Back-to-back home runs from unlikely sources sent the Arizona State softball team on its way home for the Tempe Super Regional.
Ashley Muenz and Jackie Vasquez entered Saturday’s contest with five combined home runs on the season, but their consecutive shots in the fourth inning lifted the Sun Devils to a 6-3 victory over Brigham Young to clinch the Provo (Utah) Regional.
Muenz homered with Jessica Mapes on base to give ASU a 5-3 lead, and Vasquez’s shot — the first of the year for the slap-hitting left fielder — would finish the scoring.
ASU coach Clint Myers actually wanted Muenz to bunt in her at-bat, but she was forced to swing away after two attempts went foul.
“After missing on two attempts she knew that she had to do something to avoid catching grief from me, so she hit it out,” Myers said.
Said Muenz: “I was actually pretty mad at myself for not getting the bunt down. … I got lucky and saved myself in a tough spot.”
Katie Burkhart picked up her third win in as many days, but needed some help from the offense after shutting down Southern Utah and BYU on Thursday and Friday.
ASU took a 3-0 lead in the top of the third, but the Cougars battled back by touching Burkhart for three in the bottom half. She still finished with 10 strikeouts, and her 33rd win of the season equals Erica Beach’s single-season school record, set in 2002.
“I never know stats or strikeout number or perfect game situations when I’m out there,” Burkhart said. “I just go out and pitch. I go out to keep us in games until the offense can take it from there. Stats don’t mean anything near what a win means.”
ASU will meet LSU or Stanford in the super regional.
The winner will advance to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla., which Arizona State made last season. The best-ofthree series will be played on Friday and Saturday at ASU’s Farrington Stadium.