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Arizona softball capitalizes on strong outing by Devyn Netz, ASU errors to dominate in Pac-12 opener

Arizona softball freshman Olivia DiNardo takes batting practice in preparation for Pac-12 opener against Arizona State.
Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

No. 22 Arizona State came into the opening weekend of Pac-12 play with a suspect defense. The Sun Devils had committed 20 errors and given up 24 unearned runs in 18 games coming into Friday’s matchup against No. 17 Arizona. That tendency showed its face again in the Wildcats’ dominant 9-0 victory in Tempe.

ASU committed four errors and had another play that was initially called an error later changed to a hit. The defensive miscues gifted Arizona four of its nine runs.

That wasn’t the only deciding factor, though. The Sun Devils offense, which includes NCAA home run leader Jordyn VanHook, couldn’t get much going against Arizona ace Devyn Netz, either.

Netz pitched her sixth complete game of the season. She gave up four hits and one walk while striking out six. She also hit one batter. She dropped her ERA from 2.08 to 1.67 and improved her record to 8-5 with the outing.

The Wildcats were able to get baserunners with regularity. They had 10 hits and five walks. Third baseman Blaise Biringer was also hit by a pitch.

The threats came from up and down the Arizona lineup. Biringer, Allie Skaggs, and Izzy Pacho all had multi-hit games. Skaggs continued her hot hitting by going 2 for 3 and drawing a walk. Reigning NFCA Player of the Week Olivia DiNardo went 1 for 2 at the plate and walked twice. Paige Dimler only got one hit in her four at-bats, but she was responsible for two RBIs and scored a run.

The Skaggs walk got the scoring started in the top of the first inning. ASU starting pitcher Mac Osborne started things off with a strikeout of Jasmine Perezchica, but things started to go off the rails right after that. Osborne hit Biringer then walked Carlie Scupin on four straight pitches. DiNardo got her only hit of the day to load the bases for Skaggs. Osborne once again issued a walk on four straight, forcing in the Wildcats’ first run.

ASU couldn’t respond, as Netz set the tone with a 1-2-3 bottom of the first.

Arizona continued inflicting death by a thousand cuts on ASU, putting one run on the scoreboard in each of the first five innings. The runs in the second, third, and fourth innings were all unearned.

The Sun Devils pitchers finally put up a zero in the bottom of the sixth, but the relief was temporary. Arizona came up in the top of the seventh and really broke it open.

Once again it started with a walk, this one drawn by DiNardo to lead off the top of the final inning. Netz helped herself with the one-out single to put two on with one out. Pacho followed with a single of her own to load the bases.

Dimler found a great time to get her only hit of the game. A double to left center wasn’t cleanly fielded, resulting in two RBIs. The error allowed a third run to score and Dimler to move to third.

Dakota Kennedy put the final run on the board when she entered the game to pinch hit for Tayler Biehl. The freshman outfielder hit one back up the middle for the RBI. She followed that up by stealing second base to put herself in scoring position, but the Wildcats weren’t able to get the 10th run in.

They didn’t need it.

Netz issued a leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh but slammed the door with a groundout, a flyout, and a strikeout. After the final strikeout, she crouched in the circle and pumped her fist in celebration of ending ASU’s four-game winning streak over Arizona.