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ASU Softball: Kessler flirts with no hitter, ASU beats Texas Tech to start series

(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)

The No. 21 Arizona State Sun Devils defeated the unranked Texas Tech Red Raiders by a score of 3-1 on Thursday night. 

Contrary to their series last weekend against the Arizona Wildcats, the Sun Devils jumped out to an early lead on an opposite field solo home run by senior center fielder Jennifer Soria in the bottom of the first.

The Sun Devils again found themselves threatening in the home half of the second. Their second run of the game came across as Nicole Chilson scored on a Katee Aguirre RBI double. ASU would get another run in the inning as freshman Fa Leilua knocked in Aguirre who advanced to third on a wild pitch.

In the circle for the Sun Devils was junior Kelsey Kessler. Kessler got through the first three innings not allowing a hit and only one lone baserunner via a walk.

Kessler, who had faced Texas Tech previously had familiarity with the team.

“I did well my freshman year, and then my sophomore year they lit me up,” Kessler said. “I knew coming into this game that they could hit off me because they have before.”

Kessler would breeze through the fourth and the Sun Devils went quietly in their half as well.

Credit Texas Tech reliever Domonique Alcocer for shutting down the Sun Devil bats. The junior came in and matched Kessler’s zeros in the third and fourth inning.

Kessler continued to shine as she set down the Red raiders in order giving her a no hitter through five.

The Red Raiders would get a runner in scoring position for the first time in the game as center fielder Jordan Bettiol reached on a Kessler throwing error and took second on the throw which got away from first baseman Margaret Stahm.

Kessler would buckle down after walking the next batter. She struck out defending Big-12 player of the week Kierra Miles and got junior Brittany Warnecke to strike out swinging as well, ending the biggest threat of the night for Texas Tech.

At that point it was no secret that the no hitter was eminent, Soria added that it gave her extra motivation.

“It pumps me up. It just makes me play even harder,” Soria said. “Everybody knew that she was dealing out there so we were just prepared to lay out and do whatever we had to do to keep it going.”

Alcocer continued to keep the Sun Devil offense quiet and the game would head to the seventh with Kessler three outs from a no hitter.

In a bit of an interesting decision co-interim head coach Letty Olivarez took Kessler out of the game and sophomore Dale Ryndak came in, in relief.

“We’re trying to work Dale (Ryndak) more in that closing position and give her the opportunity to practice it,” Olivarez said.

Texas Tech responded to the pitching change by immediately getting on the board as Jessica Hartwell took the first pitch she saw over the center field wall.

Ryndak battled back and set the Red Raiders down quietly to secure the victory for ASU. The final score was 3-1.

Kessler would get the win going six no hit innings. It was her second time dominating the Red Raiders. She previously no hit the Texas Tech as a freshman at Kansas.

The win brought ASU’s record to 23-9 on the year. Game two of the series will be Friday at 7 p.m.

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