#26 Arizona State Softball 2017 Preview

Arizona State Sun Devils
Overall Rank: #26
Conference Rank: #6 Pac-12
 Arizona State Logo
It is a new era in Tempe for the Arizona State softball program as they have a new permanent head coach Trisha Ford. Ford was the Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year in each of the past two seasons at Fresno State. Last season Ford led the Bulldogs to a 22-1 record in conference play and had Fresno State in the top 20. If Coach Ford and her staff can get the pitching straightened out, along with the inability to win on the road, then Arizona State will have a chance for a quick rebuild in 2016.
2016: 32-26, 6-17
2016 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Trisha Ford
Key Departed Players:
Jennifer Soria, OF, .348 BA, 15 HR, 43 RBI
Nikki Girard, IF, .322 BA, 6 HR, 46 RBI
Katee Aguirre, C, .315 BA, 8 HR, 29 RBI
Kelsey Kessler, P, 204.1 IP, 2.95 ERA, 191 SO
Key Returning Players:
Chelsea Gonzales, IF, .309 BA, 12 HR, 47 RBI
Nichole Chilson, OF, .333 BA, 6 HR, 26 RBI
Taylor Becerra, IF, .329 BA, 0 HR, 9 RBI
Sashel Palacios, C, .311 BA, 5 HR, 26 RBI
Ulufa Leilua, IF, .368 BA, 6 HR, 21 RBI
Breanna Macha, P, 84.2 IP, 5.13 ERA, 39 SO
Dale Ryndak, P, 98.2 IP, 3.83 ERA, 47 SO
The inability to win on the road last year really hurt the Sun Devils as they went 2-10 away from Tempe last season. At home, Arizona State was 24-12, which is pretty rock solid in any season. The Sun Devils are much more comfortable playing in Tempe as the offense takes advantage of the ability of the ball to travel better in the desert air. Fast forward to the 2017 season and it is going to boil down to Coach Ford’s ability to improve the pitching since there will be a nice big void at the number one starter spot with the graduation of Kelsey Kessler, who pitched 204.1 innings last season. Dale Ryndak and Breanna Macha bring back the most experience in the circle but are going to have to find a way to keep the ball in the ballpark on a more regular basis this season. If they can do that, it will allow the everyday lineup led by Chelsea Gonzales to go to work and wear down opposing pitching as the season goes on. Nichole Chilson and Sashel Palacios will be very key to the overall success of the Sun Devils offensively. They both have some power and will need to replace the lost production from Jennifer Soria, Nikki Girard and Katee Aguirre from last season. Soria, Girard and Aguirre combined for 29 homeruns last season, so Chilson and Palacios will need to combine for about another 8-10 homeruns and Ulufa Leilua should hit ten plus homeruns if she stays healthier this season.  It will take some for everything to come together, but Arizona State will be back in the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament