No. 17 Arizona State (25-9. 5-2 Pac-12) only had two less hits than the Wildcats on Friday. The only issue for the Sun Devils was that No. 12 Arizona’s (25-7, 7-0) hits had more distance on them. The Wildcats hit three homers to ignite their 8-0 win.
The two teams entered their rivalry series as the nation’s top-two teams in terms of home runs. The Cats have been led by Jessie Harper, Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza and Dejah Mulipola, who had combined for 40 of the team’s 57 homers before Friday. Although, only Mulipola added to Arizona’s power surge in the victory.
Sun Devil starter, junior right-handed pitcher Samantha Mejia surrendered only three hits in her four innings. All three homers came off of her, Mulipola’s three-run blast along with two-run homers from junior third baseman Malia Martinez and senior designated player Tamara Statman.
Sun Devil head coach Trisha Ford knew the Cats were going to hit, but it was what proceeded the long balls that disappointed her.
Mejia walked or hit a batter before each homer making the damage even worse.
“Solo shots don’t tend to hurt you, but when you have people on base that’s when those big innings happen,” Ford said. “They took advantage of some missed pitches for us. I thought Sam threw not bad. That’s what good hitting teams do, they took advantage of our miscues.”
In terms of ASU’s at-bats, it was a long day for the Sun Devils. The sure-fired offense had an off-day against Arizona’s senior lefty Taylor McQuillin. She retired the first 10 ASU batters until senior left fielder Skylar McCarty ended the perfect game with a single. Over the course of those 10 batters, McQuillin struck out seven in a row.
Despite the talent McQuillin has in her left arm, the Sun Devils felt that they beat themselves.
“When you play in someone else’s park you got to set the tone, that first inning I don’t think we set the tone,” Ford said. “Arizona is a great hitting team, but we’re also a great hitting team, so, I expect us to hit the ball hard.”
“I’ve faced her for four years. As a hitter I don’t think you can think like that, you have to think I have to get in the box right now and I’m going to beat you,” said ASU senior third baseman Taylor Becerra on what makes McQuillin tough to face. “She’s really good, but we’re good too. When you step in the box, you can’t have a mentality, ‘oh my gosh, she’s so good, she might beat me.’ You have to step in the box and put the ball in play. Today we were all over the place.”
Becerra had the other of ASU’s two hits and had a couple of nice plays on defense.
“It’s always frustrating as it is being a senior and not ever taking a series against the Wildcats, it sucks,” Becerra said. “We just need to bounce back. We have a lot of new girls, who might not understand how important the rivalry really is. We’ve done it before, lost the first day and comeback the second day and won, so, anyone can beat anyone on any given day.”
The Sun Devils will attempt to even the series on Saturday with first pitch scheduled for 5:00 p.m. and will be aired on the Pac-12 Networks.