ASU softball swept by UCLA in first Pac-12 series of season

ASU scored only two runs in four games against UCLA

No. 11 ASU softball kicked off conference play with four straight losses to No. 2 UCLA in which the team scored only two runs in four games.

Friday

The Sun Devils kicked off the LA trip with a 2-1 loss to UCLA in extra innings.

Sophomore Lindsay Lopez was the first member of the pitching staff in the circle. Lopez allowed three hits and one earned run in just over three innings. 

The bats were cold throughout the game as five starters were held hitless throughout.

The game was scoreless until UCLA pitcher Rachel Garcia hit a home run to center field. Garcia also allowed one run off five hits in eight innings to go with 14 strikeouts in the circle.

Following Garcia's homer, freshman Allison Royalty relieved Lopez.

In the seventh inning, Makenna Harper brought life into the Sun Devils with a solo home run.

With one more chance to win in regulation, UCLA redshirt freshman Maya Brady stood on first with two outs as redshirt senior Bubba Nickles drove it deep to right field. Sophomore Jazmine Hill fielded the ball and threw it into the infield as Brady rounded third and a very close relay caught Brody with a tag of the glove of Maddi Hackbarth

Garcia retired the first three Sun Devil batters to put the Bruins back on offense in the eighth. In the bottom half for UCLA, a Briana Perez bunt and Aaliyah Jordan RBI double gave UCLA a 2-1 victory.

Saturday Doubleheader

After a close game on day one, the ASU bats did not provide the run support needed in back-to-back losses.

Game One

In the first game of the doubleheader, Maddi Hackbarth doubled in centerfielder Kindra Hackbarth to start the game off for the Sun Devils.

Unfortunately for ASU, that run would be the only ASU run scored as it stranded four runners on base in game one of the doubleheader.

UCLA redshirt sophomore pitcher Megan Faraimo pitched a complete game allowing one earned run and striking out 10. 

For ASU, both redshirt senior starting pitcher Cielo Meza and Royalty pitched three innings and allowed three earned runs apiece.

Meza did not allow a run in the first, but after giving up a solo home run to Brady in the second inning and a two-run shot to Nickles in the third, ASU head coach Trisha Ford turned to Royalty. 

Royalty let another run go in the third inning and gave up two solo shots in the fourth and sixth innings, giving UCLA a 6-1 victory.

Game Two

UCLA’s dominant pitching continued into game two of the doubleheader, as Garcia and redshirt junior Holly Azevedo combined for a 4-0 shutout.

Garcia pitched 5.2 innings and struck out seven while Azevedo pitched 1.1 and struck out two. 

Once again, the Sun Devils could not get it going offensively. Only three ASU players recorded hits and the team stranded six runners on base in the contest.

Sun Devil starting pitcher Lopez did not allow a run until the fifth inning, where she gave up one run on a Jordan RBI single. Jordan went 4-4 in the game with two RBI. 

In the sixth inning, Lopez gave up a solo home run and was subsequently replaced in the circle by Meza. Meza gave up another two runs in the inning off of a UCLA sacrifice fly and an RBI single.

Sunday

The worst result for ASU came on the final day of the series, losing in a 9-0 run-rule game.

Batting remained a major issue in the fourth game of the weekend, as the Sun Devils were held scoreless for the second time against UCLA. Halle Harger and Harper were the only two to get a hit off.

Royalty earned the start but did not pitch for long. After the first two outs of the first inning, UCLA had the bases loaded and Ford elected to bring in Lopez for Royalty in the circle. UCLA's Brady hit a grand slam immediately after the substitution.

Friday's UCLA pitcher Garcia hit another home run against the ASU to make it a 6-0 game in the bottom of the third.

The nail in the coffin came in the fourth, as Jordan's RBI sent Kelli Godin home for the seventh run. Later in the inning, Brady hit a two-RBI single to push the Bruins over the run-rule margin and score the final run of the game. 

ASU will come back to Tempe and face Washington in another four-game weekend from March 26 to 28.


 Reach the reporters at drodish@asu.edu and cfahrend@asu.edu and follow @david_rodish and @chris_drop_ on Twitter. 

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