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ASU Softball: No. 13 Sun Devils hand No. 1 Washington first loss of season

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Giselle “G” Juarez and Danielle Gibson lead the team to victory on Saturday

Brady Vernon/House of Sparky

Freshman first baseman Danielle Gibson once again came up big for the Sun Devils on Saturday night. Sophomore shortstop Jade Gortarez reached on a walk and junior center fielder Morgan Howe collected a hit to give Gibson runners at second and third with two outs. The freshman launched a ball to left center as it hit the top of the wall to give the Sun Devils a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

Arizona State (23-3, 1-0 Pac-12) took the early lead and never looked back as the Sun Devils were the first team in 2018 to defeat the No. 1 Washington Huskies (28-1, 0-1 Pac-12) with a 2-0 victory.

“Just proud of how we played. It’s more about how we played, how we executed,” ASU head coach Trisha Ford said. “‘G’’ (sophomore left-handed pitcher Giselle Juarez) threw lights out tonight and just really proud of her. It’s more about us and I talk about that a lot. Who executes, who makes adjustments, who’s ready to go the first inning. Just really happy for our girls.”

Washington’s freshman right-handed pitcher Gabbie Plain had only allowed three earned runs before Saturday’s game. A combination of walks from sophomore right fielder Kindra Hackbarth and Gortarez, along with Howe and Gibson’s hits gave Plain her first loss of her collegiate career.

Juarez went all seven innings throwing another shutout to add to her collection on the season. The sophomore only allowed three hits and struck out 11 Huskies in the process. Her teammates had a lot to say about playing behind her.

“‘G’ is a work of art. She truly is a teammate that not everybody gets to play with,” Gibson said. “I’m so honored to play on her team, play behind her. We can’t win that game without her.”

“Me and Chilly (outfielder Nichole Chilson) joke about it all the time,” Howe said. “‘We’re like alright ‘G’ we’re just going to hangout in the dugout. We’re just standing out there at this point. You can do your thing.’ No but it’s great knowing that nobody is going to touch her ball.”

Juarez had retired 10 straight batters before Washington’s Kelly Burdick singled in the fifth inning. The Sun Devils looked to be in trouble as Taylor Van Zee followed Burdick with a single of her own to right field. But Hackbarth shut down the threat quickly as she gun downed Burdick trying to reach third for the final out of the inning.

“Momentum all on our side,” Juarez said on Hackbarth’s throw. “It was even with both teams. But when she made that throw it shifted back onto our side and it was really exciting. It’s a great play. A huge play for our game. And I was so pumped after that.”

Besides beating the No. 1 team in the nation, Arizona State ended two streaks in tonight’s win. Coming into Saturday the Sun Devils had lost six straight to the Huskies and hadn’t won their Pac-12 opening game in five years.

The two teams will meet again on Sunday with first pitch at 2 p.m. from Farrington Stadium.