Six-run fourth inning propels No. 11 ASU softball to win over Baylor

Maddi Hackbarth hit two home runs, one of which was a three-run homer in the fourth inning

No. 11 ASU softball continued its offensive dominance by scoring six runs in the fourth inning in a 7-4 win over Baylor on Thursday in Tempe. 

Freshman pitcher Allison Royalty received the start in the circle and pitched all but the final out of the game, striking out eight batters and allowing just five hits. Royalty also earned her 50th collegiate strikeout during the game.

"She came in as a competitor, and that's what she's doing," fifth-year senior catcher Maddi Hackbarth said. "She's getting better each and every game, each and every inning, each pitch she's getting better. That's why coach (Trisha) Ford keeps giving her the ball: She's going to go out and do her job."

Ford praised Royalty's performance and said she is going to continue challenging her pitcher. "I'm going to give her the hard, embrace the hard, that's why you're here," Ford said.

The two teams traded runs in the first inning, with the Bears scoring first after senior center fielder Nicky Dawson scored on a wild pitch. 

Hackbarth continued her strong offensive play by hitting her 11th and 12th home runs of the season against the Bears. She hit a solo home run in the first inning and a three-run homer in the bottom of the fourth.

"Maddi (Hackbarth) said to me after the first (home run), 'The information you gave me allowed me to do that,'" sophomore right fielder Jazmine Hill said. "(Communication) is the biggest thing in our hitting this year."

Hackbarth said she fed off the energy provided by the limited number of fans who were in attendance for the first time this season.

"I'm so happy to have our fans back because I love them so much, and they're the best," Hackbarth said. "I think (pointing to fans) just to rile them up — It's momentum, game-changing." 

Hackbarth's three-run home run was part of a six-run fourth inning that proved to be the difference in the game. Senior third baseman Bella Loomis drove in a run off an error, and Hill drove in two runs with a single in the inning.

After Royalty allowed a two-run home run to freshman catcher Zadie LaValley and a double, fifth-year senior pitcher Cielo Meza finished the game by striking out the first and only batter she faced to secure the win.

Baylor is just the fifth team to score more than three runs in a game against ASU, joining BYU, Utah, Oklahoma and Montana.

ASU will play against Baylor again on March 14 at 10 a.m. MST in its final game before Pac-12 play.


Reach the reporter at drodish@asu.edu and follow @david_rodish on Twitter.

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