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ASU Softball: Sun Devils clinch first series win over Arizona since 2015, drop non-conference game

The first game was there

Brady Vernon/House of Sparky

Arizona State (27-11, 8-6 Pac-12) took the more important contest in Saturday’s doubleheader against Arizona.

The Sun Devils won the conference game, securing the conference series over Arizona (26-7, 6-4). However, the Wildcats won the second game of the doubleheader in the game that does not count in the conference standings.

Game One

Maddi Hackbarth pumped her fist as Bella Loomis closed her glove for the final out. The monkey had finally been pulled off the Sun Devils’ back.

Arizona State clinched its first series over Arizona since 2015 following an 8-1 win in the first half of Saturday’s doubleheader.

“It felt good to get that win. It felt good to put it on them,” Maddi Hackbarth said. “I know for returners and people who have been here, that was huge for us. It was definitely a monkey off our back to have that feeling that we did it.”

Arizona starting pitcher Mariah Lopez had struggled, allowing home runs coming into this series and the Sun Devil bats took advantage. All of the offense came from four two-run big flies.

Alynah Torres kept her hot bat and blasted a pair of bombs off of Lopez. In her at-bat in third inning, Torres fouled off four straight pitches before lifting a two-run shot over the left field fence.

She then ended Lopez’s outing after she slammed her second home run in the fifth inning to extend the lead to fifth.

“My plan that whole at-bat was to hit a strike and make sure I stay inside on a ball,” Torres said about the swing.

For Torres, she’s spent a lot of her life in Tucson, the home of the Wildcats. She grew up in the state, and to have a huge impact on the rivalry series, she had extra satisfaction.

“It was a really good personal game for me and I’m glad I got the job done today,” she said.

Aside from Torres, Hackbarth started the home run barrage back in the first. Lopez tried to work the outside corner over and over, but the next pitch to Hackbarth caught too much plate.

The Pac-12 leader in home runs sent out her 18th of the season to put her team on the board.

Makenna Harper put the final nail in the coffin shortly after Torres’ second blast. Her seventh home run of the season set the final score.

Allison Royalty and Lindsay Lopez combined to throw a gem in the circle. It wasn’t always the prettiest but the duo limited one of the best lineups to one run.

Royalty once again got the start. Arizona’s first two batters reached to open the game. The true freshman answered right back by setting down the dangerous trio of Dejah Mulipola, Jessie Harper and Sharlize Palacios in order.

Harper won the second at-bat, singling in a run on an 0-2 pitch with two outs in the third. That’d be the lone blemish for Arizona State’s staff in the win. Royalty threw 3.2 innings, using her changeup a lot to produce three strikeouts in crucial moments.

Lopez was inserted once the top of the lineup came up for the third time. She faced little trouble aside from back-to-back singles in the fifth. Lopez cleared that jam as well to close out the game, and the series victory.

Game Two

It was clear that Trisha Ford wanted to use Cielo Meza to try and eat innings to let Royalty and Lopez rest. The Wildcats won 15-1 in the second matchup as Meza struggled with command.

Meza walked nine batters and hit four more. Her first two innings were fine, but the lone mistake was a two-run homer hit by Harper to add to her chase of Lauren Chamberlain’s all-time home run record.

Things fell apart in the third and fourth innings, though. Arizona scored 12 combined runs in that span. The Wildcats finished with seven hits.

Arizona’s Alyssa Denham carried a no-hitter into the final inning, but Mailey McLemore’s bloop single ended that. Alli Tatnall followed her, hitting a triple to score ASU’s lone run.

The two teams meet again on Sunday, with first pitch set for 1 p.m. local time.