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2024 Littlewood Classic brings sweet victory and heartbreaking defeat for ASU Softball

ASU softball went 3-2 during the 2024 Littlewood Classic, including a big win over future Big 12 opponent BYU


ASU sophomore outfielder Yannixa Acuña (21) bats against BYU at the Alberta B. Farrington Stadium in Tempe on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. ASU won 10-6. 

From blowout wins to heartwrenching losses, the 2024 Littlewood Classic had it all as the Sun Devils improved to a 5-4 record after losses to No. 17 Virginia Tech and Cal State Fullerton.

The first matchup was against future Big 12 opponent, BYU. This game's pitching matchup was between an Arizona native Gianna Mares and senior Sun Devil Mac Osborne.

This game was an offensive shootout from the start, as BYU scored two runs in the first inning. However, ASU did not trail for long. Senior catcher Sara Kinch hit a grand slam in the bottom of the first to start the scoring for the Sun Devils.

The teams went blow for blow offensively until ASU held BYU scoreless in the top of the fourth inning. BYU only scored one more run after that, paving the way for a 10-6 Sun Devil victory.

"This game was a game changer for sure," sophomore outfielder Tanya Windle said. "Our momentum was there the entire game. We kept going strong. So that's what we need to carry into this weekend."

Even though the team may have been riding high on the energy from the win over BYU, their next game against Virginia Tech would be a rude awakening. 

Game one of Friday’s doubleheader saw the Sun Devils lose 9-0, in five innings, to the Virginia Tech Hokies after only getting two hits and four total base runners. 

However, ASU was able to bounce back to win the nightcap of the doubleheader, beating the Illinois State Redbirds 8-0 in five innings. 

In her first at-bat of the game, freshman second baseman Libby Walsh unloaded on a 2-0 pitch, sending it over the wall for her first career home run, putting the Devils up 3-0.

"It felt really good," Walsh said. "It was my first real hit. It felt really good to square up the ball, and when I saw it fly off the bat I knew it was gone."

Graduate student Alesia Denby hit a double putting the game completely out of reach as the score came to 8-0. This score would hold through the top of the fifth thanks to Osborne's 1-2-3 inning, where the game was called due to the score.

"They steal the momentum and take the wind out of the opposing team's sails," head coach Megan Bartlett said when asked about the impact of the web gems from that day. "As much as they pump us up, I think that what it does is deflate the opposition."

The doubleheader on the final day for the Classic started off with a triumphant 13-5 win over Memphis.

The Sun Devils put this one away early, scoring 10 runs on eight hits in the bottom of the first inning to dispel any worry the fans may have had after ASU went down 3-0 after the top of the first. 

After their big win over Memphis, ASU was going into a matchup against a team they faced in the 2022 regional, Cal State Fullerton, where a grand slam helped them beat the Titans 5-2.

Similar to the other games, Kinch got the scoring started, hitting a single to drive Denby home, who walked earlier in the inning. The Titans tied it at one apiece with a single in the third. 

ASU answered back with an RBI double from Kayla Lissy in the bottom of the third and the 2-1 score held until Denby scored in the bottom of the fourth to increase the lead to two. 

The Titans scored again in the top of the fifth and threatened to score again in the top of the sixth. Bartlett knew she had to make a move and subbed out Osborne after 5.2 innings and grad student Marissa Schuld took the ball in the circle. 

She got out of the jam in the top of the sixth and took the field in the seventh. 

The third batter of the inning was down 0-2 after three pitches but ended up walking with many calls from the umpire enraging the ASU faithful that had stayed at the game. The next batter tripled to put the score to 4-3. 

The game ended 4-3 as ASU held without a run for the rest of the game. 

The Sun Devils look to rebound from this loss as they start a grueling week with eight games in five days. The gauntlet starts Wednesday with a doubleheader against the University of Texas at El Paso.

Edited by Vinny DeAngelis, Alysa Horton and Shane Brennan

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