Bella Loomis and Abby Andersen had plenty of signature moments as teammates for Chandler’s Hamilton High School. On Sunday, the pair starred in 16th ranked Arizona State (19-7)’s 12-0 win over South Dakota (16-12).
Loomis homered two more times against the Coyotes to put her season total at a team-high of nine. Her first home run came off of a 0-2 count against South Dakota starter sophomore righty Alexis Devers for a grand slam and extended ASU’s lead to 7-0. She’d smash another softball for a two-run blast in the third inning. Loomis went 2-for-2 with six RBIs.
“Two strikes is where I need to be more relaxed, that’s what I’ve been working on,” said Loomis before she extended on what’s been behind her power surge. “I’m just more comfortable in the box. I changed my stance and a little different things, I just feel comfortable.”
The sophomore second baseman also showed off her glove. She finished with four assists and two putouts, she was responsible for three of the first six outs.
“Thank Jesus for Bella,” head coach Trisha Ford said. “That little thing, she can mash. She had another tremendous day at the box. Just a lot of good things.”
Loomis has done all her damage out of the nine-hole, with the surplus of production she has given, Ford was asked if there had been any thought of moving her up in the order.
“She’s just great at turning our lineup over. Honestly, I’m just kind of comfortable where she’s at and I think she’s comfortable where she’s at. We’ve thrown it around, but hasn’t really had a lot of traction,” Ford explained.
While Loomis’ two-homer day has almost become a constant day-to-day headline, the freshman right-hander pitcher Andersen had her best day in her short college career thus far. Andersen felt little stress in most of her innings on Sunday.
The one high-pressure moment came in the third. South Dakota loaded the bases with no outs. Andersen got the Coyotes senior second baseman Alyssa Ferandez to hit a hard grounder to sophomore third baseman Kiara Kennedy. Kennedy turned the 5-2-3 double play and Andersen produced a groundout to Loomis to survive the jam untouched.
In her sixth win of the season, Andersen threw her first collegiate complete game shutout and allowed only three hits against South Dakota.
“I thought Abby threw her best game of the year,” Ford said. “She had good command, her dropball was dropping, she had an up-pitch, she had an off-speed. That part I was really pleased with. You could see some distinct separation of her pitches — she had good tempo.”
“She’s a competitor, I always love her out there. On defense, we’re expecting groundballs and that’s what we need to do when she’s out there. She’s competing every pitch and she’s doing really good,” Loomis said.
The rest of ASU’s bats stayed hot as well. Senior left fielder Skylar McCarty sent a two-run home run early in the first for her fourth long ball of the season. Senior center fielder Morgan Howe and junior shortstop Jade Gortarez combined to go 5-for-6 and Gortarez added a two-RBI double.
In the five games over the weekend, Howe and Gortarez added 16 hits, four home runs and 10 RBIs for ASU.
The offense has took it up a notch as the team heads into Pac-12 play. The Sun Devils will face Lehigh at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday before hosting a three-game set starting Friday against Oregon State.
Ford was asked if the Sun Devils are playing their best ball of the season as they venture toward conference season.
“I think we’re getting better. You’ve seen our bats, they’ve been impressive the last couple of weekends, which has been great. We can hit with anyone in the country and it’s just important for us to in the circle to keep us in [the] game,” Ford said. “Today was really nice to see Abby put a great game together — there’s some great things we’re building upon. Very very pleased with the direction we’re headed.”