No. 20 Arizona State was perfect on Sunday afternoon closing out a sweep against in-state rival, No. 14 University of Arizona.
Senior pitcher, Marissa Schuld, painted zeros across the Wildcats side of the scoreboard, needing only 58 pitches to complete her first collegiate perfect game. Perhaps it was poetic that the pinnacle of her pitching career thus far came against her former team, as Schuld spent two seasons in Tucson before transferring to Tempe last year.
The Sun Devils set the stage early scoring two runs in the top of the first inning. Freshman Cydney Sanders singled to right field to score Alynah Torres from third after she lead the game with a single to left. Jazmyn Rollin was then faced with loaded bases where she secured her 25th RBI of the season.
The Sun Devils now have 199 RBIs in their historic season. With 18 games left, they are now on pace to achieve eclipse their 310 RBIs from 2021.
There were questions about how quickly this team would gel this season with the departure of cornerstones Maddi Hackbarth, Kindra Hackbarth, and Cielo Meza. Consider this 14th consecutive victory an emphatic answer that this Sun Devil team remains stronger than the sum of its parts.
One thing that was certain as the Sun Devils headed into this season was their depth in the circle. Schuld had to redshirt last season due to the in-conference transfer rules but has come out hot this year.
Coming into Sunday, Schuld led the team with a 1.32 ERA and blew batters away with 71 strikeouts. But even with those high strikeout rates, Schuld’s only retired two batters that way against Arizona. This perfect game was a true team effort.
Schuld and her defense took out the side of the Wildcats lineup to start the journey to be perfect.
The second stayed quiet as both teams failed to score.
In the third, Rollin’s second at-bat resulted in her 10th home run of the season on a lined shot out of the yard. Sophomore Emily Cazares wasted no time and joined the home run party with her own solo shot to center to make it 4-0.
Schuld got her first of two strikeouts to lead off the bottom of the third and retired two more Wildcats on popouts to end the inning.
The Sun Devils’ offense stayed red hot as Yannira Acuña homered and Sanders fired a bullet into the left-field corner for her 10th bomb of 2022.
The Sun Devils have hit a total of 56 home runs this season, which has silenced those who believed the team lost all their power with the graduates from last season.
Back in the circle for the bottom of the fourth Schuld had a repeat inning as she struck out the leadoff then forced two flyouts from the No. 14 Wildcats.
The Sun Devils headed into the top of the fifth with a 6-0 advantage as they looked to score at least two more runs to put their pitcher, Schuld, into prime winning conditions.
Graduate transfer Jessica Puk and Sophomore Savannah Price hit back-to-back singles to the start of the fifth. Torres then doubled to left to score Puk. Acuña grounded out to second, but still earned her sixth RBI of the season as Price scored from third.
Schuld took the circle for what could be considered one of the biggest half innings of her life with an 8-0 lead and a perfect performance thus far. With the work of her teammates, she forced two infield groundouts and a final fly out to left-field to toss the eighth perfect game in Sun Devil history and the first since February 2017 by Dale Ryndak.
After a successful sweep of the Wildcats, the Sun Devils have now won 14 straight and are 25-5 overall and 6-0 in the Pac-12.
This sweep was a departure from the historical context of the rivalry, long controlled by the Wildcats. At the start of the weekend, the Sun Devils were 24-33 against the Wildcats over the history of their matchups.
With the 8-0 victory on Sunday, Arizona State outscored Arizona 28-2 with a 9-2 win on Friday, an 11-0 win Saturday.
The Sun Devils stay on the road as they travel to Eugene, Oregon to take on the No. 12 Oregon Ducks. The three-game series is set to start Friday, April 8 at 7 p.m., MST.