Since losing their conference opener against Oregon State, No. 18 Arizona State (24-8, 4-1 Pac-12) has outscored its opponents 57-10.
In yet another offensive display of dominance, the Sun Devils scored 14 runs on 15 hits in a 14-4 blowout win in five innings against Utah (13-16, 2-3 Pac-12) on Saturday afternoon.
The team belted five home runs and nine different players recorded a hit. 1-9, and even into the Sun Devil bench, ASU came to the plate and continued to produce quality at-bats. Even the outs they made were loud.
“They came out today on a mission and set the tone,” head coach Trisha Ford said. “I thought they did a great job and obviously offensively, I am leaving them alone. They are doing what they are doing.”
In a continuous onslaught, ASU scored at least two runs in every inning. The team had production from everyone, but the part of the order that caused the most havoc was the three-headed monster at the top of the order.
Senior Skylar McCarty, senior Morgan Howe, and junior Kindra Hackbarth combined to go 9-11 with seven RBI’s and three home runs. All three players had a home run, and McCarty and Hackbarth both fell just one hit shy of the cycle. Both outfielders needed a triple to accomplish the feat. Hackbarth had the most hits on the day with a 4-4 performance.
The three-pronged weapon was lethal all game long and Utah didn’t have an answer for the trio.
“Sky always says it. She says, ‘If you and Morgan hit a home run, I am going to hit a home run,’” Hackbarth jokingly said of the three players’ performance. “It’s fun being with them and it’s fun knowing they have my back. If I don’t get on, I know either one of them is going to get on.”
Aside from the three players, many other bats came to life as well. Sophomore second baseman Bella Loomis had a two-out, two-RBI double in the first inning, and sophomore first baseman Denae Chatman had two RBI’s courtesy of a sacrifice fly and a solo home run.
Among others, freshman Makenna Harper had a single off the bench, and junior outfielder Alli Tatnall lined her second home run of the season over the right field wall.
“That’s huge. She had another home run the other day,” said Howe of Tatnall and the offense throughout the lineup. “It’s cool to see our hitters be able to step up no matter what the situation is...Makenna and Yanni (freshman Yannira Acuna) come in to pinch-hit and get it done...That’s awesome.”
A variety of players have started in the designated player spot in ASU’s batting order this season. With so many options at the plate right now, there also seems to be healthy competition to make a bid for the last spot in the order. Tatnall stepped up on Saturday and there have been many other players to step into the spot to generate offense.
The batting depth is what has made the order so potent. ASU is third in the country in home runs, and they have the 11th highest batting average among Division I schools.
“It has been really neat to see all of them be their biggest fans, but also when their opportunity comes up, to really see some great at-bats in those situations,” said Ford of her team’s healthy competition. “It’s been fun. They are working their tails off.”
Heading into the fifth inning, ASU led 14-0. Freshman pitcher Abby Andersen, who pitched well on Saturday, going 4.1 innings, gave way to freshman Mikayla Santa Cruz. Utah added a few late runs to make things 14-4, but Santa Cruz would close it out.
ASU has now taken their first two Pac-12 series’, and they will go for the sweep on Sunday.
“It’s that statement. Make a statement,” said Andersen of going for the sweep tomorrow. “We are not taking prisoners. We are going all in.”