No. 20/19 Softball Opens 2004 Season Hosting Stephen F. Austin

Jan. 28, 2004

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ON TAP: The No. 20/19-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils (0-0) will begin the 2004 season hosting Stephen F. Austin (0-0) in a three-game series at the Alberta B. Farrington Stadium, Friday, January 30 through Sunday, February 1. Friday and Saturday's game will begin at 7:00 p.m., while Sunday's first pitch is slated for 1:00 p.m. The Sun Devils hold a 3-0 all-time record against the Ladyjacks.

NEW FACES: The Sun Devils will begin the 2004 season with nine new players, adding depth to all positions. Junior Bre DeSanta, a transfer from San Diego State, will mix into the pitching rotation after posting 38 wins with 354 strikeouts in two seasons. ASU's other transfer, Trisha Tornberg from Central Arizona College, was a first-team All-American and will add more speed to the outfield and offense. Ashlee Beetso (So./UTL) was an all-region choice from Phoenix's Central HS. Kristin Crenshaw (Fr./SS), a solid defensive player, will start at shortstop and add more speed to the lineup. Himmita Hixson (Fr./UTL) can play in either the outfield or infield and possesses a strong arm and quickness. Heidi Knabe (Fr./C), a defensive specialist, will spend a lot time behind the plate. Michelle Smith (Fr./OF) adds more depth to a strong and fast outfield, as well as running the bases. Alyson Tobyne (Fr./C) will also get a look behind the plate. Sharee Zaleski (Fr./1B) will hold down the first base bag and bring a big bat to the lineup.

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 played 31 games (more than half of their games) against top-25 teams, while 18 games came against top-10 competition. This year is no different as ASU will play several non-conference/Pac-10 regular-season games against nationally ranked teams in the USA Today/NFCA and ESPN/USA Softball Collegiate Top-25. Within the toughest conference in the nation, the Pac-10, ASU will face a nationally-ranked team every time out. All eight Pac-10 teams are ranked in the top-25, including four of the top and six of the top-15. Additionally, The Pac-10 placed all eight of its squads in the NCAA Tournament last season, with four teams advancing to the WCWS. For the third consecutive year (10th time overall), two Pac-10 teams squared off in the National Championship game and Pac-10 teams finished 1-2-3 in the final 2003 USA Today/NFCA poll, for a total of seven teams ranked in the top-25.

GOING DEEP ALL-TIME: Last year, the Devils hit 45 home runs, shattering the all-time mark of 31 set in 2000. Eight different players hit home runs, while six different players slugged multi-home runs with Phelan Wright (15) Kara Brun (10) and Adriana Garcia (8) leading the team. ASU hit at least one home run in 27 games and tallied multi-home runs in 10 different games. In addition, the Devils hit three grand slams (Wright, Keri Pulcifer, Cheryl Evans). The 45 home runs was fifth-best in the Pac-10 Conference.

THE WRIGHT STUFF: Senior and two-time All-American Phelan Wright enters the 2004 season as one of the premier players in the country. After posting outstanding numbers her prior three years, Wright will look to finish her stellar career as one of the program's most prolific hitters. One of 40 finalists for National Player of the Year honors as a junior, Wright also earned first-team All-Pacific Region and first-team All-Pac-10 honors. She's ASU's career leader in batting average (.378), recorded a career-high 48 RBIs (second all-time in a single-season at ASU) and set the single-season record for home runs (15). Wright is currently second all-time with 27 career home runs, third in career RBIs (115) and fifth in career doubles (30). Last year, she walked a team-high 19 times, had a team-high .656 slugging percentage and led the team with 19 two-out RBIs. Wright also hit seven home runs against Pac-10 Conference pitching (four in a stretch of six games against Stanford, Arizona and Oregon State) and hit home runs against Arizona in consecutive games. 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. As a sophomore, 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. 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 15th-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 851 victories, has led the Sun Devils to 11 (seven consecutive 1997-03) NCAA Regional appearances in 14 seasons, including two trips in the past five years to the College World Series (1999/2002). While at Arizona State, Wells has compiled 500 wins (three short of the all-time record set by Mary Littlewood) and has had seven players earn a total of 11 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. With the addition of a school record eight All-Pac-10 selections in 2003, Wells has now coached 72 all-conference players during her tenure at Arizona State, averaging over five All-Pac-10 selections every season. Wells has coached 35 career .300 hitters at ASU in her 14 seasons, averaging a combined .330 - not an easy accomplishment in the pitching-rich Pac-10 where games are traditionally low scoring.

TOP-25 RANKINGS: In addition to the USA Today/NFCA Top-25, a second Top-25 poll will be released by ESPN/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.

RUNNING WITH THE DEVIL: Senior Kristin Farber looks to continue to climb up the all-time chart for stolen bases. As a junior, Farber swiped 10 bases and is currently tied for third all-time with 47 steals. Remarkably, in her three year career, she has been cut down only six times in 53 chances. Farber was an Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 selection as a junior and hit over .300 for the third straight season, finishing third on the team with a .306 average. She also led the team in stolen bases for the third consecutive year, posted a team-high six sacrifice hits and was second on the team in hits (52). Defensively, Farber posted a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage with 67 putouts and three assists and has committed only four errors in her three seasons in the outfield. Named to the 2002 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.

SERRANO TIME: Last year as a redshirt freshman, Desiree Serrano made a Pac-10 second-best 49 appearances on her way to an 18-15 overall record, including seven shutouts and nine saves (second all-time in the Pac-10 in a single season). Serrano, an honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection, also posted 226 strikeouts (fourth in the Pac-10 and fifth all-time in a single-season at ASU), while holding opponents to a .209 batting average. She averaged over seven strikeouts per game and recorded two double digit strikeout games. To end her initial season, Serrano was named to the NCAA Region III All-Tournament team after posting a 0.38 ERA in 18 innings. In four appearances, she tallied 20 strikeouts, allowing only one run off nine hits. During the season, Serrano was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week twice, once for picking up her sixth save of the year against No. 6 California and pitching a complete game three-hitter against No. 16 Stanford to post her 17 win of the year. Overall, Serrano went 1-0 with a save, worked 10 innings (0.70 ERA), giving up seven hits, one run with seven strikeouts. To open Pac-10 play against the Oregon schools, she recorded a perfect 0.00 ERA, going 2-0 with one shutout, one combined shutout and a save to propel ASU to its best start in conference play since joining the Pac-10 in 1987. At the NIST Tournament, Serrano recorded a 4-0 record, including a shutout in 30 innings with 37 strikeouts. In addition, 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 her first Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honor.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.

2003 IN REVIEW: Finished the year with a 32-25 overall record and a 7-14 Pac-10 Conference record, tied for seventh place...ended the year ranked No. 20 by the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll and No. 22 by the ESPN/USA Softball poll...advanced to NCAA Regional play for the seventh straight season, playing at the Region III Tournament in Austin, Texas...recorded a 2-2 record, reaching the quarterfinals...the 3-0 start to the Pac-10 season was the best since joining the conference in 1987...ASU's nine game winning streak (2/14-28) was the longest in two years...played 31 games (more than half of the total) against top-25 opponents...hit 45 home runs, shattering the all-time mark of 31 set in 2000...eight different players hit home runs while six different players slugged multi-home runs...ASU hit at least one home run in 28 games and tallied multi-home runs in 10 different games...for the second time in the past three years, Farrington Stadium was the college/university winner of the NFCA/Turface Grounds Crew Field Maintenance Award for the 2002 season...ASU finished second in the Pac-10 in turning double plays with 21...won its own Louisville Slugger Tournament for the second straight season...head coach Linda Wells earned her 500th career win while coaching at ASU...junior third baseman Phelan Wright claimed her second straight All-American honor, earning second-team acclaim...she was one of 40 finalists for National Player of the Year honors...first-team All-Pacific Region...posted a career-high 48 RBIs...set the single-season record for home runs (15)...career leader in batting average (.380)...senior Kara Brun's 17 game hitting streak was a team high and the third longest in the Pac-10...was a second-team Verizon Academic All-American and a first-team Academic All-Pacific Region choice...named to the Region III All-Tournament team...Brun was also one of 25 finalist for National Player of the Year honors...she set ASU career records for home runs (34) RBIs (165) and doubles (50)...led the team in average (.392), runs (41), hits (67) and doubles (13)...earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors (3/11)...co-winner of the Bill Kajikawa Award...freshman pitcher Desiree Serrano posted nine saves, second all-time in the Pac-10 for a single-season...twice named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week (2/18 & 4/15)...threw a no-hitter against Iowa (2/16)...fifth all-time in a single-season at ASU with 226 strikeouts...named to the Region III All-Tournament team...senior Adriana Garcia earned Academic All-American third team honors...Billie Akauola earned NFCA Leadoff Classic All-Tournament honors.

DEVIL NOTES: Arizona State was picked to finish sixth in the 2004 Pac-10 Preseason Coaches Poll ... the opening game against Stephen F. Austin on January 30 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 15 years ... ASU slated to play around 65 regular season games this year, making it the most in Wells' tenure ... the Sun Devils will face the U.S. Olympic team (2/28) in an exhibition game at the NFCA Leadoff Classic (Coach Wells will get an early look at another Olympic team before she takes her Greek National team into action).

ATTENDANCE FIGURES: Arizona State once again was among the top schools to carry a high attendance figure in 2003. The Sun Devils finished No. 6 in the country and second in the Pac-10 in total home attendance with 13,496. ASU finished 17th in average home attendance with 465.

STADIUM & FIELD AWARDS: For the third time in the past four years, Arizona State was honored with another award. ASU's Alberta B. Farrington Stadium was named the 2003 Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) Softball Field of the Year in the College/University division. The commitment to excellence in overall field quality, safety, playability and appearance earned Farrington Stadium the top honor. The Field of the Year is the highest honor STMA bestows upon a facility. In 2002, Farrington Stadium was named the college/university winner of the NFCA/Turface Grounds Crew Field Maintenance award. 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 and assisted by Mike Reno. 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.

DEVILS' NO. 8 ALL-TIME: The National Fastpitch Coaches Association announced the USA Today/NFCA All-Time Top 50 poll. The poll was compiled using weekly rankings from the 1995 season to the final poll of 2003. Arizona State, which accumulated 36,613 points for a No. 8 all-time ranking - just 12 points behind seventh-place California - has been ranked in 93 of the 112 polls all-time and 63 consecutive dating back to the second week of 1999. Additionally, ASU has been ranked in 89 of the last 90 polls (week one of 1999, ASU was not ranked). Arizona State climbed to a school-record No. 3 in the nine-year history of poll during the 2000 and 2002 seasons.

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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