(Photo: Michael Baron/WCSN)
No. 20 ASU vs. No. 14 Michigan Thursday, March 2
In a rematch with No. 14 Michigan, the Sun Devil offense was stifled as the Wolverines took the game 2-0 in a tight contest. Michigan found the scoreboard early as freshman pitcher Giselle Juarez threw a wild pitch, scoring Faith Canfield from third base.
The game remained tight, as Juarez and Michigan’s Megan Betsa continued to duel. It was not until the bottom of the sixth inning the Wolverines found any more scoring, when sophomore Katie Alexander hit an RBI triple to left field, plating Nikki Wald.
The star of the game was Betsa, as she went the distance for the Wolverines, conceding only two hits, one walk and 16 strikeouts. Doing some math, of the 24 batters Betsa faced, 2/3 of the recorded outs were punch-outs.
No. 20 ASU vs. Cal State Fullerton Thursday, March 2
In the second game of the double header, senior shortstop Chelsea Gonzalez got things started off for the Sun Devils in the top of the third inning with a 2-run homer as ASU cruised to a 10-1 win in six frames.
The fourth inning was certainly a productive one for the Sun Devils as three bases-loaded walks and an RBI single by Gonzalez resulted in four runs and a 6-0 advantage. Cal State Fullerton managed to score a run in the bottom of the fifth inning, but ASU produced another 4-run inning once again in the top of the sixth. Sophomore Fa Leilua hit a 2-run RBI single to right field, and then two singles later, it became a 10-1 ASU lead.
Cal State Fullerton could not produce any runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, so the game ended after six. Junior pitcher Breanna Macha snagged her fifth win of 2017 and now has a 5-2 record.
No. 20 ASU vs. No. 22 Baylor Friday, March 3
In the only game of the day for ASU, No. 22 Baylor doubled up the Sun Devils 4-2. The Bears got started early with an RBI single, then junior Shelby Friudenberg cracked a solo shot to left field to extend Baylor’s lead to 2-0.
The Bears added a run in both the top halves of the second and fourth innings, but ASU did put up a fight toward the end of the game. Down 4-0 to the Bears, senior Sashel Palacios singled to center field, scoring Brynley Steele. Then freshman Brianna Wise hit a sacrifice fly to right field, plating Nichole Chilson. However, the comeback ended there as Baylor recorded the final out in the bottom half of the seventh to win the game.
No. 20 ASU vs. South Carolina Saturday, March 4
In the first game of the Saturday slate, the Sun Devils beat the Gamecocks 4-3 in walk-off, come-from-behind fashion.
ASU, playing as the home team, got on the board first in the bottom half of the second inning when Chelsea Gonzalez hit a solo home run to left field. However, South Carolina found some offense the very next inning as freshman Mackenzie Boesel crushed a 3-run homer to right field off starting pitcher Dale Ryndak. ASU tied the game in the bottom of the fourth as Sashel Palacios hit a 2-run RBI double to left field, scoring Fa Leilua and Margaret Stahm.
The game remained tied 3-3 beyond seven innings, so the Sun Devils and the Gamecocks went to extras. In the bottom of the ninth inning, ASU walked off when Marisa Stankiewicz delivered the game-winning hit, an RBI single to right field, scoring Nicole Chilson and winning the game. Breanna Macha came in to pitch for Ryndak in the fifth inning and held Carolina’s offense at bay with nine strikeouts.
No. 20 ASU vs. Iowa Saturday, March 4
The final game in the Judi Garman Classic was quite a thriller.
Going into the bottom of the seventh inning, Iowa held a 3-0 lead, but the Sun Devils were not about to lay down and give the Hawkeyes the upset win. Sashel Palacios homered to center to start the rally in the seventh, then with the Devils down to their final out and runners on second and third, an error by the shortstop allowed two runs to cross home plate.
After seven innings, the game was tied 3-3. Fast-forward to the ninth inning, the Hawkeyes broke the tie with a one-out double to center field to take a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth. However, ASU once again was able to respond as Palacios tied the game on an RBI single to left field, scoring Melissa Eisen. After nine frames, ASU and Iowa were deadlocked at 4-4.
Dale Ryndak entered the game in the top half of the tenth frame and struck out the side. In the bottom of the tenth, Nichole Chilson was placed on second base, and with sophomore Taylor Becerra leading off, Becerra completed the second come-from-behind win of the day with an RBI single to right. ASU avoided the upset 5-4 in ten innings, but Iowa’s redshirt senior pitcher Shayla Starkenburg remained strong, going nine full innings conceding nine hits with 132 pitches.
ASU is now 15-5 on the season and winners of two straight. The Sun Devils now return home to face Maine on Wednesday in Tempe.