The 2018 Women’s College World Series didn’t get off to the start that Arizona State or Oklahoma had hoped it would. After each team suffered opening round losses they are slated to play one another in the first elimination game of the tournament.
While we find ourselves being pretty familiar with the Sooners, we could probably stand to learn a thing or two about the Sun Devils before the first pitch is thrown at 11:00 tomorrow morning. Helping us to do just that is Brady Vernon from House of Sparky. Huge thanks to Brady for taking some time away from his WCWS experience to answer some questions for us.
HS: With the Pac 12 making up half the field in Oklahoma City there’s no denying the strength of the conference. In what areas is ASU similar to Oregon and Washington?
BV: ASU Head Coach Trisha Ford has talked about the Pac 12 being so good, being the reason the Sun Devils are so prepared for the postseason. I think that Washington and Arizona State are more comparable. The pitching duos of G Juarez and Breanna Macha are similar of Gabbie Plain and Taran Alvelo in terms of talent.
The Husky and Sun Devil offense is similar in that they don’t rely on the home run ball as much. ASU likes playing small ball and putting pressure on the defense to make plays.
Oregon and ASU are different in the aspect that I believe the Ducks’ pitching duo is better and Oregon has more power in their lineup.
HS: Oklahoma was held at bay by Washington pitcher Gabbie Plain. What can Sooners fans expect from the Sun Devils pitching staff?
BV: I’d guess the Senior Breanna Macha will get the start against the Sooners. Macha is more of a down-baller who gets a lot of ground outs. She’s pitched very well for the Sun Devils the last 6 or so weeks. But I’d assume she’ll be on a tight leash because despite G Juarez’s performance against Oregon on Thursday she’s been the most important player on the roster for ASU. So I’d doubt Coach Ford would go down without using her best pitcher.
It’d also might help the Sun Devils if both Macha and Juarez are used. They work well with each other because Juarez is more of a rise-baller that compliments Macha.
HS: Arizona State seemed to have some struggles in the field during their opener against Oregon. Were those WCWS first game jitters or are there some ongoing issues in the field.
BV: The Sun Devils have had defensive issues this season. Although, that was closer to the beginning of the season. There were some first game jitters for sure because ASU is the least experienced team in Oklahoma City.
Arizona State should bounce back though, watch for shortstop Jade Gortarez, second baseman Marisa Stankiewicz and right fielder Kindra Hackbarth as all have a knack for making great defensive plays.
HS: ASU showed their power from the plate in the opener. How do you feel about the match-up against OU’s pitching?
BV: The Sun Devils aren’t a crazy power hitting team. Designated player DeNae Chatman has had a power surge of late, although she’s one of the only ones in the lineup to be a threat in every at-bat. To beat OU, they’ll need home runs, but look for them to play small-ball like Washington did and attempt to manufacture runs. The first three hitters in the ASU lineup; Kindra Hackbarth, Taylor Becerra and Morgan Howe can and will drop down a bunt to use their speed. Keeping them on base for the power of the lineup in Chatman, Marisa Stankiewicz and Danielle Gibson is a main key for the Sun Devils.
HS: Arizona State lives to play on Saturday night if…
BV: They stick to their plan and play Sun Devil softball. Whether it be G Juarez or Breanna Macha in the circle, the defense might play much better behind them than they did against Oregon. Arizona State relies a lot on getting the big time hit when they need it. The Sun Devils may not be the most talented team in the WCWS, but they’ll fight to the last out. As long as they succeed at every faucet of the game against Oklahoma they’ll keep their underdog journey going.