(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
Coming into the Judi Garman Classic this weekend, the No. 19 Arizona State softball team had only lost two games, and they will leave after a tough weekend with a record of 18-5.
The first day of the classic was especially rough for the Sun Devils because they dropped both close games.
The first game was more of an offensive shootout as Long Beach State beat ASU by a score of 10-8.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Breanna Macha got the start in that game and she got knocked around in the circle. In the first, Macha gave up six runs, and was later pulled in the second with runners on base.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Dale Ryndak was the call to the bullpen, and she found herself struggling in the third as she gave up a grand slam.
That would be the extent of LBSU’s scoring in the first game, and it would be enough to give them a 10-8 victory.
The Sun Devils offense tried to keep pace with the 49ers offense, but could not. Sophomore right fielder Nichole Chilson drove in three runs and senior catcher Katee Aguirre homered in the loss.
The second game on Thursday was even more heartbreaking as Cal State Fullerton won 3-2 on a walk off RBI single in the eighth inning.
Redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Kelsey Kessler was in the circle for this one, pitching the entire eight innings. Kessler allowed only one earned run on six hits.
Nichole Chilson had a chance to be the hero for the Sun Devils, tied at two in the seventh. Chilson was looking for an RBI and hit hard to left field, but Titans second baseman Raeanne Martinez got a diving catch to send the game to extras.
The Titans loaded the base quickly in the eighth to get the walk-off RBI to end the game.
ASU was able to redeem itself on Friday against the Wisconsin Badgers.
In the first inning the Sun Devils put up three runs on the board as senior center fielder Jennifer Soria, sophomore right fielder Nichole Chilson and junior shortstop Chelsea Gonzales all came across to score.
That run support proved to be all Ryndak needed in this start as she pitched six innings, only giving up one earned run and striking out five.
Macha got the save, striking out all three batters she faced, and the Badgers fell 4-1.
Saturday was ASU’s biggest matchup of the tournament against No. 18 Missouri.
The Tigers blanked the Sun Devils offense and took the victory sure-handedly. Kessler and Macha combined to give up eight runs in the 8-0 loss.
On the final day of the tournament, the Sun Devils were able to bring their weekend record up to 3-3.
In the first of two more close games, ASU faced the Northwestern Wildcats.
Freshman first baseman Fa Leilua hit a solo shot and senior second baseman Nikki Girard drove in another run. Those two runs were all the Sun Devils needed to put away the Wildcats.
Kessler pitched a complete game, and despite giving up 10 hits she only gave up one run and ASU took the first of its doubleheader 2-1.
The tournament wrapped up against No. 24 Baylor.
Ryndak got the start in this game, but Kessler took over after three innings after a ball hit Ryndak’s ankle in the first.
Both pitchers were lights out. They combined for a shutout, and the Sun Devils offense only needed two runs once again to take the win.
Girard got a homerun in the 2-0 victory.
Next weekend ASU comes back to Tempe to host the Louisville Slugger Invitational, which is the final tournament before Pac-12 play starts.
If you have any questions or comments, you can contact Jacob Franklin via twitter @JFrankSports or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.