No. 13 Softball Opens 2003 Season Hosting Texas-San Antonio
Jan. 29, 2003
ON TAP: The 13th-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils (0-0) will open the 2003 season hosting a three-game set against the University of Texas-San Antonio (0-0) at Farrington Stadium, January 31-February 2. Friday and Saturday's games will begin at 7:00 p.m., while Sunday's first pitch will begin at 1:00 p.m. This will be the first ever meeting against UT-San Antonio.
2002 IN REVIEW: Finished the year with a 46-20 record and a No. 3 national ranking...recorded a 10-11 Pac-10 Conference record for a fifth place finish...advanced to the Women's College World Series for the second time in the past four years...advanced to the semifinals of the WCWS, the school's best finish since the NCAA went to this format...ASU defeated Michigan and UCLA and fell to Arizona and California...advanced to NCAA Regional play for the sixth straight season, playing at the Region III Tournament in Lafayette, Louisiana...recorded a perfect 4-0 record...the 46 wins was a new school record...finished second in the Pac-10 with a .297 batting average....head coach Linda Wells earned her 800th career win as ASU defeated Rutgers, 11-1 (3/16)...senior pitcher/designated player Erica Beach set a new career high and ASU single-season record with 33 wins and 201 strikeouts...she set the school record for most career home runs (27) and runs batted in (153)...Beach also finished her career second in wins (79) and third in strikeout (501)...senior pitcher Kirsten Voak set ASU's all-time strikeout record (893)...sophomore Phelan Wright earned first-team All-American honors and led the team in batting average for the second straight year at .405...one of 10 finalists for National Player of the Year honors...first-team All-Pacific Region and All-Pac-10 honors...tied the single-season record with 17 doubles...junior shortstop Kara Brun was a second-team Verizon Academic All-American, a first-team Academic All-Pacific Region choice, first-team Academic All-Pac-10 choice...Brun also was one of 25 finalist for National Player of the Year honors...earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors...Brun set single-season records in home runs (10) and RBIs (52)...senior Nichole Thompson earned third-team All-American honors at Utility...Thompson was also a second-team All-Pacific region and All-Pac-10 selection...sophomore Kristin Farber was named to the College World Series and the Region III All-Tournament Teams...Farber led the team with 21 steals and had the longest hitting streak at 16 games...junior Jennifer Forner was named to the Region III All-Tournament team.
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 was second in the Pac-10 in most games played against top-25 teams (34). This year will be no different as the Devils will face numerous teams ranked in the NFCA preseason top-25. 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-25, including the first three and six of the top-14.
THE WRIGHT STUFF: Junior third baseman Phelan Wright enters the 2003 season as one of the premier softball players in the country. After posting outstanding numbers as a freshman and as a sophomore, Wright, currently ASU's all-time leader in career batting average (.402), earned NFCA first-team All-American honors last year. She led the team throughout the year in batting average (.405/4th Pac-10), hits (75/6th Pac-10) and doubles (17/3rd Pac-10). She finished second in home runs (8), RBIs (40) and batted .350 in the pitching rich Pac-10 Conference. Wright also led the team in multi-hit games (23), multi-RBI games (11) and posted the team's second longest hitting streak at 10 games. She was also one of 10 finalists for National Player of the Year honors and was named first-team All-Pacific Region and All-Pac-10. Wright also was named to the NIST All-Tournament team and the Region III All-Tournament team. 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.
HEAD COACH LINDA WELLS: The Sun Devil softball program continues its success on the national scene under the tutelage of 14th-year head coach Linda Wells, 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 819 victories, has led the Sun Devils to 10 (six consecutive 1997-02) NCAA Regional appearances in 13 seasons, including two trips in the past four years to the College World Series (1999/2002). While at Arizona State, Wells has compiled 468 wins and has had seven players earn a total of 10 All-American awards. Wells' vast coaching experience and tireless work ethic has not gone unnoticed by the country or by the world as she was named the head coach of the Greek Olympic National Team that will compete in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Wells, who has previous international experience, was selected among several highly qualified coaching professionals to lead the host team into the games. Wells' achieved a coaching milestone that few can or will ever obtain, winning 800 career games. The Sun Devils earned Wells her 800th win with an 11-1 win over Rutgers (3/16/02). The 2002 team, arguable her most talented and successful, also tied a school-record in the national polls, finishing at No. 3 and for posting the most wins in a single season with 46. The 2002 season also marked the second appearance for Wells in the Women's College World Series where they finished third, the best in school history since the NCAA established the current format. Players again flourished under Wells as she produced two All-Americans, five All-Pac-10 players, two All-Pacific Region players and two Academic All-American players. Wells also had two players earn National Player of the Week honors and five Pac-10 Pitcher/Player of the Week honors. With the addition of five All-Pac-10 selections in 2002, Wells has now coached 64 all conference players during her tenure at Arizona State, averaging five All-Pac-10 selections every season. Wells has coached 31 career .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.
BEHIND THE PLATE: Senior Adriana Garcia will lead a trio of catchers in 2003. Last year Garcia played in 60 games, making 57 starts with five doubles, 21 RBIs, while 17 of her 21 RBIs came with two outs. Defensively, she picked off eight base runners and made only two errors in 268 chances for a team-high .993 fielding percentage. Prior to ASU, Garcia earned 2001 NFCA/NJCAA Division I Diamond Sports National Catcher of the Year honors and was a 2001 first-team All-American. The two-time all-region and all-conference selection, Garcia played two years at Arizona Western College in Yuma, Ariz. 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.
RUNNING WITH THE DEVIL: Junior Kristin Farber will look to continue her fast pace from last year when she led the team for the second straight year in stolen bases (21). In her two-year career, Farber has been cut down only twice in 39 chances and is fourth all-time with her 37 steals. Named to the WCWS All-Tournament Team, Farber also posted the team's longest hitting streak (third longest in Pac-10) at 16 games and batted .330. In her initial season she was named the team's Freshman of the Year, earning 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.
BRUN'S A HIT: Senior 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 as a junior, led the team in home runs (10), RBIs (52) and finished second in hits (72). The 52 RBIs was also a single-season record along with her 10 home runs. Brun, a first-team All-Pac-10 selection, is second all-time in Arizona State history in home runs (24), RBIs (132) and is tied for second all-time in doubles (37). In addition, Brun struck out only 14 times in 206 at bats (once every 15 ab) and turned a Pac-10 and team-high 17 double plays, as well as leading the team and Pac-10 with 168 assists. Academically, Brun is just as impressive, earning second-team Verizon Academic All-American acclaim, first-team Academic All-Pacific Region and first-team Academic All-Pac-10 honors. She also earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors (2/25) and is seventh all-time in career batting average (.338) and hits (199). 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.
NEW SUN DEVILS: After the graduation of a highly-successful class, Arizona State will welcome 12 new players (in addition to redshirt freshman Desiree Serrano) to the 2003 team. Five freshmen and seven transfers will join the solid core of six returning players to complete the roster. The freshman include: Andria Barrera (San Jose, Calif./Archbishop Mitty), Jen McCard (La Palma, Calif./John F. Kennedy), Carla Strege (Long Beach, Calif./Lakewood), Ashley Werschky (La Verne, Calif./Glendora), Kim Zadrozny (Chandler, Ariz./Seton Catholic). The transfers include: Susan Aguilar (Mesa, Ariz./Phoenix College), Billie Akauola (Buffalo, N.Y./Temple), Katie Cobos (Phoenix, Ariz./Phoenix College), Cheryl Evans (Galt, Calif./San Joaquin Delta College). Joy Hull (Scottsdale, Ariz./Phoenix College), Keri Pulcifer (Acton, Calif./Antelope Valley College), Valerie Sevilla (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Virginia).
NEW ASSISTANT COACH: Matthew Weiner joins the Sun Devils staff with the responsibilities of hitting, outfield and assisting with recruiting. Prior to his appointment at Arizona State, Weiner was the assistant at Wichita State University, where he was responsible for the outfield and hitters.From 1998-2001, Weiner was an assistant coach at Humboldt State University, a NCAA Division II program in Arcata, California. There Weiner instructed the outfield and hitters on the way to three Conference Championships, four Regional Tournaments, and two National Tournaments, which culminated into a third place finish in 2001 and a National Championship in 1999. In 1995 and 1996, Weiner coached baseball at his alma mater Antioch High School in the San Francisco Bay Area.
DEVIL NOTES: Arizona State was picked to finish sixth in the 2003 Pac-10 Preseason Coaches Poll ... the Sun Devil preseason ranking of No. 13 is the lowest beginning ranking since the 1999 preseason poll tabbed ASU No. 15. Also, the No. 13 ranking is the lowest ASU has been ranked since the beginning of May 1999 (No. 16) before the Devils advanced to the College World Series, finishing 7th ... the opening game against UT-San Antonio on January 31 is the earliest opening game, dating back to at least the mid 1980s and is the earliest opening game in head coach Linda Wells 14 years.
STADIUM & FIELD AWARDS: For the second time in the past three years, Arizona State was the college/university winner of the NFCA/Turface Grounds Crew Field Maintenance award for the 2002 season. Dedicated in April, 2000, Alberta B. Farrington Stadium is a 1,500 seat facility that includes 500 back seats. Among the stadium's many features are sunken dugouts, home/visitor/umpire locker rooms, offices, trainers room, concession stands, a team shop and a team room. Arizona State also won the 2000 NFCA/Turface Grounds Crew Field Maintenance award. The field maintenance staff is headed by Pete Wozniak. Award winners were chosen by a panel of independent judges made up of grounds maintenance professionals selected by the NFCA and Turface. Farrington Stadium was also awarded 'The Crescordia' (To Grow In Harmony) honor in 2000. The honor is for Environmental Excellent in building and structures awarded by the Valley Forward Association and Honeywell.
TELEVISION EXPOSURE: The Sun Devils are scheduled to have three games broadcast live on KAZ-TV (cable channel 13). The televised games are against Pac-10 foes California (April 11), Stanford (April 12) and Arizona (April 23). ASU is also scheduled for a FOX Sports Net broadcast sometime during the year as well.
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.