No. 11/10 Softball Competes At The National Invitational Tournament
March 5, 2003
ON TAP: The No. 11/10 Arizona State Sun Devils (17-6) will look to defend its 2002 title at the National Invitational Softball Tournament in San Jose, California, March 7-9. The tournament will be held at the Twin Creeks Sports Complex where the Devils will be placed in Pool B along with Santa Clara (10-9) and Virginia Tech (3-5). ASU opens pool play against Virginia Tech on Friday at 3:00 p.m. (PT) and Santa Clara at 7:00 p.m.
QUICK LOOK AT THE NIST: Host San Jose State will welcome 11 teams (four from the Pac-10) from seven states to compete for this year's championship trophy, including defending NIST champion Arizona State and defending national champion California. Arizona State won the 2002 NIST after rain cancelled the final day of play, it was the Sun Devils third NIST title. Pool play begins on Friday at 2:00 p.m., with bracket play beginning Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. Games begin Sunday at 10:00 a.m., with the championship game on Sunday at 12:00 p.m. The tournament features four teams ranked in the top-25 of the March 4th ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Poll: #9 California, #10 Arizona State, #17 Oregon State and #23 Oregon.
LAST TIME OUT: ASU record a 3-3 record, defeating UC Riverside all three times, but dropping all three games to No. 9 Oklahoma. ASU's first game against UCR, the Devils set a school record by scoring 10 runs in one inning with a 16-0 shutout in five innings, but fell in the second game to Oklahoma, 7-2. Desiree Serrano started for ASU as she went five and a third, suffering her first loss in six games. Day two had ASU shutting out UCR 7-0, but falling to the Sooners, 6-0. Serrano earned the win against UCR allowing only three hits with six strikeouts. In the final day, Kara Brun set the all-time home run record as she hit her 28th and 29th career shots as the Sun Devils split their final two games defeating UCR 9-2 and dropping an 8-5 decision to Oklahoma. Brun also tied the all-time record for RBIs with 153 when she belted her second home run of the day against UCR. ASU ripped seven home runs during the two games. Against OU, the Devils took a quick 4-0 lead in the first when Brun set the all-time record, going deep for a two-run home run, which was followed by a Phelan Wright solo home run. But the Sooners scored four of their own in the second inning all coming with two outs. Jen McCard hit her first career home run over the leftfield fence, but it wasn't enough as the Sooners pulled away late in the game.
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 USA Today/NFCA and ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate 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 six of the Top-10. The Pac-10 holds a 133-33-1 (.799) record against non-conference teams.
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 2003, Wright is currently batting at a .397 clip with a team-leading eight home runs and 30 RBIs (15 with 2 outs). 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 836 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 485 wins (20 short of the all-time record) 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 .394 (26-66) and has already surpassed all of last year's totals by hitting seven home runs and posting 23 RBIs (both second best on the team). She has also thrown out six base runners, picked off another while recording 13 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 AN ALL-TIME HIT: Senior shortstop Kara Brun has made an impact while wearing the Maroon and Gold, offensively and defensively. Brun, who has a team-leading six doubles this year, is now the all-time record holder with 43. She also became ASU's all-time home run hitter, currently at 29, and leads the team in batting average (.405), runs (24) and hits (30). 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 (220). 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 5-for-7, and in her two-plus year career, Farber has been cut down only four times in 46 chances and is fourth all-time with her 42 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: In 18 appearances, freshman pitcher Desiree Serrano is now 10-4 overall with four shutouts, three saves and 101 strikeouts, while holding opponents to a .195 batting average. Serrano posted shutout wins against No. 8 DePaul and No. 21 Ohio State at the NFCA Leadoff Classic. 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.
NEW TOP-25 RANKINGS: In addition to the USA Today/NFCA Top-25, a second Top-25 poll will be released by ESPN.com/USA Softball. The poll is voted on by NCAA Division I coaches representing 15 ASA regions and 12 collegiate conferences. The poll is also voted on by selected media members. In this release the rankings are in the order of the USA Today/NFCA Poll/ESPN.com/USA Softball.
GOING DEEP: Through 23 games, the Devils have hit 29 home runs by eight different players. Six different players have hit multi-home runs with Phelan Wright leading the team with eight. This year's team is on track to shatter the all-time record of 31 set in 2000. In addition, the Devils have hit two gram slams to date (Wright and Pulcifer).
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 was 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 is hitting .636 (14-for-22) with the bases loaded and .350 with runners in scoring position ... ASU's nine game winning streak is the longest in two years ... Jennifer Forner holds the team's longest hitting streak this season at 10 games ... the Devils have hit more home runs (29) than doubles (27) this year ... ASU is third in the Pac-10 with a .314 batting average ... ASU leads the Pac-10 in turning double plays with eight.
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.