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ASU Softball: Sun Devil freshmen lead the way in win over Maryland

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Freshmen coming up big

Photo Courtesy: Sun Devil Athletics

10 different Sun Devils recorded hits, and No. 17 Arizona State (16-6) put up 16 runs to take down Maryland (8-10) by a final of 16-2 in five innings on Sunday afternoon to wrap up the Sun Devil Classic.

Coming off a Saturday split that included a 10-1 loss to Wisconsin, ASU tapped the reset button and came in with a renewed sense of energy against the Terps, and it led them to a blowout win.

“You have to learn from those types of games and that obviously puts a chip on our shoulder,” said senior outfielder Kindra Hackbarth. “But we just had to drop it. You learn from it, you drop it, and it’s a new day. Life’s too short. You just have to pick up and keep on going.”

Indeed, Hackbarth kicked off the new day from the moment she stepped in the batter’s box on Sunday. To lead off the first inning, she laced a line drive straight up the middle into center field and from there, the rest of the team followed suit.

The Sun Devils put up two runs in the opening frame, and Hackbarth had yet another strong day at the office. The All-American went 2-3 with two RBI’s, and the runs continued to pour in.

ASU dropped three runs in the second, six in the third, and five in the fourth to put the run rule into effect early on.

“When we are successful and when we are clean and tidy with our strike zone, then good things happen,” said coach Trisha Ford of the offensive outburst. “If we chase, then we are in trouble. I thought today we did a much better job of being on time and hunting our pitches and having a plan. It was those types of things that we did much better.”

Among a list of notable standouts, freshman outfielder Jazmine Hill was 2-2 with a home run and three RBI’s, sophomore outfielder Makenna Harper had two hits and an RBI, and senior catcher Maddi Hackbarth had two RBI’s.

Those players all contributed to the hit parade, but perhaps the biggest spotlight of the day was shined on a few players who came in to pinch hit off the bench for Ford’s team.

Both freshmen Jordyn Vanhook and Lindsay Lopez went deep to record the first collegiate home runs of their careers.

Vanhook got a ball over the plate and lifted it over the center field wall in the fourth, then two batters later, Lopez followed in the footsteps of her freshman counterpart and bombed another ball to center.

Standing next to each other during their postgame media session, the duo discussed their special day, including a great memory for Lopez with family watching.

“As soon as I rounded first base and saw that disappear over the fence, I was very excited,” Lopez said. “It couldn’t have been better timing because my grandparents were in town.”

As for Vanhook, she didn’t know the ball was leaving the yard until touching down on first base, much to the delight of assistant coach Carly Wynn.

“The moment I knew it was gone was when I was rounding first and Coach Wynn was like, ‘Yeah!’” Vanhook said. “It honestly felt amazing and it was pretty cool to round the bases and see my teammates cheering me on.”

In addition to the duo, freshman shortstop Alynah Torres helped burst open the scoring when she belted her team-leading eighth home run to left field.

It was a two-run shot, and Torres finished with three RBI’s hitting out of the cleanup spot. She continues to impress in the early non-conference season, along with her freshman companions.

“I love my teammates’ success and every time they do something good, I love it,” Torres said. “They also played on my club ball team so I know what they can do and to see it at the college level, it’s awesome. I loved it.”

And among one final first-year performance, freshman pitcher Morgan Leinstock came on in relief of senior Cielo Meza to pitch the final two innings.

She faced 11 hitters and struck out three in her collegiate debut, rounding out a strong showing for the faces of the future for the program.

“The freshmen are coming in and almost all of them have home runs now,” Kindra Hackbarth said. “I am happy for them and they deserve it. They work their butts off every practice and coming into the game as a pinch-hitter, it’s not easy either. They have to be ready and they are taking information from all of us, and they are definitely doing their job.”