It’s another weekend road trip for ASU softball for its series against Pac-12 competitor California beginning Friday in Berkley, Calif.
This will be the third road series the Sun Devils (32-6, 6-3 Pac-12) play on the season, and they are looking to bounce back from their previous away series in Corvallis, Ore., that brought two losses to open Pac-12 competition.
This time around, the Sun Devils will enter with momentum after taking the series from rival UA, which senior shortstop Cheyenne Coyle thinks set a standard for how they should be playing every game.
“It was a good win for us … but (we’ve) definitely got to move on and now looking on Cal, (we’ve) definitely got to play better on the road,” Coyle said. “That’s what we want to focus on, playing as well on the road as we do at home.”
The Golden Bears (19-11, 3-1 Pac-12) are currently ranked fourth in the Pac-12, one place behind the Sun Devils. Bad weather on Saturday and Sunday caused two cancellations for the Golden Bears against Oregon State, which could have potentially altered their Pac-12 rank.
In the game the Golden Bears did win, they got their ninth straight win 13-3.They have been playing intimidating softball over the weeks of their streak, gathering three run-rule victories as well as freshman Stephanie Trzcinski throwing her first career no-hitter.
The Golden Bears could have a bit of a disadvantage coming into the series because of an oddly scheduled game against the University of the Pacific on Wednesday evening that creates a hump in the week, but coach Craig Nicholson said it won’t have an effect or will mostly be used as a tune-up for their own series.
The Sun Devils will have a drawback of their own, which is their inexperience playing on another team’s turf.
Farrington Stadium has been home to 30 games for the Sun Devils this season, as many total games as the Golden Bears have played.
The Sun Devils have only played eight games on the road so far, and while they thrived in neutral territory after winning all five of their games at the Judi Garman Classic, they fell short when the other team had the home field in the Oregon State series.
“I think home field advantage is very big in our conference and a part of why it’s so big is because of the travel,” Nicholson said. “You’re not driving, most of the time, two hours down the road for a series, you’re flying somewhere, taking a whole day before to travel. Most of the times at home you know you’re going to play well, so we expect Cal to play well, and we’ll have to match that level.”
But senior pitcher Dallas Escobedo said the change is nice and that “getting away again might boost us again.”
That especially goes for the team bonding that is involved with long travel. Beginning to travel can be difficult with a new coach, but as the Sun Devils approach their third trip, some of Nicholson’s changes are highly positive on his players.
“Coach (Nicholson) has a no-phone policy during dinner,” Coyle said. “It really makes you bond with your teammates. I love that rule. You really get to spend more time with your teammates and really get to grow with each other.”
Escobedo and Coyle drafted
Escobedo got a boost of her own after being the first pick for the National Pro Fastpitch League draft, along with Coyle being drafted 13th, but she said she knows where her priorities lie at this point in the season.
“Hopefully I can just stay the same or step up,” Escobedo said. “It’s a very good opportunity I can do in the future but just finishing business here is most important right now.”
The Sun Devils play their first game of the series Friday at 3 p.m. in Berkley, Calif.
Reach the reporter at Nkwit@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @NolanKwit