No. 13 ASU softball defeated the No. 8 UA Wildcats, 4-3, in the first game of the series in Tempe on Friday night.
Sophomore right fielder Jazmine Hill got the Sun Devils on the board first with a solo home run to left field in the bottom of the first inning. This run was ASU softball's first run scored against UA since 2018.
"I was hoping that she (Denham) was gonna attack early because once I saw a pitch, I knew I was going," Harper said. "I think attacking early in the zone helped us a lot in the game."
UA redshirt senior pitcher Alyssa Denham found herself in more trouble in the third inning. After loading the bases, Denham walked Harper and allowed her third run of the day. Redshirt junior pitcher Hanah Bowen replaced Denham and got out of the inning without allowing an additional run.
In the top of the fourth inning, the Wildcats finally got on the board with a two-run home run from redshirt freshman designated player Sharlize Palacios. ASU freshman pitcher Allison Royalty was then replaced by sophomore pitcher Lindsay Lopez who got out of the inning without allowing an additional run.
Senior third baseman Bella Loomis responded with a home run of her own with a solo shot to centerfield in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Redshirt senior third baseman Malia Martinez drove in UA's third and final run of the game on a sac fly to left field in the top of the sixth inning.
In the seventh inning, the Wildcats loaded the bases with one out, but Lopez got out of the jam with a strikeout and a ground out to end the game.
"I knew that from the start that us playing them was going to be a tough game and it was going to come down to the last inning," Lopez said. "Towards that last inning, I had to follow my routine, keep my heart rate down and just relax and do my stuff."
"Our team shows that we can play with anybody in the country," Harper said. "(Our) defense is working, pitching is working and our hitting is working and that's when we're our best."
The Sun Devils will resume play against the Wildcats on Saturday for a doubleheader. The first game is set for 5:00 p.m. MST and the second game at 7:30 p.m. MST.
Continue supporting student journalism and donate to The State Press today.