It took the No. 8 Sun Devils (40-9, 13-6 Pac-12) three innings to do any scoring but they would walk-off as victors on Star Wars night.
The force was with ASU as they defeated the Stanford Cardinal (23-27, 2-17) 4-3 with only one out in the seventh inning.
This game presented a well fought battle from the get-go. There was a lot to get excited about, and moments where it seemed all hope was lost, but it ended with the Sun Devil fans of all ages going home happy.
The hero for the Devils was sophomore shortstop Jade Gortarez who sent the game winning hit over the left fielder Hannah Howell’s head for an RBI-double. Pinch-runner Brynley Steele would score the game’s final run.
“I just wanted to get a pitch I could do some damage with,” Gortarez said. “We just needed a hit in that situation.”
Before Gortarez sent her heroic hit to the outfield, second baseman Marisa Stankiewicz almost ended the game one batter sooner with a double off the top of the wall.
“Right when she hit it I thought it was out,” she explained. “I chucked my bat up the third baseline and during the play I had to run to third base to go grab my bat. I wish she would have hit it out.”
ASU’s biggest contributor was freshman DeNae Chatman who continued her hot hitting in Utah with a two-run home run to give the Devils their first lead in the bottom of the sixth. She finished 2-3 with two RBI and one run scored.
B6| The great disturbance you felt in the force, that was @DeNae_Chatman launching this one to center to give ASU a 3-2 lead!#ForksUp #StarWarsDay pic.twitter.com/yI80Quw0I6— Sun Devil Softball (@ASUSoftball) May 5, 2018
“It’s really exciting,” Chatman said. “Having all these plate appearances has given me more confidence and get me more comfortable in the box.”
This home run was Chatman’s fourth of the season and second in three games. Her contribution did not go unnoticed from head coach Trisha Ford.
“That kid works her tail off,” Ford said. “She wants to be in that big situation and she is a lot of fun.”
The Devils were staring down a 2-0 deficit for the first three innings of this game. They scored for the first time in the fourth inning on a Morgan Howe laser shot over the right field fence.
B4| @morgannnriley sends this one to a galaxy far, far away!— Sun Devil Softball (@ASUSoftball) May 5, 2018
ASU cuts the Stanford lead to 2-1 here in the fourth. pic.twitter.com/DYpu0Oh2Mm
That was Howe’s seventh home run of the season and pushes her RBI total to 33 on the season.
After ASU took its lead into the top of the seventh, sophomore starter Giselle ‘G’ Juarez looked to complete her 22nd game of the season. That did not come to fruition.
Stanford pushed ASU to the brim. The first two runners reached on an error by Gortarez and then a single into left field. With no outs, senior Breanna Macha was called out of the pen for damage control. It did not come easy.
Macha plunked the first batter she face and then after notching a strikeout, an error by freshman second baseman Bella Loomis allowed the Cardinal runners to shift forward one base. The game was tied.
It is a frustration to note that the Devils had a season-high six errors on the evening and caused two of the runs allowed by Juarez to be unearned.
“I’m happy we figured out a way to get a win,” Ford said. “I’m just not happy with what we showed up with on the field today.”
For a team that has had fantastic flashes of leather, including a double play started by third baseman Taylor Becerra, this game is one to forget.
T5| Cardinal get a leadoff runner on, but as Admiral Ackbar said, "IT'S A TRAP!" @TaylorBecerra makes an incredible play for a double play, then handles a hard grounder to end the inning! pic.twitter.com/rdWwgEJqSA— Sun Devil Softball (@ASUSoftball) May 5, 2018
The Devils continue senior weekend against Stanford Saturday with first pitch night at 6:00 P.M. MST.