With just 12 games remaining this season, the Sun Devils begin their stretch on the road against the Utah Utes.
The Utes come into play this weekend with a 19-23 overall record and a 4-11 record in the Pac-12. On paper this matchup looks to be in the Devils’ favor. Here is what Utah brings to the table this weekend at the plate and in the circle and what ASU can do to come away with a sweep.
Utah On Offense
At the plate, Utah has been a disappointment this season. They rank near the bottom of the conference in many offensive categories including runs (9th), batting average (8th), and hits (8th). The 193 runs scored by Utah are 130 less than the 323 scored by Arizona State this season.
Utah is led on offense by sophomore Kate Dickman. Dickman leads the team with 29 RBI’s and a .432 on-base percentage and is second with a .344 batting average, 43 hits, and a .592 slugging percentage.
Dickman is also third with 11 doubles and four triples in the Pac-12.
The struggles of the Utah offense clearly matches up well with the Devils pitching duo of Escobedo and Popescue and certainly will lead to a low scoring game for the Utes so their best chance is to beat ASU in the circle and keep the games low scoring.
Utah in the Circle
The Utes have been disappointing in the circle as well. As a staff, they rank near the bottom in several major categories. They rank last in strikeouts (109), opposing batting average (.313), and wins (19) and rank eighth with a 3.75 ERA.
Their staff is led by a platoon of three pitchers that have shared starts all season. Naomi Amu has started 18 games this season for Utah, the most on the staff, and has posted an ERA of 3.89 in 104.1 innings. Mariah Ramirez is second on the staff with 17 starts and has posted an ERA of 4.14 in 110 innings. The pitcher with the best stats however is Freshman Kayce Nieto who has seen the least amount of time in the circle, but leads the team with an ERA of 2.91 in 67.1 innings.
All three pitchers could see time this weekend especially if the Utes find themselves searching for a victory by Sunday.
The stats say that ASU could be looking at a field day at the plate against a pitching staff that has struggled, but ASU has some trouble with runners in scoring position and can’t sleep on this team.
Utah’s Key to Victory
Utah is going to have to find a groove at the plate against Popescue and Escobedo and expect a slugfest if they want to win. They may have a hard time at the plate, but Escobedo has shown a penitent for giving up home runs and that might be the best chance for Utah this weekend. Utah ranks eighth in the conference with 30 homers.
Arizona State’s Key to Victory
Arizona State clearly has the edge in the stat book and will have to continue to take advantage of a mediocre pitching staff and produce at the plate this weekend to come out on top.
ASU swept Utah last season going 3-0 while outscoring the Utes 32-10.