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ASU Softball: Fourth inning explosion powers Sun Devils to 13-5 victory over Cal

A Laser Show Spectacular!

Sun Devil Athletics

If you picked up a tri-folded pamphlet on things to do from the Tempe tourism office on Mill Avenue, you would find some of the top attractions the renowned college town has to offer.

Highlights include Tempe Town Lake, Papago Park, ASU Gammage Theater, and the Mill Avenue district.

One of the top attractions in Tempe will not be listed in that pamphlet or on the website, but it is bringing locals out in droves.

It’s called the laser show, and if you happen upon Farrington Stadium on a weekend where Arizona State softball is playing, there’s a good chance you might see it.

On Saturday night against California (26-22-1, 6-11 Pac-12), the laser show was perhaps at its most spectacular level this entire season for Arizona State (34-7, 15-2) in a run-rule 13-5 victory over the Golden Bears.

As the season has gone on, and the Sun Devils have proven themselves to be not only one of the best, but one of the most entertaining, in the Trisha Ford era.

When the Sun Devils hit home runs in 2022, they often don’t leave the yard with towering grace. Instead, these home runs are screamers that take on the aura of Bullet Bill from Mario Kart, rocketing out of the ballpark in seconds.

In their explosive, game-defining fourth inning, the Sun Devils put on another marvelous laser show. The team hit three home runs, one of which was a roaring pop and a grand slam from Jazmyn Rollin, to fly past a 2-0 deficit and leave the inning with an 11-2 advantage.

“Honestly, I have no idea where the ball even went today,” Rollin said about her completely schooled grand slam in the fourth inning. “I just hit it, and threw my bat. But off the bat I knew it was going out.”

If there was ever any question about where the Sun Devils’ confidence stood after dropping two out of three games to Stanford last weekend for their first losses of conference play, consider Rollin’s slam and subsequent bat-flip a statement answer. That bat is likely still flipping in the air above home plate as this recap is being written.

For the second-straight night, the Sun Devils were powered by a giant number in a single inning. On Friday night, the Sun Devils rolled a seven-run inning in the second. Their sequel was 11 runs in the fourth on Saturday. If this was craps, they’d be winners on a natural both times.

“It’s kind of who we are, and what we’ve done this whole year,” head coach Trisha Ford said after the game. “I think we did a really good job of executing. They were patient, they got pitches over the plate, we took our walks when we needed to take our walks and we got big hits when they needed big hits.”

Entering the fourth inning, the Sun Devils were in need of a big hit. In the first three frames, the Sun Devils had plated zero runs and gotten only two runners on base as Golden Bears’ starter Haylei Archer calmly worked through the Sun Devil lineup.

“She was making good pitcher’s pitches,” Rollin remarked on Archer’s early performance. “Later in the game we decided to wait, because she’s going to bring one over the plate, every pitcher does.”

For a team that entered the weekend ranked eight in scoring, (6.92 runs per game) this was a departure from normal business. It had been since April 9th against Oregon that a team had shutout the Sun Devils through three innings.

Mac Morgan, who entered the game looking to bounce back from her second loss of the season against Stanford, wasn’t in peak form against the Bears from the first pitch.

The freshman gave up a leadoff single to Makenna Smith to open the game, and allowed two runs on two hits in the top of the third as Cal got out to a 2-0 lead.

“Definitely not my best game,” Morgan said. “I feel like I have a lot more growth to go and I’m ready to bring it out the rest of the season.

But as she has done throughout the year, Morgan battled. A scoreless inning in the fourth set the table for an offensive feast.

In one of the few obstacles of the night, team batting average leader Yannira Acuña was hit by a pitch in the fourth inning that put the right fielder in obvious pain. After an extended check from the training staff at first base, Acuña remained in and finished the contest.

Asked if the bruise would keep her out of the lineup for Sunday, Ford smiled and stated “No.”

The Sun Devils will aim for their fifth sweep in Pac-12 play in six tries in Sunday’s matinee. The laser show has now featured 81 home runs on the season after the three-homers-in-the-fourth exhibition Saturday night.

“It was huge for us, it’s a huge momentum builder,” Ford said of the victory. “Obviously, to come home and feel comfortable and kind of get our groove back going. Every game right now is a big game. We just got to take it one pitch, and one game, and hopefully tomorrow it’s in our favor.”

First pitch will 12 p.m., MST from Farrington Stadium.