It seems like a common theme of this sports year for Arizona State.
First it was basketball losing at the buzzer to Stanford, then baseball giving up an eighth inning lead to Arizona in their respective conference tournaments. However, nothing may have been more shocking than softball’s 8-6 loss on Sunday, in a game that would have sent them to Oklahoma City for the first time since 2018.
The Sun Devils came out of the gate and punched first, something they did in every game of these Super Regionals against No. 9 Northwestern. Despite leading 5-0 after three innings of action, even the largest advantage of the weekend was not enough to keep the Wildcats at bay.
Northwestern would score in every frame after, tallying eight unanswered run on the board going into the last half inning.
Pitcher Danielle Williams threw another complete game for Northwestern. Williams, the Big 10 Pitcher of the Year, totaled 23.1 innings and 430 pitches in the three games this weekend.
“It’s a game of momentum,” head coach Trisha Ford said. “Some of the things that plagued us this season showed up in this game.”
Alynah Torres started the home half of the first with her sixth lead-off homer of the season. Makenna Harper hit an RBI single in the third and Emily Cazares capped off the inning with a three-run shot.
Down 6-5 in the seventh, ASU would yield a pair of two out runs, which gave the Wildcats some separation. Arizona State would only get one hit (RBI single by Cazares in the seventh) over the last four innings of action.
“There’s not really an easy way to go about this,” Ford said. “We had a phenomenal year: Pac-12 champs, the right to host Regionals and Super Regionals. You got to live and learn from it and get better from it.”
This was a historic year for Arizona State. After being picked to finish fifth in the conference, they not only won it, but ranked among the top in the country in every offensive category and crushed the single season program home run record.
There is a lot of promise within the Sun Devil softball program, there is no doubt about that. It was just a rough way to see their season end.