No. 3 Seed Softball Faces No. 6 Seed Michigan At The Women's College World Series
May 21, 2002
ON TAP: The fourth-ranked and third-seeded Arizona State Sun Devils (44-18) will compete in their fourth WCWS and their second in the past four years. The Sun Devils will open against sixth-seeded Michigan (50-9) on Thursday, May 23 at 6:00 p.m. (Central time) on ESPN2.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE WCWS: This will be Arizona State's fourth appearance at the WCWS and their first since the 1999 season ... ASU and Michigan are tied at 7-7 in the all-time series ... ASU split with Michigan during the 2002 season at the NFCA Leadoff Classic, beating UM 6-4 in pool play and falling to the UM, 5-1 in bracket play ... ASU has faced four of the WCWS teams this year (Michigan, UCLA, California and Arizona) ...
REGION III WRAP UP: Arizona State posted a perfect 4-0 record in the Region III Tournament in Lafayette, Louisiana ... ASU outscored its opponents 12-4 ... pitcher Erica Beach was named the Most Outstanding Player in the regional as she went 4-0 in 29 innings ... outfielders Jennifer Forner and Kristin Farber, along with third baseman Phelan Wright earned all-tournament honors as well ... ASU led the regional in batting average (.357), ERA (0.93), doubles (5) and double plays turned (4) ... Farber led the regional in overall batting average (8x12 .667), while Forner was second (6x11 .545) ... Forner also led all players with runs scored (4) ... ASU knocked off Mississippi State in the first game, 4-1, scoring four runs in the second inning. MSU scored first, but ASU responded in the bottom half of the second with four runs off five hits. The two out rally started when Erin Wardein walked and then went to second on an infield hit by Farber. Adriana Garcia followed with another single to right field to load the bases. Forner then laced a single into center field, scoring Wardein and Farber. Missy Hixon plated Garcia and Forner when she drilled a double to right center to put ASU up 4-1. Beach allowed six hits for her first win of the regional. Against, UMass, Phelan Wright's sacrifice fly to right field in the top of the seventh inning, scoring Forner from third, was the difference in the game as ASU won 1-0. Forner opened the seventh with a leadoff single to center and was followed with another single to center by Hixon. Nichole Thompson then got on a short chop infield hit to load the bases. After one out, Wright hit the ball fairly deep to right, allowing Forner to tag up at third and score. Beach pitched an outstanding three-hit shutout with eight strikeouts. ASU out hit UMass 11-3, but left nine runners stranded. In the semifinals against top-seeded LSU, Wardein's one out sacrifice fly to deep left field in the bottom of the eight, scoring Kara Brun from third, gave ASU a dramatic, 3-2, come from behind win. After LSU went down in order in the eight, the Sun Devils stage was set for the comeback win. After nearly ending the game herself with a ball that just went foul over the left field fence, Brun drilled a single off the center field fence. After one out, Beach hit another deep line drive to the base of the center field fence, advancing Brun to third. After taking two pitches from Schmidt, Wardein then turned on the next pitch and hit it to deep left field for the sacrifice fly, scoring Brun form third and ending the game. Beach, for the second time during that day, pitched another solid game. She went all eight innings, allowing only six hits and no earned runs. In the championship game against LSU, each team scored once in the first and then went scoreless until the ASU fifth inning when they went ahead for good. Forner singled to right field to start off the inning. Hixon then laid down a bunt, advancing Forner to second. Thompson then sacrificed Forner and Hixon to third and second base respectively. Brun then hit a foul ball into left field, which Aleshia Perry caught, but Forner tagged on the catch and slid head first into home as the ball glanced off her shoulder and into the ASU dugout also allowing Hixon to score. ASU would tag one more run on in the sixth inning. Farber, who extended her team-leading hitting streak to 13 games, opened with an infield single. After getting moved to second on a sacrifice by Garcia, Forner reached first on an error by the LSU shortstop. Both players then advance to second and third on a wild pitch by Sneed. Thompson scored Farber on another infield hit to pull ahead 4-1 and secure the victory for the Sun Devils. Once again Beach pitched a great game, allowing only three hits and one run with three strikeouts. ASU pounded out 13 hits off Sneed.
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 817 victories, has led the Sun Devils to 10 (six consecutive 1997-02) NCAA Regional appearances in 13 seasons, including her first trip to the College World Series in 1999. While at Arizona State, Wells has compiled a record of 466-331 and has had five players earn a total of eight All-American awards. Wells' achieved a coaching milestone that few will ever obtain, winning 800 career games against Rutgers (3/16/02). 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 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.
LIFE'S A BEACH: Senior All-American pitcher/designated player Erica Beach continues to have a career year as a Sun Devil. Beach, a second-team All-Pac-10 selection and the Region III MOP, currently holds Arizona State's all-time record for home runs (27) and RBIs (153), and is second all-time in wins (77) and third in strikeouts (487). This season, Beach continues to post career-highs for wins, currently at 31 (ASU single season record) with 6 shutouts/6 combined and 187 strikeouts. Her 50 appearances is tops in the Pac-10 and Beach's 31 wins is tied for No. 1 in the Pac-10. Also Beach won nine of the 10 Pac-10 games and hit at a .400 clip with four home runs. At the beginning of the Pac-10 season, Beach was one of ASU's main contributors at the plate and in the circle as the Sun Devils defeated top-ranked UCLA once and 10th-ranked Washington twice, earning Louisville Slugger/NFCA National Player of the Week and Pac-10 Player of the Week honors. Offensively, Beach went 4-for-5 with three runs scored, two home runs (including the game-winner against UCLA), three RBIs and four walks. She was also tough in the circle going 2-0 in 12.2 innings, allowing just three runs with nine strikeouts. Beach tallied two wins, helping ASU win the title at the National Invitational Tournament. During the run to the crown, Beach pitched 21 innings, with 18 strikeouts, allowing only one earned run for a 0.33 ERA. Beach recorded her first win, a 1-0 one-hit shutout in the championship bracket against Long Beach State. Beach went eight innings, allowing the one hit for her fifth shutout of the year. In what turned out to be the championship game against 17th-ranked Iowa, Beach came in relief with one out and two Hawkeye's on base and proceeded to get out of that jam. She then pitch four more innings, allowing only three hits with six strikeouts as ASU went on to win 5-1. Against Northern Iowa, Beach pitched eight and a third innings, striking out a career-high 10 batters. After posting a perfect 3-0 record at the 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 and was a main factor in ASU winning the 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. 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. As a junior, Beach claimed Louisville Slugger/NFCA National Player of the Week, Pac-10 Player of the Week honors and Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week.
THE WRIGHT STUFF: Sophomore third baseman Phelan Wright is picking up where she left off after an outstanding freshman year, earning her second regional all-tournament team honor. Wright, a first-team All-Pac-10 and first-team All-Pacific Region selection, has led the team throughout the year in batting average (.420), hits (73) and doubles (16). She is just one double shy (17) of the single season mark. Wright is second in home runs (8), RBIs (39), and also leads the team in multi-hit games (23), multi-RBI games (11) and posted the team's second longest hitting streak at 10 games. In the Pac-10, Wright was batting .350 with 21 hits and two home runs. In six games at the KIA Tournament she batted .700 (14-20) with six doubles, nine RBIs and four runs scored as ASU was the sole Pac-10 team (UA, UW) to advance to the semifinals. In all six games she posted multi-hit games with 20 total bases and a 1.000 slugging percentage, earning Louisville Slugger/NFCA National Player of the Week and Pac-10 Player of the Week honors. In the opening pool game against Texas, Wright went 2-for-4 with a double, knocking in two of the three runs, including the game winner in the top of the eighth. Against No. 14 DePaul, Wright went a perfect 4-for-4 with another double and three RBIs as ASU won its pool over DePaul 6-5. Against Rutgers, she again went perfect, going 2-for-2 (both doubles) with two runs scored and one RBI as ASU run ruled Rutgers, 11-1. In the quarterfinal game against No. 2 Arizona, Wright again provided the firepower, going 2-for-3 with a run scored as ASU shutout Arizona, 3-0. In the semifinals against No. 9 Cal State Fullerton, she went 2-for-3 with one double and three RBIs. At the Leadoff Classic, she batted .563 (9-16) with four doubles, one home run, six runs scored and four RBIs. As a freshman, Wright was named the team's Offensive Player of the Year after leading ASU 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, Louisville Slugger/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 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 center field/first base respectively, each contribute to the success of the team in similar ways. Hixon, a four-time All-Pac-10 selection, is a four-year starter and has played in 242 career games ... she has produced 227 hits (fourth all-time), eight home runs, scored 126 runs (career-high 41 this year) and recorded 74 RBIs ... Hixon has also tallied 37 career doubles (tied for second all-time) and stole 17 bases ... in 786 career at bats, Hixon has struck out only 45 times (1:18 at bats). Thompson, also a four-year starter, is a three-time All-Pac-10 selection and a two-time All-Pacific Region choice ... Thompson holds a career .339 batting average (sixth all-time) in 244 games ... she has produced 253 hits (second all-time), scored 148 runs and recorded 80 RBIs (career-high 25 this year) ... Thompson has also tallied 29 doubles, five triples, stole 37 bases (tied for fourth all-time) and has sacrificed 65 times ... in 747 career at bats, she has struck out only 39 times (1:19 at bats) ... both players were members of the USA National Softball (Blue) team and were again invited back to compete at the camp this May, 2002.
BRUN'S A HIT: Junior shortstop Kara Brun has made an impact while wearing the Maroon and Gold, offensively and defensively. Brun, one of 25 finalists for National Player of the Year honors and a first-team All-Pac-10 selection, is batting a team-third best .364/.333 (Pac-10) and currently carries a career .343 batting average (sixth all-time). She also leads the team in home runs (10), RBIs (52) and is second in hits (71). The 52 RBIs is also a single-season record along with her 10 home runs . Brun is second all-time in Arizona State history in home runs (24), and RBIs (132) and tied for second all-time in doubles (37). In five games at the 2002 NFCA Leadoff Classic Tournament, Brun batted .500 (8-16) with three home runs, one double, three runs scored and eight RBIs. She also had 18 total bases a 1.125 slugging percentage and a .529 on base percentage. Against 19th-ranked Notre Dame, Brun hit two home runs, including a walk-off two run shot with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. At the time ASU was trailing 2-1. The win propelled ASU into the semifinals of the Silver Bracket. Earlier in the game, Brun hit her first home run to cut Note Dame's lead to 2-1. Brun then won the game in the bottom of the seventh. In the game, Brun went 2-4 with two home runs, two runs scored and three RBIs. Against 10th-ranked Michigan, Brun hit the first of her three home runs in the third inning, a three run blast to put ASU up 6-0. The home run was the difference in the out come of the game as Michigan cut into the six run lead with the final score of 6-4. For her performance, Brun was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week (Feb. 19-24). As a sophomore, Brun earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors, as well as the team's Defensive Player of the Year award while recording 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 home runs (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 tied the single-season record in home runs (8) and posted 18 multi-hit games, eight multi-RBI games and held a team-high 16 game hitting streak.
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 893 (fifth all-time in the Pac-10), breaking a 20-year old record. She is third all-time in Arizona State history with 76 career wins, making 171 career appearances (second all-time in the Pac-10). Voak also currently has saved 14 career games, five in 2002. 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 18 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, giving her eight career awards (fifth all-time in the Pac-10) and was named to the NFCA Leadoff Classic and NIST All-Tournament teams.
Voak's Career Double-Digit Strikeout Games (18):
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)
10 - Georgia Tech, 5 innings (3/9/02)
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. Also, 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.
NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS: Sophomore third baseman Phelan Wright is one of 10 finalist for inaugural USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award. The Amateur Softball Association, the National Governing Body of Softball in the United States, designed the award to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country. The three finalists will be announced May 31st, while the winner of the 2002 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award will be announced June 7th.
NIST CHAMPIONS: ASU was declared the National Invitational Softball Tournament champion after rain showers made field conditions unplayable at the Pleasanton (Calif.) Sports Complex. The Sun Devils, who posted a 4-2 mark in the tournament, was the only team in the 14-team field to make it all the way to the championship game undefeated, therefore earning the tournament title. The NIST title is the second in the past three years for Arizona State and the third title (1990) for the Sun Devils in the history of the tournament.
RECORD WINS: The 44 overall wins ASU achieved this year sets a new school record, breaking the old record of 43 set in the 1990, 1991 and 2000 seasons.
RUNNING WITH THE DEVIL: Sophomore Kristin Farber has upped her pace from last year when she led the team in stolen bases and was named the team's Freshman of the Year. In 2002, Farber is again pacing the Sun Devils, going 19-for-20 in stolen bases with a .330 average, including 60 hits and 25 runs scored. At the Region III Tournament, Farber raised her batting average 24 points and also currently has a team-leading 13 game hitting streak. The 19 swipes this year is seventh all-time in a single season and her career total of 35 is fifth all-time. As a freshman, 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.
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 top-25 teams (35). This year, ASU has played 30 games against top-25 teams, posting a 17-13 mark. Within the toughest conference in the nation, the Pacific-10, ASU faced a nationally-ranked team nearly every time out. Seven of the eight Pac-10 teams are ranked in the top-15, including six of the top eight. And again, at least half of the WCWS field is comprised of Pac-10 teams.
BEHIND THE PLATE: In addition to senior Bonnie Brannen, who is having her best year yet, the Sun Devils also have the services of Adriana Garcia. The junior has 31 hits, four doubles, one home run and 21 RBIs (17 with two outs). She has also thrown out seven runners and picked off two others (second in the Pac-10), while posting a .992 fielding percentage. The pair have held teams attempting to steal to a Pac-10 low 27 times. 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.
DEVIL NOTES & CAREER/ALL-TIME MILESTONES: Brun and Hixon need three more doubles for the all-time record (40) ... Beach needs five more wins for the school record (82) ... Wright needs two more doubles for the single season mark (18) ... Voak is seven strikeouts away from 900 ... Arizona State has produced a conference second-best two NFCA National Player of the Week honors (Phelan Wright, Erica Beach) and a second-best four Pac-10 weekly honors this year (Wright, Beach (2), Kara Brun), combining for 36 all-time ... ASU is 53-69 (.768) in stolen bases ... nearly half (116) of the team's 236 RBIs have come with two outs ... ASU has outscored its opponents 89-37 in the first two innings and 50-21 in the fourth inning ... ASU leads the Pac-10 in least amount of walks allowed (101) and is second in saves (6) ... left handers are hitting just .210 against ASU pitching, while right handers hit .217 ... ASU has 609 assists in the field to lead the Pac-10 ... 10 players have hit at least one home run.