TEMPE — The hits were there and so was a solid defensive effort, but the eighth-seeded Arizona State softball team still ended up the losing side as it fell to No. 9 Northwestern 4-3 in 11 innings on Friday night.

Northwestern’s game winning run in the 11th came as Maeve Nelson led things off with an infield single. She then advanced on a ground ball back to Arizona State pitcher Lindsay Lopez who got the runner out at first.

A passed ball to the next batter allowed Nelson to reach third with one out. Angela Zedak hit a hard ground ball to a diving Alynah Torres at short. Torres decided to throw to first base, which allowed Nelson to score.

Unfortunately Lopez was the losing pitcher, as she was the final reliever for the Sun Devils. The Poston Butte alum scattered three hits, walked one and struck out two in 2 2/3 innings.

“I thought it was a great battle,” Arizona State coach Trisha Ford said. “We had had our opportunities and they took advantage of some of our miscues, and we didn’t take advantage of some of theirs. It’s kind of how it goes in Super Regionals; we’re two very, very good softball teams.”

It was an “anything you can do, I can do better” type of game when it came to home runs between the Sun Devils and the Wildcats.

The Sun Devils (42-10) led 3-0 heading into the sixth inning as all three runs came off solo home runs. The first one came in the fourth off the bat Yanni Acuna; it was just the second hit of the game for Arizona State against Northwestern pitcher Danielle Williams.

The other two bombs came in the fifth as Makenna Harper led off the inning with her shot going over at center field. Two batters later, Torres hit hers over the left field wall.

The Wildcats (44-10) hit a homer of their own in the sixth inning, a two-run shot by Rachel Lewis with Skyler Shellmyer on base.

Following the home run, Sun Devils starting pitcher Mac Morgan faced one more Wildcat in Jordyn Rudd before Marissa Schuld came on in relief.

Morgan tossed 5 1/3 innings as she scattered five hits and struck out three while allowing the two runs.

The Sun Devil managed to get out of the inning while still carrying a 3-2 lead. However they were unable to add anything on as they went down in order in the bottom half.

Northwestern’s Hannah Cady stepped up to bat in the seventh with one out and sent a laser right over the center field wall to tie the game at three.

Arizona State had the opportunity to walk it off as the Sun Devils loaded the bases in the bottom half of the inning with two outs, but Jazmine Hill ended up grounding out to Williams.

As the game headed into extras, Schuld’s relief appearance came to an end as Allison Royalty took over in the circle. Schuld tossed 1 2/3 innings while allowing just the solo homer.

Royalty’s appearance was also brief as she went 1 1/3 innings with only one walk.

In the eighth inning, Harper kept the game tied as Rudd hoped to join the home run club. The ball sailed high towards the scoreboard in left field, but Harper had just enough room at the wall and extended her glove barely over the top to keep the game tied.

“I’m just running and catching so I’m happy it played out the way it did,” Harper said.

Bella Loomis also had a great defensive play in the 10th as Northwestern pinch runner Grace Nieto was a third with one out, and Lewis was on second.

Rudd hit a hard ground ball directly to Loomis at third, Loomis then extended her glove to tag Nieto who was off the base for the out and quickly threw over to first to get the double play and end the inning.

For Northwestern, Williams pitched the complete game as she gave up 11 hits, walked two and struck out nine.

“Danielle threw a hell of a game and kept us off balance,” Ford said. “The good thing is she threw a lot of pitches; we saw her, we got a lot of at-bats against her, and made her throw a lot of pitches.”

The Sun Devils need to win on Saturday to keep their postseason alive. Arizona State is looking to make it back to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City for the first time since 2018.

They need to win two games in order to accomplish that. Saturday’s game has a scheduled 8 p.m. start time.

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Maria Vasquez is the Sports Editor for PinalCentral. She can be reached at mvasquez@pinalcentral.com.

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