(Photo: Alli Cline/WCSN)
It was a great pitching performance capped off by another walk off grand slam for Arizona State in its 11-2 win over Toledo on Saturday, as Breanna Macha continued to build upon a fantastic weekend.
Macha took the circle on Saturday just one day removed from tossing an eight-inning no-hitter on her birthday. Once again, the freshman was dazzling on the rubber, throwing six innings of two-run ball, while giving up six hits and recording nine strikeouts.
“Right now when she misses her spot she’s missing it outside the strike zone, as opposed to early in the year when she would miss in the zone,” Coach Craig Nicholson said. “She’s hitting her spots now and that’s the biggest thing for getting good hitters out.”
But what might be most impressive about her performance is that she was able to do it with a very small cushion, receiving little run support from the Arizona State lineup for most of the contest.
Amber Freeman was itching to get things going early, launching a two-run blast in the first inning that cleared the center field fence by about 30 feet. The home run was her sixth of the year and gave the Sun Devils a 2-0 jump on the Rockets.
That bomb by Freeman would remain the only hit for the Sun Devils until the fifth inning, when Sierra Rodriguez broke up the drought with a dribbler between first and second.
But Macha wouldn’t need much from her offense, shutting down the Toledo bats on her way to tossing her second complete game of the weekend.
“I just wanted to go out there and compete like the last game,” Macha said. “Six hits? That’s a little too much, but I was just trying to go at every batter like the last game.”
ASU would lead by just two until that fifth inning, scoring four runs on three hits. The frame was capped off by a three-run homer off the bat of Haley Steele, her fifth of the young season, which gave Arizona State a 6-0 lead heading into the final two innings.
The Rockets were held scoreless until the top of the sixth, when they finally got to Macha on a couple of RBI doubles by Jessica Lemieux and Chandler Rice.
And then, for the third weekend in a row, Arizona State ended a game with a game-winning grand slam that activated the mercy rule.
“I was locked in. I was just staring at the pitcher, just me and her,” Soria said. “Afterwards I felt really good, I was happy.”
The 11-2 win should be a major confidence boost for the Sun Devils before they take on the Michigan Wolverines on Sunday. ASU was able to keep it close in their matchup on Friday, and a win over the third-ranked team in the country would confirm Arizona State’s return to national prominence.