(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
The No. 22/20 Arizona State Sun Devils fell to the Kentucky Wildcats 5-3 in the final game of the Kajikawa Classic.
The game matched up UK junior Meagan Prince and ASU sophomore Breanna Macha, and the two were locked in a scoreless pitchers duel through three innings, with Macha not allowing a hit.
The teams would remain scoreless through four until the Wildcats broke through in the top of the fifth. Kentucky loaded the bases off Macha, and the next batter broke the scoreless tie as senior Ansley Smith scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of fellow senior Maisie Steed.
ASU co-interim head coach Letty Olivarez emphasized that there old habits that need to still be worked on.
“You start to see that when pitchers get tired that a lot their bad habits come back,” Olivarez said. “That’s what she needs to work on is just being able to feel when she gets tired and notice what her habits are and correct them.”
The Wildcats would keep the line moving scoring two more on a single up the middle and overthrow from center fielder Jennifer Soria.
For the first time this season the Sun Devils had a breakdown in communication. A couple of defensive errors proved to be costly for the Sun Devils and coach Robert Wagner emphasized the need to correct the communication issue.
“That’s something that hasn’t happened so I was a little surprised by it,” Wagner said. “We’ve got to be smarter in that situation. Sometimes this isn’t a try harder sport. It’s a be smarter and understand the game sport.
After a rough top half of the inning defensively the Sun Devils didn’t roll over in their half. They quickly loaded the bases and with two outs junior Chelsea Gonzales came within a few feet of launching a go ahead slam.
Gonzales would clear the bases with her two out double and the Sun Devils tied the game at three a piece. The double would give her 12 RBI on the season, taking the team lead from Soria.
Gonzales would be stranded on a fantastic diving catch by the Wildcats left fielder Brooklin Hinz.
The Wildcats came right back. Senior shortstop Christian Stokes hit a two run home run to left center field giving the Wildcats a 5-3 lead.
With their backs against the wall in the bottom of the seventh, Soria lead off the inning with a leadoff single.
The last chance for the Sun Devils was Chelsea Gonzales, who lifted a short pop up to the third baseman ending the game.
The Sun Devils ended the Kajikawa Classic with a record of 6-1. Next on the slate for ASU is the Littlewood Classic next weekend. The Sun Devils will open up that tournament with a Friday doubleheader against the Michigan State Spartans and Memphis Tigers.