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ASU softball: Macha leads Sun Devils in sweep of Illinois State, Texas State

The Sun Devils took home a pair of victories Saturday

Nicole Hernandez/House of Sparky

Game one: Macha dominant, as Chatman powers the offense in win over Illinois State

Arizona State senior pitcher Breanna Macha added another successful outing to her Sun Devil career. Macha threw a complete game two hitter during the Sun Devils’ 9-1 victory over Illinois State on Saturday afternoon.

“We just really talked about our DNA as a team this year,” Macha said. “We wanted to be really gritty players, I think it really shows.”

Macha’s only mistake on the day was during the third inning when the Redbirds’ pitcher Shannon Felde hit a no doubter home run to left field. It’d be the last hit of the game for Illinois State.

The Sun Devils’ starting pitcher has had a collection of maroon and gold memories, but offensively a new face had her first big performance as a Sun Devil.

Freshman designated player DeNae Chatman had credit for four of Arizona State’s nine runs. A single by fellow freshman first baseman Danielle Gibson and a walk by senior second baseman Marisa Stankiewicz gave Chatman an opportunity to do damage in the second inning.

The freshman drove a ball into the gap in right-center, allowing both Gibson and Stankiewicz to score giving the Sun Devils a 2-0 lead. Chatman also added her first home run in maroon and gold in the fifth inning extending the Sun Devil lead to 7-1 after the two-run shot.

Arizona State also capitalized on the Redbirds’ mistakes in the fourth inning scoring three runs that got the team to a 5-1 lead before Chatman’s home run.

Stankiewicz walked to open the inning and advanced to second on a Chatman ground out. Sophomore right fielder Kindra Hackbarth got a single up the middle to get the Devils to 3-1. Redbirds’ third baseman Riley Phipps committed an error on a ground ball by junior third baseman Taylor Becerra putting Devils on the corners.

Illinois State threw a passed ball after the error, scoring Hackbarth and advancing Becerra to third. Junior centerfielder Morgan Howe drove in Becerra on hard single past the first baseman putting the Devils up four after four innings.

“We’re always looking to take that extra base,” Sun Devils head coach Trisha Ford said. “Whenever we can put pressure on the defense I think we’re going to be successful, we had some great base running.”

Sophomore shortstop Jade Gortarez also homered in the fifth inning ending the game 9-1 on a two-run home run of her own.

Game two: Gibson walks it off for the Sun Devils against Texas State

The Sun Devil faithful erupted at Farrington Stadium on Saturday night after the swing of the bat from freshman first baseman Danielle Gibson.

In the eighth inning, with sophomore right fielder Kindra Hackbarth standing on second base, Gisbon only needed a single to win the game. The freshman prevailed sending a line drive to center giving the Sun Devils the walk-off 4-3 win over Texas State.

Gibson struggled earlier in the game striking out twice against the Bobcats’ starting pitcher Randi Rupp, but when it mattered the most, Gibson got the better of Rupp.

“Coach always say ‘clear mind you always got a new at-bat’,” said Gibson. “That was exactly what I was thinking. Forget whatever happened my at-bats before just see ball, hit ball.”

The Sun Devils as a whole struggled against Rupp. Arizona State scored two runs in the first against the Texas State starter.

Arizona State started the game with three straight hits, a single by Hackbarth, a double from sophomore shortstop Jade Gortarez, and junior centerfielder Morgan Howe followed them with a single of her own to give the Sun Devils a 2-1 lead.

After that Rupp shut down the Sun Devils, she held Arizona State scoreless for six straight innings. Over seven and two-third innings Rupp allowed four runs, only two earned, on seven hits, and striking out 10 Devil batters.

“She’s a really good pitcher, she hits her spots, she makes us chase,” said Kindra Hackbarth. “She’s just a really good pitcher, she had us and we came back and we got her.”

Sophomore pitcher Giselle “G” Juarez started the game, but it was clear from the beginning she didn’t have her best stuff. Walking two batters in the first inning and along with a single let the Bobcats score the game’s opening run on a sacrifice fly.

Juarez collected herself until giving up a solo home run in the fourth by the Bobcats’ Hailey MacKay to tie the game at two.

The sophomore pitcher got back into trouble in the fifth allowing the first two hitters to reach base. With zero outs in the inning, senior Breanna Macha returned to the circle for the second time on Saturday.

Needing to keep the game tied, Macha delivered in a huge moment for the maroon and gold. She’d get the first out of the inning with a fly out to Hackbarth in right and got a ground ball double play to end the inning. It was one of three double plays the Devils had in the game.

The game reached extra innings with each team starting the inning with a runner on second.

The Bobcats pushed across a run in the top of the eighth after a single and two fielder choices where the Sun Devils didn’t get outs on close calls. Macha limited the damage getting another double play ground ball to end the inning.

The Sun Devils needed two to get their eighth straight victory. Kindra Hackbarth started the inning with a perfect bunt that led to the Bobcats to commit an error, Hackbarth advanced to second and junior third baseman Taylor Becerra crossed the plate tying the game.

After a walk to junior centerfielder Morgan Howe and sophomore catcher Maddi Hackbarth striking out, Gibson stepped to the plate. With two outs she’d come through with the winner for the Sun Devils.

Ford praised Macha’s doubleheader effort.

“I was really proud of her because her first game tonight she probably told you she didn’t have her best stuff, but you couldn’t tell,” she said. “I thought she did a great job of having composure and that’s what a senior pitcher looks like. She came into that game [against Texas State] and threw lights out.”

Arizona State will finish the Littlewood Classic on Sunday against San Diego at 2 p.m. MT