(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
The No. 21 Arizona State softball team hosted the Louisville Slugger Invitational as its last tournament before Pac-12 play starts.
The Sun Devils finished the tournament going 3-2.
The Sun Devils opened up the weekend against the No. 23 Nebraska Cornhuskers.
The game was a pitchers’ duel into the fourth inning as neither pitcher had given up a run.
Redshirt junior Kelsey Kessler pitched seven shutout innings and five Sun Devils drove in runs, including senior center fielder Jennifer Soria who went 2-2 with a double and a solo home run.
“It is hard to carry the same mentality from practice to games,” Soria said. “There is that added pressure that you have to perform during games.”
Behind Kessler, ASU took that game by a score of 6-0.
Georgetown (Day 1)
In game two on Friday the story was a little different.
The ASU offense jumped right out of the gate grabbing four quick runs in the bottom of the first capped off by senior catcher Sashel Palacios’s two RBI double.
In the fourth inning the game was busted wide open.
Six different Sun Devils players were able to pick up an RBI in the eight run inning. Freshman first baseman Fa Leilua was able to continue her tear as she picked up her third RBI of the game in the inning.
That inning put ASU in position for a run rule and sophomore right-handed pitcher Breanna Macha took the win in a 13-0 run rule.
Georgetown (Day 2)
The Sun Devils struck early in this game just like the previous game against the Hoyas.
Junior shortstop Chelsea Gonzales hit her team-leading seventh home run of the season bringing in ASU’s third and fourth runs of the game. Leilua drove in the fifth run with a two-out single in the second inning.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Dale Ryndak cruised through four innings only allowing one, but in the fifth the Hoyas found a way to plate two runs, forcing the Sun Devils to bring in Macha to finish the game out.
That was all the Hoyas would get for the rest of the game and ASU improved their record to 3-0 on the weekend with an 8-3 victory.
In their fourth game of the weekend the Sun Devils had their biggest matchup of the tournament against No. 9 James Madison.
Kessler took the circle in this game, and she dueled with senior left-handed pitcher Jailyn Ford.
“We kind of focused more on a mental side this week,” ASU co-interim head coach Letty Olivarez said. “We said we have to be a little better and give the team a chance to get going and get some hits.”
Both pitchers were on their A-games, as the contest was scoreless through five innings with each pitcher only giving up two hits.
Kessler finally cracked in the sixth inning when senior catcher Erica Field hit a rocket out to left field that would find its way over the fence.
It was down to the last inning for the Sun Devils, and senior second baseman Nikki Girard came through. She sent a pitch over the center field fence to tie the game at one and send it into extra innings.
In the top of the eighth inning James Madison laid down two perfect bunts in front of Kessler to bring their runner in from second and put the pressure on ASU to match in the bottom of the inning.
The Sun Devils were able to load the bases with one out, but could not bring the tying run across and dropped the game 2-1 in extras.
In game two of Sunday’s doubleheader the Sun Devils got the offense going in the first inning against the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Girard brought around the games first run in the bottom of the first with an RBI fielder’s choice.
The Buckeyes struck right back though when sophomore third baseman Ashley Goodwin smoked a single up the middle bringing in OSU’s first run of the day.
The game would stay 1-1 until freshman catcher Emily Clark of the Buckeyes split the gap on a double and plated the second run for the Ohio State.
Macha would come in to pitch in the top of the fifth inning.
Soria brought the Sun Devils back even in the bottom of the fifth inning with a RBI double that split the gap in left center.
She then come in to score the go-ahead run when sophomore right fielder Nichole Chilson singled to right field.
Ohio State answered right back when Goodwin sent a ball over the left field wall off of Macha. It gave the Buckeyes a 4-3 lead.
The lead would be extended on a single that plated the fifth run of the game for the Buckeyes.
Kessler would come in and finish the game in the circle for the Sun Devils.
In the bottom of the sixth inning with the bases loaded Soria drew a walk to bring in one run, but the Sun Devils could not tie the game up.
The Buckeyes padded their lead in the top of the seventh grabbing six runs off of Kessler.
The Sun Devils scored a run but had nothing else going in the bottom of the seventh and lost their second game of the day by a score of 11-5.
“She (Ryndak) did her job,” Olivarez said. “Then Breanna came in, and there were some things that she needs to come in and execute during those times and she didn’t get it done, and then Kessler was tired.”
Next weekend ASU starts its Pac-12 slate of games against the University of Arizona. Those games will be at Farrington Stadium.
“If we show up like we did in our better games and understand that we can’t take anybody lightly then we’ll be okay,” Olivarez said.
If you have any questions or comments, you can contact Jacob Franklin via Twitter @JFrankSports or via email at email@example.com.