The Arizona State Sun Devils and the Utah Utes have seen their seasons have much different results between this year and last.
Arizona State (35-9, 9-6 Pac-12) finds its in the top-ten of the NFCA rankings for the sixth week in a row, after only being nine games over .500 last year.
In Utah’s (20-22, 2-13) case, it has been a struggle for a team who captured No. 11 national seed and reached the Super Regionals last year. The Utes’ only conference victories this season came at home against another struggling Pac-12 team in Stanford.
Last season, the Utes came into Farrington Stadium and took two of three from the Sun Devils. Each game was decided by one run, including the Sun Devils’ walk-off win in the opening game.
This series will be the first Pac-12 series for Arizona State where it won’t face a ranked opponent.
In the circle for Utah will be a pair of right-handed seniors in Katie Donovan (9-7/3.29 ERA) and Miranda Viramontes (5-10/2.98 ERA). Donovan and Viramontes have both pitched over 94 innings this year, similar to the Sun Devils duo of sophomore left-handed pitcher Giselle “G” Juarez and senior right-handed pitcher Breanna Macha.
Juarez and Macha will look to contain Utah’s batting average leader sophomore catcher Kelly Martinez and home run leader senior Heather Bowen. Also, expect if needed for senior right-handed pitcher Dale Ryndak and right-handed sophomore Alyssa Loza to pick up innings that they haven’t seen many of this year.
The Sun Devils are also coming off of their worst stretch of the season so far, dropping four of their last six in games against No. 2 Oregon and No. 10 Arizona. But, there can be the exception that Arizona State will come out motivated as many players spoke about it after the loss to Arizona last Sunday.
“It’s a really tough feeling losing to them (Arizona), losing the series to them. But, I feel like you’re going to see a whole different team after this,” sophomore right fielder Kindra Hackbarth said. “Because it hits the heart. Just bothers us.
“I feel like you’re going to see a lot more heart. When “G” strikes someone out, when Bre strikes someone out, when Dale strikes someone out, we’re just going to be hyped. We just aren’t in every pitch and I feel like you’re going to see that a lot more, you’re going to see everyone in every pitch. Be more aggressive on pitches. We’re just going to come out a lot stronger.”