ASU softball is suffering, needs another Clint Myers


Anybody out there got Clint Myers‘ cell phone number?

It might be time to call the former Arizona State softball coach to see if he will come back to Tempe and begin rebuilding the program to where it was when he left three years ago to take the head coaching job at Auburn.

Yeah, I know.  Fat chance.  Myers has the Tigers playing the kind of ball he had the Sun Devils playing during the eight years he directed the ASU program.  Auburn was ranked No. 2 in the nation a week ago.

Heck, even if Myers wanted to return to Tempe, Auburn would never let him go.

During his eight years at ASU, he won two national titles – and was among the favorites to win another before deciding to take the Auburn job.

Auburn has won 45 games so far this season.  That’s nearly double ASU’s total of 28.

Here’s a snap shot of how bad it is right now: With five games to go in the regular season, the Devils needed the 9-1 win over Stanford last night to guarantee a winning record.   They’re sitting just one rung from the bottom of the Pac-12 standings.  Stanford, which hasn’t won a conference game this year, is the only team below ASU.

When Myers unexpectedly left for Auburn, Craig Nicholson was pulled out of the junior-college ranks to take over the storied program that had seen just three coaches, including Myers, in the program’s history.

Nicholson, who won six national JUCO titles at Central Arizona College, used a stable of top talent left by Myers to put together a 44-win first season and a No. 4 national ranking.  But he lost in the regionals in two straight games.  His second year the Devils went 36-22, but again couldn’t get past the regionals.

For a tradition-rich program like ASU’s, anything short of a trip to the Women’s College World Series is considered under-achieving.  At the very least, playing in the super regionals is mandatory.

After two seasons, Nicholson resigned, citing “personal medical reasons.”

Instead of hiring a new head coach, they turned the program over to a couple of coaches already on board.  Robert Wagner, had been an associate head coach with the ASU program from 2006-11, but had been back on staff for just one year.  Letty Olivarez had been working as a pitching coach in her first season on staff.

It’s probably safe to say that the experiment hasn’t been working as well as hoped.  Wagner and Olivarez got the team off to a 15-2 start and No. 19 national ranking, but then lost three out of the next four to begin March, and went on a four-game skid in the middle of the month.

And then it got worse.  The Sun Devils had lost 12 straight games and won just six out of the previous 23 before stopping the bleeding with the win over hapless Stanford.

There are some bright spots this season.  This team is using the long ball to some advantage; its 58 homes runs are third in the conference and tied for 19th nationally.  And the team batting average of .321 is 20 points higher than at this point last season, and ranks 28th in the nation.

But this squad lost five all-conference caliber players from last year and returned just one multi-year starter in senior second baseman Nikki Girard.  The roster includes some up-and-coming pitching talent, but they’re young. Kelsey Kessler is a redshirt junior, who tops the pitching staff with a mediocre 3.26 ERA, but Breanna Macha and Dale Ryndak are sophomores with even less impressive ERAs.

And the top four hitters this season include a pair of true freshmen.

The only thing ASU has going for it right now is a big break in the tail-end of the season.  After three games with last-place Stanford, today and tomorrow, the Devils will close with three against Oregon State.  The Beavers have just six conference wins and sit just above ASU in the Pac-12 rankings.

Unfortunately, Nicholson didn’t stock the shelves with the same kind of talent that he inherited from Myers.  A big-name coaching hire would bring with it a much-needed recruiting boost.

Hello…Clint?  Please pick up, Coach.

(Photo: ASU Athletics)