Softball Hosts 19-Team Kajikawa Classic

Feb. 9, 2005

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ON TAP: The Arizona State University softball team (3-0) will hosts its annual 19-team Kajikawa Classic (formerly the Fiesta Bowl) Friday, February 11 through Sunday, February 13 at the Tempe Sports Complex and Farrington Stadium. ASU will open the Classic at the Tempe Sports Complex on Friday against Buffalo at 2:30 p.m. and end the day against Massachusetts at 4:45 p.m.

KAJIKAWA CLASSIC NOTES: The classic is named after ASU legendary coach and huge Sun Devil softball supporter Bill Kajikawa, who began his coaching career in 1937 and retired in 1978 ... the format is a round robin fashion with no champion ... seven of the 19-teams are ranked in the top-25, including the nation's top-4 ... 10 of the teams are either ranked in the top-25 or receiving votes ... a total of 49 games will be played during the three days ... the Tempe Sports Complex is located on the Northeast corner of Warner and Hardy roads.

DEVILS ON THE WEB: All of ASU's 29 home games at Farrington Stadium will be available via LiveStats on ASU's home website at www.thesundevils.com.

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 29 games (nearly half of all their games) against top-25 teams, while 16 games were 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. Within the toughest conference in the nation, the Pac-10, ASU will face a nationally-ranked team every time out. All seven Pac-10 opponents are ranked in the top-16, including the No. 1, 2 and 3 ranked teams and four of the nation's top-6. Additionally, The Pac-10 placed seven of its eight squads in the NCAA Tournament last season, with three teams advancing to the WCWS. For the fourth consecutive year (11th time overall), two Pac-10 teams squared off in the National Championship game, giving the conference its 17th title and fourth straight.

SOFTBALL HISTORY:

One of the nation's founding programs, the Sun Devils are in their 39th season on the diamond in Tempe. ASU holds a 1,021-556-1 (.647) all-time record since the 1967 team posted a 5-1 record. ASU has recorded 23 season of at least 30 wins and six with 40 or more victories, including an all-time high of 46 in 2002. The Sun Devils have earned 16 postseason bids, fourth all-time in the Pac-10 Conference, and has made four trips to the College World Series. Prior to the current NCAA format, ASU went to seven WCWS, claiming back-to-back national tiles in 1972 and 1973.

HEAD COACH Linda Wells: As she approaches 900 career victories, Arizona State's storied tradition of softball excellence continues to flourish under the tutelage of 16th-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 887 victories, has led the Sun Devils to 11 (seven consecutive 1997-03) NCAA Regional appearances in 15 seasons, including two trips in the past six years to the College World Series (1999/2002). While at ASU, Wells has compiled a record of 536-389 and has had seven players earn a total of 12 All-American awards. Her 536 wins are tied for the most victories all-time in ASU's storied 39-year history with coaching legend Mary Littlewood. 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 competed 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 has coached 35 career .300 hitters at ASU in her 15 seasons, averaging a combined .335 -- not an easy accomplishment in the pitching-rich Pac-10 where games are traditionally low scoring, and with the addition of three more All-Pac-10 selections in 2004, Wells has now coached 75 all-conference players during her tenure at Arizona State, averaging five All-Pac-10 selections every season.

SERRANO TIME: Junior pitcher Desiree Serrano enters the 2005 season fourth all-time in career strikeouts with 438. Last year she led the pitching staff with a 2.21 ERA in 200 innings, making 28 starts in 41 appearances. Serrano, who averaged over seven strikeouts per contest, recorded a team-high 16 wins with eight shutouts and struck out 208 batters, eighth all-time in a single-season. She also posted five double digit strikeout games, including a season-high 13 against Illinois State, pitched a two-hit, 10 strikeout game against Wisconsin and a one-hit, 11 strikeout game against Princeton. As a redshirt freshman, 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 a save against No. 6 California and pitching a complete game three-hitter against No. 16 Stanford. 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.

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. To date, Arizona State University, which accumulated 36,613 points for a No. 8 all-time ranking -- just 12 points behind seventh-place California -- has been ranked in 100 of the 125 polls all-time. Additionally, ASU has been ranked in 96 of the last 104 polls (except week one of 1999 and from Apr. 5-May 12, 2004). Arizona State climbed to a school-record No. 3 in the nine-year history of the poll during the 2000 and 2002 seasons.

SIZZLING SEVILLA:

After a breakout junior year, senior outfielder Valerie Sevilla began the 2005 season right where she left off last year. In the three-game series against Texas-San Antonio, Sevilla hit two home runs and drove in three runs. She is currently fourth all-time in home runs (17) and tied for eighth all-time in batting average (.333). As a junior, Sevilla earned NFCA second-team All-Region honors, second-team All-Pac-10 accolades and was named Pac-10 Player of the Week (3/19). Remarkably, Sevilla had never hit a home run before last year as she slugged three grand slams and tied the single-season record for home runs (15). She also tied the single-season record for doubles (17), finished fifth all-time in a single-season with 46 RBIs and seventh with 70 hits. Sevilla hit at a .363 clip and led the team in hits (70), home runs (15), doubles (17), runs scored (36), total bases (132) and tallied a team-leading 21 RBIs with two outs. She led the team in multi-hit games (19), multi-RBI games (12) and batted a team-leading .421 with runners on base (.380 with runners in scoring position). Sevilla also hit four home runs in a three game stretch against Texas A&M and Washington and hit six home runs in Pac-10 play. Sevilla possess a strong arm as well as she tied for the most assists in the outfield with six.

OLYMPIC CONNECTION: Three members of the ASU staff either coached or played for Greece in 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Linda Wells was the head coach of the host Greek National Team, while assistant coach Stacey Farnworth was team's catcher and administrative assistant Jessica Bashor was the starting outfielder.

IMMEDIATE IMPACT: The Sun Devils opened the 2005 season with the addition of five new players (four freshman), who all contributed in ASU's three wins over Texas-San Antonio. Freshman Mindy Cowles (Riverside, Calif.) proved her might as she batted .500 (4 for 8) with all four hits going as extra bases, including two home runs and two doubles. Cowles drove in a team-leading five RBIs and also started the final game in the circle, pitching four and two-thirds innings. As a senior at Riverside Poly, Cowles was named the Division I CIF Player of the Year and was a first-team all-CIF pitcher. Freshman Rhiannon Baca (Flagstaff, Ariz.) also performed well during the opening weekend, going 4 for 11 (.364) with two runs scored. Baca also drove in a critical run in the bottom of the eighth inning on Sunday that allowed the Devils to tie the game and eventually win 5-4. Baca was a three-time first-team All-Arizona state selection who jumped right into the lineup at shortstop. Freshman pitcher Katie Burkhart (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) picked up a win and a save against Texas-San Antonio. In two relief appearances, Burkhart worked six innings with seven strikeouts. Prior to ASU, Burkhart was a first-team all-CIF pitcher as a senior after recording an 0.21 ERA with 358 strikeouts in only 169 innings. Freshman Ciri Bryan (La Canada, Calif.) started all three games as the team's designated player, batting .375 (3 for 8) with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored. San Diego State junior transfer Bridgette Caron (Fallbrook, Calif.) played in two games with one start in the outfield. She went 1 for 3 with two runs scored and had one assist.

DIAMOND NOTES: Eight Sun Devils contributed with at least one RBI in the opening weekend ... three different pitchers earned a win against Texas-San Antonio ... half of ASU's 16 RBIs came with two outs.

ATTENDANCE FIGURES: Once again Arizona State University was among the top schools to carry a high home attendance figure in 2004. ASU finished No. 4 in the country and No. 2 in the Pac-10 Conference in total home attendance with 18,045. ASU finished fourth on the west coast and 11th nationally in average home attendance with 582. The Sun Devils also set the No. 1 and No. 2 all-time attendance records at Farrington Stadium against rival Arizona. The two-game series (April 9-10) combined to bring in over 3,300 fans as the record of 1,663 (1,535 capacity) was set on the first night and 1,641 on the second night.

STADIUM & FIELD AWARDS:

For the third time in the past four years, Arizona State was honored with another award. 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 1,535 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. ASU 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. Additionally, Farrington Stadium was 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.

LOOK BACK AT 2004: ASU Finished the year with a 33-31 overall record and an eighth-place finish in the Pac-10 Conference with a 3-17 mark...recorded winning overall record for the 13th time in the past 15 years...won 30 or more games in nine consecutive seasons...played 28 games (nearly half of the total) against top-25 opponents...hit 42 home runs, just four shy of the all-time mark of 45 set in 2002...a school-record 10 different players hit home runs while six different players slugged multi-home runs...stole 67 bases, more than tripling their season total from all of last year (21)...home attendance rose to an average of 646, as well as setting the No. 1 and No. 2 all-time attendance records at Farrington Stadium against rival Arizona...Farrington Stadium/Field was named the 2003 Sports Turf Managers Association Softball Field of the Year...won its own Louisville Slugger Tournament for the third straight season...head coach Linda Wells announced her retirement at the end of the 2005 season...senior third baseman Phelan Wright claimed her third straight All-American honor, earning second-team acclaim...she was one of 25 finalists for National Player of the Year honors...Wright became Arizona State's first three-time All-American selection in the modern era (2002-04)...Wright ended her standout career as Arizona State's all-time batting average leader (.381), all-time home run leader (40) and finished second in doubles (44) and RBIs (162)...senior outfielder Kristin Farber set ASU's single-season record for stolen bases with 33 and finished her career second all-time with 80... junior outfielder Val Sevilla had a career year as she led the team with 70 hits, 17 doubles and 15 home runs, while finishing second on the team with a .363 average and 46 RBIs...Sevilla's 15 home runs and 17 doubles tied the single-season mark at ASU and her 46 RBIs ranks fourth all-time...Sevilla, who had never hit a home run before this year, also tallied a team-leading 21 RBIs with two outs, slugged three grand slams and tied for the most assists in the outfield with six...sophomore pitcher Desiree Serrano posted five double digit strikeout games...she is now fourth all-time at ASU with 434 career strikeouts.

Softball Individual Honors

All-American: Phelan Wright (NFCA second team)

All-Region: Phelan Wright (NFCA second team), Val Sevilla (NFCA second team)

All-Pac-10: Phelan Wright (first), Val Sevilla (second), Kristin Farber (HM)

Pac-10 All-Academic: Jen McCard (first), Kari Reidhead (first), Kim Zadrozny (second)

Pac-10 Player of the Week: Val Sevilla (March 9)

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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