Stankiewicz is flourishing in her final season with ASU softball

Marisa Stankiewicz was named an NFCA National Player and Pac-12 Player of the Week on Tuesday

Earlier this week, ASU redshirt senior infielder Marisa Stankiewicz was named both Pac-12 and NFCA National Player of the Week.

Over her last seven games, Stankiewicz is batting .529, while blasting five home runs, including three in the same day during ASU’s non-conference doubleheader against BYU and North Dakota State last Saturday.

In other words, Stankiewicz has been on another planet. The redshirt senior has been driving softballs to all different parts of the field during her rampant tear.

“Stank (Stankiewicz) is seeing beach balls up there apparently,” ASU head coach Trisha Ford joked after ASU’s wins on Saturday. “She is doing a really good job. She’s a fifth-year senior who is starting to find her rhythm … I am just happy for her. That kid works her butt off.”

For Stankiewicz, the rise to a national accolade hasn’t come easy, and it has been a long time coming.

As a freshman, the Gilbert native redshirted with the program and sat behind the likes of former Sun Devil standouts like Cheyenne Cole and Nikki Girard in the ASU infield.

Stankiewicz received limited amounts of playing time in her first three years with ASU, and had to wait her turn until last season, when Ford arrived in Tempe for her first year with the Sun Devils.

Playing under the first-year coach, Stankiewicz worked her way into a starting job at second base, and she was a mainstay up the middle of the infield alongside last year’s shortstop, Chelsea Gonzales, who is now a graduate assistant with the team.

“It definitely made me grow and mature,” Stankiewicz said of her first three years. “Learning from them and being behind them for those three years was a learning experience, and I kind of put it in my back pocket … I was fortunate enough to have such amazing players in front of me.”

Along with Stankiewicz, ASU sophomore pitcher Giselle “G” Juarez received her fourth consecutive Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week award earlier this week, and Juarez was among the first to break the news to her redshirt senior infielder.

“I think I was the first one to tell her,” Juarez said. “I was just so happy for her. She’s a fifth-year (senior) and she is just doing so well, and it just brought me joy.”

As for her head coach, when asked about Stankiewicz’s achievements, Ford gleamed with excitement, similar to that of a proud parent who beams in their child’s success, and that is something Ford took to heart during ASU’s Wings of Gold Celebration on Tuesday night.

The Wings of Gold event is an annual fund for the 14 women’s athletic programs at ASU, and all 14 women’s teams get together for a night to raise money for Division I athletic necessities such as recruiting and academic needs.

Ford didn’t hear about Stankiewicz’s awards until after practice on Tuesday, and in a room full of some of ASU’s best athletes, the head coach didn’t hesitate to give her veteran infielder a hard time while she was in a group of friends at the gathering.

“I embarrassed her. I was a dorky mom,” Ford said with a laugh. “I went up to Stank (Stankiewicz) and she was in a circle with a bunch of her friends, and I was like ‘National Player of the Week,' and she was mortified.”

The head coach didn’t just stop there either. Following the exclamation to her group of friends, Ford had a lot more in store.

“Of course, what does the excited mom do? I teased her some more,” Ford said with a smile. “Her and I, we were sitting at a table together last night, and everybody that came up (to the table), I was like ‘Do you know this is a National Player of the Week this week?’... and she gave me this look of, ‘I am going to kill you.’”

Nonetheless, Stankiewicz made it through the embarrassing ordeal, and with a sense of humor and love from her coach, the two have grown together and are now sitting as the No. 7 team in the country.

From not seeing the field as a redshirt freshman to receiving national honors, Stankiewicz is undoubtedly making the most of her final year in Tempe.

“From the first three years not exactly going the way that I wanted to go, to just gaining the confidence that Coach (Ford) gave to me … This year, I have really broken out and took my role by the reins,” Stankiewicz said. “It’s my last year. I have to do it.”

Stankiewicz and the Sun Devils will be on the road this weekend for a three-game set with Oregon State beginning this Friday, Apr. 6 at 12:05 p.m. PST.

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