pitcher Paige Parker, who threw a complete game shutout while allowing just two hits, the Sooners eliminated the Sun Devils in front of what was virtually a home game for the hometown team.

“Today was just going out there giving my team a chance to win,” Parker said of the OU win. “Defense was fantastic today. The last couple of innings I knew I needed to step it up a notch and really go into shut down mode and try to be efficient today and go after hitters and stay ahead in counts.”

ASU had just two hits on the afternoon, including one that was originally ruled an error, and the other one was courtesy of a bloop pop up that was misplayed by Oklahoma in the seventh inning. 

Parker continued to attack the strike zone while keeping Sun Devil hitters off balance, and the ASU bats were kept quiet.

As for the Oklahoma offense, freshman utility player and NFCA Freshman of the Year Jocelyn Alo hit an opposite field home run in the third inning to put the first tally in the run column.

Later in the game, Oklahoma senior catcher Lea Wodach blooped a single that plated junior infielder Caleigh Clifton from second base to add a big insurance run.

The Sooners continued to put runners on base, but the ASU pitching tandem of sophomore Giselle “G” Juarez and senior Breanna Macha continued to fend off the Sooners attack.

Earlier this season at the Mary Nutter Classic in Palm Springs, Macha went up against Oklahoma in a game that resulted in a 7-2 loss. Nonetheless, only three of those seven runs on the final scoreboard were earned runs against Macha.

With a pitcher who Oklahoma had already seen once, ASU head coach Trisha Ford elected to start Juarez on Saturday.

The sophomore left-hander pitched four innings while allowing just one run before giving way to Macha. 

As they had been all season, the duo worked in unison to put together an effective performance, despite the loss.

“She's taught me how to be gritty and expect more out of yourself even when you think that's the best you've got,” Juarez said of pitching with Macha for one final time. “She's really allowed me to step into her shoes this year and we're a 1-2 punch.”

Ultimately, ASU’s season came to a close with a 48-13 overall record and an 0-2 trip at the Women’s College World Series.

With a complete performance from Parker and timely hitting, the Sooners were able to grind away a win against ASU.

Nevertheless, the 2018 softball season in Tempe will be one that can be looked back on and remembered, and it could be marked as the year that the softball program got back to its national prestige.

With a whole grove of returning players next season, ASU will replenish itself and aspire to reach even greater heights next season.

But for now, the team is left with somewhat of a bittersweet feeling after a season where they far exceeded anyone’s expectations.

“I think obviously it didn't end the way we wanted it to end, but you don't know how to get here until you get here,” Ford said of the future. “I think as we move forward now, our next step is come here and win some ball games.”

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