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ASU softball: Transfers shine in Sun Devils’ season opener

ASU’s four transfer players carry offense

Jade Gortarez batting and Morgan Howe on deck.
Brady Vernon

As sophomore Maddi Hackbarth stepped into the batter’s box at Alberta B. Farrington stadium Thursday night, her first big moment as a Sun Devil came in a hurry.

Already down 3-0 in the bottom of the second inning, the Sun Devils needed an offensive spark. On the first pitch she saw from Tennessee’s Caylan Arnold, Hackbarth drove the ball over the centerfield fence for a two-run home run.

“It felt great, I was so stoked,” Hackbarth said. “We prepared all week, watched film, and I was just ready waiting for the cookie. So, I saw it and I hit it. Swung hard and it felt great.”

The star in the opener against the Lady Volunteers was indeed Hackbarth, she almost found her second home run of the night as a ball barely stayed foul of the left field pole in the third inning. Hackbarth would get another RBI with a single in the fifth.

“Maddi obviously had her first at-bat as a Sun Devil (and) made that ball disappear,” Sun Devils’ head coach Trisha Ford said.

Hackbarth is one of four transfers on the Sun Devils’ 2018 roster, along with her twin sister, Kindra, junior Morgan Howe and sophomore Jade Gortarez. The four all made their Sun Devil debut in Thursday night’s season opener.

Of the Sun Devils’ 11 hits, six came from the new additions on the Arizona State roster.

Kindra showcased her speed to the Sun Devil fans by legging out two infield singles and scored a run. Meanwhile, Howe found her first hit as a Sun Devil in the fifth inning with a single up the middle.

Gortarez also found her first hit and RBI in Maroon and Gold, when she singled home Kindra in the third inning. The Texas transfer also showcased her glove at shortstop making multiple plays highlighting her range.

All four of Arizona State’s run would be produced by the collection of transfers. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as the Sun Devils still fell to the Lady Vols 7-4 on Thursday night.

“I thought they [the transfers] had great games, all of them had a hit,” Ford said. “They came in here to play, that’s what they’re doing. That’s a tough team over there. I’m excited, I think we’re going to have a lot of good games.”

The Hackbarth twins, Howe, and Gortarez will look for their first win as Devils during Friday’s doubleheader against Purdue and Nebraska.