Fresh off series wins against No. 1 Washington and No. 22 California, No. 8 Arizona State (27-4, 5-1 Pac-12) finds itself in the top 10 of the USA Today/NFCA rankings for the first time since 2014. The Sun Devils also sit alone atop the Pac-12 Conference standings.
Arizona State will host North Dakota State (18-10) and BYU (17-14) for two doubleheaders on Friday and Saturday at Farrington Stadium.
Returning home from Berkeley on a four-game winning streak, Sun Devils’ head coach Trisha Ford talked about what’s going right for the team.
“We’re clicking right now obviously, but we actually have some things we need to clean up,” Ford said. “We kind of talked about this at the beginning of the year if we stay within our bubble and worry about ourselves some great things can happen. Obviously ‘G’ (ASU pitcher Giselle Juarez) has been throwing lights out. (ASU Pitcher Breanna) Macha is still continuing to throw lights out.
“We have a lot of new kids this year. You’re starting to see the team really come together and understand that it is about us. That it’s about our game and not who we’re playing.”
Against the Bison and Cougars expect to see sophomore Giselle “G” Juarez and senior Breanna Macha in the circle. But look for expanded roles for senior Dale Ryndak and sophomore Alyssa Loza who have only pitched a combined to pitch 2 2⁄3 innings the past two weeks.
On the opposing side North Dakota State relies on the right arm of senior Jacquelyn Sertic (14-6/1.74 ERA) who has thrown 124 2⁄3 innings for the Bison. For BYU it is more of a committee as pitchers Kerisa Viramontes (7-4/1.83 ERA) and Arissa Paulson (7-6/2.95 ERA) have both thrown a little over 76 innings.
With the bats, the Bison’s right fielder Bre Beatty leads the team in batting average, home runs and RBIs. Meanwhile for the Cougars, right fielder Lexi Tarrow, designated player Libby Sugg and shortstop Alexa Strid have all averages over .300, at least three home runs and over 18 RBIs on the season.
Look out for in the Sun Devils’ lineup is the left fielder position battle between senior Nichole Chilson and junior Skylar McCarty as McCarty may have earned more playing time with her game-winning grand slam this past weekend.
Congratulations to @danielleeee41 and @ggotgame45 for being named @pac12 Pitcher and Freshman of the Week! This is the first honor for Gibson, and third straight honor for G! #ForksUp pic.twitter.com/KrVbWX3F0E— Sun Devil Softball (@ASUSoftball) March 26, 2018
Juarez and freshman first baseman Danielle Gibson received accolades this week. For the third straight week Juarez was named the Pac-12 pitcher of the week, while also being named the pitcher of the week by NFCA and USA Softball. Gibson took home Pac-12 freshman of the week, her first award as a Sun Devil.
Ford earned her 200th career victory during the sweep over California and spoke about the celebration in Berkeley.
“It was great. I think it was really cool, the parents in the stands they all got together. You know it’s just our atmosphere,” Ford said. “We’re very family-oriented, they’re part of the program. It’s a special chance for me to share, obviously I’ve gotten all of those with (assistant) coach (Carly) Wynn, so she’s been a huge part of those 200 wins.
“We’re enjoying our time together and I think that’s a sign of a good team. Is that you like to be around each other,. You like to work hard for each other. Very unselfish. They’re fun.”
First pitch of the doubleheader on Friday will be at 4:00 p.m. PT on as the Sun Devils will take on North Dakota State in the opening contest.