Any fear that ASU softball would not be the same under new head coach Craig Nicholson has surely dissipated following the six blowouts by the Sun Devils (6-0) at the Kajikawa Classic this weekend.
The Sun Devils were dangerous in just about every aspect of the game, from pitching to base running, but no piece was exemplified as much as their danger in the batter’s box. Over the weekend, every player contributed in the box, from home runs to sacrifice flies, and let other teams know that the end of the lineup is just as dangerous as the leadoff hitters.
“That’s the good thing about our offense,” Nicholson said. “I feel like it can come from anywhere in that order and we kind of proved that.”
Just a glance at the stats from the weekend shows how much of an understatement the word “dominant” would be to describe the Sun Devils’ performance during the weekend. Batting in softball is a game of failure, as getting out only seven out of 10 times makes you one of the best in the game, and the Sun Devils are leaving the weekend with 12 players batting over .300.
The season is young and stats tend to even out but the number of stolen bases can only grow. Nicholson arrived at ASU with a plan to elevate aggressiveness on the basepaths, and that fact alone was impossible not to notice.
Every opportunity was capitalized on after wild throws or fielders not staying focused. The Sun Devils were only called out once during their 13 steal attempts, already putting players like senior shortstop Cheyenne Coyle above pace of last season.
“I think I almost have more steals than I had in the entire year last year, so it feels nice,” Coyle said. “Because we work so much in practice it becomes natural in the game.”
Their talent isn’t the only thing that looks natural, as the family mentality that follows the Sun Devils is as commonplace as chalk on a baseline. This is a group that truly lives by a “no ‘I’ in team” mentality. Pitchers credit their defense behind them for their hard work and hitters credit other base runners before they congratulate themselves. Wins are earned together and errors are felt by the team.
The Sun Devils demonstrated all the qualities of a true team, but not just any team, a team destined for championship play this season. The beginning of the season is just that; a start. But there isn’t enough room to write about everything good the Sun Devils did during the weekend.
Mistakes were of course made; faults on the field, blunders on the bases, but as an offensively minded team it is difficult to complain about an opening weekend like the Sun Devils had.
Thursday, ASU softball was a team with nothing but excitement and dreams of a successful season, but six wins and 48 runs later, it is officially a solid team with a strong base on which to build.
The Sun Devils continue practice this week and hit the field again Thursday at 7 p.m. to face Tennessee State.
Reach the reporter at Nkwit@asu.edu or follow him @NolanKwit on Twitter.