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Favorites emerge in ASU softball position battles

softball senior class
Seniors Bethany Kemp (left), Elizabeth Caporuscio, Amber Freeman, Sierra Rodriguez and Haley Steele pose for a picture on the field during senior night celebration on Saturday, May 9, 2015 at Farrington Stadium in Tempe.

After the first week of fall ball, we finally have a glimpse of what ASU softball’s going to look like next season.

The Sun Devils are losing a significant portion of the team’s power, replacing five starters, three of which were four-year starters.

Here’s a look at the replacements.

First base: freshman Fa Leilua replacing Bethany Kemp (.308, 35 homers). Leilua hit .608 with nine homers in her senior year at Hawthorne High School. "We think she's a middle of the order, 10 to 15 home run kid, hit some doubles, drive in some runs," ASU coach Craig Nicholson said. 

Third base: freshman Taylor Becerra replacing Haley Steele (.322, 48 homers). Becerra hit .441 in with La Serna High School in her career. While Steele was that middle of the order power hitter, Becerra's hitting leadoff and will be able to run. Nicholson said Becerra's just learning to play third base; she mostly played second base in her career. 

Left field: senior Abby Spiel replacing Elizabeth Caporuscio (.312, 27 homers). Spiel didn’t get much playing time in her first two seasons, but split time with senior Jenn Soria in center field last year and served as a defensive replacement in left for Caporuscio as well. Spiel is your typical lefty-slapper with a career .346 batting average.

Right field: senior Allie Butterfield replacing Sierra Rodriguez (.323, 5 homers). Butterfield’s another player that had to wait her time before cracking the lineup. She’s been used primarily as a pinch-runner and is another slap-hitter (career .222 batting average).

Designated player: senior Katee Aguirre/ junior Sashel Palacios replacing Amber Freeman (.389, 56 homers). Freeman’s obviously the biggest loss from the 2015 team. Palacios took the catching spot from Freeman last year, who moved to designated player. It looks like Aguirre (.289, 7 homers) and Palacios (.333, 3 homers) will split time behind the plate and at designated player.

ASU’s projected lineup:

3B Becerra
LF Spiel
SS Chelsea Gonzales
DP Palacios
2B Nikki Girard
1B Leilua
C Aguirre
CF Soria
RF Butterfield

2016 schedule nearly complete

For ASU fans wanting to see their team play at home, 2016 once again provides the perfect opportunity.

With nice weather in few parts of the country during the nonconference portion of the season, it makes sense that ASU leaves Tempe only once until April.

ASU’s 2016 schedule includes games against 11 teams that went to the postseason in 2015, three of which qualified for the Women’s College World Series (UCLA, Oregon and Tennessee). Those numbers don’t include opponents in the Judi Garman Classic, which include Missouri and Baylor (both finished 2015 in the NFCA Top 25), according to ASU coach Craig Nicholson.

The Sun Devils have history with some of the notable schools on the schedule.

In 2013, ASU eliminated Kentucky to advance to the Women’s College World Series, the team’s last appearance in Oklahoma City. Last year, ASU defeated Nebraska to open the postseason, but both schools were eliminated by LSU in the regional. Also last year, ASU lost 4-1 to Minnesota at home.

Kajikawa Classic (Feb. 11-14)

vs. Utah State (19-36), San Jose State (37-19), Tennessee (47-17), East Carolina (16-37), Portland State (16-35), San Diego (29-23), Kentucky (32-26).

Littlewood Classic (Feb. 19-21)

vs. Michigan State (19-36), Memphis (19-34), Illinois State (25-31), Northern Iowa (22-28), Montana (12-34).

Diamond Devil Invitational (Feb. 26-28)

vs. Minnesota (49-11), Houston (28-27), St. Francis (31-19; twice), Mount St. Mary’s (11-33).

Judi Garman Classic (March 3-6)


Louisville Slugger Invitational (March 11-13)

vs. Nebraska (35-23), Georgetown (15-32; twice), James Madison (48-10), Ohio State (30-22)

Series play

March 18-20 vs. Arizona (41-20)

March 24-26 vs. Texas Tech (25-26)

April 1-3 at California (39-18)

April 8-10 vs. Washington (42-17)

April 15-17 at Utah (36-19)

April 22-24 vs. Oregon (51-8)

April 29-May 1 at UCLA (51-12)

May 6-8 vs. Stanford (17-37)

May 12-14 at Oregon State (26-26)

Reach the reporter at or follow @jjanssen11 on Twitter.

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