TEMPE - Head coach Megan Bartlett knew before the season started that if her team could play clean defense, it would go a long way.
On Friday night, we almost saw the flip-side of that coin. A two-out error led to three unearned-runs for Iowa State, and the Sun Devils trailed 5-3 after taking an early lead.
“A lot of haymakers get thrown,” Bartlett said. “You win games in the sport with a lot of curved numbers on the scoreboard. If every time that happens against you, your team is going to crumble and back down and get emotionally and mentally defeated, you won’t win a lot of ballgames at a high level.”
Arizona State (9-2) responded with several punches of its own, and clawed back to beat the Cyclones (6-5) 9-5 at Farrington Stadium on Friday.
The Sun Devils jumped to an early lead courtesy of a leadoff home run from Yanni Acuña (2-for-4, 2 RBI). Shortly after, Virginia Tech-transfer Alexa Milius (1-for-3, RBI) and Boston College-transfer Gianna Boccagno (2-for-3, 4 RBI) each added an RBI-single for a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
In the third inning, the Cyclones tallied their five runs of the night, three of which were unearned. Freshman pitcher Kylee Magee did not escape the inning, but just two earned-runs were her responsibility. In 2.2 innings, Magee allowed four hits and three walks while striking out three hitters.
Tulsa-transfer Kenzie Brown came in-relief and tossed 2.1 innings of no-run, one-hit ball. Brown’s ERA drops to 1.45.
“(Brown) was pretty lights-out tonight,” Bartlett said. “(The) kid’s special. She’s working 68-to-70 drop-rise-change, and she’s another one that has done a beautiful job in the middle-reliever role. She just kind of stops the momentum, and I was proud of her. I thought she did great. When that kid starts to believe in herself a little bit more, I think we’re going to have something pretty special.”
Not even a half-inning later, the Sun Devil bats retaliated. Graduate-outfielder Makenna Harper (2-for-4, 2 RBI) blasted a two-run shot to knot the score at 5-5.
In the fifth inning, Boccagno drove in three runs on a homer to extend the lead to 8-5. Acuña added an RBI-single to lock the score at 9-5.
Closer Marissa Schuld finished the game with two innings of scoreless-relief, dropping her ERA to an even-2.00. Because of the four-run lead, she did not receive a save.