This is not the first time the No. 6 Sun Devils (42-9, 15-6 Pac-12) will take on a top-ranked team, and it will again be another conference foe.
The No. 1 UCLA Bruins (48-3, 18-3) will play host this weekend for a three-game series that begins Thursday at 7 p.m. and will continue through Saturday. All games can be watched on the Pac-12 Network.
ASU has by far put up a tough fight against some of the best teams in the league given a majority of it has been in its conference. The Devils have not been swept in any series and surprised skeptics after taking two of three from previous No. 1 now No. 5 Washington (44-8, 15-8).
This series has a lot riding on it for both squads. UCLA has not lost a game since April 8, and during that time has taken down top ten opponents in Washington and Arizona pretty handily.
Against the Sun Devils, the Bruins have the advantage with a 99-36 all-time record, and have won the last six games against the Devils. UCLA is also 48-15 at home against ASU.
UCLA’s standout hitting is led by redshirt freshman Aaliyah Jordan, who was recently named a finalist for the NFCA Freshman of the year as well as USA Softball Collegiate Player of the year — a category ASU sophomore Giselle ‘G’ Juarez also falls in.
Jordan this year is batting .467 with 61 RBIs, which is fifth and tied for sixth in the league, respectively. Her on base percentage of .520 and .783 slugging percentage complete her slash line.
The Devils look to combat that offense with their strong pitching. Opposing hitters have been held to a .186 batting average against the quartet of ASU pitching this season. All together, Juarez, Breanna Macha, Dale Ryndak and Alyssa Loza hold an ERA of 1.44, which is the eighth lowest in the nation.
On the offensive side, Freshman DeNae Chatman continues to swing a hot bat. She comes out of the Stanford series with another offensive burst. She went 4-for-8 with two home runs and four RBIs to help to sweep Stanford at home. That’s now three home runs in her last five games, putting her at five dingers in 58 at-bats this season.
The Devils carry a seven-game winning streak into Thursday’s matchup as the NCAA regionals loom on the horizon.