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No. 21 ASU softball snaps scoreless drought, but No. 1 UCLA completes sweep

The Sun Devils lost a sixth consecutive game, dropping to 25-14 on the season


ASU outfielder Kindra Hackbarth (22) runs to second base in a game against North Dakota State University at Alberta B. Farrington Softball Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, on Saturday, March 31, 2018.

Despite Sunday's result and her team's recent struggles, ASU softball coach Trisha Ford said she certainly watched some moments her team can build on following its weekend series against UCLA.

The No. 21 ASU softball team (25-14, 5-7 Pac-12) continued to struggle with a 16-5 loss in five innings against No. 1 UCLA (35-1, 9-0 Pac-12) in the series finale on Sunday at Farrington Stadium, earning the Sun Devils their sixth consecutive loss.

Despite the string of losses, the Sun Devils showed some positive signs late in the matchup as ASU found an offensive spark to snap a 30-inning scoreless drought. In that drought, ASU had been outscored 48-0 against then-No. 11 Arizona in the three-game series and UCLA for 13 innings. 

During this tough stretch, junior outfielder Kindra Hackbarth said that confidence definitely dropped within the team, but she noted that she and her teammates need to remember just how good every team is in the Pac-12. 

Hackbarth added that she knows things will change.

“It is easy to give up, but with this team, we have a lot of fight,” she said.

ASU regained confidence in the third inning, and sophomore infielder Bella Loomis started it with a lead-off single for the first hit of the game against sophomore Holly Azevedo (8-0). 

On the next at-bat, junior designated player Allison Tatnall – who also had the hit to score the last runs for ASU against Utah on March 24 – followed with a two-run home run to end the scoreless drought. After that, senior infielder Taylor Becerra hit a single, and then Hackbarth hit a two-run home run, which is her 12th on the season.

Although no more runs scored afterward, senior outfielder Skylar McCarty had the fifth hit in the inning for ASU. Despite the much-needed offensive flurry and confidence boost, ASU still trailed 16-4 into the fourth.

UCLA dominated the matchup early with three runs in the first inning, including a lead-off home run from Bruins sophomore infielder Briana Perez

After that, UCLA exploded for eight runs in the second, including a lead-off home run from sophomore infielder Kinsley Washington. Then, the Bruins added the final five runs in the third, including a two-run moonshot from redshirt sophomore designated player Aaliyah Jordan

UCLA finished with 16 runs on 16 hits against junior pitcher Samantha Mejia (12-7) and freshmen Abby Andersen and Mikayla Santa Cruz.

Becerra hit a lead-off triple to start the fifth inning, then Hackbarth, who finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs, hit an RBI-double to score the final run for ASU.

“We take every game as a learning experience, and today those last few innings offensively we definitely came more together,” Hackbarth said. “As coach said, ‘We are coming out of the fog,’ and we are going to take it and run with it. We put up runs against UCLA and that is big.”

For Ford, that offensive output, though too-little-too-late, was seemingly a sigh of relief. Although Ford said the defense and pitching needs more work, she was happy to see some offensive pop. 

In the end, Ford reiterated that she wants her team to play ASU softball again.

“Hopefully, the worst is out of our system now,” she said.

With an away series against No. 7 Washington next weekend, Ford said she wants her team to reset, and she said she doesn’t think anyone should lose faith for the season.

“We are a good team, and we are going to be fine,” she said.

ASU takes on Washington for the series opener in Seattle on Friday, April 12 at 5 p.m. MST.

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