#38 Arizona State Softball 2016 Preview

Arizona State Sun Devils
Overall Rank: #38
Conference Rank: #7 Pac-12
 Arizona State Logo
Arizona State’s offseason was turned upside down back in October when head coach Craig Nicholson resigned for personal medical reasons. With the timing not being ideal the Sun Devil Athletic Department went the direction of naming co-interim head coaches in Robert Wagner and Letty Olivarez in order maintain at least some semblance of continuity for the players heading into the 2016 season.
2015: 36-21, 12-11
2015 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Robert Wagner and Letty Olivarez
Field Players:
There is going to be a bit of a reloading process for the Arizona State offensive attack. Shortstop Chelsea Gonzales is the top overall returning offensive player statistically except for batting average. Gonzales hit .288 with 11 home runs and 42 runs batted in. Senior outfielder Abby Spiel is going to play an even more prominent role this season after hitting .366 and being named Most Improved Player for the 2015 season. Her senior leadership is going to be invaluable over the course of the season. Jennifer Soria and Nikki Girard are also going to be relied upon a great deal to expand upon their offensive production so teams won’t constantly pitch around Gonzales.
Pitching is always going to be interesting challenge for the Sun Devils considering that the ball will travel very well for hitters when they play at Farrington Stadium. Breanna Macha returns as the primary number one this season for Arizona State and she will be looking to improve upon her 18-13 record, as well as the 41 homeruns allowed last season.
Who to Watch:
Incoming Freshman Skylar McCarty is going to have an early opportunity to contribute right away for the sun Devils. McCarty was viewed as one of the best, if not the best, overall player in the State of Arizona coming out of high school last spring. She also was named to Full court Softball’s Top 100 list and her ability to hit for a high average and steal bases will be a huge asset for Arizona State this season.
Final Projection:
The schedule for Arizona State as always is going to be loaded with great competition heading into the gauntlet of the Pac-12. Tennessee and Kentucky highlight the opening weekend of play in the Kajikawa Classic. Matchups with Minnesota, Northwestern, Baylor, Nebraska and Missouri are also a part of a very challenging schedule. Conference play opens up with a Territorial Cup showdown against Arizona in what will be a very critical series for the Sun Devils that will set the tone for the direction of their season during Pac-12 play. Overall, most of the tougher series for Arizona State during Pac-12 play will be at home since Oregon and Washington will also visit Tempe. A road trip to Easton Stadium to play UCLA from April 29 thru May 1 will be the most challenging road series for the Sun Devils during the second half of the season. If the offense can come together over the course of the season, then Arizona State will be back in the NCAA Tournament once again.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament
Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Chelsea Gonzales, IF, 191
Hits: Chelsea Gonzales, IF, 55
Home Runs: Chelsea Gonzales, IF, 11
RBIs: Chelsea Gonzales, IF, 42
Runs: Chelsea Gonzales, IF, 39
Stolen Bases: Jennifer Soria, OF, 5
Wins: Breanna Macha, P, 18
Innings Pitched: Breanna Macha, P, 212.2
Strikeouts: Breanna Macha, P, 152
Complete Games: Breanna Macha, P, 15
Madness 2016 Softball Recruit Rankings:
#58 Skylar McCarty