(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)
Riding a nine game losing streak, and being unranked for the first time since 2006, the Arizona State Sun Devils travel to Los Angeles to take on the UCLA Bruins.
The Sun Devils find themselves second to last in the Pac-12 standings, only ahead of winless Stanford. While RPI works in ASU’s favor come postseason, the Sun Devils need a resumé boosting series win that can increase their record in conference.
UCLA presents that opportunity, ranked 13/15 in the two polls. If ASU wins this series, it would be a huge boost to both its RPI and its conference record.
Keys to the Game
Hitting With Runners On
The Sun Devils have had many a big innings halted by the lack of two-out hits. In the first inning of the series opener against Oregon, ASU had two on and no out and then failed to get a run across the plate after a failed double steal and lazy fly balls.
Against these top teams in the Pac-12, ASU can’t afford to leave runs on base throughout the game. Over the nine game losing streak, ASU has had only one game with more than five hits with runners on base. Against Oregon, the Sun Devils were 13-53 with runners on, good for an average of just .245 which is well below their season average of .327.
Capitalizing with runners will be huge in this series as they try to keep pace with UCLA’s offense. With the offense that the Bruins bring, the Sun Devils need to go toe-to-toe with UCLA or this series will end up like series past.
Keep UCLA’s Big Three Quiet.
While this is a tall task for the ASU pitching staff, it must be done. Delaney Spaulding, Madeline Jelenicki, and Mysha Sataraka are one of the most potent threesomes in the conference. The three have combined to hit 31 home runs and have driven in a whopping 134 RBI this season.
Those three cannot get hot if the Sun Devils want to succeed in this series. Ace Kelsey Kessler will likely get the first crack at silencing these bats on Friday night.
First pitch of this series is set for 7 p.m. on Friday. The first two games of the series can be seen on the Pac-12 Networks.