(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
ASU Softball remains perfect after taking down Purdue 3-0 and San Diego 6-3 on Friday in a doubleheader. Dominant pitching was the main focus as the Devils struck out 17 and stranded 11 on the base path.
“I thought Loza threw a heck of a game,” ASU Softball head coach Trisha Ford said. “I thought Giselle had moments of brilliance and then she had a couple of moments that didn’t go as well as she would like it, but I was really proud of how she bounced back.”
In the first game of the day against the Purdue Boilermakers, Ford decided to go with freshman Alyssa Loza as her starting pitcher. Loza was nothing short of brilliant on the day, going five innings with five strikeouts and no walks, while only conceding seven hits.
Loza pitched herself into a jam in the top of the sixth inning, but Ford made a pitching change to bring on junior Breanna Macha.
“I actually talked to both our freshman pitchers before the performance today, and I kind of just told them, take it one pitch at a time,” Macha said. “So during that situation, I had to really take my own advice and take it one pitch at a time and get out of the inning.”
The move proved pivotal, as Macha recorded three punch outs and only allowed a single hit the rest of the game.
On the offensive side, the Devils only scored in the third and fourth innings. The first run of the game went into the books as unearned when Purdue’s second baseman, Stephanie Ramsey, misplayed a Skylar McCarty ground ball, allowing ASU’s Brianna Wise to score.
The Sun Devils would tack on a couple more insurance runs in the bottom of the fourth before the game’s conclusion.
Loza earned the win and is now 1-0 to start her Sun Devil career. Macha recorded the save, which was her first of the year. Maddie Damon took the loss for the Boilermakers.
The second game featured more scoring.
The Sun Devils maintained a 1-0 lead in the top of the second, but San Diego’s Kailey Hill blasted one beyond the left field wall, tying the game 1-1. The Toreros actually led the game 2-1 when Hannah Gilliland plated Lindsay Clare on a double to center field.
However, ASU fought back and broke the game open in the fourth inning, scoring four runs in the frame.
A big factor in that inning was senior catcher Sashel Palacios, who doubled to left field to give ASU a 4-2 lead. That hit would prove to be the game-winner as the Toreros could only muster one more run.
“As a senior, as a leader, I put a lot of pressure on myself…but I know I can come through and I know what I’ve put in,” Palacios said. “Every girl on this team has put in the preparation and the time, so I think it’s just timing and I think it’s finally starting to click for us.”
On the pitching side, ASU started another freshman on the mound versus San Diego. Giselle Juarez lasted four innings, conceding only four hits and two runs, while striking out five and issuing no walks.
“They’re both such amazing competitors,” Palacios said.“Both Loza and Giselle were moving the ball really well and it was really nice to see young Sun Devils come out and just compete.”
Junior Dale Ryndak closed out the night for the Sun Devils, going three innings with four K’s and allowing only a single run.
The two games came in the midst of the Kajikawa Classic, which continues through Sunday in Tempe. ASU has another double header on Saturday, starting with Indiana at 1:30, followed by UT-Arlington at 4:30. Both games will be played at Farrington Stadium.
“It’s a long season, but we’re definitely excited just to be out here and be playing,” Macha said. “We’re just so excited to be out here and playing the game that we love.”