No. 12 ASU softball opened the 2019 season with a split on day one of the Kajikawa Classic defeating Western Michigan and losing versus Missouri.
It was a tale of two games for Arizona State on the opening day of the 2019 college softball season.
The 12th-ranked Sun Devils opened the night with an 8-4 win over Western Michigan before getting run-ruled by Missouri 8-0 in five innings.
In game one, the top of the order of right fielder Kindra Hackbarth, center fielder Morgan Howe and first baseman DeNae Chatman combined to go 6-for-10 at the plate with six RBIs, five runs scored and two walks.
The Sun Devils scored the game’s opening run as Morgan Howe scored off a couple of errors by the Broncos. Western Michigan then followed that up with a four-run third inning to take a 4-1 lead.
Arizona State finished the game scoring seven unanswered runs over the course of the final four innings. Chatman hit the go-ahead home run in the fifth inning with Howe putting the game away with a three-run blast in the sixth inning.
Fresno State transfer Samantha Mejia made her first start with the Sun Devils throwing five innings allowing four unearned runs on five hits to go with two walks and three strikeouts.
Mejia earned the win with pitcher Cielo Meza closing the game with two scoreless innings allowing just three hits.
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In the second game against Missouri, Meza struggled giving up a grand slam and a three-run homer, all with two outs, as the Tigers cruised to an 8-0 run-rule win.
Meza finished her first start with the Sun Devils throwing four innings allowing eight earned runs on five hits along with four walks and two strikeouts.
In relief, freshman Mikayla Santa Cruz made her first career appearance throwing a scoreless fifth inning allowing two hits.
Ford isn’t going to overreact over the pitchers’ performances Friday night reiterating that it’s a long season.
“It’s day one and it’s a long season and we’re all trying to figure out our pace and rhythm,” Ford said. “I think there was a lot of good stuff and there was some things obviously that are going to need improvement.”
Ford also talked about the transition Mejia and Meza have to go through coming to Arizona State, a place with thin air and the ball carrying at Farrington Stadium.
“There is going to be a transition. I think they would be the first ones to tell you,” Ford said. “We’re going to be fine. It’s a long season and Cielo (Meza) is going to get better, Sam (Mejia) is going to get better, Mik’s (Santa Cruz) going to get better and we have another pitcher in Abbey (Andersen) who’s going to get some innings as well.
“We’re just going to figure out how things go. With those kids being their first time throwing here, I think they’ll be warm and fuzzy here. They’ll start to understand.”
After the game, Ford says they’ll have to win differently this season with it being a new team.
“It wasn’t our best tonight. I think we can all agree with that, but we still had a chance. We had some loud outs and they kept just going right at somebody,” Ford said. “As the game went on, I felt our approach changed a little bit. We’re going to have to scrap this year. It’s not going to look the same and that’s just our reality. I know we are still capable of playing a much better game than that.”
Arizona State will continue play in the Kajikawa Classic Saturday with another doubleheader beginning at 2:30 p.m. MT against Kansas and then at 7:30 p.m. MT versus Weber State.
The Jayhawks went 0-2 Friday with a 14-5 loss versus Oregon and a 12-3 loss versus Stanford. The Wildcats also went 0-2 losing 4-3 versus Oregon State and 8-0 versus Seattle.