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ASU Softball: Sun Devils take home a victory on Senior Day

Emotional Sunday capped off with a victory

Richard Martinez/House of Sparky

Arizona State senior outfielder Skylar McCarty stepped to the plate with a two-run lead in the seventh inning of her final home game at Farrington Stadium.

The crowd rose to its feet and started a chant of “Let’s go Skylar,” for the Peoria product. With nobody on base, the noise level rose. McCarty found herself down with two strikes. After fouling off a couple pitches, she deposited a ball right through the middle of the infield.

The fourth-year Sun Devil had a hit in her final at-bat at her home ballpark. It would be a part of an ASU (30-18, 10-11 Pac-12) victory over Cal (28-27, 5-18 Pac-12).

“The first thing that popped into my mind (in that moment) is not everybody gets to do this,” McCarty said. “Not everybody gets to hear their name chanted in their last at-bat. It was awesome.”

The at-bat would be one of a couple special moments on Sunday’s senior day festivities. To start the final inning, senior Morgan Howe and McCarty led off the frame. Howe received the same chant and ovation that McCarty got. She flew out, but the moment was still something special.

On that same token, senior third baseman Taylor Becerra, who suffered a career-ending ACL tear last week, was given a curtain call out of the dugout by the Sun Devil faithful.

“You talk about a selfless player, that’s Taylor Becerra,” head coach Trisha Ford said. “She kept her cool and she did everything for the team. She’s just that team player and it’s never been about her and her stats and what she’s doing. It’s how do I get this team better...I got a little choked up when we told her to get out on that step and say goodbye to our fans.”

Thus, an emotional senior day that was anticipated took place. The senior ceremony took place after the game. But prior to that, business had to be taken care of for the Devils.

They did so courtesy of big days from the heartbeat of their lineup. Offensively, sophomore first baseman Denae Chatman had a two-homer game, with a three-run shot coming in the first inning and a two-run homer coming in the bottom of the sixth.

She accounted for five RBI’s, and in addition to Chatman, junior right fielder Kindra Hackbarth was 4-4 with three RBI’s. Ford credited Hackbarth’s success to pitch selection and looking for her pitch.

“When Kindra calms down, she’s fine...My saying with her is, ‘Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,’” Ford said. “Just because you can hit that ball doesn’t mean you should swing at that ball. She did a much better job today of zoning down and getting a good pitch. You could tell she was hunting for pitches today instead of just swinging at the ball.”

Among others, Howe was 3-4 with three singles on her big day.

In the circle, junior Cielo Meza was sharp early on. She ended up going five innings while allowing four earned runs before giving way to fellow junior Sam Mejia to close things out.

Meza’s biggest moment of the day came in a bases loaded, two-out situation. After leading 7-0, Cal had cut into the Devils’ lead by dropping three runs. Cal catcher Makena Smith, who had already blasted two home runs on the weekend, was walked wtih two runners on to put the bases full of Golden Bears.

With the tying run at the plate, Meza rallied from a 3-ball count to come back and strikeout Cal sophomore third baseman Karlee Sparacino. The pitch helped keep ASU’s lead in tact and avoided a momentum shift.

“I thought she did a great job of making some big pitches,” Ford said. “That bases loaded strikeout was huge and C (Cielo) is a strikeout pitcher and she got some big ones when we needed them. I think we are going to use her more so I think the more innings she starts to get as we get ready for the postseason, the better.”

Cal would trim ASU’s lead down to two runs, but Hackbarth had an RBI double in the sixth, then Chatman had her second big fly to deliver the knockout punch.

ASU’s offense shut the door and delivered a memorable senior send off for three Sun Devils who have given a lot to the program over the last couple years.

They take with them a run to the Women’s College World Series from last year, and they will look to make one final push as the a run to the postseason nears. But for now, they will enjoy their last game played at Farrington.

The Sun Devils wrap up the regular season next week for a three-game set at Oregon.

“Our juniors and our underclassmen took such great care of us,” Howe said. “It was hard to kind of keep the emotions down and just play the game. Thinking about that stuff and kind of trying not to make it bigger than what it was is kind of what went into today. But it was a good day - It was a great day.”