Madison Preston finds comfort in new family of ASU softball

The junior transfer has found an incredible bond with head coach Trisha Ford and teammates

The ASU softball season is just beginning, but junior pitcher Madison Preston is already having her best year of collegiate softball to date. However, the path she took to reach this point is different than many players.

Preston is a transfer from the University of Alabama. In her sophomore season for the Crimson Tide, she only pitched 12.2 innings. But eight games into her Sun Devil career, she has already thrown 23.2 innings.

Preston has helped lead the Sun Devils to a 9-2 record while recording a team-leading 1.48 ERA, earning herself a spot near the top of the rotation.

The relationship she has with her coach is one of the most important things to Preston, and she began to realize that she needed a change of schools once she felt her relationship with the coaches changed. 

"I started feeling disconnected from my coaches," Preston said. "I just want to go somewhere where I am getting better and where I have a great relationship with my coaches ... I was going to succeed somewhere but I just knew that it wasn't going to be there."

Head coach Trisha Ford created a relationship with Preston quickly because, along with being her head coach, she is also her pitching coach.

"Coach Ford, I have a great relationship with her," Preston said. "She is just super open to new ideas and she wants us both to be happy and both of us to be comfortable."

Ford said she has a type of pitcher she feels she fits well with, and Preston is exactly the type of player she looks for.

"One thing is that our personalities really clicked," Ford said. "When we talk pitching mechanics, what she had grown up with and what I teach match very well."

Support for Preston goes far beyond Ford. In her short time with the team, Preston has built relationships with the rest of the team as well, and she said they all have a mutual respect for each other. 

After senior center fielder Kindra Hackbarth hit a walk-off home run against Northwestern, she was quick to credit the effort of her new teammate.

"Mostly I was just doing it for (Preston)," Hackbarth said. "She is coming in, shutting everyone out and in the back of my head, I was just doing as much as I can for (Preston) and having her back, knowing she has our back."

All season, Preston and redshirt senior pitcher Cielo Meza  have been a one-two punch in the circle, with one starting the game and the other often coming in relief.

"She throws rise and curve," Preston said. "And I throw literally all down, so it is perfect because we are complete opposites."

Meza sees the potential that their combination has and is looking forward to where it can lead them.

"I don't think you can beat a drop ball and a rise ball," Meza said. "It is definitely going to be effective once we hit Pac (12) and into post season."

Preston and Meza share a common bond as students who transferred into the program as juniors, and that has helped them communicate both on and off the field. 

"It is just because we went through similar things with our mental game," Preston said. "So having someone who has been through that and have gotten out of it, she knew what worked for her. And when something works for you, you'd like to share it. I just think we've really clicked in that."

The journey to becoming a Sun Devil was an extended one, but Preston met with Ford and knew she wanted to be a part of ASU.

"I felt like when I walked away from here, I was like 'Yep, she is awesome,'" Preston said. "She knows exactly what I want, she knows how to get me there, I want to play for her."  


Reach the reporter at kbdyer2@asu.edu and follow @TheKamDyer on Twitter.

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