No. 24 Softball Shuts Out No. 2 California, 1-0, to Win NIST Championship

March 13, 2005

SUNNYVALE, Calif. - Katie Burkhart pitched a complete game two-hit shutout and Sharee Zaleski hit a solo home run in the fifth inning as the 24th-ranked Arizona State University softball team (22-4) blanked second-ranked California (22-2), 1-0 on Sunday to take home the National Invitational Softball Tournament title. The NIST championship is the fourth all-time for ASU and third since 2000.

It turned out to be a pitcher's dual between Cal's Kristina Thorson (11-1) and Burkhart (8-2). Thorson pitched the first five and two-thirds allowing only three hits with five strikeouts. Burkhart allowed only two hits, one walk with nine strikeouts. For the tournament, Burkhart went 3-0 in 16 and two-thirds innings, allowed no runs, only two hits with 30 strikeouts.

ASU broke on top in the top of the fifth inning with the eventual winning run off Thorson when Sharee Zaleski led off the inning with a solo home run to center field. The home run was Zaleski's fourth of the tournament and gave her 11 RBIs as well.

The Devils looked to do more damage in the sixth inning. Bridgette Caron led off with double to left. Caron popped the ball over the charging third baseman's head and spun it into left field. Rhiannon Baca followed with a sacrifice to move Caron to third. After Thorson got the second out, she had a 1-0 count on Mindy Cowles when she was pulled for Kelly Anderson. Cowles was then intentionally walked and Sevilla walked as well to load the bases. But Anderson got Zaleski to hit into a fielder's choice and force Sevilla out at second

In the bottom of the sixth, Cal had its best opportunity to score. With one out, Kaleo Eldredge walked and moved to second when Lindsay James reached first on an error by second baseman Cowles. But Burkhart then got a fly out and struck out Jessica Pamanian to end the inning.

Up next, the Sun Devil will continue their stay in California as they travel to Los Angeles to take on Loyola Marymount in a doubleheader on Monday at 12:00 p.m.

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