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ASU Softball: Sun Devils advance to first Super Regional since 2013 with victory over Ole Miss

ASU will host South Carolina next weekend.

Brady Vernon/House of Sparky

Everything was working for the Sun Devils on Sunday night, and there was no better instance for everything to be clicking at the same time. With their second victory in as many days over the Rebels, Arizona State is headed to their first Super Regional since 2013.

“So proud of them tonight. We came out focused, they were on a mission,” ASU head coach Trisha Ford said. “Pitching, defense, offensively. All facets of our game they were rolling. We’re happy were continuing on and that we get to stay home.”

Starting pitcher Giselle “G” Juarez found herself in trouble to begin the game. After a leadoff single, the Rebels’ hottest hitter, Abbey Latham, had a runner at third with two outs in the first. But Latham lost the battle to Juarez. The sophomore left-handed pitcher struck her out and the Sun Devils never relinquished the momentum after that.

Using a five-run bottom half of the first inning, Arizona State (46-11) eliminated Ole Miss (32-25), winning the Tempe Regional Championship by a score of 9-0. That first inning was highlighted by a three-run home run from freshman designated player DeNae Chatman that started the Sun Devils’ offensive onslaught.

Ole Miss looked to be somewhat rattled after Chatman’s home run. Infielders Marisa Stankiewicz and freshman Danielle Gibson hit consecutive singles. Both players also took an extra bag on back-to-back plays as the Rebels left the bases unoccupied.

Sophomore shortstop Jade Gortarez drove in another run on a bunt single that seemed to confuse the Rebels’ defense as everybody was safe. The Sun Devils added one more to cap off their big inning, taking advantage of Ole Miss’ miscues.

“Electric, pumped up and ready to finish the game.” Juarez described the feeling in the dugout after the first inning.

The offense continued to roll, adding four more runs in the third inning. The Rebels committed two errors and allowed two walks doing themselves no favors. During the postseason, a team that wants to continue playing must take advantage of any extra opportunities given to them. And the Sun Devils did just that.

“They competed their butts off,” Ford said. “Our base running, our short-game. We really took advantage of every opportunity.”

Defense also showed in the Devils’ victory. Junior third baseman Taylor Becerra, Stankiewicz and Gortarez all at one point made spectacular plays. Errors at points of time of the season have hurt Arizona State this season, but the past few weeks the defense has been stout — continuing to show the glove work will be a major key in to how far the Sun Devils will go.

“Our infield and outfield put in a lot of work,” Gortarez said. “Our infield is insane. We get everything done. At this point of the season we talk to each other and coach up each other.”

“Our infield has been lights out,” Ford said. “Jade is dynamic and I love watching this kid play. Becerra played a great third base. Stank, that was tough play (on a) in-between hop. They all have one goal and they’ve all bought in.”

After breaking the game open in the third inning. Juarez handed the ball off to senior Breanna Macha, who finished the game. Gibson, who has been battling a chronic knee injury, also left the game after the fourth to get her extra rest.

All in all, Arizona State dominated the Tempe Regional outscoring opponents a combined 18-1 in their three victories. The Sun Devils will host ninth-seeded South Carolina next week for a spot in the Women’s College World Series. Ford talked about what she has seen in her team and how far she believes they can go.

“I’m excited to see what we have in stored for Super Regionals,” she said. “I think they’re really starting to figure things out. I told them, ‘this is your bus and you’re driving it. I’m a passenger, we give you your tools.

“You guys take this where you want to go.’ They’ve started to really understand that and have faith in each other.”