No. 24 Softball Advances to the NIST Championship Game

March 12, 2005

SUNNYVALE, Calif. - The 24th-ranked Arizona State University softball team (21-4) advanced to the National Invitational Softball Tournament championship game with two wins on Saturday. ASU will face second-ranked California for the title on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. (PT). In the quarterfinal game against UC Davis, pitchers Katie Burkhart and Desiree Serrano combined on a no-hitter, while Sharee Zaleski and Heidi Knabe each hit grand slam home runs as the Sun Devils won 11-0 in five innings. In the semifinal game against Colorado State, Burkhart and Serrano combined on a one-hitter, and Zaleski hit another home run, accounting for five RBIs as ASU shutout the Rams, 12-0 in five innings.

In the quarterfinal game against UC Davis, ASU jumped on starting pitcher Rachel Kelly with four runs off four hits as the Sun Devils batted around in the first inning. Ciri Bryan opened the inning reaching first on infield error by the second baseman. Rhiannon Baca singled over the pitcher to reach first, while Valerie Sevilla singled to left to load the bases. Sharee Zaleski then took a 1-1 pitch from Kelly and hit well over the center field fence for the grand slam.

In the third inning, Zaleski struck again as she led off the inning with a solo home run over the right center field fence to extend the lead to 5-0.

In the fourth inning ASU unloaded six more run when Lindsay Tognetti relived Kelly in the circle for the Aggies. Bryan opened the frame with a single to center and advanced to second when Baca reached on error by the left fielder when she dropped the fly ball. Mindy Cowles was also walked to load the bases. The Aggies then committed their third error of the game when Sevilla hit a ground ball that went through the second baseman's legs into right filed, scoring Bryan and Baca. Zaleski followed with another walk to re-load the bases. Kanbe then hit a deep drive to center field that clipped off the center fielder's glove and over the fence for another grand slam.

Serrano relived Burkhart in the fifth inning, striking out two of the three batters she faced and getting a ground out to preserve the no-hitter. The Aggies' only base runner came in the fourth on a catcher's interference call.

Zaleski ended the game going 2 for 2 with two runs scored and five RBIs, while Knabe went 2 for 3 with a run scored and four RBIs. Baca finished with a 2 for 3 game with two runs scored.

In the semifinal game against Colorado State, ASU posted five quick runs to open the top of the first inning off three hits. CSU starting pitcher Genevieve Kelly couldn't find the strike zone as she walked leadoff hitter Bryan on four pitches and Baca on four pitches. She then walked Cowles to load the bases. Sevilla followed with a single to left field to score Bryan and Zaleski singled off the first pitch to center field to plate Baca and Cowles. Knabe hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Sevilla for the fourth run and Ashley Werschky singled in Zaleski for the fifth run.

In the second inning, JayCee Woods replaced Kelly in the circle and was greeted by three more ASU runs. Bryan singled to left and was sacrificed over to second by Baca. Cowles and Sevilla each walked to load the bases. Zaleski then drilled a deep shot to left field that the left fielder caught, but also went through the fence. The ruling on the field was a catch and carry, so both Bryan and Cowles scored on the play. Knabe then singled to center field to score Sevilla for the eighth run.

Burkhart started the game before being relived by Serrano in the bottom of the third inning. Serrano then struck out the Ram's side of the inning.

ASU recorded four more runs in the fourth inning off back-to-back home runs from Sevilla and Zaleski. Baca and Cowles each walked, allowing Sevilla to bring them in, while Zaleski hit her third home run of the day and eighth of the year, a solo shot over the center field fence.

CSU tallied the first hit of the game in the bottom of the fourth when Stephanie Roberts hit a flair into short center field.

Burkhart (7-2) started the game going the first four innings with seven strikeouts, while Serrano pitched the final inning with two strikeouts.

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