Local freshmen are making strides for No. 16 ASU softball

Bella Loomis and Denae Chatman are both young Arizona natives seizing their shot at success

No. 16 ASU softball has just six players from the state of Arizona.

While the majority of the roster hails from California, the Sun Devils are getting the most out of  their few local players.

Among these local products are two freshman infielders — Denae Chatman and Bella Loomis.

Together, Loomis and Chatman are hitting a combined .354 coming off a deep ASU bench with six combined RBI this season. 

“We have a lot of kids on our bench. Denae Chatman has done a great job,” ASU head coach Trisha Ford said. “We have got some good kids coming off of our bench, and they are just waiting for those chances to come along.”

One of those chances for Loomis came last weekend during the Mary Nutter Classic in Cathedral City, California.  

The freshman infielder made a couple of starts, with one coming at third base, and the other coming at second. Loomis did not pass up on the opportunity to shine.

She came up with two RBI in a win against LIU Brooklyn, and she followed that up with a couple of clutch hits en route to ASU’s 7-3 comeback victory over Cal State Fullerton on Sunday afternoon, closing out a memorable first college road trip for the former Hamilton High School standout.

“All of the freshmen and I, we have to prove ourselves,” Loomis said. “Every chance I get, I am going to try my best and do whatever I can to help the team.”

Loomis did damage with the bat over the weekend. Her defense and versatility has excited the ASU coaching staff this season. 

Loomis can range to any spot in the infield, making her the ultimate Swiss Army knife for the Sun Devils.

“Bella is our backup for every position,” Ford said. “She is just a hard worker ... she is a coach's dream – just hard working, hard-nosed, does whatever is asked and doing extra (work). I have nothing but great things to say about her.”

As for Chatman, the Goodyear native has had her own success. She has hit .333 in the eight games played so far, including hitting a home run against Illinois State.

The Millenium High School graduate has made spot starts in the ASU lineup and has provided quality at-bats when she has gotten her chance to step in the box.

“It’s incredible. That’s one of the hardest things in this game to do, is to come off of the bench cold and get a pinch-hitting opportunity,” Ford said. “She has a very charismatic, happy-go-lucky personality, and she’s able to use those characteristics when she goes in the box … She has just done a great job of taking on that role, and you are going to see her move in and out of that DP spot and pinch-hitting role.”

Aside from the challenges of Division I college softball in an elite conference, the two freshmen have also settled into life off of the softball field at ASU.

With both players' families within close proximity, they have had plenty of support on and off the field.

Loomis and Chatman knew each other before playing for ASU, and they played travel ball against one another during their time growing up in the Valley.

“It’s always nice knowing you have the support here and right down the street if you ever need anything,” Chatman said. “... We always played against each other, and seeing each other at tournaments and always knowing that we were going to the same school – we always kept in touch.”

While both players have showcased their skills on the diamond, they had to bring something else to the table during ASU’s road trip to California last weekend.

During the five-hour bus ride to Cathedral City, the freshmen on the ASU roster had to take part in a team tradition called “Buseoke,” where players have to put on headphones and belt out some lyrics for the rest of the team.

The freshmen have a song of choice, and Chatman elected to go with a classic.

“I sang ‘Breaking Free’ from High School Musical,” Chatman said with a laugh. “It was fun.”

With a 13-2 start and a budding freshmen class that can sing and play ball, ASU will look to continue developing its young players, and Chatman and Loomis are at the forefront of the movement, with a future that looks bright.

“They are just going to be more and more comfortable,” Ford said of her freshmen class. “What you hope is that as your freshmen continue to play, that they really start to play like sophomores … These freshman have just done a really good job of adjusting quickly.”

Reach the reporter at atbell1@asu.edu or follow @AndrewBell7 on Twitter.

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