It was a Sunday afternoon for softball at Farrington Stadium, and with two games came two victories for No. 14 Arizona State (8-2) as they took down Utah State (3-7) and San Diego (2-9).
Game One: Utah State
ASU took down Utah State in game one by a final score of 10-2 in six innings.
The story offensively was the at-bats of a couple versatile hitters for the Sun Devils. Last year, sophomore infielder Bella Loomis and junior outfielder Kindra Hackbarth primarily used their speed with their ability to slap hit.
Hackbarth transitioned into a more stationary hitter as the season progressed, and Loomis did as well. Flash forward to Sunday’s game, and the benefits of being a Swiss army knife in the batter’s box was paying dividends.
In a 2-0 game in the fourth inning, Loomis hit her first collegiate home run over the center field wall, giving the Devils a 5-0 lead. Then two batters later, Hackbarth turned on a pitch to blast a two-run homer.
“Kindra just is a work horse. She does extra everywhere she can do extra, and Bella is the same way. They both just work their tails off,” head coach Trisha Ford said. “That’s just a testament to our strength and conditioning program and understanding swing mechanics. Both of them work...When you get kids that are driven like that, they are pretty fun to coach.”
As for the defense, junior pitcher Cielo Meza had one of her best outings of the season, hurling 5.1 innings while giving up 2 runs on three hits. Meza also struck out 11 in a strong performance.
“I felt like myself again,” Meza said. “It’s been a while since I felt good like that so I am excited to keep that momentum going...I am ready for the rest of the season.”
Game Two: San Diego
The second game of the day got off to somewhat of a slow start for ASU. They trailed 2-0 after 2.5 innings and there were some quick outs at the plate.
Playing just 30 minutes after beating Utah State, the game got off to a slow pace before turning into a 12-3 ASU victory in six innings.
“We knew it was going to be complicated for us to come back after the first game because we had never really played two games in a row,” Kindra Hackbarth said. “We got our butts chewed a little bit from coach...Just to start swinging at strikes because we started taking at-bats away. We just had to change our mind and say, ‘Hey we are a better team and we need to prove it.’”
Sure enough, Ford’s team responded.
First, sophomore first baseman Denae Chatman blasted an opposite field home run in a 3-2, two-out situation to tie the game at two. Then Kindra Hackbarth sent a ball into orbit on a no-doubt big fly to right, making the score 5-2. According to Kindra, she credited a lot of her versatility and power to assistant coach Jeff Harger, who was promoted as a full-time assistant this offseason after serving as a volunteer the last couple years.
“I have worked on it with Coach Harger and it is like an everyday thing where I am just focusing on my strike zone and focusing on my swing path to each ball,” Kindra Hackbarth said. “I just feel like I have become a better hitter with Coach Harger here every day. I am just really confident right now.”
The two homers on Sunday gave the everyday right fielder three home runs in one weekend. But she would also receive help from her twin sister Maddi, who put the run rule into effect after six innings with a walk-off grand slam in an 8-3 game, propelling ASU to a 12-3 final.
“For me, I was getting inside pitches all weekend,” Maddi Hackbarth said. “I told myself maybe get in a little more on the plate, or just let one come in over the plate. I got an outside pitch and I have been driving those so it felt good.”
The Hackbarths accounted for three home runs on the day, creating a great family dynamic. When asked who has more bragging rights after Sunday, Maddi humbly gave the nod to her sister.
Among others, junior pitcher Samantha Mejia threw six innings while striking out six, and senior outfielder Skylar McCarty had five hits and three RBI’s between two games on Sunday. Sophomore Kiara Kennedy and junior Alli Tatnall also got their first starts of the season, and they both collected their first hits of the campaign.
Up next, it’s on to the road for the first time this season as ASU goes to the Mary Nutter Classic in Cathedral City, CA to take on some Big 12, Big 10, and SEC opponents.
“Different weather, different area, but it’s the same game,” Kindra Hackbarth said. “We are going to prepare...We are ready to play big teams.”