For the first time since 2013, the Arizona State Sun Devils softball team is heading to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City. They posted a 48-11 record this season with a 16-8 record in a very competitive PAC-12. The 48 wins by the Sun Devils were the seventh most in school history. They advanced to their 12th WCWS with a victory over South Carolina. Here are a couple of reasons why they could take home another championship and their first since 2008:
Leadership of Trisha Ford
In only her second season as head coach, Ford has posted a record of 79-33. Before coming to ASU, Ford was the head coach at Fresno State where she led the Bulldogs to back-to-back Mountain West championships in both 2015 and 2016. She was named the conference’s Coach of the Year in 2016. That season she led Fresno State to a 42-12-1 record and a 22-1 record in conference play. She has been mentoring and developing pitchers this season with the Sun Devils. The pitching staff has been dominant, posting a 1.40 ERA with 20 shutouts. Ford’s leadership and guidance has propelled the Sun Devils into becoming one of the most elite teams in the nation.
Pitching staff dominance:
Giselle “G” Juarez, the sophomore left handed pitcher from Glendale, Arizona, has led ASU with a 22-3 record and .092 ERA with 259 strikeouts. She has recorded 11 shutouts in 2018, which is third most in the nation. She earned Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week in four consecutive weeks. On March 30 2018, Juarez threw the 30th no-hitter in school history against BYU.
Besides Juarez, Breanna Macha, the senior from Red Mountain High School in Mesa, Arizona, has been dominant during her senior season. She had a season-high 10 strikeouts against Costal Carolina in March. Macha was superb in the Super Regional clinching win over South Carolina as well. She went all seven innings in that contest, allowing only one earned run as she struck out six Gamecocks on 128 pitches. The win was Macha’s 16th of the season, improving her record to 16-6. Between Juarez and Macha, the Sun Devils pitching staff will be a force to deal with in OKC.
Offensive Fire Power:
The offense has a lot of firepower with a team batting average of .286, 64 home runs, and 284 team runs batted in. Morgan Howe led the offense with a .364 batting average while Kindra Hackbarth recorded 71 hits. Howe was not too far behind with 67 hits on the season. Both players played a pivotal role in the win over South Carolina, recording multiple hits.
If you are looking for a little power in the Sun Devils lineup, look no further than redshirt senior Marisa Stankiewicz. She had 10 home runs on the season while driving in 24 runs with a slugging percentage of .509. Danielle Gibson is another deadly bat in the lineup as she has 12 homers. She also tied for first on the team in RBIs with 39, tying her with Howe and Jade Gortarez for the team lead. With all of these powerful bats in the Sun Devil lineup, opposing pitchers might have a tough time trying to pitch around them.
Arizona State brings passion and leadership into Oklahoma City for the 2018 WCWS. They do, however, get a tough draw as they will be facing off against the number one overall see in the Oregon Ducks. If the pitching and offense can continue to produce the way they have all season, the Sun Devils could very well be on their way to another championship.