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ASU softball swept by Utah before last regular season road trip

ASU softball lost all three games to the Utes, they now have to take on GCU and Arizona on the road


ASU graduate student infielder Alesia Denby (5) runs to third base against BYU at Farrington Stadium in Tempe on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. ASU won 10-6. 

The Utah Utes (25-17, 7-11) swept the Sun Devils at Farrington Stadium this weekend, which leaves ASU (18-21, 2-13) at the bottom of the Pac-12.

While The first and last games of the series were decided heavily in Utah’s favor, the Sun Devils seemed to have life at some point in both of these games. 

In the first game of the series on Friday, the Sun Devils took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning. At the top of the fourth, the Utes had bases loaded with two outs when Aliya Belarde slugged one over the fences, giving the Utes a 4-1 lead. The Utes didn’t look back from there. 

They went on to record three RBIs in the fifth and score two more in the seventh. The Sun Devils tried their best to put up a fight as Alesia Denby, a graduate student infielder, hit a one-run homer in the 5th, and Kayla Lissy, a senior infielder, hit a single to right field that turned into an RBI, leaving the final score at 9-3 in favor of the Utes.

The score was 0-0 for six innings in the series' last game. 

However, what would follow was a whirlwind of mishaps. A pop fly to the left dropped due to miscommunication between two Sun Devils, followed by a ball hit to center that also wasn’t caught, and a fielding error by the shortstop.

Head coach Megan Bartlett talked in a huddle with her infield during a pitching change following the error. After the game, she spoke of the moment and what she said to push them to end that Utah run. She kept it simple. 

"Ball’s got to be caught."

Utah finished off the game with a 4-0 win.

The closest game was the second, where the Sun Devils lost 10-9. First pitch was supposed to be at 5 p.m., but a swarm of bees took over the field, forcing the game to start more than two hours later than scheduled.

The delay did not seem to affect the Utes, who started the game strong, up 10-0 in five innings. 

But the Sun Devils put on their rally caps late in the game.ASU put up nine runs through the bottom of the following two innings with the help of homers from freshman infielder Libby Walsh and graduate student infielder Jordyn VanHook. However, they couldn't complete the comeback after loading the bases in the final innings.

"You had a ton of shots to win, which is certainly all we can ask of the pitching and the defense," Bartlett said. "The reality is we keep going back to the drawing board with the offense like we have some hitters that are, goodness, so much more capable than they are showing right now, and certainly the program is in a tough spot, and when momentum is rarely on your side, it can certainly be tough. But 100% they're better than that."

Bartlett discussed how the team can continue strengthening pitching and defense to keep the matchups tight but said they need to start getting the ball to bat and their offense going. 

Now, the Sun Devils head out for the last road trip of the regular season to face a solid GCU, team currently on a three-game win streak and  rival Arizona Wildcats, who have only lost six games on their home field. 

The Sun Devils have struggled to win games on the road this season, going 2-9 in away games. They upset No. 5 Washington in Seattle and beat the University San Diego, but they have struggled outside of those. Bartlett said the early injuries of two of their pitchers significantly contributed to the team's losses.

"We’re exceptionally injured," she said. "If you’re paying attention to the roster ... Kenzie's (Brown) been out the entire season. She’s a redshirt, Kylee Magee goes down in weekend two, so, that’s tough, right? I don’t know that there’s any programs in the country that are just going to take off swimmingly after you lose your top two arms."

Edited by Vinny DeAngelis, Sadie Buggle and Shane Brennan

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