The question isn’t about whether or not Maddi Hackbarth breaks the Arizona State single-season home run record, but rather the new number she sets it at.
The fifth-year catcher smashed a pair of home runs in No. 11 Arizona State’s (17-1) 7-4 win over Baylor (10-4) on Thursday.
Hackbarth essentially started and ended the scoring for her team. In the first, she tattooed a ball off her former travel ball teammate and Baylor ace Gia Rodoni to tie the game at one.
After Arizona State finally broke through against Rodoni in the fourth, the Bears tasked Sidney Holman-Mansell to face Hackbarth with two runners on. It was the same result. Hackbarth sent out a three-run home run to extend the lead to five.
“This is the most locked in I’ve been. I’m seeing the ball really well,” Hackbarth said. “I’ve just made adjustments from at-bat to at-bat, or even during the at-bat. I feel pretty locked in right now. We’re savages, we’re just there to do some damage.”
It wasn’t just the offense for the high energy player. Her part in a strike’em out, throw’em out double play to end Baylor’s fourth inning seemed to take part in the momentum swing, and maybe the little finger waggle added to it as well.
Hackbarth has all-around become one of the best players in the country.
“You’ve really seen the progression of Maddi. She’s put in a lot of work. This is all her work,” Sun Devil head coach Trisha Ford said.
The fourth inning was huge for Arizona State in a sequence tha tfeatured it all. Once the first two hitters reached, Brittany Holland was asked to drop down a sacrifice bunt due to the lack of offense against Rodoni. It certainly helped as the Sun Devils went on to score six runs.
Bella Loomis forced the shortstop into a tough play that brought home the tying run. Jazmine Hill hit the top of the wall for a two-run double and then set the stage for Hackbarth’s second home run.
Allison Royalty nearly went the distance in the circle. In 6.2 innings, she allowed four runs on five hits and struck out eight.
Her line looked a bit different before a two-run home from Baylor catcher Zadie LaValley with two outs in the seventh. Cielo Meza closed down the threat to strike out the only batter she faced.
“She did a really good job,” Ford said of Royalty’s outing. “We worked both sides of the plate today...The last inning, we just need to finish...She’s upset with herself, but I thought she threw a really good game. She’s going to get better and learn from this.”
The two teams match up again on Sunday at 10:00 a.m. MT.