No. 16 ASU softball denies Utah comeback to remain perfect

The Sun Devils scored nine runs across three innings and finished the Kajikawa Classic 4-0

No. 16 ASU softball finished the Kajikawa Classic with a 9-4 win over Utah in a non-conference game on Saturday in Tempe.

After a quick first inning, the Sun Devils exploded with three runs in the second inning and five in the third. A three-run home run from sophomore outfielder Jazmine Hill in the second accounted for all of the runs scored in that frame.

"I felt really good about it, I know my job is to bring other runners in," Hill said. "At first, I was thinking more of a gapper, but I saw the pitch and did what I could with it."

ASU hit consecutive home runs to start the bottom of the third inning, with senior third baseman Bella Loomis hitting the second pitch of the inning out of the park and fifth-year senior catcher Maddi Hackbarth hitting another home run two pitches later. 

The third inning scoring flurry ended after senior first baseman DeNae Chatman hit her own three-run home run to give the Sun Devils an 8-0 lead after three innings.

The Sun Devils tacked on another run in the fourth inning with an RBI single from fifth-year senior designated player Allison Tatnall.

Utah denied ASU's opportunity for a second consecutive run-rule by scoring four runs in the top of the fifth inning.

Head coach Trisha Ford said she told the team the type of effort Utah gave to stay in the game is what they should expect moving forward.

"No team is ever out, they play until the last out of the last inning," Ford said. 

Sophomore pitcher Lindsay Lopez came in to relieve fifth-year senior pitcher Cielo Meza in the fifth inning after the latter gave up four hits to begin the frame. After Lopez gave up two hits in the fifth, she held the Utes scoreless for the remainder of the game.

"We all make sure we control our emotions and not get too anxious or let the game take control of us," Hill said. "We made sure we controlled the game and did what we were supposed to do."

Lopez finished the game strong despite being put into a difficult situation, striking out four batters in three innings pitched. 

Ford said bringing Lopez in with two runners in scoring position with no one out in the fifth inning was done "on purpose," adding that "she's going to have to develop and get used to this role."

Ford was pleased with what she saw from her team throughout the Kajikawa Classic that netted the team four wins.

"Each day our bats got better and better," Ford said. "Tonight was huge. I thought that (the team) just got more and more comfortable as the weekend went on. You saw more and more (of) our style of ball."

ASU will play next against Cal State Fullerton in a doubleheader on Feb. 16 in Tempe, with the first game starting at 1 p.m. MST and the second starting at 3 p.m. MST.

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