No. 14 Softball Travels To Georgia To Compete In The NFCA Leadoff Classic
Feb. 19, 2003
ON TAP: The 14th-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils (11-3) will head out of the state of Arizona for the first time this season as they travel to Columbus, Georgia to participate in the NFCA Leadoff Classic Tournament, Friday, February 21 through Sunday, February 23. The Devils are assigned to Pool 3 and will open pool play against eighth-ranked DePaul on Friday at 12:00 p.m. and continue pool play against Liberty at 7:30 p.m. ASU will end pool play against 21st-ranked Ohio State on Saturday at 10:00 a.m.
NFCA LEADOFF NOTES: The tournament will feature 24 of the nation's top collegiate softball teams, including six teams that played in last season's Women's College World Series. (Arizona State, Nebraska, Florida State, Michigan, and Oklahoma). Of the 24 teams in the field, 19 competed in NCAA postseason play in 2002, 17 of which finished in last year's final USA Today/NFCA Top 25, including 13 teams ranked in the top 15. 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. Each team will play a minimum of five games (three pool, two bracket) regardless of pool or bracket assignments. Saturday's bracket play will be at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., while Sunday's bracket play is scheduled for 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
LAST TIME OUT: ASU went 5-0, outscoring its opponents 32-5 to win the Louisville Slugger Tournament in Tempe. Freshman pitcher Desiree Serrano pitched her first career no hitter in ASU's 8-0 five inning win against Iowa, while Phelan Wright's grand slam highlighted a seven run fifth. In the first game against Illinois St., Kara Brun's two run double in the fifth inning carried ASU to a 4-1 victory. Brun's double was the 40th of her career, an ASU all-time record. On Saturday, Serrano posted both wins as the Devils defeated Iowa and Illinois St. Adriana Garcia hit a two-run home run against Iowa and Serrano limited the Hawkeyes to three hits with seven strikeouts. Freshman pitcher Ashley Werschky got her first start against ISU, going four innings with four hits. Brun and Keri Pulcifer provided the RBIs, while Serrano came in for the final three innings. In the final game against Utah St., ASU exploded for 12 runs, featuring two home runs each by Werschky and Pulcifer, including a grand slam by Pulcifer.
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 top-25. Within the toughest conference in the nation, the Pacific-10, ASU will face a nationally-ranked team every time out. All eight of the Pac-10 teams are ranked in the top-25, including four of the top five and six of the top-14.
THE WRIGHT STUFF: Junior All-American 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 continues to post great numbers. In the first 14 games, Wright is currently batting at a .400 clip with a team-leading seven home runs and 22 RBIs. Wright also accomplished an ASU record (as far as the books indicate) by slugging three home runs in three straight at-bats against SW Texas State. In addition, she is currently ASU's all-time leader in career batting average (.402). Last year Wright 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). 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 830 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 479 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, who is having her best year as a Sun Devil, will lead a trio of catchers in 2003. Garcia is currently hitting .385 (15-39) and has already hit three home runs and posted 11 RBIs. She has also thrown out three base runners, picked off another while recording seven assists for a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage. 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.
BRUN'S A HIT: Senior shortstop Kara Brun has made an impact while wearing the Maroon and Gold, offensively and defensively. Brun, who has a team-leading five doubles this year, is now the all-time record holder (42). She also leads the team in runs (16) and hits (19). 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) and RBIs (136). 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.
RUNNING WITH THE DEVIL: Junior Kristin Farber looks to continue her fast pace from last year when she led the team for the second straight year in stolen bases (21). This year, Farber is 3-for-4, and in her two-plus year career, Farber has been cut down only three times in 43 chances and is fourth all-time with her 40 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.
DEVILS UP FOR POY: The Amateur Softball Association, the National Governing Body of Softball in the United States, announced its initial watch list for the 2nd annual USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award. Arizona State senior shortstop Kara Brun and junior third baseman Phelan Wright are among the initial 40 players selected to be on the watch list. Last year, Wright was one of 10 finalists for the inaugural player of the year honor, while Brun was one of the 25 finalists. The award is considered the Heisman Trophy in women's collegiate softball and is the only national player of the year award. The first cut of the 25 finalist will be announced on April 8th. It will then be reduced to 10 players on April 29th, with three finalists named on May 13th. The winner of the 2003 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award will be announced at the 2003 NCAA Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.
SERRANO ON FIRE: Freshman pitcher Desiree Serrano recorded four of Arizona State's five wins, including her first career no-hitter as she led the Sun Devils to a perfect 5-0 record to take the Louisville Slugger Classic Tournament title and win Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors.On the weekend, Serrano went 4-0 with a 0.31 ERA in 22 innings of work. She allowed only nine hits and one earned run while striking out 26 batters. In her no-hitter against Iowa, Serrano faced one batter over the minimum, and was just an infield error short of a perfect game as she struckout five Hawkeye's to record ASU's first no-hitter since Kirsten Voak accomplished the feat (2/29/01). In her opening win against Illinois State, Serrano did not allow an earned run while striking out 10 Redbirds.In the Sun Devils other game against Illinois State, Serrano came in relief and pitched the final three innings for the win, allowing just one hit with four strikeouts. Serrano is now 7-2 overall with 76 strikeouts, while holding opponents to a .186 batting average.
NEW SUN DEVILS: After the graduation of a highly-successful senior class, ASU welcomed 12 new players (in addition to redshirt freshman Desiree Serrano) to the 2003 team. Five freshmen and seven transfers 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).
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 1980's and is the earliest opening game in head coach Linda Wells 14 years ... ASU has hit 17 home runs with five players hitting multi-home runs ... the ASU season record for home runs is 31 set in 2000 ... the Devils have hit two gram slams so far (Wright and Pulcifer) ... ASU is hitting .700 (7-for-10) with the bases loaded and nearly .400 with runners in scoring position.
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). The Devils were also selected for a FOX Sports Net broadcast against Washington on Friday, May 9 at 7:00 p.m. That game, however, will be broadcast at a later date and time.
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.
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