TEMPE – The Arizona State University softball team will add a talented and proven pitcher next season with the addition of Kelsey Kessler, a transfer from the University of Kansas, head coach Craig Nicholson has announced.
“We are excited to add a pitcher who has postseason experience and knows what its like to be a team’s ace pitcher,” Nicholson said of Kessler’s signing. “We are excited to see what she can contribute here at Arizona State.”
Kessler will be a junior this season and is eligible to play immediately. The NCAA does not require softball players to sit out a season after transferring.
Last season, Kessler took over the reins as the Jayhawks’ primary ace in the circle as she helped KU to a 34-23 record overall and led the team to its second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
As a sophomore, Kessler finished with a 20-15 record in 35 starts with a 2.47 ERA and 250 strikeouts – a total that was good for 22nd in the nation in 2014. She gave up five or more runs just six times in her 43 appearances on the season.
“I chose Arizona State because I liked the coaching staff, location and campus, and I wanted to be a part of a winning tradition,” Kessler said. “My goal this year at ASU is to do everything I can to ensure the team continues to be a national contender.”
As a freshman at KU, Kessler was stellar as she posted a 12-6 overall record with a 2.19 ERA en route to All-Big 12 Second-Team honors. She was 7-3 with a 2.22 ERA in conference play, which was good for the most Big 12 wins by a Jayhawk since the 2001 season.
On the season she pitched a no-hitter against Texas Tech and was one of just two players pitchers in the country to shut out eventual NCAA Champion Oklahoma, KU’s first victory in program history over a top-ranked opponent.
“As an individual, I'm looking to mentally and physically improve my game as needed to be successful in a competitive conference like the Pac-12,” she said. “I'm greatly looking forward to the opportunity to meet and play alongside my new teammates, and I hope to gain new friendships with them on and off the field.”
The Sun Devils will be looking to replace the exceptional talents of departed seniors Dallas Escobedo and Mackenzie Popescue in the circle next season. The duo accounted for over 90 percent of ASU’s total team starts in the last two seasons with Escobedo finishing her career as one of the most accomplished pitchers in NCAA softball history as a three-time All-American, NCAA Champion and one of the NCAA’s top-50 pitchers all time in terms of career strikeouts.
Kessler adds to a recruiting class that also will include freshmen pitching studs Breanna Macha and Dale Ryndak, who were recently named the Gatorade Softball Players of the Year for Arizona and Illinois, respectively.
The Sun Devil softball team will open its Fall Softball campaign on Oct. 9 against Phoenix College at 7 p.m. PT.