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No. 13 ASU clinched Pac-12 series against No. 8 UA in Saturday doubleheader

The Sun Devils suffered pitching woes in the second game after a good first game in the circle

20200214 Softball ASU v ISU-20200214

ASU now-fifth year outfielder Kindra Hackbarth (22) prepares to run to first base against Illinois State University on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020, at Alberta B. Farrington Softball Stadium in Tempe.

No. 13 ASU softball split its two matchups against No. 8 UA with a win that clinched the Pac-12 Conference series and a run-rule loss in the second game of the doubleheader.

Game One

The first game was dominated by the long-ball as the Sun Devils hit four two-run homers to beat the Wildcats 8-1.

Freshman pitcher Allison Royalty started for the second straight day. In just over three innings of play, Royalty allowed five hits and one run.

ASU quickly went to work on offense as fifth-year senior catcher Maddi Hackbarth crushed the ball to deep left field for the first two-run home run. 

"I was just trying to see a good pitch," Maddi Hackbarth said. "My plan was to see outside today, that's what I'm good at, that's where my zone is. I just attacked (the pitch)."

The Wildcats scored their first run in the third inning after fifth-year senior center fielder Kindra Hackbarth fumbled with a ground ball to center field, giving redshirt senior second baseman Reyna Carranco enough time to reach home from second base.

The Sun Devil offense responded later in the inning with another two-run homer, this time coming off the bat of sophomore shortstop Alynah Torres.

After 3.2 innings, Friday's closer sophomore pitcher Lindsay Lopez relieved Royalty.

"(Royalty) worked her pitches a little better today," Maddi Hackbarth said. "If anything happens she stays in control, throws strikes, and (she was) finding her zone. She did a very good job of that today."

Lopez allowed three hits and zero runs in 3.1 innings.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Torres hit her second two-run home run of the day, bringing the score to 6-1.

"My whole plan was to hit a strike and get inside the ball," Torres said. "At the end of the day I was just trying to get on base."

Junior left fielder Makenna Harper joined in later in the fifth to add the fourth and final two-run home run of the game, making it 8-1.

After a scoreless sixth inning, Lopez and the Sun Devils closed the game by retiring three of the final four batters.

With the win, ASU won the conference series against UA after securing the first win on Friday night.

Game Two

The Sun Devils were run-ruled in the non-conference game of the weekend after the team struggled in the circle.

Fifth-year senior Cielo Meza started in the circle, her first appearance in the series.

The Wildcats came to life in the second game, scoring a two-run home run off the bat of redshirt senior shortstop Jessie Harper.

The second frame was quiet as both teams were held scoreless.

UA exploded in the third inning, scoring five runs, four of which were scored with zero outs.

Pitching woes continued for ASU as UA scored seven runs in the fourth inning while the offense remained stagnant and could not bring in a run.

In the final inning of the game, freshman hitter Allie Skaggs popped another ball beyond the fence to give the Wildcats a 15-0 lead. Meza finished the game having given up nine walks and seven hits which led to 12 earned runs.

Fifth-year designated hitter Alli Tatnall saved the Sun Devils from a home shut out with an RBI triple in the fifth inning. A fly-out on the next at-bat ended the game at 15-1.

"We're going to forget about the second game and come out tomorrow and get at it," Maddi Hackbarth said.

The Sun Devils and Wildcats will play once more on Sunday at 1 p.m. MST.

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