It felt like Arizona State (17-6, 0-3 Pac-12) ran into a buzzsaw. Second-ranked UCLA (19-1, 3-0) swept the Sun Devils in the opening weekend of Pac-12 play after the Bruins run-ruled Arizona State 9-0 on Sunday.
It was an uphill battle for ASU from the start. Arizona State starter Allison Royalty didn’t get out of the first inning.
After she loaded the bases on back-to-back walks, Sun Devil coach Trisha Ford decided to put in Lindsay Lopez. The lefty came in to face Maya Brady, who hit a grand slam and her third home run of the season.
Ford left Lopez in for the rest of the five-inning game to take in more Pac-12 experience, as plenty other lineup changes confirmed that. Lopez allowed six earned runs in 3.1 innings and struck out four.
The stars all showed up for UCLA’s lineup. Brady drove in two more runs in the four spot. Bubba Nickles, Rachel Garcia and Aaliyah Jordan had RBIs as well.
Megan Faraimo dominated the Sun Devil lineup once again. Over five innings, she allowed three baserunners — Halle Harger had a single and Makenna Harper singled and walk — and struck out eight batters.
Overall, it was an ugly weekend for the Sun Devils. Alynah Torres, Kindra and Maddi Hackbarth combined for two hits in four games. The pitching struggled against the long ball after they allowed eight home runs.
Not all is lost, though. Back in 2019 when the Bruins won the national championship, UCLA swept Arizona State in Tempe by outscoring them 35-5.
The Sun Devils then went to Alabama that year and nearly stole a regional. For a handful of major contributors, it was their first weekend of conference play in their careers.
Keep in mind that this was also one of the first weekends UCLA had its full roster. Rachel Garcia is a two-time Player of the Year and Faraimo was the best pitcher in the country in 2020.
The Bruin lineup has no easy out one through nine and is a frontrunner for the national title in Oklahoma City once more this season.
At the end of the day, this Arizona State team has battled in games against UCLA and Oklahoma, the clear two best teams in softball.
Ford’s group gets to play the other three top Pac-12 teams, Washington, Oregon and Arizona, at home.
They do have to face Washington’s Gabbie Plain in the next game on March 26, but unlike UCLA, the Huskies don’t have another All-American on their pitching staff.