The Bulldogs relished a powerful performance last year, going 42-12-1 (22-1 in the Mountain West Conference) and getting their first NCAA Regional victory since 2011 before being eliminated in the Los Angeles Regional by Cal State Fullerton. Head coach Trisha Ford, who coached the program to two MWC titles and two NCAA appearances in her four years, left Fresno State in the offseason and is now running the show at Arizona State.
With eight seniors graduated and just five starters returning, new coach Linda Garza will try to stabilize the situation. There’s no better place to start than senior Kierra Willis, the 2016 MWC player of the year who hit .345 and drove in 45 runs while scoring 54 times in her 55 starts. She will get support from senior Lindsey Willmon, who hit .363 last year, her first after transferring from Hawaii.
The pitching staff loses 25-game winner Jill Compton; one hurler with plans to rise to the occasion is sophomore Kamalani Dung, who won eight games as a freshman.
NOTE: While hitting at the bottom of the order, Willmon led Fresno State with 12 home runs (including two grand slams). She set a school and MWC single-game record when she drove in nine runs in an 18-2 win against Boise State.