Freshman infielder Chelsea Gonzales turned in quite a debut for the ASU softball team in its 18-1 victory over Yavapai College to begin the fall exhibition schedule.
Gonzales went 2-for-5 with home runs in her first two at-bats. If a run rule had been applied, those two home runs would have ended her night, but she flew out in her other three at-bats.
Just one permanent starter departed from ASU’s 2013 Women’s College World Series team. It needs to replace second baseman Sam Parlich, who hit a career-best .348 in 2013 with 10 home runs.
The two most likely candidates to replace her are Gonzales and sophomore infielder Nikki Girard.
Girard primarily played first base and designated hitter in 2013, but she can play anywhere on the field. Girard also started one game at second base last season. She said in her softball career, she’s played every position, including pitcher and catcher.
Girard is probably the frontrunner because of that experience edge, but don’t count out Gonzales just yet.
“She’s going to give me competition each and every day, but experience under my belt helps a lot,” Girard said. “Don’t count her out, she’s going to be a great player.”
ASU coach Craig Nicholson said the fall ball wasn’t as important as what he sees every day in practice in determining who will start.
“It has a little bit to do with what you see tonight in game-type situations, but really it’s more what we’re going to see every day at practice,” Nicholson said. “Nice for her to come out and (homer) in her first couple at-bats, but what goes on every day at practice and what goes on when they’re facing our pitchers is going to be a big part of the equation.”
The biggest thing Gonzales said she needs to adjust with is learning to field the position. She played shortstop all four years in high school.
“I’m used to shortstop so I just have to get the different perspective of the side of the field, and I think I should be good,” she said.
Gonzales signed her letter of intent when Clint Myers was still ASU’s coach, but she said she likes Nicholson as the new coach.
“He’s really calm and tells me what I’m doing wrong and I make adjustments,” Gonzales said. “It shows on the field. Like before when I first came out here playing second base I didn’t know anything. Tonight I knew what I was doing and then hitting I was having trouble with inside pitches and then hit a home run (on an inside pitch).”
Gonzales went to Rosary High School, which is located in Southern California, and which is a prime recruiting school for collegiate softball.
“I’ve been playing since I was about three years old,” she said. “I played shortstop all four years in high school and I batted third in the lineup.”
-Nicholson said catcher Lucy Aubrecht is no longer on the team, and is deciding to focus on academics. “She said she’s going to be a student,” Nicholson said. Aubrecht, who would have been a redshirt senior in 2014, started 35 games in the 2013 season and hit .313.
-ASU defeated Yavapai 18-1. Both Yavapai and ASU used 10 players in their lineup. Nicholson said that was to maximize the amount of people getting into the game.
-ASU’s batting order against Yavapai was as follows:
SS Cheyenne Coyle
CF Alix Johnson
DP Amber Freeman
3B Haley Steele
1B Bethany Kemp
2B Nikki Girard
DP Chelsea Gonzales
LF Elizabeth Caporuscio
C Sashel Palacios
RF Bailey Wigness
Reach the reporter at Justin.Janssen@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @jjanssen11