ASU Softball: New head coach Craig Nicholson fitting in well

Pitchers Dallas Escobedo and Mackenzie Popescue are big fans of their new coach. - Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

The Sun Devils hired a new head coach this offseason who seems to be meshing well with players

Former Arizona State head softball coach Clint Myers took the head coaching position at Auburn this past June in order to be closer to family. The ASU athletic department quickly sprang into action to try and find a replacement.

Former athletic director Steve Patterson found Craig Nicholson to manage the third base dugout at Farrington Stadium with the goal of building on the recent success of the Sun Devil softball program.

Myers recorded 427 wins at Arizona State and two national championships in 2008 and 2011 with the Sun Devils so Nicholson had some big shoes to fill.

"I really just like the vibe he brings," senior pitcher Dallas Escobedo said of Nicholson. "He’s very positive, he’s excited, he’s a jokester."

Nicholson was most recently the head coach at Ball State in Indiana where he led the Cardinals to three regular season MAC championships.

"He's been great, actually we love him," senior pitcher Mackenzie Popescue said.  "He definitely won us over very quickly. At first it was just the fear of the unknown so it was a little scary but he's the whole package."

Nicholson isn't a stranger to the Valley. He started his coaching career at Central Arizona where he won 723 games and four national junior college titles in 11 seasons.

"It's more upbeat and up-tempo with a lot of energy," junior All-American catcher and defending Pac-12 Player of the Year Amber Freeman said. "I love it so it's a lot of fun."

Immediately after Nicholson was hired in June, he called each player individually and then held two separate meetings in California and Arizona with players who were at home for the summer.

"The big thing in the fall for me was to get to know them as well as I could and to let them know what to expect from me and the rest of the staff," Nicholson said.

Nicholson admitted that he is offensive-minded and has the body of evidence to prove it. His 2012 Ball State squad ranked top 10 nationally in batting average, scoring, home runs per game and slugging percentage.

"We have to make sure we go win ballgames as we go through the learning curve, the learning phase," Nicholson said. "We're a long ways along that curve right now but as we go through it, we gotta make sure we're winning ball games."

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