There’s a first time for everything. That’s especially true in sports.
And this past weekend was full of first-time opportunities for the Arizona State baseball and softball programs.
Some good, some not so good.
The ‘good’ included the softball team’s sweep of No. 5 UCLA at Westwood, the first time in the program’s history that the No. 9 Devils have recorded a three-game sweep of the Bruins.
ASU got off to a great start in the opening game of the series, as home runs by Kaylyn Castillo, Annie Lockwood, and Katie Crabb propelled the visitors to an 8-5 victory in front of a capacity crowd. Crabb’s fence-buster was a pinch-hit grand slam homer, and Lockwood’s was her 10th of the season, which tied her for 17th on the list of all-time single-season ASU marks.
It was Caylyn Carlson’s turn in the second game for power displays, as she logged her eigth home run of the season in the second inning to help with the 4-2 win. And Lesley Rogers’ single to center field extended her hitting streak to six games. But the final game Sunday was a tight one, as the Devils squeeked out a 2-1 win thanks again to another Lockwood home run.
Hillary Bach took the mound in both the first and third games, extending her record to 17-2.
Meanwhile, over in Pullman, Wash., the baseball team was experiencing one of those not-so-good firsts, dropping its first Pac-10 series of the season to Washington State. It was also a first for the Cougars – the first time they have won a series from the Devils, who were ranked No. 1 in the country coming in. This was the 13th time they’ve tried to accomplish that.
It was chilly at Bailey-Brayton Stadium, but that didn’t stop the Cougars from drawing 5,100 fans for the three-game series. ASU dropped the opener, 6-5, in a heart-breaker that was decided in the bottom of the ninth on a game-winning pinch hit, but recovered to take a 11-7 win in the second game, exploding in the sixth inning for six runs that included a home run by Zack MacPhee and RBIs from Kole Calhoun, Riccio Torrez, Zach Wilson, and Johnny Ruettiger.
The final game Sunday, to give the Cougars the series edge, got off to a bad start as Jake Borup allowed four runs in the first and the Devils never recovered after that. Calhoun had four hits and an RBI in the losing effort, while MacPhee and Deven Marrero each picked up a home run.
But there was some good news for the baseball team after leaving Pullman. The Devils, now 28-3 on the season, managed to maintain its No. 1 ranking in the USA Today/ESPN coaches Top 25, with UCLA in second. However, the Baseball America poll has put UCLA in the top spot and has the University of Arizona ranked No. 5. UofA is No. 21 in the USA Today/ESPN rankings.
The softball team was rewarded for its’ sweep of UCLA with a No. 6 ranking, moving up three notches via the victories. UofA is just ahead at No. 4.
And there is also a bit of extra good news for the Devils baseball team heading toward next weekend, when they host USC. They are 19-0 at home in Packard Stadium.
And the next nine games are at home.
(Photo: ASU Athletics)