Similar to Saturday’s victory against the No. 1 Washington Huskies, freshman first baseman Danielle Gibson and sophomore left-handed pitcher Giselle “G” Juarez shined for the Sun Devils on Monday.
Arizona State (24-4, 2-1 Pac-12) clinched its conference opening series against Washington (29-2, 1-2) with a 2-0 win over the Huskies.
“Today, we came out and played our game,” ASU head coach Trisha Ford said. “This was a great opportunity for us and we cashed it in. Just very happy with them. We played great defense. ‘G’ was lights out. Amazing again. She’s special.”
Juarez tossed her third shutout over the past week, including one against Washington on Saturday. She allowed only three hits with eight strikeouts over seven innings. The two-time reigning Pac-12 softball pitcher of the week combined for three wins over 19 innings, allowing just seven hits with 32 strikeouts.
Gibson provided all the offense the Sun Devils needed after Juarez’s performance. In the first inning, she slapped a hit down the first base line against Washington’s Taren Alvelo for a two-run, two-out double. Junior center fielder Morgan Howe and senior left fielder Nichole Chilson started the two-out rally with a walk and hit by pitch respectively.
“I’m so proud of my team,” Gibson said. “We were able to seal up the defense and have really good at-bats when we needed to. We put pressure on them. That pitcher (Alvelo) is good. We were able to come through with a big win today and really bounce back from yesterday.
“You know what they’re going to throw you. Seeing her twice, we knew that we were be able to hit her this time around.”
Arizona State also made it a focus to come out and be more sharp on defense after Sunday’s loss where they committed four errors. Junior third baseman Taylor Becerra made a grab over the barrier of the Sun Devils’ dugout.
“It’s huge. I think there was a lot more communication. And a lot more focus. Just like Gibby (Gibson) said tightening things up really helped,” Becerra said.
She also spoke about what it’s like playing behind Juarez.
“I love it. She’s so fierce. And she knows that she’s good. It’s nice having a pitcher that’s confident like that.”
After allowing a leadoff hit to the Huskies’ right fielder Trysten Melhart to start the sixth inning, the Sun Devils quickly shut down any hope for a rally. Juarez and sophomore catcher Maddi Hackbarth got a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out double-play.
“It stayed on our side,” Juarez said. “That throw was huge. She made a fantastic throw. I got so pumped afterwards. I came up to her and gave her a big hug. It was amazing.”
Arizona State will head to Berkeley next weekend for its first true away games of the season as they take on the No. 16 California Golden Bears for a three-game series starting Friday.