The ASU softball team may have lost its first two games of conference play, but that does not take away any of its fire as the Sun Devils continue to sharpen their skills in preparation for their first home Pac-12 series against Stanford.
Their cleats are back to kicking up the Arizona dirt after a difficult series in Corvallis, Ore., against Oregon State that led to two losses, but coach Craig Nicholson believes that they did not perform poorly and just have to focus on looking forward.
“We really have to worry about us and how we come out and perform,” Nicholson said. “(It’s) getting ourselves back on track and getting back to doing things the right way.”
The players are continuing their usual routine: pitching drills, live hitting and, of course, their situational drills that end practice.
Nicholson believes that practices are about consistency and training, not about trying to fix problems or reshape the way the team plays.
“This game is about repetition, there are no cute things that you’re going to do in this game,” Nicholson said. “You’re not going to do any special plays or anything like that. You’re going to go out and repeat the same action over and over and whoever can do that the most consistently is going to win the game.”
Two losses in an opening conference series against an unranked team may seem like an issue, but Nicholson contends that most hits were unfortunately placed and the team did everything it could to strive for its wins.
For that reason, he does not see a reason to change the formula they have set up in the season and feel it’s best to just move forward from the losses.
Senior right fielder Bailey Wigness said the girls are still “decompressing” from the weekend but knows that nobody is going to be taking conference play lightly.
“Pac-12 is a different breed of softball,” Wigness said. “When you get to Pac-12 you throw records out the window; you throw what you are on paper out the window, because every game is going to be a dog fight.”
It’s war when it comes to conference play, and that’s why the players know the importance of keeping their cool and following Nicholson’s plan, so that when the time comes, everything is second nature.
This is a concept well understood by veteran players like senior center fielder Alix Johnson, who agrees with Nicholson’s practice philosophy.
“This late in the season, it’s not really tweaking things; it’s just fundamentals that we work on every day at practice,” Johnson said. “We’re just trying to become the best whole, as a team, that we can be.”
The Sun Devils have followed the same mentality all year: Trust the process. They believe that it’s about knowing they are prepared and trusting that what they’ve been doing up until now will lead them to victory.
This is the anchor of the Sun Devil softball team, and it’s this knowledge that keeps the team striving for victory. It’s not always about fixing problems, Wigness said, but about continuously working on that process and knowing that they will be the best team on the field.
“It’s not a matter of changing the way we play; we know how to play the game,” Wigness said. “We’re not playing our best softball right now. We don’t want to be playing our best softball right now.
“We want to keep getting better every weekend, and hopefully we peak at the right time. It’s just adjusting so that we continue to get better so at the end of the season, we are playing our best softball.”
Reach the reporter at Nkwit@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @NolanKwit