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ASU Softball: Sun Devils best UC Riverside, go undefeated in Kajikawa Classic

(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)

In a matchup of freshman pitchers on Sunday, the Sun Devils came out on top, starting their season a perfect 7-0 under new head coach Trisha Ford.

ASU topped UC Riverside 4-1 in its seventh and final game of the Kajikawa Classic, the season-opening tournament in Tempe that saw the Sun Devils play seven games in four days.

“Today they were tired, we had a little chat before the game,” Ford said. “I thought they did really well.”

“We’re pumped,” ASU junior second baseman Marissa Stankiewicz said about the win. “Opening weekend and we’re 7-0, this is nice, good start for us.”

The game started off as a pitcher’s duel between the two freshman starters, and ASU’s Giselle Juarez was getting the best of the battle early. The lefty struck out seven of the 11 batters she faced, only allowing two runners to reach base.

“I thought Giselle came out and threw lights out,” Ford said. “I think we’re just going to keep developing her, I think she’s going to be someone we’re all going to be excited to have here in Sun Devil land.”

The Sun Devils finally got some offense in the fourth inning, as a Stankiewicz two-run home run  broke the scoreless tie.

“I was just thinking get something started for our team,” Stankiewicz said. “I was trying to connect on the ball and I did.”

“I think [Stankiewicz] came up big,” Ford said. “That’s a kid that didn’t get a lot of playing time in years past and she’s really stepped up this year, I’m just really proud of her.”

The hit was key as it made up for poor base running by junior first baseman Margaret Stahm earlier in the inning. Stahm was caught between second and third base on a non-force play with no outs, which would’ve been costly had ASU failed to score in the inning.

“[Baserunning] is definitely on my list of things we’ll be working on this week,” Ford said. “It’s a game that seems very easy when you’re watching it, but when there’s a lot of things going on at times your head spins a little bit.”

Freshman Alyssa Loza came in to pitch in the fourth and put together two scoreless innings with a strikeout She didn’t allow an earned baserunner in the eventual winning effort.

“I think [the freshmen] just go out there and compete,” ASU senior catcher Sashel Palacios said. “They’re both super talented and they let their pitches do what they need to do.”

ASU doubled its lead in the fifth inning as Stahm hit a two-run shot over the left field fence to put ASU in front 4-0.

“She wasn’t feeling so great in the box, she was just thinking too much,” Ford said. “Coach [Katie] Richardson and her had a little chat before the game today, and Margaret responded well and hit that Home run that hasn’t landed yet.”

ASU junior Dale Ryndak came in to close out the final two innings, striking out two and coming one out shy of preserving the shutout. A solo home run by junior catcher Jenae Lockwood gave UC Riverside its only run in the ASU victory.

“We’ve got to teach Dale and [Breanna Macha] how to come in and close games,” Ford said. “I think they’ve done a great job this weekend.”

The Sun Devils will return to action Friday at 5:15 p.m. when they host Wichita State as part of the Littlewood Classic in Tempe.

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