The Arizona State softball team’s season ended on Sunday after a hard fought regional with the eighth-seeded Alabama. A fourth place finish in the Pac-12 and another winning record in the conference is another positive finish for Trisha Ford’s team.
The biggest question marks is how ASU will make up for the production of graduated outfielders Morgan Howe and Skylar McCarty? The Sun Devils will need to reproduce 122 hits, 18 home runs and 97 RBI.
The two open spots will likely mean right fielder Kindra Hackbarth will fill Howe’s void in center field. One of the two open spots will most likely go to Yannira Acuna, who earned a spot on the Pac-12 All-Freshman team. The last spot will probably be a battle between Makenna Harper, Olivia Miller and incoming freshmen.
The other question needing answered is how does the pitching improve? With a 4.57 team ERA, ASU ranked seventh in the Pac-12 and 224th in the nation. Will the Sun Devils seek transfer help again? Will their one pitching recruit, Lindsay Lopez be in the fold next year? Lopez while at Poston Butte High School in San Tan Valley, Arizona won back-to-back Player of the Year awards in Pinal County. Although, transfers Samantha Mejia and Cielo Meza pitched a lot better down the stretch.
ASU will welcome an nine-girl freshmen class consisting of Lopez, three outfielders, five infielders and a later addition in pitcher Morgan Leinstock. The class headlined by Hamilton High School’s Macy Simmons and Jazmine Hill from California. Simmons, a catcher, is rated as the 15th overall recruit by Softball America and might be a canidate for the starting designated player and possibly taking some of the workload off of Maddi Hackbarth behind the plate.
Softball America has Hill ranked 20th on their list and as an infielder she will ideally be a competition at third base with Kiara Kennedy. Kennedy filled in nicely for the injured and now-graduated Taylor Becerra.
As the Sun Devils know, a lot can change between now and February.