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ASU Softball: No. 17 Sun Devils sweep Maryland and Wisconsin

Back on track

Brady Vernon/House of Sparky

Game One vs Maryland

After ending the Mary Nutter Classic on a three-game losing streak, the Sun Devils needed to right the ship. They did just that on Friday. Behind a complete game shutout from Samantha Mejia and an explosive third inning, Arizona State (13-5) run ruled Maryland (6-9) 8-0.

Mejia allowed only four hits to the Terrapins. It appeared she was facing trouble early due to a walk to start the game and then Taylor Okada lined a single into the gap, but a nice throw by Jazmine Hill got Okada out at second. Mejia later stranded the lead runner at third. She also struck out five and didn’t walk another batter the rest of the game.

The Sun Devil bats loaded the bases with no outs in the second inning. Three straight groundouts kept a zero on the board for Maryland. That changed the next time Arizona State went to bat.

Kindra Hackbarth sent out her third home run of the season to open the frame. Maddi Hackbarth, DeNae Chatman and Hill put together hits to bring in three more runs. Kiara Kennedy put the cherry on top with her three-run blast as well. Bella Loomis added a RBI-triple.

Game Two vs Wisconsin

The Badgers put up a better fight, but the result stayed the same. Arizona State (14-5) came out on top 3-1 over Wisconsin (9-7).

“I was interested to see how we were going to respond, and I thought we did a great job” Arizona State coach Trisha Ford said. “We needed this after Mary Nutter.”

It appeared the crowd at Farrington Stadium was in for a pitcher’s duel between the Sun Devils’ Cielo Meza and the Badgers’ Kaitlyn Menz. The two traded scoreless frames for the first three and half innings.

Maddi Hackbarth ended that quickly in the fourth inning. She blasted a solo home run and ejected life into the Sun Devil dugout. The next inning, Loomis dropped her second Bella Bomb of the season to extend the lead to three, all the offense needed for the Sun Devils.

Hackbarth was very energetic rounding the bases, displaying her leadership through her play.

“Having a young team, just going in there and having a quality at-bat is something you have to do in that certain situation,” Hackbarth said. “...This is my last year playing, hitting that home run and having a good day at the plate takes pressure off of me.”

Aside from Wisconsin’s Fiona Girardot’s seventh inning leadoff solo home run, Cielo Meza dealt in the circle. The Badgers had three hits against Meza and she hit one batter.

“Pitching has gotten much better this year. Cielo, Sam, (Madison) Preston, they’ve all taken it upon themselves to make sure we’ve tidy up things,” Ford said. “...We needed Sam to pitch well and Cielo to pitch well, now we have Preston in our back pocket.”

Her defense also helped her out to erase two of the three batters that reached base. Maddi Hackbarth gunned down pinch runner Heather Rudnicki at third and Jazmine Hill stopped another Wisconsin batter, Kayla Konwent this time, from advancing to second on a single.

“Tonight’s game against a very good Wisconsin team, it was a good game from top to bottom,” Ford said. “...It was one of our cleanest games we’ve had up to this point.”

Overall the Sun Devils played two all-around games. Ford is hoping for more of the same on Saturday in Arizona State’s doubleheader against Southern Utah (2:30 p.m. MT) and a rematch against Wisconsin (5:00 p.m. MT).