Earlier on Tuesday, the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Coaches Poll recognized the Sun Devils as the 14th best team in the country, the team’s highest ranking under head coach Trisha Ford.
Arizona State left no doubts that it deserved its spot amongst softball’s best on Tuesday.
Freshman first baseman Danielle Gibson continues to be a scary bat in the Sun Devils’ lineup, clearing the fences twice in Arizona State’s (17-2) 8-0 win over South Dakota (6-16).
“I’ve been seeing the bat really well at practice and off of (Sun Devils’ graduate assistant) Jill (Compton),” Gibson said. “I’ve just been swinging and feeling good. It’s just carried over to the games and you know when you take reps every single day it’s easy to see the ball well. I think that’s just see ball, hit ball.”
Gibson and sophomore shortstop Jade Gortarez hit home runs against South Dakota’s Dustie Durham in the first inning to give the Sun Devils an early 3-0 lead.
The first baseman launched another ball over the right field fence in the fourth inning, bringing home Gortarez and extending the lead to 7-0. She now owns the team’s lead in home runs.
Meanwhile, sophomore pitcher Giselle “G” Juarez had her fourth consecutive start with 10-plus strikeouts. Juarez finished the game having pitched four innings, while allowing no runs, three hits and 10 strikeouts.
Juarez and senior pitcher Breanna Macha also continued the Sun Devils’ 19 inning scoreless streak, dating back to the team’s win over Coastal Carolina on March 2.
“Shutouts are always fun, but Pac play is going to come. One through nine all those teams are pretty much ranked,” Macha said. “It’s going to be tough, but I think it just gives us a sense of confidence that it’s possible.”
Macha came into the game in the fifth inning to finish the game. There was speculation that Juarez had come out of the game after taking a come backer to her non-throwing arm in the fourth. Ford talked about that after the game:
“I just wanted to make sure she was okay,” Ford said. “Obviously your heart sinks a little bit, but she bounced back. That’s what I was really proud of her, she bounced back and struck out the next hitter.”
Juarez added: “It’s good, a little bruised but it’s good. It’s going to hurt but focusing on me and the team to get out of that inning.”
Gortarez added another RBI before Gibson’s second home run, finishing the night with three. Senior left fielder Nichole Chilson and freshman pinch hitter DeNae Chatman also drove in runs on Tuesday.
Ford also talked about the team’s competition to get into the lineup.
“Our depth this year is so much better,” Ford said. “I think it’s a multitude of things, we got a lot of new faces. But it’s also those kids we had last year have really developed. Healthy competition is great and I think we have a lot of it.
“I want them to make the lineup hard for me.”
The Sun Devils return to Farrington Stadium on Wednesday to take on Georgetown at 6:00 p.m. MT.