Feb. 6, 2012
TEMPE, Ariz. - The Arizona State softball team kicks off its 2012 regular season this weekend with the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. Ranked No. 1 overall in the national and conference preseason polls, all eyes are on ASU as they face high expectations, lineup changes, and the first ever Pac-12 playoffs in what is bound to be a sensational season for the Devils.
As the season progresses, Sun Devil softball will pick up various TV and Webcasts of the games at Farrington Stadium. The opening weekend will feature FoxSportsArizona.com covering the games on Saturday against Texas State (4:30 p.m. MT) and No. 9/14 Tennessee (7 p.m. MT). To watch the games live and provided free by FSArizona, click here.
The squad welcomes back 17 players from its 2011 champion roster, including touted sophomore pitcher Dallas Escobedo and shortstop Katelyn Boyd, both of whom were spotted on the Top 50 Watch List for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. The other three returning starters are junior second baseman Sam Parlich, senior outfielder Annie Lockwood, and senior outfielder Talor Haro. Further notable returners for ASU are: Lucy Aubrecht (So., C), Bailey Wigness (So., INF), Breanna Kaye (So., UTL), Alix Johnson (So., OF), Mary Spiel (So., INF), Mackenzie Popescue (So., RHP/1B), Kayla Ketchum (Jr., OF), Nikole Afusia (Sr., C), Christina Zambrana (Sr., INF), and Hillary Bach (Sr., RHP).
MEET THE NEWBIES
The ten newcomers on the Sun Devil team include seven freshmen and three upperclass transfers. Joining the Devils as freshmen are: Elizabeth Caporuscio (OF), Amber Freeman (C/1B), Bethany Kemp (INF), Rebecca Krupsky (C), Haley Steele (INF), Lindsey Edgerton (INF), and Jenna Makis (RHP). This year's freshman squad includes some of the nation's best recruits both behind the plate and in the field, adding plenty of depth to the roster.
Transfers for the squad include: Danielle Muniz (Jr., INF), Becca Tikey (Jr., OF), and Laura Bradley (Sr., C). These upperclassmen have seen postseason action in their respective leagues, and will bring not only experience but also a multitude of skills to their positions on the squad.
LEADING THE PACK
Clint Myers will continue his career with the Devils in his seventh season as softball head coach. Myers has seen two NCAA championship wins in five Women's College World Series appearances throughout his tenure, which began in 2006. He is joined by Chuck D'Arcy, a second-year pitching coach from Sacramento, Calif., as well as Scott Woodard, who joined the Devils this past summer as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. Casey Myers will serve as a volunteer coach on the squad as well.
Preseason polls for the Pac-12 as well as the NCAA have placed A-State at the top. Both the USA Today/NFCA and the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 polls showed the Devils at No. 1, where they have been ranked since April 26, 2011 after their historic sweep of the Arizona Wildcats launched them into the top spot. The Pac-12 Preseason Coaches Poll also saw the Devils in the premier position, with ASU receiving six first-place votes to launch them over the competition. It's the first time in recent history of the conference's preseason poll that the Devils have been ranked first, and only the second time that they are placed higher than U of A.
IT'S TOURNEY TIME
The season gets underway on Feb. 9 with the Kajikawa Classic, which is one of four tournaments that the Devils will host to start off the year. ASU will also accommodate the Littlewood Classic (Feb. 17-19), the Wilson/DeMarini Invitational (March 2-4), and the Diamond Devil Invitational (March 9-11). These four tournaments compose the most extensive preseason home schedule in the entire Pac-12, with 27 consecutive games underway at Farrington Stadium.
The first ever Pac-12 softball season for the Sun Devils will begin on March 23 when the rival Arizona Wildcats take a trip up to Tempe. Conference play will see the Devils taking Arizona as well as Oregon, UCLA, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington, California, and for the first time in Devil lore, Utah.
The Devils closed out the 2011 season with not only a WCWS Championship victory, but multiple accolades and awards as well. An exhaustive list can be found here, a recap list is as follows:
Pac-10 All Conference Second Team
Pac-10 All-Academic Second Team
Pac-10 Freshman of the Year
NFCA All-West Region First Team
CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine All-Academic First Team
WCWS co-Most Outstanding Player Award
USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Finalist