(Photo: Josh Frons/WCSN)
The undefeated Sun Devils continue their whirlwind start to the season with another three-day, five-game tournament at Farrington Stadium for the Diamond Devil Invitational.
The tournament, which goes from Friday to Sunday, includes games against Boston College, Idaho State and Seton Hall. The Sun Devils will also take on Drake on Thursday night outside of tournament play. Although none are ranked in the top 25, head coach Craig Nicholson understands that his team can’t take anything for granted.
“We can’t take anybody lightly,” Nicholson said. “We need to have a killer instinct and be able to finish off teams when we have them on the ropes.”
Although the Sun Devils are undefeated, they have struggled to close out some games this season. Last Saturday, ASU took a seven run lead into the fifth inning against San Jose State, but was unable to end the game with a run-rule victory. San Jose State then scored four runs over the last two innings to make the game interesting. The Sun Devils eventually won the game, but not in the manner that they would have liked.
The Diamond Devil Invitational brings with it a chance for the Sun Devils to do something they have not done up to this point in the season — playing multiple games a weekend against the same team.
“It’s nice to get a chance to do that a couple times before we get into conference play,” Nicholson said. “Those series [conference play] become all about adjustments after the first game.”
The Sun Devils shouldn’t have to make too many adjustments this weekend to succeed. The ASU pitching staff comes in with an impressive 0.90 ERA in 11 games and 70 innings, while the offense is having its fair share of fun as well. The team is batting .372 and averaging 7.36 runs per game — out setting the pace of last season’s 6.71 runs per game.
A big contributor to the offense this season is first basemen Bethany Kemp. The junior is finding her stride at the plate, entering the weekend with a .372 batting average and eight home runs. er highs in Home Runs and RBIs ame interesting. The Sun Devils eventually won the game, but not in the manner that they would She is also on pace to set career highs in Home Runs and RBIs.
“I’m going up there being disciplined and looking for my pitch,” Kemp said.
Another thing to look for this weekend is the possibility of seeing some other pitchers take to the circle for ASU. Coach Nicholson was coy when asked if it was a possibility simply adding “We’ll see.” However, Nicholson did indicate that he hopes to keep the innings for Dallas Escobedo and Mackenzie Popescue at around 14.
“We want to save those arms as much as possible going into conference,” Nicholson said. “Anytime we can do that at this point in the season we are going to take the opportunity.”
All of the upcoming Diamond Devil Invitational can be seen live on Pac-12 digital starting on Thursday and ending on Sunday.