No. 12 Arizona State (24-4) prepared for what would be the most important series of their season thus far, and they did not disappoint.
After a doubleheader split with Iowa, the Devils welcomed the No. 1 Huskies (29-2) for a three game series; their first games against the Pac-12 conference. They won two out of three.
From that series victory, the Devils moved up one spot in the rankings from 13 to 12, and sophomore starter Giselle ‘G’ Juarez was named Pac-12 pitcher of the week for the second consecutive week. In the Washington series, she was credited with both victories and completed both games while not allowing a single run and striking out a total of 19 hitters.
Freshman first basemen Danielle Gibson was the hero offensively for ASU. She drove in all four runs in the series against Washington. This weekend, the California native returns for the first time since the Mary Nutter Tournament.
“This game (against Washington) is going to be good momentum going forward,” Gibson said. “Our defense really tied up well and we had quality at-bats when we needed to and our pitchers were throwing well.”
The pitching has continued to impress this season behind Juarez. The unit boasts a combined 1.31 ERA, which ranks as the 11th-lowest combined ERA in the nation.
Head coach Trisha Ford is also only two wins away from 200 career victories as a head coach. She will have the attempt to secure those victories in ASU’s three game set against No. 20 California (24-5).
“We have to come out and play our game,” Ford said. “We control the controllables. If we just come out and play our game, we’re going to be fine.”
The Devils will not have any major breaks from tough opponents. California is looking for revenge after losing two of three against Oregon State. It had a game against Sacramento State rained out Wednesday so neither team has played in almost a week.
The Golden Bears are led offensively this season by freshman Cameron Kondo who is hitting .406 in 32 at-bats. She has a slash line of .406/.472/.531.
Their pitching has been anchored by junior right-hander Kamalani Dung. The Hawaii native is undefeated so far this season with 14 victories and an impressive 1.56 ERA in 85 1⁄3 innings.
As a whole, the Golden Bears have scored 184 runs and allowed 59; compared to the Devils’ 162 scored and 51 allowed.
The first game of the series starts Friday at 3 p.m. with game two Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and game three Sunday at 3 p.m. No word on probable starting pitchers, but don’t be surprised to see Juarez and Dung toe the rubber twice this weekend.