Arizona State softball advances to NCAA Super Regional in win over San Diego State
Arizona State softball closed the job on Sunday when it used its big bats to eliminate San Diego State in an 8-4 win at the NCAA Regional at Farrington Stadium.
The eighth-seeded Sun Devils went undefeated in its host regional, defeating Cal State Fullerton and San Diego State twice to earn the super regional bid. ASU will play No. 9 Northwestern in Tempe in a best-of-three series starting Friday. The winner advances to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.
ASU fell behind by one run in the beginning, but scored six runs and limited SDSU to one run to advance.
“I want this team with me when we go in for battle. I think they are battle-tested. I didn’t have any doubt that we were going to come back. I thought we were seeing the pitches well. San Diego State, hats off to them, what a great regional by them and Fullerton. It was what they told us it was going to be," ASU coach Trisha Ford said.
ASU advanced to the super regional round for the second time under Ford. ASU has reached super regional play nine times since it began in 2005.
True freshman Mac Morgan took the mound for the second time for ASU in the NCAA Regional and worked through early bumps in her start with two home runs from SDSU in the first two innings. Morgan shut it down in the remainder of the game, giving up three hits and one additional run. Morgan pitched her second complete game of the regional and allowed four earned runs on eight hits.
“Mac throws better when she is tired. When she is amped up, her ball and straight and hard. I think as she gets tired, her ball tends to have seven or eight inches of break versus the five to six, that’s a big difference,” Ford said.
After going without a home run in yesterday’s offensive showcase, both ASU and SDSU only scored from the longball in the first three innings.
SDSU designated hitter Mac Barbara started the slugfest in the second at-bat of the game with a solo shot to right field. ASU responded in the bottom of the inning with Cydney Sanders launching a two-run home run to left center. The freshman became the school record holder for the most home runs in a single season.
SDSU took the lead in the second when Alexa Schultz hit a two-run home run for a 3-2 lead.
ASU didn’t respond until the third inning when Jazmine Hill went deep to right field for a three-run home run to get the 5-3 lead.
“She’s had to protect Cyd all year and I think she’s done a great job. I always say, 'Now what are you doing to do? You have Jaz. You got a 1-2 punch, have fun with it.' I think that’s what makes us hard as a lineup. Em (Cazares) has done a great job in that five hole and so has JR (Jazmyn Rollin). It’s just continuing to put pressuring on defenses,” Ford said.
Hill overcame last season’s heartbreak when ASU was eliminated in the second day of its host regional.
“Last (year) definitely stung a little bit, but obviously this year we have a different chemistry. Just playing behind each other, I think that helps a lot. It’s bringing us to where we are now,” Hill said.
The Aztecs used three pitchers in the game, going with Allie Light as the starter. Light went 3.0 innings with five runs on five hits and two strikeouts.
ASU took advantage of mistakes from SDSU pitcher Maggie Balint in the fourth when she came in to relieve Light. Pinch hitter Jazmyn Rollin and Jessica Puk both were hit by pitches in the first two batters she faced. Bella Loomis bunted in the following at-bat and cleared the bases on a throwing error by Light. Yanni Acuña brought in Loomis with a sacrifice fly for an 8-3 lead.
Balint finished with three runs on one hit in 2.2 innings pitched. Dee Dee Hernandez pitched in the sixth and didn't allow any hits.
SDSU catcher Danielle Romanello chipped at the lead with an RBI single in the sixth to cut the deficit to 8-4.
Morgan was lights out in the final inning, causing a groundout, flyout, and a groundout to shut down SDSU's potent offense.
Grand Canyon kicked off Saturday night's Los Angeles Regional elimination game with a five-run first inning but could not hold the lead to extend their season. Ole Miss ended the Lopes' season with nine unanswered runs for a 9-5 Rebels win at Easton Stadium. It was the Lopes' NCAA Division I tournament debut.