Arizona State (2-0) returned to Farrington Stadium on Thursday, sweeping a doubleheader against BYU (0-2).
The Sun Devil bats started slow out of the gates, but a solid pitching performance kept them in the game on their way to a 7-2 win to start the season.
Cielo Meza controlled BYU’s bats for the majority of the contest. Aside from a pair of solo home runs from the Cougars Violet Zavodnik and Martha Epenesa, Meza constantly created swing and misses. In her six innings of work, she struck out 11 batters.
“(Meza) pounded the zone pretty good. She kicked off a bit of rust that she had,” ASU head coach Trisha Ford said. “She was excited to get back on the mound and competing. She did a great job of bouncing back.”
The high-powered Sun Devil lineup had a different day than usual. Extra base hits were hard to come by, but Makenna Harper’s two-run home run in sixth highlighted the first game’s offense.
MAKENNA HARPER— Sun Devil Softball (@ASUSoftball) February 11, 2021
First ASU HR of the season pic.twitter.com/UZBvYDx5rP
Instead of fireworks and homers, ASU played a lot of small ball and station-to-station softball.
ASU scored four runs in the fourth to separate themselves from BYU. Off of four singles, the Sun Devils put the pressure on the Cougars.
Kindra Hackbarth singled and stole a base before scoring on a wild pitch. Jazmine Hill singled up the middle with the bases loaded, and another run scored on a poor throw by Cougar pitcher Autumn Moffat-Korth.
On Hill’s steal attempt, an errant throw brought in the fourth run of the frame.
Arizona State needed the heroics of its veterans in the second game. Alli Tatnall came up clutch once again in her Sun Devil career. In the eighth inning, she launched a walk-off home run to top the Cougars 7-5.
Entering the seventh, ASU trailed by three entering the bottom frame. And of course, it was Kindra and Maddi Hackbarth who led the rally. Kindra’s double got the scoring going and Maddi tied the game by singling in her sister.
WONDER TWINS STRIKE AGAIN— Sun Devil Softball (@ASUSoftball) February 12, 2021
TIE GAME pic.twitter.com/8VMGCvJt4V
“They’ve been there and done that,” Ford said. “(Tatnall) is our walk-off queen. She’s done this time and time again...Maddi comes up clutch, Kindra starting the inning and (Tatnall) finishing it. They’ve just been in those situations.”
ALLI 'WALKOFF' TATNALL pic.twitter.com/JJzk1rZzHq— Sun Devil Softball (@ASUSoftball) February 12, 2021
Freshman pitcher Allison Royalty made quite the debut as well. After closing out the first game, she provided scoreless innings, including a zero in the eighth inning.
“She did a tremendous job. She’s somebody that I think will be a top pitcher. It’s better to put her in pressure situations early,” Ford said. “That’s what she came here for, to compete against the best and be in those situations.”
Poor fielding plagued Arizona State in the second game. Back-to-back errors set BYU up with multiple scoring chances in the third.
Designated player Bridget Fleener drove in one run on a single and the Cougars got another on a success first and third steal play. The two runs added to BYU’s lead to make in three.
The Sun Devil bats were silent for the first three innings but started to finally put together quality at-bats in the fourth. Maddi Hackbarth led off the inning with a double and eventually scored. Harper blasted her second home run of the day to start the fifth, and the comeback effort was capped off.
Arizona State plays again on Friday against Seattle at 6:00 p.m. MT.