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ASU Softball: No. 15 Sun Devils split Friday doubleheader; smash Princeton, downed by No. 9 Texas

The games were a lot different

Brady Vernon/House of Sparky

It was a tale of two tapes for Arizona State (13-5) on Friday. The Sun Devils cruised by Princeton (1-5) in the first half of their doubleheader, but fell to No. 9 Texas (15-1) afterwards.

Game One: Sun Devils storm past the Tigers with 20 runs

Every ASU starter had a hit against Princeton, eight of the nine starters had a RBI in the Sun Devils’ offensive onslaught to beat the Tigers 20-5.

In a dominant team performance at the plate, it’s hard to point at a so-called ‘star’ of night. However, sophomore first baseman DeNae Chatman spotlighted the run frenzy. Chatman drilled her fifth and sixth home runs of the season with her two home run game. Her grand slam in the fourth inning was the cherry on top of ASU’s 20-run game. Chatman finished 2-for-5 with five RBIs.

“I think I did a good job of staying within my strike zone and attack the pitch I was waiting for,” Chatman said.

“She’s been wonderful, she’s somebody that did big things for us in the box last year,” said head coach Trisha Ford on Chatman. “And continuing to get better, she’s just fun to watch, she’s got a lot of power.”

Sophomore second baseman Bella Loomis and junior catcher Maddi Hackbarth each had solo home runs as well. The team combined for 16 hits against Princeton, nine of them for extra bases.

Redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Cielo Meza started in the circle, but did not last long for ASU. Meza left the game for freshman right Mikayla Santa Cruz late in the first inning. Meza, who has struggled with free passes, gave up four in the first to allow a Princeton run to score.

Santa Cruz stepped in with the bases loaded to get senior center fielder Kaitlyn Waslawski to ground into a fielder’s choice and end the frame. The freshman pitcher went 2 23 for ASU on Friday, she didn’t allow a hit until the fourth. Waslawski tripled in a run to start a four-run inning for the Tigers that led to Santa Cruz’s exit. Junior right-hander pitcher Samantha Mejia picked up her eighth win of the season as she threw 1 23 scoreless innings to close the victory.

Game Two: Elish, Texas roll No. 15 Sun Devils

Miranda Elish knows all about the Sun Devils, Texas’ junior right-handed pitcher had her way with her former Pac-12 foes on both sides. The former Oregon Duck had four RBIs as a batter, while she tossed a complete game for the Longhorns in their 11-4 win over ASU.

Outside of a two-run home run from senior center fielder Morgan Howe and a late-game RBI double from Loomis, Elish had very little pressure on her from the Sun Devil bats for most of the game. The biggest missed opportunity for ASU was out of the gate. Outfielders Kindra Hackbarth and Skylar McCarty started with back-to-back singles in the first against Elish, the Sun Devils eventually loaded the bases, but didn’t put a run on the board.

“I felt like she didn’t feel comfortable,” Ford said. “Kindra did a great job, Skylar came in and was like, ‘hey, we’re ready to play.’ We didn’t execute and get a run, but I thought it was a sign of we’re here, we’re ready to go.”

The rest of the way Elish allowed three hits after the first, struck out 14 Sun Devils and picked up her fifth win of the season. She also broke things open for herself in the third inning. ASU starter Abby Andersen was an out away from limiting the damage in a no-out, bases loaded situation to two runs. Elish had other plans when she cleared the bases with a double and extended the lead to 6-0.

Her double capped off a five-run inning. Another big inning has been a continuous issue for ASU in their losses.

“We’re young in the circle. We’ve got to stop the bleeding, we got to figure out how to chance tempo, execute pitches, refocus,” Ford said. “But, I also think we need to respond with a big inning, there’s no reason why offensively we can’t respond with a big inning.”

A pair of other former Ducks had nice nights at the plate. Sophomores catcher Mary Iakopo and first baseman Lauren Burke had back-to-back home runs off of Andersen in the fourth. The two combined for five hits and six RBIs.

“We didn’t pitch well to be honest with you,” Ford said. “That was the difference between the first game and the second game. Abby has been great for us, she’s still a freshman, hopefully we’re going to learn from this. She’s a competitor, she just wasn’t herself today. Just one of those days.”

Arizona State continues the Sun Devil Classic on Saturday with another doubleheader. They’ll have a rematch with Princeton at 3:00 p.m. and face Wisconsin at 5:30 p.m.