ASU softball’s offense goes cold in loss to Baylor

The Sun Devils left 10 runners on base and surrendered a six-run sixth inning to the Bears

ASU softball’s hot offense fell flat in a 7-2 loss to Baylor on Sunday morning in Tempe.

The Sun Devils left 10 runners on base in the game, and the Bears capitalized on their defense with a six-run sixth inning to pull away.

ASU put the first run on the board in the bottom of the first inning when fifth-year senior center fielder Kindra Hackbarth stole two bases and scored on an RBI ground out from sophomore shortstop Alynah Torres.

In the second inning, two walks and a single loaded the bases for ASU. Kindra Hackbarth drove in the second run of the game with an RBI single. Baylor senior pitcher Gia Rodoni was then replaced by freshman pitcher Aliyah Binford, who recorded the final two outs of the inning and allowed no additional runs.

After holding Baylor scoreless for three innings, sophomore pitcher Lindsay Lopez faced some trouble in the fourth inning after allowing a single and hitting a batter to put two runners on base. 

A batter later, freshman catcher Zadie LaValley scored Baylor’s first run of the game on an RBI single.

Fifth-year senior pitcher Cielo Meza replaced Lopez after the latter allowed consecutive singles to start the sixth inning. However, Meza couldn't stop the bleeding, surrendering a walk to load the bases and hitting a batter, allowing Baylor to tie the game. The Bears subsequently took the lead after Meza walked another batter home.

Freshman pitcher Allison Royalty then replaced Meza and immediately walked the first batter she faced, allowing another run to score. She then surrendered two consecutive hits that drove in a total of three runs.

ASU head coach Trisha Ford said her relief pitchers didn't come in as prepared as they have in previous games.

"When you're coming in relief, you got to know what the umpire is calling and what the zone looks like, and you have to trust your stuff," Ford said. "I thought we didn't do a very good job of that. We didn't make adjustments at all, which I know we are capable of doing."

ASU failed to score another run over the final two innings. Binford struck out four batters and allowed no runs in 5.2 innings pitched.

ASU fifth-year senior catcher Maddi Hackbarth said the team lacked energy and left too many runners on base, leading to the loss.

"I didn't think we made adjustments quick enough," Maddi Hackbarth said. "(Binford) threw hard and she threw changeup(s), off-speed (pitches) out, and we couldn't make an adjustment. We kept pulling and left many runners on early in the game, and I think that's what hurt us."

After not playing a Pac-12 series last year due to COVID-19, Maddi Hackbarth said the team is excited to play its first Pac-12 series of the season against No. 3 UCLA starting on March 19 at 5 p.m. in Los Angeles.

"I know the freshmen from last year and the freshmen this year are very excited. It's their first time playing in the Pac-12; they're gonna see what it's about," Maddi Hackbarth said. "I always say in the past and I will continue to say: I think the Pac-12 is the best competition in college softball, and I think that this year is going to be fun."

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