Trisha Ford is looking to take No. 8 ASU softball to new heights

Ford picked up career win No. 200 over the weekend

Amidst a 3-1 win in 10 innings at No. 22 Cal on Saturday, ASU softball head coach Trisha Ford picked up career win number 200, and she accomplished the achievement near her hometown.

Ford grew up playing softball in Fremont, California, and she played collegiate softball just up the road at St. Mary’s College in Moraga.

With her team playing near the friendly confines of her home in the Bay Area, Ford reached her historic milestone with a whole grove of family and friends in attendance.

“I had a lot of family and friends come out," Ford said. "My parents drove down, my in-laws were there, my best friend from childhood, she came out and brought all of her kids, so we get spoiled when we go to the Bay Area. That will always be my home ... it was nice to have a bunch of people come out.”

With a humble demeanor, Ford noted that she didn’t even realize that she had a chance to pick up her 200th win on Saturday. She mentioned how special it was to share it with her team and a number of family and friends.

Nonetheless, coming from Fresno State to ASU, Ford has found her new home at a school that she has labeled as her “dream job.”

“I was in a very good situation (at Fresno),” Ford said. “To be able to come here and play at a really high level … I just think for me, it was a good fit from a philosophy standpoint, and I just really believe in what we do and what kind of people we turn out of this program.”

Not only has Ford grabbed the reins as ASU’s head coach, but she has stabilized a program that was looking to find its identity after former head coach Clint Myers was pushed away from the University after the 2013 season.

Myers left behind two national titles and consistent trips to Oklahoma City, and in the wake of his departure, the program found itself in somewhat of a lull compared to its success at the turn of the decade.

That is not to say that ASU took a downward spiral, as it has reached the postseason for each of the last 12 seasons, but the identity of the softball program hit a little bit of turbulence.

At one point, ASU had three different head coaches in three years, including a 2016 season in which the Sun Devils had co-interim head coaches. 

The team’s ERA was up near four runs a game in 2015 and 2016, and while the team was still making the postseason, there was a different atmosphere compared to the national prestige that ASU received early in the decade.

However, with a change in the athletic department and the vision of athletic director Ray Anderson, ASU found the right person for the job when it hired Ford.

“When he hired me, his number one priority was to get this thing right,” Ford said. “We all believe in the same philosophy, that we have to take care of the kids, and we have to take care of the players, and everything else will fall into place. For me, the reason why I am here today is because of Ray Anderson ... Somebody like Ray is special. He is an outside of the box thinker.”

Now sitting as the No. 8 team in the nation and cracking the NFCA top-10 for the first time since 2014, Ford has revitalized the team through her ability to forge relationships with her players.

From snagging highly-touted recruits like freshman first baseman Danielle Gibson, to attracting her former players like ASU’s three Fresno State transfers, Ford’s attitude and coaching philosophy have reflected her product on the field, and there is a genuine sense that her players love to play for her.

Among a couple of ASU seniors who have been through it all with the program are pitcher Breanna Macha and outfielder Nicole Chilson. The two seniors have endured all of the coaching changes, and both of them have now found themselves ranked in the top-10 for the first time in their four-year careers.

“She’s awesome. She has brought a lot of new things to this program,” Chilson said of Ford. “She is really intense on the field, and she really cares about us as people off the field, which I think is really awesome and something that we probably didn’t have as much as before. She really wants to help us more as a person rather than a softball player, and I really appreciate that part of Coach Ford.”

As for Macha, the Valley native might have better knowledge than anyone about the identity of the ASU softball program. She served as the bat girl for the team the year ASU won the program’s first-ever softball title in 2008.

Macha was in the circle for Ford’s 200th win, and she is hoping that her senior campaign can be closed out in the same fashion as the teams that she watched growing up.

“I compare it (this year’s team) to the ‘08 team,” Macha said. “That’s a national championship team right there ... just being in the dugout and seeing them; I definitely remember the camaraderie and all of their chants and cheers. I think the energy that they had, we have that same energy.”

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