No. 24 Softball Wins Pool Play at the NIST

March 11, 2005

SUNNYVALE, Calif. - The 24th-ranked Arizona State University softball team (19-4) won both of its pool games on Friday, advancing as the No. 1 seed from Pool B to the championship bracket that starts Saturday. In the first game, Mindy Cowles hit two home runs and collected four RBIs to carry ASU to an 8-3 win over Rhode Island. In the nigh cap against host San Jose State, Desiree Serrano and Katie Burkhart combined on a one hit shut out as the Sun Devils won 2-0. Burkhart faced the final 12 batters, striking out 10 Spartans.

In the first game of pool play against Rhode Island, the Sun Devils jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning off two hits and one Ram error. Cowles reached on a fielding error by the third baseman and then moved to second when Bridgette Caron walked. Valerie Sevilla followed with a hard shot that glanced off the third baseman's glove in to left field to score Cowles. Heidi Knabe then stroked a two-out double into the left center field gap to score Sevilla.

ASU scored three more runs in the second inning off Ram's pitcher Jill Anderson, who had just entered the game for starting pitcher Jaime Hughes. Cowles provided the scoring punch as she slugged the first of her two home runs, a three-run shot over the center field fence. Rhiannon Baca scored on the play when she reached on another Ram error and Ciri Bryan also scored when she singled to center.

ASU starting pitcher Ashley Werschky (5-1) cruised through the first three innings, before URI broke through for a single run in the fourth inning off Alyssa Martino solo home run.

The Rams collected one more run in the fifth and sixth innings, but that was all they would score as the Sun Devils would tag on three more runs in the sixth inning. With one out, Bryan singled to center allowing Cowles to step up and smack her team-leading 10th home run of the year, another shot over the center field fence.

Cowles also pitched the final two innings of the game, giving up two hits and one run with four strikeouts. Werschky pitched the first five innings, allowing three hits and two runs with six strikeouts.

In the second game against host San Jose State, the Sun Devils tallied the only runs they needed in the second inning off four straight singles. Knabe opened the inning with an infield hit to deep second. Sharee Zaleski followed with a deep single to right field moving Knabe to third. Michelle Smith then pinch ran for Zaleski, which was followed by Baca reaching on an infield hit to load the bases. Jen McCard then golfed a 1-2 pitch from SJSU starter Carla Forbes into left field to plate both Knabe and Smith.

The Sun Devils looked to tack on one more run in the fourth, but the umpires called it back. With two outs and McCard on first base, Werschky hit a deep fly ball to left field that the left fielder couldn't catch as she crashed into the fence, knocking it down, allowed McCard to come home. But the umpires made a controversial call stating it was a ground-rule double negating McCard's run.

In the bottom of the fourth SJSU looked to cut into the lead when Courtney Lewis led off with a double to left field off ASU starter Desiree Serrano. Lewis was then sacrificed over to third. Katie Burkhart (6-2) then relived Serrano and struck out the next two batters on six pitches to end the threat. Lewis' double turned out to be the only hit SJSU could manage in the game.

Burkhart continued her dominance the rest of the game as she struck out the side in the fifth and seventh innings. She walked only one batter with 10 strikeouts. Burkhart has now struck out 90 batters in just 54 innings pitched.


Up next, the Sun Devils will face either Iowa or UC Davis in bracket play on Saturday at 12:00 p.m. (PT).



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