Pacific-12 Conference-leading Oregon handed the Arizona State softball team its seventh-consecutive defeat, 10-4, Friday at Farrington Stadium, capitalizing on five runs in the top of the fifth. The 25th-ranked Sun Devils (27-17, 3-10 Pac-12) are in danger of falling out of the Top 25 for the first time since 2006 after three-game sweeps to Washington and Utah, while the fifth-ranked Ducks (33-6, 11-2) won their sixth straight.
“If you want to beat the No. 5 team in the country, you better bring your pitching,” ASU interim coach Robert Wagner said. “I thought they fought, that’s all you can ask for. We’ll go get them tomorrow.”
The Sun Devils found an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second on a two-run Katee Aguirre home run to center with no outs, the fifth of the season for the senior catcher. Sashel Palacios scored on the play after singling off the right field fence. Oregon shortstop Nikki Udria (batting .444) answered right back with her 12th home run of the year, scoring Alyssa Gillespie to tie the game.
“We need to set our tone so they know we’re coming out fighting too,” Aguirre said. “If we take the positives off of everything and build off of it, we’ll come around.”
ASU had the chance to take the lead in the bottom of the fourth after loading the bases on a Nichole Chilson hit by pitch with no outs, but the Ducks caught the leadoff runner at home, struck out Chelsea Gonzales, and turned the ground out to short for the third out. It was the top of the fifth when things fell apart for the Sun Devils, allowing five Oregon runs. Leadoff runner Danica Mercado reached third on an overthrow with no outs, then later scored. Two more scored on another error that pushed the batter Udria to third, Breanna Macha was inserted as the new pitcher, and Koral Costa, who leads the conference with a .450 batting average, scored Udria with a double.
Jennifer Soria hit her 12th home run of the season, with no outs to center, scoring Nikki Girard, to bring ASU within 7-4 in the fifth. Janelle Lindvall added a three-run insurance shot in the top of the seventh, the ninth of 2016 for the Oregon senior catcher who is now four behind Kailee Cuico for the program record with 42 career. Geri Ann Glasco (7-0) was named the winning pitcher for Oregon in only one inning of work.
“They have good hitter after good hitter, so you cannot take a break on any kid,” said Dale Ryndak, who picked up the loss on the mound for ASU. “I have to review their stats for each inning. I did OK, but I definitely could have made some better pitches in some bad situations.”
The two teams play again at 7 p.m. Saturday and at 1 p.m. Sunday in Tempe. Prior to Saturday’s game, Katie Burkhart’s uniform number eight will be the first inducted into the team’s Wall of Honor. The pitcher was the 2008 Women’s College World Series Most Outstanding Player and a two-time All-American and Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year.