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ASU Softball: Fielding and offense struggle, Sun Devils salvage Sunday in series vs. No. 17 Arizona

Needed to take at least one from the Wildcats this weekend

Richard Martinez/ House of Sparky

TEMPE - Shortly before the Sun Devils fell to the Wildcats on the basketball court Friday, Arizona (17-7, 2-1 Pac-12) defeated Arizona State (16-5, 1-2 Pac-12) on the softball diamond at Farrington Stadium in Tempe.

The Team from Down South would take another win before ASU stole a victory on Sunday.

Game One, 9-0 Arizona

Coach Megan Bartlett shook things up Friday, and went with Mac Osborne in the circle instead of freshman Kylee Magee. The ASU defense committed four errors on the evening, and Osborne allowed four total runs. Only one of them was earned.

Relievers Kenzie Brown and Deborah Jones each allowed a pair of earned-runs.

“We continue to reiterate to (the pitchers), you have to trust your defense,” Bartlett said. “I mean, that’s the reality of softball at this level, high scoring games are a commonplace. If we just picked the ball up behind her early on, it’s probably a little bit of a different ballgame. We kept the ball in the ballpark, which was a big deal. I mean, that’s a home run-hitting team and they can hit for good power, but at the same time that ball was coming off hot in certain places, and we have to do a better job of that.”

Arizona starter Devyn Netz pitched a complete game with six strikeouts and just one walk.

The Sun Devils recorded four total hits in the series-opener. Two of them came off the bat of Makenna Harper.

Game Two, 11-0 Arizona (F/6)

Not a lot changed from Friday-to-Saturday, and it was clear when Wildcat first-baseman Carli Scupin launched a two-run homer of Marissa Schuld in the first inning. Schuld allowed five earned runs in 1.1 innings of work.

The Sun Devil offensive production was halved in game two. They hit safely just twice all game, with Harper and Alexa Milius both recording hits.

Brown and Jones appeared in-relief again Saturday. Brown allowed six runs (five earned) in four innings, while Jones recorded two outs while suffering no runs.

Game Three, 4-3 Arizona State

Coming of a pair of abysmal performances, Sunday was the perfect time for Magee to match her season-high in innings-pitched. She earned the win in five innings of work, allowing three runs off seven hits.

The Wildcats took a first-inning lead for the third time in the series, but the Sun Devils reclaimed the lead when Jordyn VanHook went deep on a two-run shot to take a 3-2 lead. It was VanHook’s 14th homer of the year, and she recorded her ninth career multi-hit game.

“I think today we just focused on sticking truly to us,” VanHook said. “I feel like in the past two games, we were all depending on that one big hit, and everyone wanted to get that big hit. Today, we took a step back and said, just keep it simple, the hard hits will come and I think that’s exactly what happened today. We all just trusted and leaned on each other.”

Jazmyn Rollin, who also had two hits, homered for the fifth time this season in the fifth inning to extend the Sun Devil lead to 4-2.

In the sixth inning with the score still at 4-2, Arizona loaded the bases with one out. Schuld allowed a base hit, and the Sun Devil lead was cut in half at 4-3. Schuld then went on to record back-to-back outs to escape the inning with the lead intact. She earned the save in the seventh inning.

ASU now improves to 4-0 in one-run games.