Saturday, April 21, 2018

Wildcats even softball series with Sun Devils

By Scott Mammoser

TEMPE, Ariz. - Alyssa Denham pitched a two hitter to pave the way for the No. 13-ranked Arizona Wildcats to win at No. 8 Arizona State, 4-1, on Saturday. After ASU won, 2-1, Friday on a walk off double, the weekend rivalry series is 1-1 with the ultimate game coming at 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Alyssa Denham pitches a two hitter in win over Devils 
“Offensively in the box, we couldn’t cut it at all,” ASU coach Trisha Ford said. “We took some things for granted. Our plate discipline today was not good. We have to be better. 

There’s not always going to be a next at-bat, and it shouldn’t take us three innings to go through our lineup. They had better come out with some more tenacity tomorrow or it’s going to be an interesting game.”

Ford praised senior pitcher Breanna Macha, who had four strikeouts, saying she did her part, but the offense needed to support her.

“The mentality we have is to keep grinding,” said Macha, who is 10-5. “Hits are coming to come and go, so it’s about being consistent. We have been down three runs before, so sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t.”

Aleah Craighton scores first run of game 
Arizona left fielder Carli Campbell, who was 2-for-3 on the day, drove home Aleah Craighton with no outs in the top of the fourth to open the scoring. Second baseman Reyna Carranco added a two-run double to make it 3-0, and at the end of the inning, the Wildcats held an 8-0 advantage in hits. Campbell drove home Craighton again in the top of the fifth for the fourth Arizona run, with a throwing error to first. Denham (7-3) struck out two Sun Devils and has a 2.18 ERA.

The highlight for ASU was Morgan Howe’s home run to lead off the bottom of the fourth. It was the sixth of the year for the junior center fielder.

Morgan Howe's home run in the 4th inning
“Building off my previous at-bat, I just wanted to see a pitch to hit,” Howe said. “It went up differently. We just need to be better from the get go, we can’t be waiting for our third at-bats to figure things out and make adjustments. Coach usually says, ‘The team that makes adjustments first, comes out on top,’ and it was them today.”

Arizona improved to 30-13 and 7-10 in the Pacific-12 Conference, while the Sun Devils now stand at 35-8 and 9-5.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Gibson’s walk-off double gives Sun Devils series-opening win over Wildcats

By Scott Mammoser
April 20, 2018

TEMPE, Ariz.- Rivalry week has officially begun for college softball in the state of Arizona.
Freshman first baseman Danielle Gibson smacked a walk off double to center to drive home Morgan Howe, and the No. 8-ranked Arizona State softball team won the series opener with the No. 13 Arizona Wildcats, 2-1, on Friday. The series continues at 2 p.m. on Saturday and at 5 p.m. on Sunday from Farrington Stadium.
Devils win game one in a walk off double 

“I’m grateful I had the opportunity, and it was a great team win on our part,” Gibson said. “I’m really good at pressure situations. We already got this one under our belt, so whether we sweep them or win the series, we played our game, and this gives us confidence.”

Gibson leads the Sun Devils in most offensive categories in her rookie year, including her batting average, which is more than .400. It’s safe to say, she isn’t considered a ‘freshman’ anymore by her coach or opposing pitchers.

“Gibby has been nails all year,” ASU coach Trisha Ford said. “She loves to compete and lives for these moments. To see her joy in those situations, you can see it in her, she has that confidence. She’s something special. She’s a lot of fun to coach.”

The Wildcats got things started early, as Ashleigh Hughes sent a leadoff home run over the fences, her fifth of the year. Arizona would only reach base three more times after that, however, and ASU’s Kindra Hackbarth added a equalizing home run in the bottom of the fourth, the second of her season.

“I got a changeup inside, it was up, and I just went for it,” Hackbarth said. “That one I felt right off the bat. We stayed focused, that’s all we did, and we ran down the ball. It’s big knowing anyone in the lineup can hit.”

Juarez gets her 227th strike out of the season.
Sun Devil pitcher Giselle Juarez threw 13 strikeouts for her 19th win of the season, as opposed to just two losses, while the Wildcats’ Taylor McQuillin tossed 10 in the loss (19-9), while only allowing two hits.

“All of our defensive players are fantastic,” Juarez said. “They get me to calm down more, and I can throw my game instead of any other way. It’s nice to be in our own atmosphere and know they’re (fans) rooting for us.”

With the win, the Sun Devils improved to 35-7 and 9-4 in the Pacific-12 Conference, and the Wildcats fell to 29-13 and 6-10.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sun Devils Blank Third-ranked Ducks to Avoid Sweep

By Scott Mammoser
Giselle Juarez threw 7 strike outs in victory over #3 Ducks

TEMPE, Ariz.- Following its first two-game losing streak of the season, the No. 7 Arizona State softball team responded to shut out No. 3 Oregon, 4-0, in the final game of the three-game series at Farrington Stadium on Sunday. The win was pivotal for ASU (34-7, 8-4 in league) to keep pace with the Ducks (34-7, 9-3) in the highly-competitive Pacific-12 Conference and the possibility of hosting postseason games. Oregon won the first two games 5-0 and 9-1.

“We played our game,” ASU coach Trisha Ford said. “We made some big hits when we needed to. We strung them together, Jade (Gortatez, who was 3-for-3) had fantastic at bats today, and we had a lot of players get big-time at bats.”

Freshman first baseman Danielle Gibson opened the scoring in the bottom of the first, driving home the freshman shortstop Gortarez from third. Gortarez followed in the third inning with a solo home run to center with full count and two outs, her seventh of the season.

Jade Gortarez hit her 7th home run of season
“I came in early today and watched film,” Gortarez said. “I talked about my adjustments with the coaches. We were saying, ‘We’re not going to get swept.’”

The Sun Devils would load the bases in the bottom of the fourth, with Oregon walking home the lead runner, Ashley Moss, with one out. The Ducks would tag out the next lead runner before striking out Kindra Hackbarth to leave three ASU runners stranded.

Gortarez led off the bottom of the fifth with a triple and was driven home for the third time by junior centerfielder Morgan Howe to make it 4-0. Oregon put two runners on base in the top of the seventh, but it could not find the plate.

Sophomore pitcher Giselle Juarez threw seven strikeouts and allowed three hits in the win to improve to 18-2 on the year.

“I can totally let go of the first game,” Juarez said. “We put up some more runs, and we made some great defensive plays. That’s all I could ask for. It’s amazing (to get a shutout) because one through nine can score. It’s a confidence builder because a team like that can go deep in the Women’s College World Series.”

Infielders did their part in shutting out #3 Oregon
Three Ducks pitchers, Megan Kleist, Maggie Balint and Miranda Elish, combined for eight strikeouts, with Kleist picking up the loss (13-5). Ford praised her team for facing the three, who are all masters of different types of pitches.

“She just worried about herself and her game,” Ford added about Juarez. “She’s a special person and a special pitcher. I was really proud. As a sophomore, she was injured all last year, so this is her first go around, and it was a postseason atmosphere.”

Next weekend, the Sun Devils will host the rival No. 12 Arizona Wildcats for three games, at 5 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 22.

“It’s a great momentum builder, so I think this rivalry week is going to be huge,” ASU junior third baseman Taylor Becerra said.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Late-inning homers lift Ducks over Sun Devils

By Scott Mammoser
April 13, 2018

TEMPE, Ariz. - After what began as a classic pitchers’ duel for the first four innings, the No. 3 Oregon softball team outlasted No. 7 Arizona State, 5-0, on Friday night at Farrington Stadium. Both teams now stand at 33-6, with the Ducks (8-2) one game ahead of ASU (7-3) in the Pacific-12 Conference.

Oregon shortstop DJ Sanders scored in the top of the fifth after throwing interference at first base. Then, centerfielder Shannon Rhodes scored Alexis Mack from second base, but she was then thrown out at second herself to end the inning.

As the wind speed picked up around the ballpark, freshman designated player Mary Iakopo smashed a two-run home run to right to score Gwen Skevis. Skevis reached third on the previous play when two Sun Devil fielders collided trying to make the catch. Jenna Lilley added a solo shot in the top of the seventh for insurance.

Oregon junior Megan Kleist, who has a 0.87 ERA and 13-4 record on the season, fanned 10 batters, while ASU sophomore Giselle Juarez retired five from the mound.

“That’s sometimes that’s just how the ball goes, and they got lucky on a few pitches,” Juarez said. “It (the high wind) shouldn’t be a factor, but sometimes it just takes the ball, and it kept taking it on us and not them.”

ASU coach Trisha Ford remains confident in her ace, who despite the loss is a brilliant 17-2 on the season.

“She still threw well, we need to put up some runs for her,” Ford said. “She threw pitches when we needed her to make some big pitches, and she’s going to learn a lot. I’m excited to see what she’s going to look like on Sunday. I think she’ll respond really well, I have a lot of faith in that kid; she’s been our horse and responded in these types of situations before. My money is always on her.”

This was the second time the Sun Devils were shut out this season, joining a 6-0 loss to No. 1 Washington on March 18. The series continues at 7 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday.

“We need to follow up every single inning and put runs on the board,” said ASU freshman first baseman Danielle Gibson, who was 2-for-3 on Friday. “We need to get runners on base in every single inning, and we didn’t do that, as well. They fought harder than we did.”

Monday, April 9, 2018

Devils Lose Series to Pac-12 Rival Trojans

Mike Stockman
Phoenix Area Sports

PHOENIX, AZ (April 8, 2018) - The Arizona State University Sun Devils hosted Pac-12 rival, the University of Southern California Trojans for a three game series over a beautiful, warm weekend at Phoenix Municipal Stadium on April 6,7,and 8.

The Devils took game one on Friday night, April 6, 2018, by a score 5-1 led by Gage Canning's two RBI and .425 batting average.

On Saturday April 7, the Trojans scored 10 runs by the sixth inning, led by Ben Ramirez's two hits and four RBI giving the Pac-12 South rival the 10-1 win which tied up the series 1-1 going into Sunday's game.

In Sunday's game, the Trojans get on the board in the top of the first inning when Lars Nootbaar hit an RBI single scoring Brandon Perez, who got on base after hitting a triple to deep center field. In the third inning, Perez scores again on an RBI Double, giving Trojans 2-0 lead.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Carter Aldrete hit a home run over the right field fence, making the score 2-1 in favor of the Trojans.

In the top of the fifth, the Trojans increased the lead 3-1 after an error in left field allowed a runner to get to third who scored the next swing on a sacrifice fly.

With runners on the corners in the top of the sixth, the Trojans laid down a bunt which gave runner on third base enough time to slide under the catcher's glove, putting the

Trojans up 4-1. By the end of the inning, Trojans had 8 hits, and led 5-1.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Devils put another run on the board when Gage Workman hit a home run over right field fence.

The Trojans added five hits and three runs in the eight inning before Devils could force an out.

The Devils' home run leader Spencer Torkelson hit his 15th home run of the season in the eight inning.

The Devils finished the game with nine hits - three were home runs. The Trojans had fourteen hits, no errors, and won the series with a final score in game three of 8-4.

After this series, the Trojans (16-12) travel to Tuscon next for a three game Pac-12 Conference series against Arizona Wildcats, April 13-15.

The Devils (14-18) travel to Las Vegas, NV to take on UNLV on Tuesday, April 10 at 6:05pm MST.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Devils Roast the Ducks in Weekend Series

Mike Stockman
Phoenix Area Sports

PHOENIX, AZ (March 18, 2018) - The Arizona State University Sun Devils hosted and roasted the Oregon Ducks in a three game Pac-12 series at Phoenix Municipal Stadium that took place March 16-18, 2018.

On Friday, the Ducks led going into the bottom of the 8th inning when the Devils loaded the bases with 2 outs, trailing 4-3. Gage Canning stepped up to the plate and hit a 3 RBI triple to deep center field followed by Lin Lyle's RBI single, giving the Devils a 7-4 lead.  They hold on to win 7-4, with 8 hits, one error to the Ducks' 7 hits and 2 errors.

Saturday was a hitter's night for the Devils with 20 hits, leaving only six runners on base giving them the second win of the three game series. This was the first sweep of the season against a Pac-12 team.  Canning led the charge going 5 for 5 at the plate, 4 RBI and two home runs. On his second home run of the evening, Canning's speed and fast moving feet allowed him to get around the bases on a rare in the park home run, giving the Devils a boost in their 18-4 victory over the Ducks.

In the final game of the series, Canning led the game with a single, his 18th consecutive game this season with a hit. He scored on an RBI single giving the Devils an early 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the third inning,  the Devils add two more runs, making the score 3-0. By the top of the seventh inning, the Devils had 12 hits and led 6-1. The Devils finished the third game with 13 hits and three errors to sweep the Ducks all three games.

The Ducks (12-6, 0-2 Pac-12) host California in a Pac-12 matchup Friday, March 23 at 6:00 pm.

The Devils (10-9, 2-0 Pac-12) hosts UNLV Tuesday evening, 6:30 pm on March 20, 2018 at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Devils Lose Series Against Gaels

Mike Stockman
Phoenix Area Sports

PHOENIX, ARIZONA (February 25, 2018) In the second week of the 2018 baseball season, the Arizona State University Sun Devils lose two of three games to Saint Mary's Gaels at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, falling 6-1 on Friday February 23, 6-5 on Saturday February 24, and on Sunday get their only win, defeating the Gaels 2-1.  

Game one on Friday evening ended with a victory for the visiting Gaels by a score of 6 - 1. Devils' Gage Canning, who started the weekend needing four more triples to reach 20 for his career, went 4 for 4 at the plate for the Devils.
Devils lose series to Gaels of Saint Mary's

In game two, the Gaels jumped to an early lead scoring three runs in the first inning on four hits. In the bottom of the second inning, Devils' DH Spencer Torkelson hit his forth home run of the season, putting the Devils on the board. Hunter Bishop followed up with a single, scoring on a single by Trevor Hauver who scored on a single by Alika Williams. Canning hit an RBI triple. He scored on the next pitch when a perfect bunt allowed Canning to score.  The Devils led 5-3 until the eighth inning. In the top of the eighth, Gaels' Dylan Robertson, jr slams a two run home run over left field fence, tying the game 5-5. In the top of the ninth, with runners in scoring position, a wild pitch allowed the winning run to score, giving the Gaels the second win of the series - a 6-5 victory.

On Sunday, the final game of the series, Lyle Lin hit a home run in the bottom of the fourth inning putting the Devils on the board first. In the top of the sixth inning, the Gaels senior Jackson Thorelson scored from second base on a single to right field by Austin Chauvin. In the bottom of the sixth, Canning singled to right center, scoring Gage Workman with the go ahead run 2-1. The Devils win the final game 2-1 with seven hits to Gaels' five.

Boyd Vander Kooi pitches 7.2 innings, gets standing ovation
This is Devils freshman pitcher Boyd Vander Kooi's second win of the season. As he walked off the field after throwing 7. innings, allowing four hits, 1 run, with an era 0.61 the fans gave him a huge standing ovation.

In the post game conference, Coach Tracy Smith stated 'we had a lot of growth yesterday but we didn't win. Today, we won.', and finished with this comment on pitcher Vander Kooi's performance 'He's loose, he's got the persona that there's not a lot going on up there (pointing to his head), but trust me, there is.'. 

The Gaels host Xavier for a three game series on March 2-4 in Moraga, Calif. Game times are 2 p.m. on Friday, 1 p.m. on Saturday  and Sunday.

The Devils ( travel to Long Beach State for the first road trip of the season. The Devils will play two games, the first on Tuesday, Feb 27 at 6:00 p.m. and the second game on Wednesday, Feb 28 at 6:00 p.m.