(Phot0: Elaine Wilson/WCSN)
Coming off of their second straight sweep in Pac-12 play and entering their first series as an unranked team, the Arizona State Softball team returns to Tempe for what will be their toughest weekend of the season to date.
This very well could be the series that defines ASU’s season. They come into this weekend with a record of 26-17 and 3-9 in Pac-12 only ahead of 0-11 Stanford for worst in the conference. If the Sun Devils want to have any chance of postseason softball, this series is the weekend to make a statement.
The No. 5 Oregon Ducks come into the series with a record of 32-6 and a Pac-12 leading conference record of 10-2. The Ducks will enter this series on an almost polar opposite streak of the Sun Devils having won six of their last seven games.
Keys to the Game
Avoid the Long Ball
Home runs have hurt ASU all season and especially in the last two Pac-12 series, both losses via the sweep. Those home runs have especially surfaced late in ball games which aided comeback attempts of opponents throughout Pac-12 play.
Oregon is a team that hits the long ball very well. The Ducks have five hitters who’ve hit eight or more home runs this season, three of which who also have slugging percentages over .700.
This key becomes especially crucial if the Sun Devils have a late lead in the game. Given the fact that Oregon has such a potent offense, avoiding home runs will make shutting the door and getting victories in this series.
At this point in the season fatigue is setting in. Kelsey Kessler threw well over 100 pitches in Monday’s loss to Utah after pitching earlier in the weekend. While that isn’t uncommon, some balance in innings could prove to be beneficial.
The Ducks are a smart hitting team that is able to make adjustments after the first time seeing a pitcher, showing the Ducks different looks throughout a game will keep their offense off balance and be very helpful for ASU.
The series gets started Friday evening at 7 p.m. That game can be seen on the Pac-12 Digital Stream, and the last two can be seen on the Pac-12 Networks.