(Photo: Michael Baron/WCSN)
The Sun Devils are embarking on their first trip away from Farrington Stadium as the Mary Nutter Classic takes place this weekend in Palm Springs, Calif.
“We’re going to be in a different atmosphere with good, quality teams so it’s going to be exciting to see how we react,” ASU senior catcher Sashel Palacios said.
This is the second in a series of firsts for ASU as the team is also coming off of its first loss against Boston College in last weekend’s Littlewood Classic. The Sun Devils nearly managed to come back, but still were defeated 3-2, making their overall record 9-1.
“There’s a lot to learn from that loss,” ASU head coach Trisha Ford said. “There’s no such thing as a good loss, but there are some things that we can learn from it.”
Nonetheless, the team’s approach has not wavered despite the changes surrounding its upcoming games.
“We just need to continue playing Arizona State Softball. I think we got a little complacent thinking it’s just Boston College, or it’s just this team,” Palacios said. “Every team is coming out here to beat us and we have a target on our back, but that’s a great thing to have. It will push us to win some close ball games and again, this weekend is going to be a good test for us.”
The Mary Nutter Classic will pose a great challenge for ASU right from the start as the Sun Devils’ first opponent is Texas A&M, currently hoisting an 11-0 record.
“We’re going to play some high-level softball. Obviously the Mary Nutter is a very prestigious tournament that has just about anybody in the top 25. We’re excited to get out and compete again and get that loss off of our shoulders,” Ford said.
Later on, the Sun Devils will go on to face Notre Dame, which has a 4-6 record. Notre Dame’s latest loss came against Texas, which is the third team ASU will take on.
Texas is currently 8-3 on the season and is holding onto a three-game winning streak.
“We’re ready to go,” ASU junior pitcher Breanna Macha said. “I just think with this practice alone we’re going to have a different kind of energy coming out here because of the type of competition that we’re facing this weekend.”
Furthermore, the Sun Devils will also compete against UC Santa Barbara, a team that is 3-6 so far and is entering the weekend after being defeated by Oklahoma 4-3.
“We just want to compete and I think, coming off of the loss, we’ve really wrapped our heads around that we have to come back,” ASU sophomore outfielder Skylar McCarty said.
To top off the Mary Nutter Classic, the Sun Devils will play Michigan, which has a record opposite that of Santa Barbara of 6-3. Michigan, like Texas, also took its most recent win from a game against Notre Dame that it dominated by a score of 9-2.
However, the Sun Devils’ primary concern is with their own play and how each of their individual games is going to better them as a team.
“We’re in a good spot. We’re learning still and still have a lot of room for growth,” Ford said. “You don’t want to be your best if February. You don’t want to be your best in March. You want to be your best in May, and I think if you ask the players they know they’ve still got a ways to go.”