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ASU Softball: No. 6 Sun Devils fall to No. 1 UCLA in nine innings

ASU closes out the regular season.

Brady Vernon/House of Sparky

UCLA’s first baseman Madeline Jelenicki insured herself a happy senior day in Los Angeles. The senior’s sixth home run of the season gave top-ranked UCLA (50-4, 20-4 Pac-12) a 2-1 ninth inning walk-off win over Arizona State (43-11, 16-8).

“We make a couple different pitches. We make defensive plays, [and] come up with the big hit today and it’s different,” Sun Devils’ head coach Trisha Ford said. “I think they left it on the field today. Things just didn’t go our way. Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose. Very happy with their effort.”

Jelenicki came through with two outs after UCLA’s designated player Aaliyah Jordan and Rachel Garcia flew out to the warning track. The first baseman was also responsible for driving in the Bruins first run in the fourth inning with a two-out RBI single. Two-out hitting seemed to be the difference in the game as the Bruins went 2-for-8 and the Sun Devils were 0-for-9.

Once again DeNae Chatman came up big for the Sun Devils. The freshman designated player has provided her team with late-game home runs over the past couple of weeks to either give Arizona State the lead or tie the game. The theme continued on Saturday.

UCLA’s starting pitcher Holly Azevedo had held the Sun Devils hitless through four innings before Chatman launched her second home run of the series to tie things up at one in the fifth inning.

Sophomore right fielder Kindra Hackbarth also had a nice day at the dish with two hits. Her double in the sixth inning was one of the Sun Devils’ missed opportunities. Danielle Gibson came to the plate and lined one off of Azevedo’s leg before getting thrown out at first. Things didn’t go the Sun Devils’ way on that play and Hackbarth was stranded at third.

Despite that, Ford was pleased with her right fielder’s offensive day after showcasing her defense the two previous games.

“Kindra had good at-bats and things didn’t go her way,” she said. “But today you saw her hit that double. Then Garcia came in and it did not take her an at-bat she was on top of that ball putting it in the dirt. I was really impressed with her. She played some great defense for us this whole series.”

Sophomore Giselle “G” Juarez wasn’t as stellar as she was in her shutout performance on Thursday. Although, she did perform well despite her team’s loss. The left-hander allowed the two runs on six hits through all 8 23 innings for the Sun Devils.

Ford continued to call Juarez the workhorse of the team and expects big things from her in the postseason. Arizona State will find out their postseason schedule on Sunday night on ESPN2’s softball selection show.

The Sun Devils are expected to host a regional as one the national’s top 16 seeds. The biggest question mark is whether or not they’ll be in the driving seat for hosting a Super Regional and being a top eight seed.