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ASU Softball: Sun Devils split Day 1 of Diamond Devil Invitational

(Photo: Gabrielle Mercer/WCSN)

In what could be considered an off night for Arizona State it managed to pull off one win in the double-header to begin the Diamond Devil Invitational.

Minnesota

A highly anticipated matchup turned ugly for Arizona State as it dropped the first game of the Diamond Devil Invitational, 10-1.

The Sun Devil offense that looked powerful for the first 11 games of the season had no answer for junior pitcher Sarah Groenewegen who pitched a complete game four hitter for No. 21 Minnesota.

“Everyone came out a little stiff but adjustments were made. Just a little too late,” senior Jennifer Soria said.

The righty pitched a complete game shutout against No. 12 Oklahoma earlier in the season and notched a no hitter against Virginia Tech last weekend.

From the first pitch the Gophers were aggressive. They were able to get two runners on base after a Chelsea Gonzalez error and a base hit. That brought none other than Groenewegen to the plate and she brought both runners home with a two RBI single through the left side of the infield. Minnesota led 2-0 through one inning.

Junior Kelsey Kessler was in the circle for ASU and wasn’t able to receive any support, but she needed it. Minnesota attacked again in the top of the fourth inning bringing home four runs. Three of the runs came with two outs thanks to a bomb by leadoff hitter Sam Macken off of the scoreboard in left field. With that Kessler was pulled from the game.

Breanna Macha was given the ball with the score 6-0. She was able to get the final out and completed the disastrous fourth inning.

The Devils needed some source of offense and junior catcher Sashel Palacios was able to do just that with a solo homerun in the bottom of the fourth inning. It was the cleanup hitters’ second long ball of the season.

Unfortunately for ASU that’s all the offense firepower they had in the tank while Minnesota continued to tack on runs. Two more runs came across in the sixth in and they still weren’t quite done.

The third error of the game for the Sun Devils came at a costly time in the top of the seventh inning. Abby Spiel dropped a fly ball on the warning track in left field. The error brought all three runners on base.

To put the icing on the cake, Groenewegen struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh to complete the gem.

Of the 10 runs for Minnesota only six were earned in the blow out.

“When you make errors it tends to carry on to the next play,” co-head coach Letty Olivarez said. “We just encourage them (the players) to wipe that off and start over new.”

The Sun Devils would look for vengeance against Houston later in the night.

Houston

In a tightly contested matchup ASU managed to pull out a victory over (7-6) Houston, 6-5.

Multiple lineup changes were made going into the back-end of the double header. One of which was Marissa Stankiewicz who took over for Chelsea Gonzalez at shortstop.

Sophomore Dale Ryndak was handed the ball to start the game. ASU’s fielding woes continued as the sophomore Stankiewicz made an error allowing leadoff batter Katie St. Pierre to reach base. The trouble wasn’t over. Two batters later, Elise Lebeouf hit a soft grounder to shortstop and this time Stankiewicz over threw the first baseman and St. Pierre was able to score from second.

It was a 1-1 game going into the bottom of the third inning and a newcomer for ASU was able to do something special. Freshman Fa Leilua crushed a two run homerun over the left field wall. It was Leilua’s first career homerun. Leilua, wearing number 9, was reminiscent of former Sun Devil Amber Freeman with the long ball.

“I was just trying to stay as relaxed as I could be and kind of do my thing. Do me,” Leilua said.

ASU grabbed the lead 3-1.

Ryndak was solid in the circle, not allowing another run until the fifth. The Eagles managed to string together two hits, which resulted in an RBI double of the bat of Kaylin Crumpton tightening the gap in the score.

The ASU bats finally came alive in the bottom of the sixth. The inning started with an error, which allowed Missy Eisen to reach base. From there the Devils used small ball to gather three more runs in the inning on only three hits.

Over the course of the game three Sun Devil runners were thrown out at home plate. The base running nearly cost ASU as it headed to the seventh inning.

The game seemed just about over as Ryndak headed out to the circle to complete the win in the top of the seventh. That was easier said then done as Houston gave ASU a scare. The Eagles managed to get two runners on base and then with two outs cleanup hitter Juliana Shrum launched a homerun.

The pressure was on Ryndak with the score now 6-5, but the sophomore showed composure getting the final out and closed out the game.

The Diamond Devil Invitational is just getting started and Arizona State will look to improve its 12-2 record against St. Francis Saturday. First pitch is 5:30 at Farrington Stadium.

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