ASU softball nearing completion of ‘state of the art’ hitting facility
TEMPE – Trisha Ford had a vision for the Arizona State softball program when she took the head coaching position in 2016. Thus far, she has led the Sun Devils to three postseason appearances in three seasons, including a trip back to the Women’s College World Series in 2018 after a five-year absence.
The team success and player accolades achieved under Ford were definitely in the plan. However, there were plenty of other things. Back in December 2019, the foundation of one of those components of her proposal was laid, quite literally.
Similar to the improvements made to ASU’s baseball team and their stadium in 2019, Ford’s program is getting a new hitting facility on the left-field side of Alberta B. Farrington Stadium.
“Just excited from a training perspective,” Ford said about the facility. “We can keep all our technology in there and ready to go. They can hit to their heart’s content.”
According to Ford, the “state of the art” facility that is expected to be completed in March will have the technology the program has used in the past, three cages with retractable nets and air conditioning. Funding for the facility came from the school’s donors, including Betsy and Kent Bro, who have helped plenty around ASU, including the football team’s agility field that opened in 2019.
ASU Athletic Director Ray Anderson has played a huge part in supporting Ford’s program. Anderson was behind the project when the protective nets at Farrington Stadium were upgraded and extended.
“He’s just been tremendous,” Ford said. “He and his wife, Buffie, they’re out at our games all the time. They understand the impact and the position we are at in softball. We are about to bust this thing open. And I’m telling you guys that in the next couple of years this program is going to be crazy good.”
Ford believes the new facility will play a part in her program’s future success, building on the fact that last season her team finished second in runs per game and fifth in home runs per game in the nation.
“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 entire career. … Hitting has been my rocky road, so I’m out here all the time, out here in the dark with the lights on, working off the tee, watching film. I can’t wait for it to be done. I might just live there for a bit.”
Arizona State uses HitTrax, a system that measures analytic type statistics that have taken over baseball and softball. The exit velocity of a ball off the bat, the distance, the blast impact, rotation and a bat’s path if it’s at the correct angle that teams want is all consumed by the HitTrax technology. All that information is useless though when the harsh Arizona sun disrupts it. The new facility changes all of that as well.
Assistant coach Carly Wynn, who has been at Ford’s side since her arrival in Tempe, is happy to see the building come together after many years of talking about it.
“It’s great. It’s been so due for the girls,” Wynn said. “The administration has really stepped up, the donors have really stepped up and been able to give back to our program for the alums that have been here before us. Winning has been a part of this program for a long time. Just to be able to give it back to the girls that are now going to be here, it’s an asset from a training standpoint.”
The days of having just three nets off to the side are soon to be gone for Arizona State. Softball’s rise as one of the NCAA’s most popular sports in terms of popularity and revenue will bring these types of improvements to the best programs.
“Everybody has one at this point in time,” Ford said. “Any of the top programs have a hitting facility. To me, it’s tremendous. It makes our stadium look like a stadium.”
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