ASU softball continued their winning ways Saturday sweeping a Littlewood Classic doubleheader defeating Illinois State 9-1 and Texas State 4-3.
Arizona State came into the 2018 Littlewood Classic as a heavy favorite to win all four games. The Sun Devils are three-quarters of the way there.
It was two different types of walk-off wins for Arizona State, run-ruling Illinois State 9-1 in five innings and then defeating Texas State 4-3 in eight innings.
In the first game of the day, ASU defeated the Redbirds 9-1 in five innings as a pair of two-run home runs from designated player DeNae Chatman and shortstop Jade Gortarez ended the game.
Both home runs came in the decisive fifth inning as Chatman’s was the first of her career while Gortarez’s hit her second of the season.
Chatman got the scoring started in the second inning with a two-run double to right center scoring second baseman Marisa Stankiewicz and first baseman Danielle Gibson.
In her first career start, the freshman drove in four runs leading the team in that category.
After Illinois State got a run back thanks to a home run from starting pitcher Shannon Felde, the Sun Devils tallied three runs in the fourth inning capitalizing off Illinois State mistakes.
Arizona State restored a two-run lead on an RBI single by right fielder Kindra Hackbarth. After Becerra reached on an error, a wild pitch was thrown by Redbirds pitcher Veronique Johnson scoring Hackbarth to make it 4-1 Sun Devils.
ASU extended the lead to 5-1 on an RBI single by center fielder Morgan Howe for her ninth RBI of the season.
Pitcher Breanna Macha got the win throwing a five-inning complete game allowing one run on two hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
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“I thought the first game we got off a little slow and then we picked it up. One of the great things about our lineup is at any point in time, we can score a lot of runs and I think you saw that today,” head coach Trisha Ford said. “It was kind of a tight game and then all of the sudden, boom, we put up a lot runs. I think that’s what’s going to make us productive this year and something that’s really dynamic.”
In the second game, the Sun Devils defeated Texas State 4-3 in extra innings.
It was a pitcher’s duel the whole game between G Juarez and Breanna Macha and Bobcats pitcher Randi Rupp.
Texas State put up excellent at-bats against Juarez as they took the lead in the first inning on an RBI single from shortstop Ariel Ortiz.
Sun Devils responded with two runs in the home-half of the inning on a two-run single from center fielder Morgan Howe.
The Bobcats went on to tie the game at two in the fourth inning on a solo home run by first baseman Hailey MacKay.
It was a battle all night for Juarez as she inherited a lot of baserunners Saturday night.
Juarez pitched only four innings allowing two runs on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
The walks were the eye-popping number as Juarez entered the game with only four walks issued all season. She had three against Texas State.
After throwing a five-inning shutout, Macha came in during the fifth inning with two runners on and nobody out and got out of the inning unscathed.
Double plays would end up being the story of the game as Macha induced three double plays, hampering the Bobcats’ of putting a big inning together.
“My defense gets me out of so many innings and if I can keep my pitch count lower like that, it’s only going to help us out at the end of the season,” Macha said.
The game went into extras where Texas State scored on a bang-bang play at home plate with the bases loaded. Stankiewicz’s throw home was up the line a little bit with the umpire ruling the runner safe.
After a Bobcats double play to retire the side, Arizona State quickly tied the game on a bunt and error by Hackbarth scoring Becerra.
Danielle Gibson, who was hitless Saturday entering her eighth-inning AB, walked it off with a ripped single into center field as Texas State catcher Haleigh Davis couldn’t corral the throw from center fielder Christiana McDowell.
“I was actually really pleased with our energy. We put pressure on them. We had a couple of innings that were quick, but for the most part, we did a pretty good job putting people on and we just kept working,” Ford said. “These are obviously great wins for us being in these tight games, especially early on in the season because as the season goes on and we head into postseason, this is something we’re going to be able to draw from.”
Rupp finished the game throwing 7 2/3 innings allowing four runs (two earned) on seven hits with three walks and 10 strikeouts on 136 pitches.
“That kid can pitch. Randi is who she is for a reason. She came out and tried out for USA and that kid can compete,” Ford said. “I thought she got better as the game went on.”
Macha doubled her season win total Saturday throwing four innings allowing one unearned run on three hits and two strikeouts in relief.
Arizona State is now 8-1 on the season and will host San Diego in the final game of the Littlewood Classic Sunday at 2 p.m. MT and it can be seen on the ASU Live Stream.
All quotes in this article were obtained firsthand by Devils in Detail unless otherwise noted.