TEMPE - Contrary to team preseason expectations, Arizona State Softball (15-3) can put up crooked numbers and score runs in bunches.
Friday’s 1-1 doubleheader performance saw ASU’s lone loss of the weekend, but the Sun Devils went on to win all three of their final games in the event, and two of those wins came via run-rule.
ASU outscored Michigan State and Boise State 23-2 in its two games Saturday. In the MSU game, Sun Devil outfielder Jazmine Hill launched a grand slam and finished the game with a total of seven RBI in just three at-bats. Freshman Kylee Magee allowed two runs in two full innings of work, and reliever Kenzie Brown stranded three of Magee’s baserunners in the third inning, saving Magee another three earned runs.
Outfielder Makenna Harper drove in two additional runs, and catcher Sara Kinch added three RBI. ASU won 15-2 in five innings.
After a short intermission, ASU quickly put up two first-inning runs in the Boise State game with a Jazmyn Rollin two-run homer that signaled a heavy-homer game at Farrington. Gianna Boccagno, Yanni Acuña and Jordyn VanHook also homered in an 8-0 effort over the Broncos.
VanHook’ homer was her 12th of the year.
Mac Osborne dominated the circle against Boise State. She allowed just one hit and struck out nine in five innings of scoreless work. Due to the run-rule, her performance was a complete game. Her ERA drops to 2.60
“(The pitchers) get better every time they go out there,” coach Megan Bartlett said. “They’re young, but they have moments, and we had a day of brilliance. They pounded the zone, they all have really good stuff, good moving pitches plus change up. So days we can locate, we’re going to be tough.”
Magee struggled early again in her start against Houston Sunday, and she only finished one full-inning. She allowed four runs, though only two were earned. Even though four runs were awarded to Houston in the first two innings, ASU held a quick 6-4 lead going into the third.
To nobody’s surprise, VanHook launched her 13th homer of the year, and she extended her hitting-streak to 13 games.
Outfielder Emily Cazares also homered in the first, and Acuña went deep for the second time in as many days.
The Sun Devils’s 36 home runs in 18 games puts them on pace to beat last year’s single-season team record of 104 home runs.
Brown and Marissa Schuld combined for six innings of scoreless relief. Brown struck out six Cougars, which is the most strikeouts by a Sun Devil reliever this season. Her ERA drops to 1.15 following multiple strong performances over the weekend.
“I think my coaches definitely help,” Brown said. “They tell me all the time just how good I am and how I just need to spin my pitches to make everything work for me, so trusting that and, again, trusting the defense behind me, it makes it so much easier because I don’t have to hit all my spots.”
- Kylee Magee has the stuff, but she is in need of refinement. This should not come as a surprise to Bartlett or ASU fans, as Magee is receiving spotlight-starts as a true freshman. It is clear that Magee can change speeds confidently in any ball-strike count, but she still straddles the line between controlling and commanding her pitches. She leads the team in starts in the circle, and her ERA only sits at 3.11, but the ASU bullpen bailed her out with runners-on-base in multiple occasions just this weekend. The future of ASU pitching has a lot of time to master her craft.
- On the flip-side of that coin, Kenzie Brown has been a superhero out of the pen. Brown inherited base-runners all weekend, but posted 5.2 innings of scoreless-relief. Her composure is elite, and her strikeout-to-walk ratio is a cool 35-to-13.
- ASU returners Yanni Acuña, Jordyn VanHook and Jazmyn Rollin should not be regretting their decisions to stay in Tempe. All three Sun Devil veterans are hitting over .410 to start the year. They have combined for 24 home runs and 52 RBI on the season.
- Leading the transfer-class is third-baseman Alexa Milius. The Virginia Tech-transfer is hitting .489 on the season in the No. 2 spot in the lineup for ASU. Barlett on her consistency:
“Alexa is one of our most prepared kids. She is a film rat, she goes into each at-bat knowing what pitch she’s hitting on, what she’s hunting and the beauty of Alexa is that she doesn’t try to do too much at the plate. She’s not trying to hit the ball 380 feet, she is trying to get on base and drive balls into gaps. She’s fun to coach.”
The Sun Devils will host in-state rival Arizona (15-6) next weekend at Farrington Stadium in Tempe.