(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
The No. 19 Arizona State Sun Devils mercy-ruled the St. Francis Red Flash to wrap up their five game slate in the Diamond Devil Invitational, winning 11-3.
The Sun Devils drew first blood in interesting fashion in the bottom of the first. After reaching on a walk, senior left fielder Abby Spiel stole second and when the ball ricocheted off of her helmet into the outfield, she came all the way around to score.
ASU would pick up two more runs in the inning via a Nikki Girard RBI double and a subsequent Sashel Palacios RBI single.
The Red Flash would get to sophomore Breanna Macha in the top of the second and in the top of the third to make the score 3-2 Sun Devils.
The score could’ve been worse had it not been for two stellar defensive plays from ASU. First, Girard at second base laid out to snare a ground ball in the hole. While the out was not recorded at first, it kept the lead runner from going first to third.
The ensuing hitter for St. Francis, senior first baseman Aly Ramsaier, then skied one to the right field gap which was tracked down by a tremendous diving catch from Nicole Chilson.
The Sun Devils blew it open in the bottom of the third. They got the offense rolling with Girard’s second RBI double of the day.
Co-interim head coach Robert Wagner credited his second baseman’s improvement this season.
“The biggest difference for Nikki (Girard) this weekend was just swinging at good pitches,” Wagner said. “When Nikki swings the bat she hits it, so when she gets a good pitch she drives it.”
Palacios would keep the line moving for the Sun Devils, reaching on an error which brought up Fa Leilua and bounced Red Flash starter Alexis Bower from the game. Leilua wasted no time welcoming new pitcher Ethel Santai into the game driving the second pitch of the at-bat well over the center field wall to make the score 7-2.
Macha’s day would also end quickly after just three innings of work. She was replaced in the circle by junior Kelsey Kessler, a decision that was made by co-interim head coach Letty Olivarez.
“I wanted them to split early on,” Olivarez said. “I wanted them to be able to get some more innings in this weekend.”
Kessler promptly struck out two but was tagged for a solo shot in the fourth to bring St. Francis to within four.
“I told her she can’t take anybody lightly,” Olivarez said. “She happened to just fall asleep on a pitch. Sometimes they check out and we have talked a lot about once you’re back on the mound, you’re in.”
After a quick top of the fifth ASU needed four runs to mercy rule the Red Flash. Spiel got the scoring started by driving in Katee Aguirre who scored on an error from the St. Francis catcher.
The Sun Devils kept the offense moving as Chelsea Gonzales roped a two RBI single through the left side, scoring both Spiel and Taylor Becerra.
“The past couple at-bats I was really early.” Gonzales said. “This at bat especially I was just telling myself to wait a little bit longer and just to get a good pitch.”
Chilson then would put the nail in the coffin for the Sun Devils driving in Gonzales to end the game.
The win brings ASU to 15-2 on the season. Next up for the Sun Devils are their first road games of the season. They head to Fullerton, California for the Judi Garman Classic.