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ASU Softball: Sun Devils clinch WCWS berth with win over South Carolina

ASU is headed to OKC for the first time since 2013

Andrew Palla/House of Sparky

Arizona State will head back to Oklahoma City for the Women’s College World Series for the first time since 2013, after an all around team win over South Carolina on Saturday night in Tempe.

ASU allowed the Gamecocks to tie the game in the fourth inning, but the Sun Devils bounced back the next frame, stuck to their plan and came back with a four-run inning. Arizona State (45-11) used that big fifth inning to ride to a 5-2 victory over South Carolina (49-17) and take their spot in the final eight for Oklahoma City.

“What a great game. I’m just so proud of this group,” Sun Devils’ head coach Trisha Ford said. “Nobody would’ve thought at the beginning of the year that we would be here right now except for us. This is why I came to ASU.”

Junior center fielder Morgan Howe has kept a hot bat all of postseason and it continued on Saturday. Howe singled with the bases loaded for the Sun Devils’ fourth straight hit to begin the fifth inning and give the Devils back the lead. Howe finished the Super Regionals with five hits and three RBIs.

“It’s why I transferred here with coach Ford,” Howe said. “With this team, not knowing anybody when I came here. We haven’t even known each other for a whole year yet and these are like my best friends, my sisters. I’d go to war for them. It’s just so cool to be apart of this.”

DeNae Chatman added the exclamation point of the inning following Howe. The freshman designated player hit a bases-clearing double to put the Devils up 5-1 at the time.

“DeNae has just been great. That kid again came up big for us today,” Ford said. “She said she was feeling good and seeing the ball well. Our biggest thing is letting them be them. For DeNae we let her be loose and let her do her thing.”

Arizona State never looked back after taking the lead due to the performance in the circle. In her final game at Farrington Stadium, senior Breanna Macha left it all on the field in Tempe. The Gamecocks managed eight hits against the righty, but could only score two runs. Macha kept finding ways out of jams and limiting the damage. South Carolina finished the game going 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

“They’re going to scrap it out. We’re going to scrap it out, having to be able to clear your mind in those situations,” Macha said. “When the crowd is going crazy, I kind of just took a step back and I looked up there and I’m like, ‘this is the last time I’m going to be playing on this field.” That kind of just resets everything.”

Macha and second baseman Marisa Stankiewicz also had a postgame moment taking in their final home game and looking at all they’ve been through in their time as Sun Devils.

“Marisa and I at the end of the game, I took her to second base. We were just reflecting. We both grew up watching this program. And we finally live our dream out and we’re going to be living our dream out in OKC.”

This will be Arizona State’s 12th trip to the WCWS. They’ll see some familiar faces in their double elimination round-robin group in OKC. Their first game will be against Pac-12 foe No. 1 Oregon. Depending on the results they’ll either face No. 4 Oklahoma or No. 5 Washington next. But for Ford, that isn’t the worry right now.

“They’re familiar with us and we’re familiar with them. But right now the biggest thing is we’re going to enjoy this.”