Allison Royalty To Bring Competitive Fire To Arizona State
Allison Royalty found herself at the bottom of the dogpile. Her team, Athletics Mercado/Smith, had just won the PGF 18U Premier Nationals backed by her complete-game, one-hit, 14-strikeout performance in the circle against the defending-champion Georgia Impact.
“I’d probably only slept a few hours before that game,” Royalty told Softball America during a phone interview. “I was just so excited because it was a dream I had been working toward. I had been there each year through 14U, 16U. I had gone to that tournament and only made it so far...Mentally, I fell back on that I knew I had what it took to win that game.”
That day at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine, Calif. means the world to Royalty. She accomplished her dream of becoming a national champion. Her ambitious spirit and the willingness to bet on herself put her in that position.
Royalty wasn’t a player that had come through the California-based Athletics Mercado system her entire life. In fact, she had to continuously nudge coach Dave Mercado to even give her a chance. After many phone calls, the two finally worked out a tryout for Royalty, an opportunity that paid off for the both of them.
A Texas native, Royalty had previously played for Texas Blaze Fastpitch and tried out for a few other Texas-based 18U teams. Those teams weren’t what she wanted. She wanted to play for the best and to be the best. She believed Athletics Mercado was that, and she wasn’t going to take no for an answer.
“I earned my spot and he let me on the team,” Royalty said. “Ever since then, it was just a matter of me earning that role. I had plenty of opportunities going in and I just made sure to execute.”
Royalty’s pursuit to be her best hasn’t always been easy. Similar to Mercado not always picking up her phone calls, there were schools during her recruiting process that were honest in their evaluation of her. When she was 14 and her process started, she began to worry about a few things.
“All the big programs were picking up their pitchers,” Royalty said. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, is there even going to be a Power Five team that doesn’t already have a 2020 recruit?’ I was worried about that...A few of the schools looked over me. I wasn’t big enough. I wasn’t throwing hard enough for them.”
The 5-foot-7 pitcher had her eyes set on the Pac-12. But some of those schools mentioned that at the time, she was simply too skinny. However, not every school thought that. Royalty doesn’t have the size of a Cat Osterman or a Monica Abbott, but what she does have is spin.
Trisha Ford had just been hired from Fresno State to be the new Arizona State softball head coach in 2016. On her first recruiting trip in her new position, she noticed the spin out of Royalty’s right hand at a tournament in Colorado.
“When I first saw her, she didn’t pass the eyeball test. She’s not your stereotypical 6-foot-1 pitcher with all these levers and she was basically knees and elbows at the time,” Ford told Softball America during a phone interview. “What she had was elite spin and break. At that age, you don’t see people’s balls move the way she makes her ball move.”
The interest quickly became mutual, mostly because Royalty and Ford have nearly the same mindset about winning. Royalty found her home and signed with Arizona State in November 2019.
“When I got to know her and ask questions of various people, I knew she was wired differently,” Ford said. “She’s highly motivated, who wants to be one of the best to ever play the game. When you learn those types of things and what she already had from a tool standpoint, I knew that four years down the road that’s going to look like something pretty exciting that I wanted to be a part of.
“It’s a little crazy because we’re very similar and when we get together we’re like two kids talking about our best friends because she loves to talk the game.”
The PGF championship isn’t enough for Royalty. She wants another one, but in the form of being the Sun Devils’ next Katie Burkhart or Dallas Escobedo to lead them to a national championship.
“I’m not a happy person if we’re losing. I love to win. I knew I wanted to be at a program that’s on its way to the World Series,” Royalty said. “That’s also important to me. The next four years, I want to get there and I also want to bring back a title. That’s really important to me.
“Talking to Coach Ford, I knew that program could do it.”