As the tallest player on her first softball team, Hillary Bach knew what position she wanted to play. And it wasn’t the one her father/coach sent her to.
"He wanted me to play shortstop,” Bach said of her first softball experience 12 years ago in Tulsa. "I said, ‘Dad, I’m not a shortstop, I’m a tall-stop. I’m gonna pitch.’ ” Her father, Dave, told her of the extra work and added pressure softball pitchers have to deal with, but Bach was unswayed. A little begging and sweet talk got her the opportunity to pitch. Now, after putting in all that extra work, Bach will find out just how much added pressure there is — not just because she’s a pitcher, but because she’s the starting pitcher for the Arizona State Sun Devils, who begin the defense of their Women’s College World Series title today at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. In fact, no player at the WCWS has bigger shoes to fill than Bach, as the 19-year-old true freshman from Holland Hall High School steps in for Katie Burkhart, last year’s senior pitcher who carried ASU to its only national championship. "As a dad, I kind of worried about her having to fill that role,” Dave Bach said. "She’s handled it extremely well.” But Hillary Bach maintains a level head about the situation. "It’s a challenge, and I like it,” Bach said as her team prepares for its opening game at 2 p.m. today against unseeded Missouri. "But when I get to the field, I’m going to forget about everything Sun Devils facing elimination from their home regional. Bach’s rise to become the ace of Arizona State’s pitching staff was unexpected, but when junior Megan Elliott struggled, coach Clint Myers looked to his rookie. "The plan wasn’t for her to pitch as much as she has,” Myers said.
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→When: Today-Wednesday →Where: ASA Hall of Fame Stadium →Tournament bracket: Page 4C Tickets →Single-session tickets ($10-$13) can be purchased at the ticket office outside ASA Hall of Fame Stadium beginning 9 a.m. today or online anytime at www.okcallsports.org. →Parking passes are sold out, but free parking with shuttle to the stadium is available at Remington Park’s west parking lot.
Today’s games →Game 1: Georgia vs. Washington, noon →Game 2: Arizona State vs. Missouri, 2 p.m. →Game 3: Michigan vs. Alabama, 6 p.m. →Game 4: Arizona vs. Florida, 8 p.m.