Game one: Offense explodes on North Dakota State in dominant fashion
It was another day in the circle for sophomore Giselle ‘G’ Juarez and another day at the plate for an aggressive Sun Devil lineup. Both shined in a five inning victory.
The No. 8 Arizona State Sun Devils (31-4) walked off on NDSU (20-12) in run-rule fashion defeating the Bisons 9-1 Saturday afternoon.
Juarez threw her usual best, completing the game and allowing only one hit. The unfortunate hit that ended what could have been perfection following her no-hitter against BYU the previous evening.
“Everything was working,” Juarez said. “I felt comfortable, I felt good and that’s really all it is.”
Juarez has continued to dominate from the circle, particularly in the month of March. Coming off of her third straight Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week award, she allowed her first and only earned run of the entire month on the home run by Bisons’ first baseman Vanessa Anderson.
For March, Juarez has totaled 70 innings, allowed 22 hits, three total runs - including the one earned - and has racked up 140 strikeouts. Certainly a huge threat moving forward for ASU.
The offense was the true hero this afternoon. Red shirt senior second baseman Marisa Stankiewicz hit a home run for the third time in six games going back to last week. She totaled four RBIs on the afternoon. Sophomore shortstop Jade Gortarez also drove in three of her own and had a double in four at-bats.
B3 | See ya later, ball— Sun Devil Softball (@ASUSoftball) March 31, 2018
6-0 Devils. pic.twitter.com/eMjPok7zcI
“I was definitely seeing the ball really well today,” Stankiewicz said. “I was feeling pretty good from the get go.”
“Today we just came out and swung the bat,” Gortarez said. “I am really proud of everyone. We had a lot of positives come out from this weekend.”
Other contributors to the score column were freshman first baseman Danielle Gibson who had a double and drove in one in two at-bats. Junior center fielder Morgan Howe also Doubled and scored twice in three plate appearances on the afternoon.
Final game notes, Stankiewicz started at first base defensively allowing freshman Bella Loomis to play second base and junior Taylor Becerra to play third. Gibson who is dealing with a knee injury was the designated player.
Game two: Long ball bites the Cougars as the Sun Devils sweep the weekend
What do ASU fans like more than one high-offense game? Two high-offense games.
ASU cranked out three home runs in their 10-3 victory over BYU (17-18) in the late Saturday afternoon.
It was once again Stankiewicz leading the offense with two more long balls to the deepest parts of the park. She totaled three RBIs as well. The other home run was special. Sophomore right fielder Kindra Hackbarth had never sent one deep in her college career, but with the bases loaded she punished the softball over the center field fence for a grand slam.
B2 | First home run of the season for @kindiboo in GRAND fashion— Sun Devil Softball (@ASUSoftball) March 31, 2018
Devils stake a 4-1 lead in part by THIS grand slam by Kindra! pic.twitter.com/ga5hK0mf8q
“Honestly I was like ‘my luck she’s gonna catch the ball’ and then I was like ‘no, go, go, go!’,” Hackbarth said recounting the exact moment. “I was all happy running around the bases so fast, coach was there and it was an amazing feeling.”
Hackbarth finished the day 2 for 4 and continues to represent the Sun Devil lineup in the lead-off spot.
Stankiewicz’s two homers put her now at six on the season. Quickly showing signs of power and she has simply said “It’s about time.”
“As a team we like to fight till the end,” Stankiewicz said. “We need to stay motivated to finish these games in a good way.”
“‘Stank’ is seeing beach balls up there apparently,” head coach Trisha Ford laughingly said. “She’s starting to find her rhythm and has just been fantastic. I’m happy for her that kid works her butt off.”
This is considered the bye week for the Sun Devils. Normally a bye week is considered the break in the season and for softball, the schedules are filled with non-conference games to allow for teams to continue playing throughout the season.
The Devils will head to Corvallis next weekend and take on Oregon State (20-15). First game of the three game set starts Friday April 6th.