Opening game dramatics
Anyone who grew up watching or playing softball “practices” hitting with the bases loaded and your team down by some runs late in a meaningful game. In Arizona State’s 5-2 win over Cal State Fullerton, it was Kristiana Watson who took advantage of the dream scenario with a go-ahead pinch-hit grand slam in the bottom of the sixth.
Watson’s blast was after a *checks notes* nine pitch at-bat where she worked a full count and fouled off three more pitches. At the time, the Sun Devils (40-9) were trailing 2-1 after the Titans (36-21) took the lead in the top half of the inning.
“I was definitely looking for a specific pitch at the beginning (of the at-bat),” said Watson of her approach. “But in a three-two count, I was just trying to keep it simple and drive something hard.”
KRISTIANA WATSON HOW DO YOU DO?!
Watson launches a laser over the fence for a GRAND SLAM to put the Sun Devils back on top in the sixth inning.
— NCAA Softball (@NCAASoftball) May 21, 2022
Before the eventful sixth frame, the Tempe regional nightcap was mostly a pitchers duel. Gilbert native Myka Sutherlin got the ball for the CSF and was solid for five innings, yielding just three hits. The only blemish for Sutherlin was the solo shot she gave up to Yannira Acuna in the third.
For the Sun Devils it was freshman ace Mac Morgan who started in the circle. She went the distance on Friday night, tallying a career-high nine strikeouts in 110 pitches. Morgan allowed just two runs on seven hits without any walks.
“I really just hit my inside spot because I could see that if I got it on their hands, there’s no way they were gonna get it through the infield,” said Morgan, who pitched in her first career regional game. “Tonight felt awesome. It was a great opportunity for me as a freshman to really learn what the feelings are actually gonna be like and learn how to deal with them.”
Fans lining up to get back into Farrington Stadium following game one of the Tempe Regional.@stevens_ash3 and I will have coverage all weekend for @sportscronkite as @ASUSoftball starts postseason play! pic.twitter.com/FCwoZgpPee
— Ricky Weipz (@RWeipz) May 21, 2022
With their first postseason game behind them, the Sun Devils will turn to a matchup against San Diego State at 2 p.m. MST on Saturday. The Aztecs are coming off a win against Louisiana State in the opening round.
“It took us a little while tonight,” said ASU head coach Trisha Ford. “But, you kind of get the monkey off your back. The first one is always the hardest, and then you hopefully come out tomorrow ready to go.”