After a successful regular season, ASU softball begins NCAA Tournament play Friday versus North Carolina in the first game of the Oxford Regional.
ASU softball is ready to begin postseason play.
After a 30-20 season playing in one of the hardest conferences in the nation, Arizona State will face North Carolina Friday in Oxford, Mississippi to begin the NCAA Tournament.
The Sun Devils will look improve its play after being swept by eventual-No. 5 seed UCLA in Tempe last weekend in a series where the Sun Devils were outscored 29-9.
While that series was a blip on the radar, Arizona State still has the making of a team that can do damage in the NCAA Tournament with its solid pitching staff and balanced lineup.
Pitchers Breanna Macha and Dale Ryndak are the veterans of the group and have done a nice job leading the staff.
Macha, who was named to the All-Pac-12 Third Team, finished the season with a 12-8 record in 26 appearances and 18 starts this season sporting a 2.22 ERA and a .265 opponents batting average.
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Ryndak has been just as effective in 24 appearances and 12 starts going 8-4 with a 2.37 ERA and a .238 opponents BA.
Then there’s the freshmen pitchers, Giselle Juarez and Alyssa Loza, who have had stellar first seasons.
Juarez has gotten more chances than Loza having pitched in 19 appearances and starting 15 games going 6-6 with a 2.84 ERA earning a selection to the All-Pac-12 Freshman Team.
Loza has pitched just as well in 10 appearances and five starts going 4-2 with a 1.36 ERA.
Shifting to the offense, Arizona State boasts one of softball’s most powerful lineups smashing 58 home runs this season with outfielder Fa Leilua and shortstop Chelsea Gonzales leading the way.
Leilua leads the team with 13 home runs to go along with 44 RBIs and a .310 batting average while Gonzales has hit 11 home runs while leading the team with 45 RBIs and a .348 batting average.
Joining Gonzales on the All-Pac-12 First Team, catcher Sashel Palacios has been productive and durable playing in every game this season batting .309 with 10 home runs and 38 RBIs.
The Sun Devils will have their hands full with North Carolina as the two teams meet for first time since March 2013 when the Sun Devils won 7-4.
North Carolina (38-19) is led by one of the nation’s best pitchers in Brittany Pickett and one of the best hitters in Kendra Lynch.
The ACC Freshman of the Year pitched in all but 10 games this season going 21-8 with a 2.63 ERA throwing 17 complete games and 4 shutouts.
Pickett broke the school record with six saves this season ranking her third in the NCAA this season.
Lynch has been hard to get out this season leading the team in almost every hitting category batting .378 with 21 home runs (3rd in NCAA) and 65 RBIs (7th in NCAA).
The key in this one will be Arizona State’s ability to put together good at-bats versus Pickett while keeping Lynch and the Tar Heels off the base paths after UNC stole 99 bases this season good for second in the ACC.
Winning the first game of this double-elimination format is crucial as Arizona State-North Carolina will be one of the most intriguing games this weekend. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. PST and can be seen on ESPN.