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ASU Softball: 13-run frame leads No. 17 Sun Devils to crushing victory over Oregon State

Five homers

Brady Vernon/House of Sparky

It’s never an easy task to score 13 runs in a Pac-12 conference game. 13 runs in a single inning? Unheard of, until Saturday. In the third inning, No. 17 Arizona State (21-8, 1-1 Pac-12) unleashed a 13-run inning on their way to a dominant 18-2 victory over Oregon State (17-6, 1-1).

Outfielders Kindra Hackbarth and Morgan Howe kickstarted the 17th-ranked Sun Devil offense. Hackbarth sent her eighth home run of the season to start the ASU bats. The Beavers tied things back up in the second, but after that, it was all Sun Devils.

“It’s great,” said Howe on the vibe of the dugout during the huge offensive output in the third. “It’s a fun environment to be in — everyone is laughing, everyone is smiling, everyone is having a good time. It’s hard to be upset in there.”

Sophomore second baseman Bella Loomis filed out to open the third, Hackbarth started the parade of runs to come. She doubled and later scored on a fielder’s choice. Howe followed with her eighth blast of the season in the form of a two-run shot.

Sophomore first baseman DeNae Chatman duplicated Howe’s at-bat with a two-run home run herself. At 6-1, the floodgates had only begun to open. The entire lineup had two at-bats in the frame. Six different ASU starters had hits in the 13-run effort and six also accounted for RBIs as well.

After the offensive destruction in the third, senior left fielder Skylar McCarty and junior Alli Tatnall homered in the fourth.

Saturday’s offensive assault was no doubt a team effort, eight of the nine starters had a hit, with the only exception being junior catcher Maddi Hackbarth, but she contributed in other ways with three walks and two runs scored. The team also scored 10 of their 13 runs with two outs.

Despite the team performance, the spark plugs were Howe and Kindra Hackbarth. Each player had a home run, three hits and three RBIs. The second-year Sun Devils hold the star-power that each ranked team needs to insert themselves into the spotlight when their team needs them most.

“Those two, if they go, we go,” said head coach Trisha Ford on Howe and Hackbarth. “They love that pressure — they set our offense.”

“We talked before the game, we were just like we got to do it. We got to find someway to get on, if it’s walk, if it’s a bunt, if it’s a hit by pitch. Do whatever we can, I think we did that very well tonight,” Hackbarth said.

The job in the circle for junior righty Samantha Mejia was made easy, thanks to the absurd crooked number put up by the Sun Devils at the plate. Either way, Mejia continued to show growth in her first season as a Sun Devil. Rather than a home run given up to Oregon State leadoff hitter Shelby Weeks, Mejia made few mistakes against the Beavers.

“It’s a stress reliever, just to know that you don’t have to have that pressure on you. It is hard to go in with a 1-1 type game,” said Mejia on the team’s 13-run inning. “For our team to be able to go that, it’s a great feeling knowing that once you get back, that there’s still more to come.”

The win also marked Ford’s 100th victory in her tenure in Tempe.

“It’s an honor,” Ford said. “I always say I surround myself with really great people. It’s not me, it’s everyone around me. My support staff has just been tremendous and I think that’s who deserves the credit.”

The Sun Devils will attempt to secure their first Pac-12 series of the season on Sunday with a 12:00 p.m. start against the Beavers at Farrington Stadium.