ASU softball expects new hitting facility will boost already powerful offense

The 'state of the art' facility could strengthen recruiting efforts

ASU softball is building a new "state of the art" hitting facility that is expected to be completed in March, according to head coach Trisha Ford, who said the facility will have three cages with retractable nets. 

No. 23 ASU softball has no shortage of offensive firepower, averaging just over seven runs a game through the Kajikawa Classic. The addition can enhance that success even further, Ford said.

The Sun Devils have used technology in the past to help with hitting analytics, but this new building will become a welcome home for the technology.

"From a training perspective, we can keep all of our technology in there and ready to go, and they can hit to their hearts' content," Ford said.

One of the main pieces of technology used in the cage is HitTrax, which records vital statistics like exit velocity, distance traveled and launch angle. Currently, the technology is kept outside, which leaves it susceptible to interference from the blazing Arizona sun.

"We can have everything in there without having to worry about HitTrax working because of the lighting," senior center fielder Kindra Hackbarth said. "I am super excited for the future and what it's going to do for us."

The team is looking forward to using the facility later this season, and Ford said that many top college programs have similar quality hitting facilities.

"From a recruiting standpoint, everyone has one at this point in time," Ford said. "When you bring a kid on campus you're like, listen, we are going to have this facility up in a couple of months, and we have all this technology inside of it. You can hit whenever you want."

While recruits may be enticed by the hitting facility, the current players are already expressing palpable excitement.

"I wish it was done right now," senior catcher Maddi Hackbarth said. "Hitting is something that I've had to work hardest (at) throughout my career ... Hitting has been my rocky road, so I'm out here all the time, in the dark with the lights on, ... so I can't wait for it to be done."

Hackbarth joked that she might end up living at the new facility for a bit.

Players will have access to the cage any time of the day. The facility will allow an already impressive offense to continue improving the talent that produced the second most runs in Division I softball a year ago.

"Our team is a big offense team," sophomore left fielder Yannira Acuña said. "We have a lot of good hitters, and I think this building is going to be good for us because we can be here at (2 a.m.), whenever we want to put in the work."

The building may not be completed yet, but Ford has already been preaching what she expects from the team when it's done.

"Coach Ford said, 'I don't want you to come out of that facility. You're going to be in there, hitting and hitting,'" Acuña said. "I think that is going to make us better ball players."

Many donors contributed to make this facility a reality, including large contributions from Betsy and Kent Bro, who also contributed to the creation of the Bro and Blegen Agility Field for the football team.

Athletic Director Ray Anderson was another crucial part of getting the project off the ground.

"He has just been tremendous," Ford said. "He and his wife, Buffie, they are out at our games all the time and they understand the impact and the positioning we're at in softball. We're about ready to bust this thing open. 

Ford added that she expects the program to be "crazy good" in the next few years. The confidence stems from the notable support the team will receive from Anderson and the improved facilities.

"He believes in our program, and he believes in the importance of making sure that our facilities are top notch because we are going to recruit the best of the best," Ford said. 

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