The Arizona State softball team took the first step Thursday toward hosting a super regional . But it took everything the No. 9 Sun Devils had.
Pitcher Katie Burkhart had 23 strikeouts, and Rhiannon Baca’s RBI single scored Mindy Cowles with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning as ASU outlasted Southern Utah 2-1 in the first round of regional play in the NCAA tournament at Provo, Utah.
“It wasn’t the best game we’ve played all season,” ASU coach Clint Myers said.
“We didn’t show what we were completely capable of offensively.”
Baca represented most of the offense for the Sun Devils (50-15), homering in the bottom of the fifth after Southern Utah grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the frame when Erin Niederhauser scored from third on a throwing error.
“Today was just one of those days where I felt comfortable at the plate,” said Baca, who fouled off four pitches in a nine-pitch at-bat before homering. “I was seeing the ball well, and I fouled off a lot of pitches to stay deep in the count before I found one I liked.”
Burkhart allowed just two hits, and the Sun Devils needed that dominant effort since they only managed four themselves. Her 23 strikeouts tie her for the fifth highest single-game total in NCAA history.
“Until I was just told, I had no idea how many strikeouts I had,” she said. “I knew I was hitting my spots well, and I just wanted to keep us in the game.”
The Sun Devils will face Brigham Young at 11 a.m. today in Provo. BYU beat Cal Poly, 9-0, Thursday.
The Cougars are 16-1 at home this season. The winner of today’s game will have the upper hand in the double elimination format.