Sun Devil Softball Opens 2015 Ranked 16th Nationally
TEMPE – The Arizona State University softball will open the 2015 season ranked No. 16 in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association top-25 poll, the NFCA announced on Tuesday.
The Sun Devils are entering their second season under head coach Craig Nicholson and will look to improve upon a 17th-place ranking in the final NFCA poll of 2014.
Arizona State’s 2015 roster features five seniors, including 2013 Pac-12 Player of the Year Amber Freeman and All-Pac-12 selections Elizabeth Caporuscio, Bethany Kemp and Haley Steele.
The team also returns 2014 NFCA Freshman of the Year finalist Chelsea Gonzales and the grouping of Freeman, Gonzales, Caporuscio and Steele represent four of the team’s top five batting averages from a year ago. The four combined with Kemp return 45 of the teams 74 total home run from a year ago.
The team will have to replace the likes of All-American pitcher and 2011 WCWS champion Dallas Escobedo in the circle as well as All-American center fielder Alix Johnson and All-American shortstop Cheyenne Coyle.
Gonzales will step into Coyle’s role this season while center field will be in the hands of last season’s most productive reserve, Jenn Soria.
Gatorade Players of the Year Breanna Macha (Arizona) and Dale Ryndak (Illinois) will look to fill some big shoes following the loss of Escobedo and All-Pac-12 selection Mackenzie Popescue at pitcher this season. The duo certainly put up eye-popping numbers in their respective high school careers, with Macha leading her Mesa Red Mountain squad to four consecutive Arizona state championships will Ryndak posted a ridiculous ERA of 0.23 as a senior in 2014.
The duo will look to newly appointed pitching coach Boo (Gillette) De Oliveira this season while Robert Wagner joins Nicholson’s staff as an assistant with a focus on the hitting aspect of the game.
ASU’s selection to the preseason poll marks the 140th consecutive week that the Sun Devils have been in the NFCA Poll, every single poll since the middle of the 2006 season. The team has been ranked in the top 10 in 127 of those polls.
Florida claimed the No. 1 ranking in this year's preseason poll, followed by No. 2 Oregon. Fellow Pac-12 squad UCLA came in at No. 7, followed by No. 11 Washington, No. 14 Arizona and then ASU. Stanford also received votes in the poll.
The Sun Devils will open the season on Thursday, Feb. 5 against Creighton in the team’s opening game of the 2015 Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz.
The team will host a community event this Sunday, January 25 as the squad welcomes fans to enjoy an open practice, home run derby, autograph signing, raffle, kid's clinic and more. Events are scheduled to begin at Farrington Stadium at 10 a.m. MT.