By Maren Angus
For three seasons, Arizona State softball was stuck. Stuck in the shadow of previous National Championship teams, success of former coaches and stuck with new coaches who couldn’t fulfill promises.
In two seasons as head coach, Trisha Ford has taken a program from the shadows of years before to the forefront and she’s done it her way. She promised her team that they would go to the World Series, the team bought in and she delivered on her promise.
“Bringing in Coach Ford was probably the best thing that this program needed to get back on track to come back to the World Series,” fifth-year senior Marisa Stankiewicz said. “It means a lot to our senior class because without a great leader you’re not going to go anywhere and she led us and told us that we could.”
In her first season in Tempe, Ford led the Sun Devils to a Regional appearance in Oxford, Miss. They were eliminated in three games. A year later, they were a national seed and returned to Oklahoma City for the first time since 2013.
“A lot of people didn’t think that we would get back here because of previous years,” Stankiewicz said. “We showed up and shocked a lot of people and I think Arizona State softball is on its way back to being one of the greatest teams you’re ever going to mess with.”
Every coach has a unique way of connecting with his or her players. In Ford’s case, she pushes her players to be the best person they can be both on and off the field. She loves them like family and her team loves and respects her in return.
“She’s more than a coach. I consider her like another mom,” sophomore Kindra Hackbarth said. “She’s just always there no matter what happens, personally and on the field. She’s all we can ask for.”
The results of the 2018 regular season awarded Ford with Pac 12 Coach of the Year. She took a roster full of underclassmen and transfers and turned them into a championship-caliber team.
Offensively, the Sun Devils scored in every game this season except three. The first was against Washington in March, the second against Oregon in April and the third against Oklahoma on Saturday afternoon. The one-two punch of sophomore G Juarez and senior Breanna Macha guided the defense.
“Without Coach Ford we don’t come back here,” Macha said fighting back tears. “She’s led us and every day she’s been tough. That’s what you want in a coach; you want her to be tough on you and love on you. I think she is exactly what this program needed. I don’t know how much more I can say.”
The future of Sun Devil softball is full experience. They have tasted postseason success and will return next season hungrier than before.
“I’m so proud of them for getting here,” Ford said. “I know what they’re capable of and they also know the adjustments we need to make in order for us to get to that next step… So we’re going to push them harder, make more adjustments and just keep learning.”
Arizona State softball is back on the map and will be for years to come simply because these Sun Devils are built Ford tough.