Alana Vawter kept the Sun Devil lineup off balanced all night long. The mix of upper 60s mph pitches paired with her changeup and dropball was a recipe for a long night for Arizona State (22-10, 4-6 Pac-12).
Behind Vawter’s performance in the circle and a four-run second inning, Stanford (23-8, 4-3 Pac-12) won 6-2 for its first victory over the Sun Devils in 13 tries.
Vawter, the Stanford ace, hasn’t established herself as one of the best pitchers in the Pac-12, but might be on her way.
The sophomore right-hander retired 12 straight to end the game. She only struck out seven Sun Devils, but aside from Kindra Hackbarth and Yanni Acuna, there were not a lot of hard hit balls from Arizona State.
“We worked all week on dropball and changeup and we just didn’t execute our plans at the plate,” Kindra Hackbarth said. “It showed on the field that we weren’t adjusting soon enough and quick enough.”
Hackbarth finished 1-for-3 at the plate but hit another ball really hard for an out. Acuna has continued earn the designated player spot with another pair of hits against the Cardinal.
The Sun Devils had their chances. In the second inning, Jazmine Hill doubled in a run and put runners at second and third with no outs. Vawter then induced a pop up and two strikeouts to escape the jam.
Alynah Torres singled in Hackbarth in the fourth. Acuna followed with her own single and it appeared Torres was on her way to score.
However, a quality throw from Stanford center fielder Taylor Gindlesperger got Torres out at the plate. The Arizona State coaching staff argued for obstruction to no avail.
Lindsay Lopez allowed 10 hits and four earned runs as Arizona State’s starting pitcher. However, she didn’t really get tattooed. Most of the Cardinal’s hits were infield singles or groundballs that found holes.
The bigger issue for ASU was that for the first five innings, Stanford’s leadoff batter reached base. Four of those five were either given a free pass or got to first base after an Arizona State error.
Lopez stopped the bleeding in every inning except the second. There, Stanford scored four runs with two outs. Teaghan Cowles snuck a single through the right side for an RBI, and Eleni Spirakis drove a line drive over Lopez’s head into the outfield.
Aly Kaneshiro also plated a run. Spirakis was the lone player to hit the ball hard multiple times as she also homered in the fourth.
Overall, the Sun Devils lacked energy. Stanford roared about every single or out it got. One team seemed to want the contest more than the other.
“I felt like we didn’t come ready to play at all today,” Arizona State coach Trisha Ford said. “We have to bounce back and get back out there tomorrow. I thought they were grittier than we were. They didn’t hit a lot of balls hard, but they put them in play and move runners. We just didn’t respond.”
The teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday with the first game starting at 2:00 p.m. local time.