No. 8 Softball Travels To The NFCA Leadoff Classic
Feb. 20, 2002
ON TAP: The eighth-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils (9-2) will head out onto the road for the first time this season, travelling to Columbus, Georgia to compete in the seventh NFCA Leadoff Classic Tournament, Friday, February 22 through Sunday, February 24. The Sun Devils will compete in Pool 3 against Connecticut (0-0), 10th-ranked Michigan (4-1) and 24th-ranked Mississippi State (8-2). ASU will first face Mississippi State on Friday at noon (eastern) followed by UConn at 2:30 p.m. ASU will finish pool play on Saturday with a game against Michigan at 12:30 p.m. The tournament format consists of six, four-team pools. Following pool play, the top team from each pool, along with two at-large teams, will advance to the Gold Championship Bracket. The remaining four second-place teams along with four at-large teams will be placed in the Silver Championship Bracket and the remaining eight teams will be assigned to the Bronze Championship Bracket. All brackets will be single elimination/consolation. Saturday's bracket play will be at 5:00 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday's bracket play is scheduled for 8:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m. and noon. Last year, the Sun Devils won the Bronze Bracket.
LIFE'S A BEACH: Senior All-American pitcher/designated player Erica Beach continues to have a stellar career as a Sun Devil. Beach currently holds Arizona State's all-time record for home runs (21) and RBIs (131), and is fifth all-time in wins (52) and sixth in strikeouts (332). After posting a perfect 3-0 record at last weekend's Louisville Slugger Classic Tournament, Beach was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week. She tossed her third shutout of the year against Oklahoma State. Beach was a main factor in Arizona State winning the tournament title as she pitched 21 innings, striking out 13, while allowing only one earned run. The earned run was the first all year, snapping a streak of 39 and two-thirds innings. The honor is Beach's fifth Pac-10 award of her career. Currently, Beach is 6-0 (three shutouts) in 42 innings pitched. She has allowed only one earned run (0.17 ERA) with 32 strikeouts. At the Fiesta Bowl Tournament, Beach posted back to back one-hit games against No. 16 Fresno State and New Mexico State, flirting each time with no-hitters deep into the games. Beach also went nine innings for a career-high eight strikeouts against Texas A&M for the win and also knocked in the winning run. Last year Beach set a new career high with 17 wins and 134 strikeouts, including six shutouts and a 1.35 ERA. She also claimed Louisville Slugger/NFCA National Player of the Week and Pac-10 Player of the Week honors. Beach again earned Pac-10 honors, this time Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week acclaim by posting two of ASU's three wins as they swept the Bay Area road trip. Beach posted a 2-0 record (both shutouts) with one save as ASU went 4-1, reaching the quarterfinals of the KIA Klassic Tournament. Against ninth-ranked Cal State Fullerton, Beach came in the fifth inning with the score 4-3 and no-hit Fullerton (3 K's) for the rest of the game to notch her second save of the year ... Beach also posted a 3-1 record at the 2001 NFCA Leadoff Classic and was named to the all-tournament team.
OFFENSIVE PRODUCTION: Sophomore Phelan Wright is picking up where she left off after an outstanding freshman year. Through 11 games this season, Wright is batting .400 while leading the team in home runs (3). She is second in hits (14), RBIs (9), runs (8) and doubles (2). Wright was named the team's Offensive Player of the Year after leading the Sun Devils in batting average (.399/average was the highest posted by a freshman in the Pac-10 since 1999), hits (67) triples (2) and slugging percentage (.530). She also earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors. Over the last 33 games in 2001, she batted .495 with five doubles, two triple, three home runs, 12 runs scored, 15 walks and 22 RBIs. She also earned NFCA National Player of the Week honors and Pac-10 Player of the Week honors. In 21 Pac-10 games she batted an amazing .418 in the pitching rich conference and posted the team's longest hitting streak at 13 games (fifth longest in the Pac-10). Wright produced a team-high 18 RBIs with two outs and finished tied for second on the team with 17 multi-hit games and third in multi-RBI games (6). Additionally, she batted .530 at the National Invitational Softball Tournament, earning all-tournament honors and led the team in postseason batting average at a .455 clip, earning Region III All-Tournament team honors.
DYNAMIC DUO: Seniors Missy Hixon and Nichole Thompson, who play second base and centerfield/firstbase respectively, each contribute to the success of the team in similar ways. Hixon, a three-time All-Pac-10 selection, is a three-year starter and has played in 191 career games ... she has produced 183 hits (seventh all-time), six home runs, scored 96 runs and recorded 63 RBIs ... Hixon has also tallied 30 career doubles (third all-time) and stole 16 bases ... in 625 career at bats, Hixon has struck out only 29 times (1:22 at bats). Thompson, also a three-year starter, is a two-time All-Pac-10 selection and an All-Pacific Region choice as a sophomore ... Thompson holds a career .334 batting average (sixth all-time) in 193 games ... she has produced 198 hits (fourth all-time), scored 118 runs and recorded 59 RBIs ... Thompson has also tallied 20 doubles, four triples, stole 28 bases (seventh all-time) and has sacrificed 47 times ... in 593 career at bats, she has struck out only 29 times (1:20 at bats) ... both players were members of the USA National Softball (Blue) team.
HEAD COACH LINDA WELLS: Coaching her 13th season at ASU and 28th of her career, Sun Devil Coach Linda Wells is one of the most prominent and successful coaches in NCAA history. Wells, who is currently the seventh-most successful active coach in NCAA Division I history with 782 victories, has led the Sun Devils to nine (five consecutive 1997-01) NCAA Regional appearances in 12 seasons, including her first trip to the College World Series in 1999. While at Arizona State, Wells has compiled a record of 431-315 and has had five players earn a total of eight All-American awards. Wells' achieved a coaching milestone that few can or will ever obtain, winning 700 career games and will soon reach 800 this year. 2001 featured another one of Wells' teams finishing in the top-10 (No. 9), as well as playing one of the toughest - if not the strongest schedules - in the country (35 teams in the top-25). Wells also produced six Pac-10 Pitcher/Player of the Week honors, two NFCA National Player of the Week honors, two Academic All-Pacific Region choices, seven All-Pac-10 honorees and five Academic All-Pac-10 selections. Additionally, Wells was one of 12 coaches selected to form the USA Softball Women's National Team Coaches pool for the 2004 Olympic Games. She also had five current players earn invitations to participate in the USA Softball Women's National Team Camp. With the addition of seven All-Pac-10 selections in 2001 (the most since the 1990 season), Wells has now coached 59 all conference players during her tenure at Arizona State, averaging five All-Pac-10 selections every season. Wells has coached 28 .300 hitters at ASU in her 12 seasons, averaging a combined .330 - not an easy accomplishment in the pitching-rich Pac-10 where games are traditionally low scoring.
TOUGH SCHEDULE/TOUGHER CONFERENCE: As in any season, Arizona State will face many of the nation's top teams and traditionally holds a high RPI. Last year, ASU led the Pac-10 in most games played against nationally ranked teams (35). Within the toughest conference in the nation, the Pacific-10, ASU will face a nationally-ranked team nearly every time out. Seven of the eight Pac-10 teams are ranked in the top-11, including six of the top eight positions. In 2002, Pac-10 teams gave combined to post an 87-16 (.844) overall record against non-conference teams. Last year, seven of the eight teams made postseason appearances with four teams advancing to the College World Series. Pac-10 teams have won 11 of the past 14 College World Series titles.
CAREER/ALL-TIME MILESTONES: Hixon needs 10 more doubles for the all-time record (40) ... Voak needs 10 more wins for the school record (82) ... Brun is 13 doubles shy of the all-time mark ... Linda Wells needs 18 more wins for 800 career.
BRUN'S A HIT: Junior shortstop Kara Brun has made an immediate impact the past two seasons, offensively and defensively. As a sophomore, Brun earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors, as well as the team's Defensive Player of the Year award, currently carries a career .329 batting average (seventh all-time). She is third all-time in Arizona State history in home runs (15), fifth all-time in doubles (27) and seventh all-time in RBIs (80). Last year Brun had a 12 game hitting streak, second longest on the team and eighth longest in the Pac-10. She batted .311 with 59 hits, a team-high 34 runs and also posted team-highs in RBIs (42) and doubles (10). Brun finished second on the team in homeruns (6), had a .458 slugging percentage and recorded a team second-best 15 RBIs with two outs. Defensively, she turned 14 double plays, good for fourth in the Pac-10 and led the team with 129 assists. As a freshman, Brun earned All-Pac-10 second team honors, selected to the Region V All-Tournament team and was named the team's Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year. At the plate, Brun led the team in batting average (.352), hits (68), doubles (16), runs (44), total bases (108), and was second in RBIs (38). Brun also tied the single-season record in home runs (8). Brun posted 18 multi-hit games, eight multi-RBI games and held a team-high 16 game hitting streak.
SPEED TO BURN: Sophomore Kristin Farber will certainly be seeking to keep her pace up from last year when she was named the team's Freshman of the Year. In 2002, Farber is 3-for-4 in stolen bases with 10 hits and four runs scored. Farber earned second-team All-Pacific Region accolades and was named honorable mention All-Pac-10 after finishing fifth in the Pac-10 with 16 stolen bases. The 16 swipes were also a team-high and tied for ninth all-time in a single season at ASU. Farber played and started in all 58 games and batted .320, good for third on the team. She posted 56 hits, scored 26 runs, batted .378 with runners in scoring position and had 13 multi-hit games, fourth highest on the team.
VOAK'S RESUME: Two-time senior All-American pitcher Kirsten Voak will look to end her outstanding career as one of the most prolific pitchers in Arizona State history. In just her second game in 2002, Voak became Arizona State's career leader in strikeouts, currently with 818, breaking a 20-year old record. She is second all-time in Arizona State history with 72 career wins. As a junior she was named the team's Pitcher of the Year and pitched her first career perfect game against Utah State, tossing her fourth career no hitter. Voak earned Pac-10 honorable mention status and was a two-time Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week, giving her eight in her career (fifth all-time in the Pac-10). She finished 14th in the country and second in the Pac-10 with four saves after posting a 15-9 record in 141 innings. Voak also recorded two shutouts (23 career) with 161 strikeouts, held opponents to a .185 batting average, while averaging eight strikeouts a game. She has tallied 17 career double-digit strikeout games. After two ASU record-setting seasons (24 wins, 314 strikeouts/Fr.), (30 wins, 316 strikeouts/So.), Voak garnered her second NFCA All-American honor, was a first-team All-Pac-10 and second-team All-Pacific Region choice and was named the team's MVP and Pitcher of the Year. Last year Voak earned three Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors and was named to the NFCA Leadoff Classic and NIST All-Tournament teams.
Voak's Career Double-Digit Strikeout Games (17):
15 - Oregon, 7 innings (4/2/00)
15 - Central Michigan, 8.1 innings (5/20/99)
14 - Utah, 7.1 innings (3/13/99)
13 - Santa Clara, 7 innings (3/10/00)
13 - Florida Atlantic, 7 innings (5/22/99)
12 - Washington, 7 innings (4/8/01)
12 - UNLV, 7 innings (3/26/00)
12 - Iowa, 7 innings (3/17/00)
12 - Portland State, 7 innings (2/26/00)
12 - Oregon State, 6 innings (4/24/99)
12 - Nebraska, 7 innings (2/13/99)
12 - Washington, 8 innings (4/10/99)
11 - Utah, 7 innings (3/10/00)
11 - Illinois State, 7 innings (2/20/00)
10 - Oregon, 7 innings (4/27/01)
10 - Oregon, 7 innings (4/25/99)
10 - Utah, 7 innings (3/18/99)
FIVE SUN DEVILS TO OLYMPIC CAMP: The Amateur Softball Association selected five current Arizona State players to participate in the USA Softball Women's National Team Camp this past summer at the ARCO Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California. Senior Kirsten Voak (member of the 2001 ASA/USA National Softball (Red) team ... as a pitcher, she helped the team win the U.S. Cup), senior Missy Hixon (member of the 2001 ASA/USA National Softball (Blue) team ... won the Pan Am qualifier in Maracay, Venezuela ... played in seven games with five starts ... batted .286 with two runs and two sacrifice hits ... posted a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage, making six assists), senior Nichole Thompson (member of the 2001 ASA/USA National Softball (Blue) team ... won the Pan Am qualifier in Maracay, Venezuela ... started and played in all eight games ... led the team in sac bunts (3), fourth in hits (9) and sixth in batting average (.391)), junior Kara Brun and sophomore Kristin Farber. Additionally, of the 20 schools listed with players competing, Arizona State had the third most representing one school. USA Softball then selected two 16-player teams to represent the U.S. in international competitions at the U.S. Cup in Honolulu, the Canada Cup in Vancouver and the Pan Am Qualifier in Maracay.
IVIE JOINS THE STAFF: Tamara Ivie begins her first season as an assistant coach on Linda Well's staff. Prior to her appointment at Arizona State, Ivie was an assistant coach at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, California. From 2000 to 2001, Ivie was the second assistant coach at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Ivie also coached the 1997-98 seasons as the second assistant at Eastern Michigan University. On the professional level, Ivie spent the 1999 season playing on the WPSL's Virginia Roadsters. Additionally, Ivie played one season with the Ladies Professional Baseball League (Buffalo NightHawks). Before that, she played three years of professional baseball with the Colorado Silver Bullets. As a standout college player, Ivie played four years of softball at Cal State Northridge. While at Northridge, she earned All-American honors and was a two-time All-Western Athletic Conference selection. During her four years, Northridge was a top-20 program while the 1994 team appeared in the finals of the College World Series. Ivie earned her bachelor's in kinesiology in 2000 and plans on getting her master's in physical education and sports counseling from Arizona State.
BEHIND THE PLATE: In addition to senior Bonnie Brannen, the Sun Devils will also have the services of Adriana Garcia. The junior has started the season strong with a .429 average (9-for-21) with two doubles, one home run and eight RBIs. Garcia was named the 2001 NFCA/NJCAA Division I Diamond Sports National Catcher of the Year and was a 2001 first-team All-American. The two-time all-region and all-conference selection, Garcia played the past two years at Arizona Western College in Yuma, Arizona where she batted .448 with six home runs and 68 RBIs. Garcia recorded a fielding percentage of .991, while throwing out 29 base runners attempting to steal.
2001 YEAR IN REVIEW: Finished the year with a 36-22 record and a No. 9 national ranking...recorded a 9-12 Pac-10 Conference record for a sixth place finish...advanced to NCAA Regional play for the fifth straight season, playing at the Region III Tournament in Baton Rouge, Louisiana...recorded a 2-2 record in postseason action, falling to Louisiana-Lafayette in the semifinals...earned the school's 900th win in school history (907)...recorded the nation's seventh largest attendance average (600)...ASU led the conference in most games played against top-25 teams with 35...finished tied for first in the Pac-10 with seven saves ...the Sun Devils claimed six Pac-10 (Pitcher/Player) of the Week honors, the most in the Pac-10 and had two NFCA National Player of the Week Honors (Beach/Wright)...ASU swept the UCLA/Washington road trip for the first time in school history...won its own Louisville Slugger Tournament with a 4-0 victory over Illinois State...head coach Linda Wells was selected as one of 12 coaches to form the USA Softball Women's National Team Coaches pool for the 2004 Olympic Games...Wells is the seventh most successful active coach in NCAA Division I history with 773 wins...junior pitcher/designated player Erica Beach set a new career high with 17 wins and 134 strikeouts...she set the school record for most career home runs (20) and runs batted in (121)...Beach was named the NFCA National Player of the Week (4/11), the Pac-10 Player of the Week (4/9) and Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week (5/14)...she also earned first-team Verizon Academic All-American honors, first-team Pac-10 Academic honors, second-team All-Pacific Region acclaim, second-team All-Pac-10 accolades and was named the team's MVP and co-Scholar-Athlete...junior pitcher Kirsten Voak pitched a perfect game against Utah State in the first game of the season...Voak earned two Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors (2/12 and 4/9)...she was a Pac-10 honorable mention choice and the team's Pitcher of the Year...freshman Phelan Wright led the team in batting average at .399, finishing sixth in the Pac-10 (Wright's average was the highest posted by a freshman in the Pac-10 since 1999)... earned NFCA National Player of the Week honors (5/9) and Pac-10 Player of the Week accolades...she was named to the NIST All-Tournament team and the Region III All-Tournament team...Wright was named second-team All-Pac-10 and claimed the team's Offensive Player of the Year award...freshman pitcher/designated player Kristen Swetel earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors (4/1) and Region III All-Tournament team acclaim...sophomore shortstop Kara Brun was a first-team Academic All-Pac-10 choice, a Verizon Academic All-Region selection and a second-team All-Pac-10 choice...she was also named the team's co-Defensive Player of the Year and co-Scholar-Athlete...freshman Kristin Farber earned second-team All-Pacific-Region acclaim and Pac-10 honorable mention accolades...junior Nichole Thompson was a second-team All-Pac-10 choice and the team's co-Defensive Player of the Year...junior second baseman Missy Hixon earned Pac-10 honorable mention accolades...five ASU players (third most in the Pac-10) were selected to participate in the USA Softball Women's National Team Camp (Brun, Farber, Hixon, Thompson, Voak).
MEDIA INFORMATION: All publicity for the ASU softball team are coordinated by Assistant Media Relations Director Will Phillips at (480) 965-1237. Any interviews with ASU softball players or coaches should be arranged through Phillips with at least 48 hours notice.