Softball outfielders rotate after injury

An ASU softball outfielder gathers her feet to throw the ball from the outfield to cutoff an infielder during practice on Feb. 8. (Photo by Dominic Valente)

An ASU softball outfielder gathers her feet to throw the ball from the outfield to cutoff an infielder during practice on Feb. 8. (Photo by Dominic Valente)

An injury to sophomore outfielder Elizabeth Caporuscio has forced the ASU outfielders to play musical chairs defensively.

Caporuscio started all 64 games for ASU in center field last season. Now she is making the switch to left after Caporuscio injured her quad right after “hell week” in early January.

“It’s better now,” Caporuscio said. “(Left field is) not quite as much running. When I came back, there was still a little bit of irritation, so (the coaches) don’t really want me to run as far.”

The quad injury limits her range defensively, but the move reduces the amount of ground Caporuscio has to cover.

“I played left in the past and pretty much all my life I would play outfield and switch positionst,” Caporuscio said.The ball comes off a little different, especially left-handed people, because the ball tails to the line, so I just have to be aware.”

ASU coach Clint Myers said the move was made with the long-term in mind.

“This is the first series of the year,” Myers said. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint. We’re going to play 60-plus games over the course of the season and we want her playing her best softball at the end.”

Junior Alix Johnson, a first-team All-American last season, will slide from right field to center field.

Johnson stole seven bases last season and hit .395 with 13 homers, compared to just three homeruns her freshman year.

“Alix has always had power,” Myers said. “She’s finally starting to learn how to channel it. She’s playing with a lot more confidence and rhythm. She’s just really maturing well as a player and leader.”

Johnson started the 2012 season with an injury but went on to be named All-American.

The final spot in the outfield will be held by junior Bailey Wigness. Wigness played all-around the field last year, starting 10 games in left, 16 at second base, 17 at designated player and two at third base.

However, Wigness likely won’t start the season at any of those positions. Myers said Wigness will be playing right and left field this season, depending on who else is out there.

That likely means is if Caporuscio is in left field, then Wigness will play right field. If Caporuscio is the designated player, Wigness will play left field.

At the plate, Wigness utilizes the slap-hitting approach that many left-handed hitters put into play in softball. Wigness hit .396 last season with just three extra-base hits. Wigness also stole 11 bases, second most on the 2012 team.

None of the other outfielders on the roster started a game for ASU last season. Senior Kayla Ketchum has seen the most playing time of the remaining outfielders.

Ketchum was primarily used as a pinch-runner. In her first three seasons, Ketchum scored 52 runs and appeared in 121 games but has just five at-bats and zero career hits.

Senior Becca Tikey sat out at ASU last season.

 

Reah the reporter at justin.janssen@asu.edu