#14 Arizona State Softball 2015 Preview

Arizona State Sun Devils

Overall Rank: #14
Conference Rank: #4 Pac-12
#14 Arizona State Softball 2015 Preview
Arizona State Team Page


The Sun Devils are coming off of an upsetting end of the 2014 season, where they lost to Michigan in their own Regional. After winning the first two games, including one over Michigan, ASU dropped the next two, allowing the Wolverines to move on. While the team has only five seniors, the underclassmen got a lot of playing time last year and look to fill in holes left by last year's graduating class.

2014: 446-12-1, 15-7
2014 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Craig Nicholson

Field Players:
Arizona State brings back four of its top five hitters, as well as five players who combined for 45 of last year's 75 home runs. Amber Freeman led the team with a .406 average and 69 hits, while blasting 11 home runs and driving in 44. Haley Steele had quite the year finishing second in average (.339), hits (63), doubles (11) and home runs (12), while driving in a squad-high 50 RBI. Chelsea Gonzales had nine doubles and eight home runs, driving in 45. Bathany Kemp also knocked 11 balls out of the yard. Elizabeth Caporuscio had a team-leading 17 doubles and drove in 32 RBI.

Arizona State will have a completely different look on the mound, as both Dallas Escobedo and Mackenzie Popescue graduated. Escobedo was a former All-American and led the team to a 2011 National Title, while Popescue was an all-conference selection. Escobedo went 24-9 with a 1.95 ERA and 336 strikeouts, while Popescue went 20-3 with a 2.15 ERA. To replace them, the team brought in two stud recruits in Breanna Macha and Dale Ryndak, both of whom won Gatorade Player of the Year awards in their home states of Arizona and Illinois last season.

Who to Watch:
The pitching staff. The Sun Devils are used to having stellar pitching, but relying on two freshmen, no matter how good they are, can be risky. That is especially true in a conference like the Pac-12. To bolster the rotation, ASU also added Kansas transfer Kelsey Kessler, who was 20-15 in 35 starts with a 2.47 ERA and 250 strikeouts. Ryndak was 22-2 with a 0.52 ERA and 219 strikeouts last year, while Macha led her team to four straight state titles and finished 22-5 with a 1.02 ERA and 256 strikeouts last season.

Final Projection:
The Sun Devils will be good offensively once again. If they can replace Cheyenne Coyle, who led the team with 13 home runs, the offense should keep rolling. The team's success will ultimately come down to the success of the pitching rotation. While Kessler was impressive last season, the Pac-12 is a step up from the Big 12 and throwing two freshmen right in the mix right away can be tricky. The team faces Texas, Illinois State and Oklahoma in the first two weeks. The team also plays Minnesota, Michigan (3x), Baylor and Auburn before conference play.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Haley Steele, 3B, 186
Hits: Amber Freeman, C, .406
Home Runs: Haley Steele, 3B, 12
RBIs: Haley Steele, 3B, 50
Runs: Bethany Kemp, 1B, 38
Stolen Bases: Jennifer Soria, OF, 6

Wins: Alexis Cooper, P, 2
Innings Pitched: Alexis Cooper, P, 15.1
Strikeouts: Alexis Cooper, P, 6
Complete Games: Alexis Cooper, P, 1


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