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ASU Softball: Sun Devils clinch Pac-12 series over Washington, split doubleheader

Got the conference win

Brady Vernon/House of Sparky

Arizona State (19-7, 2-3 Pac-12) and Washington (23-4, 2-2) split Saturday’s doubleheader, with the Sun Devils clinching the Pac-12 series but falling in the non-conference game of the doubleheader.

Game One

Arizona State wasted no time attacking Washington starter Kelley Lynch. The first six batters in the Sun Devil lineup swung at the first pitch they saw.

Kindra Hackbarth sent out a home run on Lynch’s first pitch of the game. Maddi Hackbarth then fouled off the first pitch before lining a single into the outfield for an RBI.

Makenna Harper also jumped on the first offering to her and drove in the third run of the first inning. Lynch’s day was short-lived as her pitches lacked movement and weren’t good enough to fool the Sun Devil bats.

Arizona State never looked back from its fast start and clinched the Pac-12 series with a 6-1 win after the hot start.

Washington coach Heather Tarr replaced Lynch following a solo home run from Bella Loomis to start the second inning.

Hard-throwing freshman Sarah Willis overall had better success, but it didn’t start out that way. Kindra Hackbarth used the pitcher’s velocity to her advantage and blasted her second home run of the day. Hackbarth collected three RBI’s in the win.

“Our plan was to attack strikes early and be on top of the ball,” Kindra Hackbarth said. “I think the team executed that very well, especially in the first couple of innings. Makenna, Bella, Maddi, Jaz, everyone jumped on her pretty quickly and successfully got her out of the game.”

Allison Royalty gave Trisha Ford a quality start in the circle, too. She went after Washington’s lineup for the most part, leading to a lot of weak fly outs.

Royalty had one bad sequence where she allowed back-to-back doubles that led to the only run she surrendered in five innings.

Kindra Hackbarth gave a helping hand in that inning, throwing out Madison Huskey, who had drove in the run, at second base as she tried to stretch her hit into a double.

“(Royalty) is just learning. Across the nation there’s not a whole lot of true freshmen throwing, let alone in the Pac-12,” Ford said. “Royalty is continuing to learn and get better at understanding that at times she’ll need to mix her pitches and there will be times she’ll continually throw at a spot.”

Lindsay Lopez came in at the start of the sixth as Washington had seen a lot of Royalty in the first two games of the series.

Sis Bates and Baylee Klingler singled to start the inning — Halle Harger lost a ball in the sun and it went down as a hit — but Lopez responded nicely.

She rolled back-to-back groundballs, including the inning-ending double play. Lopez then tossed two scoreless innings to close out the game and secure the victory.

Game Two

The Sun Devils did themselves in during the third inning of the second game. Washington capitalized on Arizona State’s mistakes, riding a seven-run frame to a 14-7 win in the non-conference slate of the series.

Cielo Meza couldn’t stop the bleeding in the third inning. She handed out four consecutive free passes to start the frame.

A pair of singles and an error got the wheels turning again for a Washington offense that had struggled for 12 innings up to that point. Jadelyn Allchin put the cherry on top with a grand slam.

Meza threw most of the game in an attempt to soak up some innings as Royalty and Lopez had already thrown most of the first two games and are likely to be used in the series finale. She allowed a total 13 runs, with only seven earned.

Washington’s Morganne Flores, Baylee Klingler and Kelley Lynch all had home runs as well.

Despite the tough game, Arizona State continued to put up a fight throughout. Loomis and Yanni Acuna each had solo home runs, while Jazmine Hill and Alynah Torres both hit two-run blasts in the fifth inning to cut the Washington lead to five.

The two teams play again on Sunday at noon local time as Washington tries to leave Tempe with one Pac-12 win for the standings.