It's a family affair for ASU softball's Danielle Gibson

Danielle Gibson has relied on her cousin and her new teammates to help her with ASU softball

Danielle Gibson has been on another level in her freshman season with ASU softball. 

The slugger nicknamed “Gibby” by her teammates, is hitting .416 with 32 RBIs and 11 home runs. Gibson leads the team in all three categories, and perhaps the most impressive part of the freshman’s game hasn’t been the numbers, but the timing of her hits, coming up clutch in a variety of situations for the Sun Devils.

“I think the biggest thing is she’s very humble,” ASU head coach Trisha Ford said of Gibson. “She has been very open to things, and she works. She gets extra cuts (swings), and she’s just not your typical freshman.”

Perhaps the perfect example of Gibson’s prowess occurred during ASU’s opening weekend of conference play.

Against No. 1 Washington, the left-handed power hitter took care of all the offense for the Sun Devils. 

ASU took two out of three from the Huskies, and Gibson provided all four of ASU’s RBIs in the series. The Sun Devils would go on to win 2-0 in the first and final game of the series, and those losses are currently the only blemishes on a 41-2 season for Washington. 

Gibson was a thorn in the side of the Huskies that weekend, but there was a time when the ASU standout was once rooting for the purple and gold.

Gibson’s cousin is former Washington volleyball standout Krista Vansant. Among a long list of accolades, the former Husky outside hitter was the 2012 Pac-12 Player of the year, the 2014 ESPNW National Player of the Year, and she helped Team USA win a gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games. 

Vansant helped lead Washington to a 2013 NCAA National Semifinal, and in November of 2017, Vansant’s No. 16 jersey was retired in the rafters at Alaska Airlines Arena in Seattle. At the time, that made her just one of four athletes in the history of Washington athletics to have their jersey number retired (There are now five UW jerseys retired after Isaiah Thomas' No. 2 jersey was retired in February).

“Seeing her work ethic and her example to me, and all of the rest of the kids and the family (Gibson’s family) was just amazing,” Gibson said. “To see her go through Washington … she (Vansant) was able to guide me through what a freshman year is like, how the work ethic is, and what I need to do with my coaches and teammates. Seeing her play at the Olympic level and the professional level, it just makes me strive to be like her.”

As for Gibson’s performance against her cousin’s alma mater, Gibson noted that Vansant sent her a text saying that she will always be loyal to Washington, but family comes first, and she couldn’t be more proud of her cousin.

Coming out of Murrieta Valley High School in Southern California, Gibson had a plethora of offers from big schools, including UCLA, Alabama and last year’s defending NCAA National Champions, Oklahoma.

Growing up as a UCLA fan, Gibson was tempted with playing her collegiate softball close to home with the Bruins, but after meeting some of the players at ASU, Gibson was sold on rerouting her final destination to Tempe.

“I definitely wanted to be in the Pac-12,” Gibson said. “I traveled everywhere that I had intentions of going, and here (at ASU), it just felt like home ... When I came here and met the girls, it was a national championship mindset that I wanted to be a part of.”

One of her current teammates in a star-studded freshman class is freshman infielder Bella Loomis. With Loomis hailing as a local product from Chandler, both players were a part of the Premier Girls Fastpitch (PGF) All-American Game over the summer in Southern California.

Loomis noted that she had previously met Gibson during her time in the travel ball circuit, but the two got to play together in the All-American game, and the prospect of arriving at ASU had both players filled with anticipation last summer.

“Just playing with her (Gibson) and both going to ASU, it was just really fun,” Loomis said of the game. “... We were just so excited. We have been wanting to be here since we met each other.”

From looking up to members of her family to finding a lot of new family members with ASU, Gibson has shone in the maroon and gold.

Maybe someday Gibson will even be similar to her cousin, with a lasting legacy in the Pac-12 that gives her an opportunity to wear the red, white and blue for Team USA.

But for now, Gibson has her eyes locked in on a Pac-12 crown with a trip to Oklahoma City on the horizon.

“I always imagine Gibson retired on the center field wall and living up to what she (Vansant) has done for our family,” Gibson said. “I definitely don’t feel the pressure, but I just want to be like her. It’s just a drive.”

Up next, Gibson will take part in her first Territorial Cup series when No. 12 Arizona enters Farrington Stadium this weekend. First pitch of game one is set for Friday, April 20 at 5 p.m. PST.

Reach the reporter at or follow @AndrewBell7 on Twitter.

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