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Fresno State transfers paying huge dividends for ASU softball

The Bulldog transfers have made a big impact for the Sun Devils


ASU sophomore outfielder Kindra Hackbarth (22) takes a swing at a pitch during the Sun Devils' 6-4 victory over Nebraska on Friday, Feb. 9, 2018 at the Alberta B. Farrington Softball Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.

As many people know, a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. While many people understand the concept, it’s rare to see other things mold into something else.

However, for the No. 18 ASU softball team, Bulldogs are turning into Devils.

During the offseason, ASU had three players transfer from the Fresno State Bulldogs softball program — junior outfielder Morgan Howe, sophomore catcher Maddi Hackbarth and sophomore outfielder Kindra Hackbarth.

Together, the three players transferred from the Mountain West powerhouse to join ASU head coach Trisha Ford, who was the former head coach at Fresno State prior to her arrival in Tempe.

“They fit well in our mold," Ford said. "They are my kind of players. They are pretty hard-nosed and gritty ... it’s my DNA.”

Kindra and Maddi Hackbarth are twin sisters who transferred to ASU, while Howe was a 2017 Mountain West first-team selection while roaming the outfield at Fresno. 

For the trio, the journey to ASU was unique, but it was something they all went through together.

Each player went through the NCAA transfer process, and they have now found a new home with a head coach who they all feel comfortable playing under.

“At the end of last season, we went through the (transfer) appeal process together,” Maddi Hackbarth said. “We came on a visit together (to Tempe). We were kind of the package deal, but not so much individually. We have been through a lot ... all three of us, and we love each other, and we love playing with each other.”

That love for one another was on full display in ASU’s opening weekend. 

In the Kajikawa Classic and through six games played, the three players hit a combined .473 at the plate while driving in 21 of the team’s 34 RBIs and tallying nearly half of ASU’s total hits.

Howe is currently 12-20 at the plate through her first six games, while Kindra Hackbarth is right behind her with a .467 batting average.

In addition to the outfielders, Maddi Hackbarth filled in nicely behind the dish in her first game action with the ASU pitching staff while batting .353.

“I think it made it a lot easier,” Howe said of her transition with her Fresno teammates. “We all came here not knowing anybody else ... It was really nice to know somebody, and they know you on a personal level instead of meeting a whole brand new group of people without knowing anything.”

So far, the transition and the figurative tap of the reset button is paying full dividends for the Fresno State transfers, especially for Maddi and Kindra Hackbarth.

While Howe played her freshman year under Ford, Maddi and Kindra Hackbarth did not have the opportunity in Fresno.

“It’s a tough spot. You leave a program (at Fresno) and this was my dream job (at ASU),” Ford said. “... Kindra and Maddi didn’t get the playing time that they wanted, so it just ended up being a good fit for everybody (at ASU).”

Now with the chance to play under Ford, Maddi Hackbarth is getting the opportunity to be the top catcher on a deep roster that is full of talent, while her sister has flourished in the outfield.

Over the weekend, Howe and Kindra Hackbarth played effectively alongside one another in the outfield.

In addition to some outstanding play on the field, the two outfielders stayed loose and showed off their dance moves after recording outs. 

Their moves became a hit among ASU fans, and Kindra Hackbarth noted that there is even more to come for the Sun Devil faithful.

“We wanted to be different, and we wanted to be original with our outfield things,” Kindra Hackbarth said. “Me, Morgan and Skylar (McCarty) got something together to do a dance move ... We are going to change it up ... it’s a surprise every weekend.”

With the rest of the 2018 season ahead, the three transfers certainly look as if they have settled into their new home.

Up next, ASU will host the University of North Dakota this Friday, Feb. 16 at 5:30 p.m. MST from Farrington Stadium.

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