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ASU softball: No. 23 Sun Devils finish Kajikawa Classic with wins over Indiana, Saint Mary’s

5 straight Ws

Brady Vernon-House of Sparky

Game one: Strong pitching from ASU silences Indiana

Breanna Macha stepped into the circle at Farrington Stadium to a well receiving crowd. From the very first pitch, she dominated the Hoosiers’ hitters all afternoon.

No. 23 ASU relied heavily on Macha in their 2-1 win over Indiana on Sunday.

Macha started with very strong stuff, silencing the first nine hitters she faced en route to allowing only one base runner in five innings.

“This team has a lot of grit,” Macha said in reference to her team's effort behind her. “We have a lot of tough teams we are facing next week. I'm really excited to see where this takes us.”

Macha’s day was done after pitching six innings and allowing two hits, one being a home run while striking out five. Her status as a ground ball pitcher continued to show, forcing 10 of 18 outs on the ground.

Giselle Juarez came in for the seventh and struck out the side to earn her second save of the season. Macha and Juarez have both pitched in the same games this season. Whether Macha starts and Juarez finishes the game or vice versa, they are consistently working well together.

“Giselle compliments me really well,” Macha said. "It's exciting to see what we can accomplish together."

Offensively it was quiet for the Devils, but Morgan Howe continued to make a name for herself in her first year as a Devil.

Howe finished with two hits, one of which was a double, and drove in both of the Sun Devil runs today. Both RBI’s came with two outs.

“I told myself to hit the ball hard,” Howe said. “I think the game calls upon anyone at any given time and today i was called upon.”

Head coach Trisha Ford has shown great pleasure with the production from Howe thus far.

“Morgan had a lot of quality at bats,” Ford said. “Morgan can hit. She's a pure hitter. I loved that they kept pitching to her.”

On an added note, this is the second game in a row that Skylar McCarty took rest on the bench for outfielder Nichole Chilson, who drove in a run in yesterday’s 9-1 victory over Notre Dame. McCarty is the only original starter to have not played every game of the Kajikawa Classic.

Game Two: Howe and the Hackbarth twins carry the offense to a win over Saint Mary’s

Arizona State centerfielder Morgan Howe led the Sun Devils to an 8-4 win Sunday afternoon against Saint Mary’s.

The Fresno State transfer tacked on a trio of hits, including a two-run home run to center in the fourth inning, to her already quick start to the season. Howe also drove in shortstop Jade Gortarez in the first inning after Gortarez reached on an error.

Howe on her major takeaway from her opening weekend as a Sun Devil:

“Getting to know my teammates, like getting to know what people can do. We get to practice all of fall, but that’s practice” Howe said. “You can never really simulate a game unless it’s a game. I got to learn a lot about my teammates this weekend and it was very good.”

The other two Fresno State transfers, Maddi and Kindra Hackbarth also joined the offensive frenzy for the Sun Devils. Maddi Hackbarth doubled in the first inning to extend the Sun Devils lead to 3-0. She’d strike again in the second inning driving in both Howe and Gortarez, to put the Devils back up 5-3.

“Before every game they tell us who’s on the mound and what they’re throwing,” Hackbarth said on her two RBI hit in her second at bat.” I knew that she [Saint Mary’s pitcher Katlyn Whitt] had thrown me outside [then] inside, I just told myself be on time and be ready to go.”

Kindra Hackbarth would follow Howe’s home run in the fourth with a double to bring in Marisa Stankiewicz to make the score 8-3.

Meanwhile, starting pitcher Dale Ryndak wasn’t as sharp as she was in her start against Purdue on Friday. Ryndak escaped a jam in the first after allowing back-to-back singles.

She wouldn’t be as fortunate in the second. After getting the Saint Mary’s leadoff hitter, Bailey Lotz, to strike out, the next three Gael hitters all singled.

With two outs, Nikki Alexander hit a hard ground ball that Gortarez couldn’t handle at shortstop. The ball would roll past Howe in centerfield allowing the Gaels to clear the bases and tie the game 3-3.

Ryndak’s day would be done after two innings. Alyssa Loza entered the circle for the Sun Devils in the third inning.

Loza finished the game’s last four innings allowing only one run, on a solo home run from the Gaels’ Hailey Sparacino.

“I thought we did a good job getting some big hits when we needed them. You know we grinded it out today,” Sun Devils’ head coach Trisha Ford said. “This weekend, it was big for us, we took a tough one Thursday night, but I was very happy with how they bounced back put up some Ws.”

The Sun Devils finished the Kajikawa Classic with a 5-1 record winning their last five games while outscoring their opponents 34-11 during the streak.