Freshman righty Abby Andersen has started to find her stride as a college pitcher. On the cusp of a perfect game, Andersen tossed a one-hit shutout against Lehigh (6-7) on Tuesday. Behind her effort in the circle, the Arizona State Sun Devils (20-7) cruised to a 14-0 win to finish non-conference.
Andersen surrendered her only hit to leadoff the fifth inning to Lehigh’s freshman designated player Jaelynn Chesson, she blooped a single into center field to end the perfection. However, Andersen topped her best performance of the season from Sunday against South Dakota with an even better act against the Mountain Hawks. The freshman finished five innings of work with no runs allowed and struck out four.
“It’s been a long journey with coach [Trisha] Ford on getting me to trust my pitches, and trust what I’m doing and my locations where I’m throwing the ball,” Andersen said. “Being able to trust that what I’m throwing is good enough to compete in these games. Overall, being put in these situations where I’m pitching against such big teams is what helps me the most.”
Andersen also jokingly let out a “I’m mad,” after the game, as she knew she was so close to history.
On March 1 against Texas, the Longhorns sent across six earned runs against Andersen. Since, she has found her groove. Over the past 28.2 innings after the Texas start, Andersen has given up three runs.
“She had a great game today, that’s what I’m more proud of, is her balls were doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” head coach Trisha Ford said. “She’s put out some good outings this past weekend and she did it today. She did a really great job of coming out, her dropball was breaking pretty well tonight.”
On offense, the Sun Devils had another 10-plus run night. The first part of the game, ASU got most of their runs by walks and an error from Lehigh. In the third inning, however, the the extra-base hits started to come. Sophomore second baseman Bella Loomis led off with a double.
Junior right fielder Kindra Hackbarth capped off her three-hit game with a two-run home run after Loomis’ double. That was Hackbarth’s seventh blast of the seven, and she’s already surpassed her 2018 total of five.
“I do, I have a lot more confidence, just because I’ve worked so hard on hitting and I’ve hit all my life,” said Hackbarth on if she feels more herself at the plate with being more focused on hitting opposed to slapping from last season. “I just feel myself because the girls I’m around, they just help bring out me. And they laugh at me and it just helps me keep doing it because I’m making them laugh, so then I laugh. I just feel myself with these girls.”
Senior Morgan Howe also hit a home run, but her wasn’t such a blast. Howe drilled a ball off the right-center field wall. It rolled past Lehigh’s senior center fielder Jen Stoll and Howe kept running. Her seventh home run counted as an inside the parker.
With non-conference over, the Sun Devils head into Pac-12 play. They’ll start a series with Oregon State on Friday. Howe and Hackbarth were asked about their thoughts on their second round of Pac play.
“It’s exciting, I’m excited to start Pac,” Hackbarth said. “We definitely know more about pitchers and more about hitters because of film. I think we’re just going in with not as much nerves, I was definitely very nervous last year my first Pac game. This year I think we’re ready to start playing — and I think we’re ready.”
“I feel like this year, my senior year, I have all the tools, all the skills, I’m the best that I’m ever going to be,” Howe said. “I’m just super excited, getting the hang of Pac-12 last year it just makes this year more exciting. To see like Bella, Abby and all of our younger girls stepping up, it just gives me the chills.”
The Sun Devils have a 7:00 p.m. first pitch with the Beavers on Friday to open up conference play.