2018 Arizona State Softball Season Preview
By Stephen Sydnor and Bo Wilkinson // Softball Beat Writers for Blaze Sports
TEMPE, Ariz — The Sun Devil softball team returns to Farrington Stadium on Thursday when they take on the No. 12 Tennessee Volunteers. Head Coach Trisha Ford and the Sun Devils look to return to the NCAA Tournament after getting knocked out in the regionals by North Carolina last season.
Fortunately, the Sun Devils return over a dozen players from last years roster. Headlining that group are pitchers Breanna Macha and Dale Ryndak. Last season Macha logged over 100 innings on the mound for the Sun Devils. The senior right-hander from Mesa, Arizona allowed just over two runs a game. Additionally, Macha led the team to victory against North Carolina in the first leg of the regional. Senior Dale Ryndak is returning to ASU for her senior season should help get the Sun Devils back to the regionals.
The Illinois native made history last season by throwing the seventh perfect game in Sun Devil history. Over the course of the season Ryndak appeared in 25 games, including 13 starts. During that span, Ryndak allowed 32 runs off of 87 hits. Ryndak and Macha have always been consistent for the Sun Devils. Last seasons staff also featured a breakout star in the making, true Freshmen Giselle Juarez.
Over the course of the season, Juarez led the team in hits allowed, home runs allowed and strikeouts. The sophomore from Mountain Ridge high school in Glendale had a busy offseason with USA softball junior women’s National team. During her time with team USA, Juarez allowed 10 runs on 17 hits in 25 innings pitched. Manager Trisha Ford should have one of the best pitching staffs in the Pac-12. The problem for Ford and company will be finding ways to score runs.
The Sun Devils will have to work hard to replace the production of Chelsea Gonzales and Sashel Palacios who combined for 23 of the teams 62 homers last season. Luckily the Devils will have plenty of experience and talent to do just that.
The Devils will be returning junior duo Fa Leilua and Taylor Becerra. Last season Leilua was a very big presence behind the plate for the Sun Devils as she hit .285 and was tied for first in home runs on the team for the second consecutive year with 13 and second on the team with 44 RBIs.
Meanwhile Taylor Becerra is coming off of a very strong sophomore campaign where she found herself on the All-PAC-12 Second Team after batting .338 only behind Gonzales who earned All-PAC-12 First Team honors herself.
Arizona State will have to battle through some very tough competition if they want to return to the NCAA tournament. The Sun Devils 2018 schedule features 22 games against teams ranked in the preseason top-25.
Many of these ranked opponents are fellow Pac-12 teams. Oregon, Washington, UCLA and Utah, who check in at No. 3, No. 4, No. 5 and No. 15 respectively all have three-game series with the Devils.
Other ranked opponents that the Sun Devils will square off against include one game against No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 12 Tennessee, two games with No. 19 BYU and a three-game set with No.16 Minnesota.
Stephen Syndor and Bo Wilkinson are the beat writers covering ASU Softball for Blaze Sports. You can reach out to them at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. You can also follow Stephen and Bo on Twitter @ssydnor95 and @BoWilkinsonASU.