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ASU softball co-interim coaches Robert Wagner, Letty Olivarez still working out kinks

Breanna Macha- softball
Freshman starting pitcher Breanna Macha pitches during the ASU vs Utah softball game at Farrington Field on April 26, 2015. Macha would get roughed up by the Utes allowing 12 hits and 4 runs as the Devils fell 4-0. (Daniel Kwon | The State Press)

If you’re confused about the ASU softball coaching situation, don’t worry as the co-interim coaches don't have all the details squared away yet.

On Monday, ASU announced third-year coach Craig Nicholson resigned, citing personal health issues while assistants Letty Olivarez and Robert Wagner take over as co-interim coaches.

For the most part, Olivarez will work with the pitchers (she was already the pitching coach) and Wagner with the hitters (he was the hitting coach and recruiting coordinator).

"Most of the others decisions will be a joint decision," Wagner said. "I’ve never been involved with a situation as a co-head coach but we get along good. We (will) just continue to communicate and improvise and do the best we can."

In Wednesday's fall ball game against South Mountain Community College, Wagner served as the third-base coach, while voluntary coach Kristen Brown was at first base. Before the game, Wagner was the one who greeted the umpire and opposing coach behind home plate. 

Olivarez came to ASU after a one-year stint as pitching coach of Cal State Northridge, where the Matadors were 24th in the country in team ERA. She was at Stanford the three years before, the first two as a voluntary coach.

In Wagner's first stint at ASU, he rose to the level of associate head coach, so perhaps a head coaching role is in his future.  

"I hope there’s a chance," he said. The administration has been open. They’ve been very supportive but with that title of interim head coach, there’s no guarantees. But I feel like if we have a good year…  we have to force them to consider us."

ASU also lost Aaron Wilson, the program's director of operations since fall 2013, so there are some behind-the-scenes things that still need to be ironed out among the staff.

One concern with the coaching search put off until after the 2016 season is that not everyone who committed to the Sun Devils will sign (National Signing Day is in a month). However, Wagner said that as of Wednesday, nobody has decommitted.

"As of right now everyone is still on board but there’s no guarantees until they sign," Wagner said. "Usually in the softball world, once a player commits, they’re pretty loyal to that school." 

Anytime there's a coaching change, emotions run high. Players form a bond with the head coach, and for many, it's a big reason why they chose the school. Sophomore Breanna Macha probably summed it up the situation best in a tweet she sent Tuesday night. 

"It's definitely been hard," senior catcher Katee Aguirre said. "There's a lot of emotions here but health and family have to come first and we respect that. We wish for the best for he and his family, but other than that, we're excited to get the ball rolling."

The message from the coaches is that the goals haven't changed, and to the players, it's that they're there for them. 

“We had a team meeting after everything happened, but we were able to sit them down and say, ‘This is up to you guys, if you want to take it and run with it or not’ and they’ve responded well and it’s been a good couple of days moving forward," Olivarez said. 

Reach the reporter at or follow @jjanssen11 on Twitter.

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