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ASU Softball: Sun Devils’ inconsistencies reappear versus New Mexico State

Friday night was a low on the rollercoaster

Brady Vernon

Sun Devil coach Trisha Ford felt that she sounded like a broken record. Following another Arizona State (17-7) loss, Ford seemed to share the same message with the media that she had in previous defeats this season.

“We just didn’t come ready.”

The theme of the 2020 campaign for the Sun Devils thus far has been following up a great performance with a poor one. After Friday night’s 2-0 loss to New Mexico State (12-7), Ford let her team know about her feelings about the ups and downs.

“I went out there and I said ‘I’m tired of saying this and I’m sure you’re tired of hearing this. At some point you guys have to drive this bus. What do you want this season to look like? You guys have to come out every single night, every pitch counts, anybody can beat anybody,” Ford said. “And we’re taking things for granted...We panicked in some situations, we were swinging at ball four. It’s not who we are.”

Ford shared her displeasure that her team only had five hits, and that’s nothing against the quality of Aggie pitchers Analise De La Roca and Felicia De La Torre, but rather knowing the talent in Arizona State lineup.

Center fielder Kindra Hackbarth said De La Roca, who allowed just four hits over 5.1 innings, had a slow and multi-part windup that disrupted the Sun Devil bats’ timing. Although, she was honest in saying that there was no excuse for the shutout loss. Hackbarth, a senior leader, discussed Ford’s message and the players taking it upon themselves to right the ship.

“I felt the coaches did everything for us to be prepared. We didn’t take it and roll with it,” Hackbarth said. “We need to believe in ourselves more...It’s hard to keep hearing coach Ford talk to us back-and-forth, back-and-forth. We just need to show up better.”

Hackbarth had two hits against New Mexico State, each time putting herself in scoring position — once with a double, then a bunt single and a stolen base — but never reached home. The common theme for the Sun Devils that went a combined 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

Maddi Hackbarth walked in attempt to start a one-out rally in the sixth inning. DeNae Chatman followed her by hitting a double. With the Sun Devils looking prepared to make a comeback, New Mexico State decided to switch De La Roca for De La Torre, and it worked flawlessly. De La Torre struck out Alli Tatnall and Kiara Kennedy on full counts to strand the runners.

“If you lose, you lose. Things don’t go your way, that happens, that’s the game. But (Friday) that’s not who we are, that’s not my team out there,” Ford said. “That’s what I told them, ‘We need to figure out how to string some hits together.’ We got some hits, we got some runners on base and we’re not getting that hit when we need it.”

Madison Preston and Samantha Mejia did their part on the pitching side to keep their team in the game. The Aggies put together runs in on Preston in the fourth and the fifth. New Mexico State catcher Shelby Shultes lined a ball hard that ended up as an error to bring in one run and designated player Matalasi Faapito’s single plated another. Each run came with two outs. Meanwhile, Mejia struck out all six batters she faced.

The Sun Devils have a short time to refresh and restart as they’ll play two on Saturday. Starting against Nebraska at 4:30 p.m. MT and Lehigh at 7:00 p.m. MT, but a new day doesn’t mean Ford is ready to let go of the loss to New Mexico State.

“I’m confident they’ll shake it off and come ready tomorrow but this one is going to hurt. That’s what we’re not getting, is every game counts.”