In the opener of the 13th annual Littlewood Classic, named after former Arizona State softball coach and founder Mary Littlewood, the Sun Devils began the tournament with an 8-0 win over North Dakota.
Littlewood and other Sun Devil softball alumni were honored before the game with Littlewood throwing out the game’s first pitch.
“Coach Littlewood has just been phenomenal, she’s really taken me under her wing,” said Sun Devils’ head coach Trisha Ford. “We’ve sat down and had a lot of conversations about how to bridge her alumni’s and our program right now.”
Sophomore catcher Maddi Hackbarth extended her team lead in RBIs during Friday night’s win. After singles in the first inning by junior third baseman Taylor Becerra and junior centerfielder Morgan Howe, Hackbarth grounded out to drive in Becerra and give the Sun Devils a 1-0 lead.
She’d strike again in the third inning sending a pitch from North Dakota’s Kaylin VanDomelen over the fence in left-center, once again driving in Becerra to extend the lead to 3-0.
“I came here to help this team out and to get better every day,” Hackbarth said. “The fact that I took all of fall worked my butt off to get where I am right now, it’s paying off. It’s incredibly meaningful.”
Sun Devil pitchers’ sophomore Alyssa Loza and senior Dale Ryndak dominated the Fighting Hawks’ hitters as well. The two combined for a complete game one-hitter over five innings. Loza got into trouble during the third inning allowing runners to reach second and third with two outs but got a strike out to end the inning.
Ryndak, in her two innings of work, allowed only one baserunner via a walk.
“I didn’t have my best outing last time I threw,” Ryndak said. “It felt really good to come out and dominate the first inning, I really didn’t get into any trouble.”
Meanwhile, the Sun Devil bats didn’t get going until seeing VanDomelen a second time through. Senior left fielder Nichole Chilson doubled in the fourth, scoring senior second baseman Marisa Stankiewicz all the way from first base.
Arizona State tacked on four more runs in the fifth to end the game at 8-0. Freshman first baseman Danielle Gibson launched a ball to center for a two-run home run ending VanDomelen’s night.
Freshman DaNae Chatman and freshman Bella Loomis singled back to back after both pinch hitting. Chilson followed the two with a single of her own driving in Chatman and an error by North Dakota’s Angel Love allowed Loomis to score the game ending run.
“Maddi Hackbarth had another phenomenal day today at the plate,” Ford said. “Nichole Chilson also as well, and obviously Gibby [Gibson] did a great job coming in,.”
The Sun Devils continue the Littlewood Classic Saturday with a doubleheader against Illinois State at 4:45 p.m. and Texas State at 7:15 p.m. MT.