Arizona Softball

ASU sweeps Arizona with familiar faces leading the Sun Devils

Former Arizona pitcher Marissa Schuld posing with the pitchfork after her perfect-game 8-0 win over the Wildcats in five innings (Javier Morales/

The perfect storm for Arizona included the completion of a sweep Sunday at the hands of rival ASU at Hillenbrand Stadium for the first time in 11 years and also an 0-6 start in the Pac-10/12 for the first in the program’s history.

Adding to Arizona’s “frustration,” as coach Caitlin Lowe described the feeling of the team presently, the Wildcats were shut out for the fifth time in the last six games, and the pitcher who was dominant in the circle against them Sunday was a former Wildcat.

Marissa Schuld, who transferred from Arizona to ASU after the COVID-19-shortened season of 2020, pitched a perfect game in five innings in the Sun Devils’ 8-0 victory. She struck out two and walked none and induced Arizona’s lineup into nine groundouts and four flyouts.

“I’ve played and practiced here, so I was pretty comfortable with the environment. I know how the fans are. It just felt good having my team behind my back,” said Schuld, who also pitched three shut-out innings in relief, allowing only one hit, in Friday’s 9-2 win.

Schuld, who left to ASU because she felt had more of opportunity to play there and she is from Scottsdale, said she would tell her struggling former Arizona teammates “to keep fighting, but I’m only focused on my team right now — that’s the most important thing throughout the season.”

Arizona (19-10) will focus more about “turning things around,” Lowe said, Tuesday when the Wildcats return to Hillenbrand for practice.

“We went through our bumps last year and nobody sees it right now,” Lowe continued. “We went through our bumps last year to make us into the team that we were at the end of the year. That is the perspective that we all need right now.”

Arizona lost five out of seven games in one stretch early last season before losing 10 games in the Pac-12, including three out of four to ASU in Tempe. The Wildcats won eight out of 11 games toward the end of the season, including a two-game sweep at Arkansas in the Super Regional, to reach the Women’s College World Series.

The doldrums for the Wildcats now include scoring only two runs — on a home run by Carlie Scupin on Friday — in the their last 39 innings.

ASU, conversely, has won 14 straight games and stands 25-5 overall and 6-0 in the Pac-12. The Sun Devils and UCLA, which swept Arizona last weekend in Los Angeles in three shutouts, have yet to lose in the conference as of Sunday afternoon.

The Bruins were going for the sweep of the Huskies (20-9, 1-4) in Seattle on Sunday. Washington travels to Tucson next weekend.

Salpointe Class of 2018 graduate Yannira Acuña, a right fielder, is symbolic of how ASU is dominating.

She went 6 for 8 with three doubles, six runs and four RBIs in the sweep of the Wildcats. Her batting average is now .500 this season.

“Over the years, I’ve been working on my mental game, as well as playing softball and getting better every day,” said Acuña, who played in front of a large gathering of her family and friends this weekend.

“Playing in front of my family is always awesome, and all my cousins and everybody else who came out to support — it’s amazing to be out here. … I play for my family. I also play for myself. The main reason is I like to play for my family. It’s always fun having them out here supporting me.”

The tale of the two teams was evident just by watching Arizona and ASU after the game.

The Wildcats again had an extended meeting after the game as they did following Saturday’s 11-0 loss in five innings.

The Sun Devils were jovial with a large crowd chanting, “ASU, ASU, ASU.”

Schuld was beaming carrying a large pitchfork after the game symbolic of ASU’s player of the game. Former Amphi standout Kristiana Watson, the daughter of legendary Arizona slugger Laura Espinoza, carried the pitchfork out of Hillendbrand Stadium noting she was responsible for that “piece of equipment.”

Watson, out this weekend because of an illness, said she should return April 8 when the Sun Devils begin a three-game series at Oregon.

“We’re dominating; we’re doing really good,” Acuña said of the 14-game winning streak. “We’re taking it game by game, pitch by pitch … yeah, we’re doing pretty good.”

Pretty good is an understatement. The Sun Devils outscored Arizona 28-2 this weekend and tallied 33 hits (eight of them home runs, including four Sunday) while the Wildcats mustered nine hits against Schuld, Mac Morgan and Lindsay Lopez.

Arizona has 22 regular season games remaining to get back the winning feeling it had starting the season 19-4 heading into the UCLA series.

Lowe was asked about a silver-lining being Arizona getting its series out of the way against the Pac-12’s two top teams — UCLA and ASU.

“The silver-lining is we have games right now,” Lowe said. “We have games to turn it around. That’s the biggest thing is we have an opportunity. You can’t always say that.

“We’ve seen some of the best pitchers in the Pac-12. We’ve seen some of the best hitting in the Pac-12. We know what to expect. Now, it’s a matter of turning our mindset around because we have the physical tools. I think that’s where it’s painful because if we didn’t have the physical tools, it would be like ‘we’re not talented enough,’ but we are.”

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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