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ASU catcher Maddi Hackbarth is determined to make school history

Arizona State catch Maddie Hackbarth was one home run shy of tying the ASU single-season mark in 2019. (Photo by Brady Vernon/Cronkite News)

TEMPE, Ariz. – Maddi Hackbarth, Arizona State softball’s senior catcher, is on a mission in 2020.

“I want my name written somewhere special,” she said.

That special place is in ASU’s softball record book. And Hackbarth has already shown that she’s capable of leaving an indelible mark.

As a junior last season, she slugged 19 home runs, just one shy of the ASU single-season record of 20 set by Kaitlin Cochran in 2009 and equaled in 2013 by Cheyenne Coyle.

So, this year, Hackbarth is locked in on making history. She wants the record.

“I’m going for it this year,” Hackbarth said. “That was a goal since I hit my first home run here.”

Only a few years ago, it would have been unthinkable to expect Hackbarth to approach such a milestone. She wasn’t exactly crushing the ball when she arrived at ASU. It took hard work and a good understanding of technology for her to take her hitting to a new level.

Hackbarth came to ASU as a stellar defensive catcher. She was even named defensive player of the year twice in her high school’s league.

However, hitting was something that came less organically. It was her “rocky road,” as she put it.

As a sophomore in 2018 at ASU Hackbarth hit only six home runs and batted .175. It was not nearly good enough for her. She set out to bring her work at the plate up to the level of her work behind it.

“Hitting is something that I’ve had to work the hardest at,” Hackbarth said. “I’m here all the time, even in the dark, working on the tee or watching film.

In her second season at ASU in 2019 (she transferred from Fresno State after her freshman year), she experienced a massive power surge. Her slugging percentage shot up from .349 as a sophomore to .681, and she won Pac-12 Player of the Week honors in March for a stretch in which she blasted five home runs over that week.

Talking about her 2019 season, senior Maddi Hackbarth sets her goals for this upcoming season by leading the NCAA in home runs during ASU Media Day on Wednesday, February 5th in Tempe, AZ.

Still, she didn’t break the home run record. She wanted to get even better. So Hackbarth spent her offseason utilizing technology and film study to take a deeper dive into her swing.

“We have HitTrax, and I like video games. So it’s like putting two and two together,” Hackbarth said of the system that measures and displays real-time wing data. “I get to see my exit velocity and how far the ball is going. We have Blast (Blast Motion Swing Analyzer) which tells me my connection, rotation and if I’m on plane. And it breaks down my swing in 3-D.

“I like to get down to it, so technology helps me.”

All of Hackbarth’s work during the offseason impressed ASU coach Trisha Ford, who called her catcher the most improved hitter on the team after the big 2019 season.

“I don’t understand why she doesn’t get the recognition she deserves,” Ford said. “She was in the home run race for much of last season. She’s in the best shape, emotionally, physically, mentally. The kid’s a beast.”

Ford said Hackbarth routinely blasted home runs over the building beyond the left-field fence during practice.

With the season underway, it’s time for Hackbarth to find out if her techno-training regimen will pay off for the Sun Devils and place Hackbarth’s name in a special place in ASU history.

“This team is special and we are ready to write our story,” she said, “and I’m ready to finish mine.”

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