(Photo: Alli Cline/WCSN)
After two consecutive series victories over both California and in-state rival Arizona, the Arizona State Sun Devils were feeling good, and steadily climbing the national rankings.
That was until a three-day trip to Eugene, Oregon left the Sun Devils battered, beaten and mostly humbled. The Oregon powerhouse showed ASU just how good the top tier of the Pac-12 can be.
The Ducks swept ASU in humiliating fashion, outscoring Arizona State by a 23-6 margin over the course of the weekend.
Sunday ended the series on a somewhat positive note with the Sun Devils putting up a hard-fought battle into the ninth. The Ducks snuck past ASU by a single run after a late-inning rally in the sixth.
This week ASU will face Oregon State and based off the team’s recent slump, the series could be a good chance for a boost to ASU morale. The Beavers have gone just 4-11 since starting conference play, and haven’t won a game since March.
That isn’t to say that the Sun Devils should get too comfortable, returning to Tempe after a three-week road stretch. This is a roster with some talented pieces, especially on the offensive side.
The Oregon State offense has established itself as a solid .300 hitting unit, led by senior center fielder Dani Gilmore and her .369 batting average.
The issue is that the Oregon State lineup doesn’t boast a ton of depth or power. The lineup has just two players, Gilmore and Sammi Noland, that have hit more than six homers. The offense as a whole is slugging just over .470 on the year.
To put all of that into perspective, one can take a look at ASU’s offensive numbers so far this season. The Sun Devils have four hitters who have hit more than six bombs, three of which who have hit at least ten. As for the slugging percentage, ASU is sitting at .525, over fifty points higher than the Beavers.
But while ASU reigns supreme from an offensive standpoint, it’s the Beavers who come into this weekend stronger on the mound.
ASU has gotten comfortable with its two-pronged attack in freshmen Breanna Macha and Dale Ryndak, but OSU brings a different approach to the table.
The “Knife Attack” (one prong), if you will.
Oregon State primarily utilizes just one arm in the circle, and that’s junior Beverly Miller.
Miller leads the Pac-12 in innings pitched with 176.1. She has compiled a 3.14 ERA, even with her extremely heavy workload. The 6-foot right-hander out of Portland has been the Beavers’ go-to in 2015. The Sun Devils should expect to see a lot of her over the next three days.
The teams will be playing in two prime-time matchups on Friday and Saturday, both at 7 p.m. MST, followed by a day game on Sunday starting at noon.