Softball Opens NCAA Regional Play in Tuscaloosa, Alabama Against Hofstra

May 18, 2005

ON TAP:

The Arizona State University softball team (29-24, 4-17 Pac-10) will travel to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to compete in the NCAA Region 12 tournament, May 20-22. ASU, the No. 2 seed, will face No. 3 seed Hofstra (41-14-1) in game one of the regional on Friday at 4:00 p.m. (CDT).

REGION 12 NOTES/SCHEDULE: Alabama (57-13), the No. 1 seed and No. 12 seed nationally, will take on No. 4 seed Mississippi Valley State (34-30) in game two on Friday at 6:30 p.m. ... ASU holds a 2-0 all-time record against Hofstra and is 2-3 versus Alabama ... ASU and Mississippi Valley State have never met ... the winner of Region 12 will play in a Super Regional against the winner of the Texas A&M Region 5 ... to follow all of the regional games on gametracker log onto to www.rolltide.com.

Friday, May 20

4:00 p.m. Arizona State vs. Hofstra

6:30 p.m. Alabama vs. Mississippi Valley State

Saturday, May 21

1:30 p.m. Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2

4:00 p.m. Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2

6:30 p.m. Winner Game 4 vs. Loser Game 3

Sunday, May 22

1:30 p.m. Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5

4:00 p.m. Winner Game 6 vs. Winner Game 6 (if necessary)

SUN DEVILS POSTSEASON HISTORY:

NCAA Regional Appearances: (17)

1982, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005

NCAA Tournament Record:

16 years -- 29-33 (.468)

College World Series Appearances: (4)

1982 (4th), 1987 (7th), 1999 (7th), 2002 (3rd)

World Series Record:

4 years -- 4-7 (.364)

ASU's All-Time Record: (39 years)

1,047-580-1 (.643)

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 1,047-550-1 (.643) 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 17 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.

TOUGH SCHEDULE/TOUGHER CONFERENCE: As in any season, Arizona State faced many of the nation's top teams and traditionally holds a high RPI. According to the latest RPI, ASU carries a No. 23 ranking with a No. 4 strength of schedule. Last year, ASU played 29 games (nearly half) against Top-25 teams, while 16 games were against Top-10 competition. This year was no different as ASU played several non-conference/Pac-10 regular-season games against nationally-ranked teams (22 of its last 24 games against teams ranked in the Top-25). Within the toughest conference in the nation, ASU faced a Top-25 team nearly every time out. Six Pac-10 teams are ranked in the Top-25, including No's. 2, 3, 4, and 6. In non-conference play in 2005, the Pac-10 holds a 200-44 (.820) mark. Additionally, the Pac-10 placed all eight squads in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time with six earning No. 1 seeds. Last year, 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.

HEAD COACH Linda Wells: Arizona State's storied tradition of softball excellence continues under the tutelage of 16th-year head coach Linda Wells, one of the most prominent and successful coaches in NCAA history. Wells, who will be coaching in her final postseason games (retiring at the end of the 2005 season), is currently the 7th-most successful active coach in NCAA Division I history with 913 victories (9th all-time). Wells has led the Sun Devils to 12 (seven consecutive 1997-03) NCAA Regional appearances in 16 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 562-413 and has had seven players earn a total of 12 All-American awards. Her 562 wins are the most victories all-time in ASU's storied 39-year history, surpassing coaching legend Mary Littlewood's 536. Wells earned the victory with a 3-2 win over Sacramento State (2/13/05). 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 has coached 35 career .300 hitters at ASU in her 16 seasons, averaging a combined .335 -- not an easy accomplishment in the pitching-rich Pac-10 where games are traditionally low scoring. 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 is leading the pitching staff with a team-high 12-8 record. She has posted two shutouts with a 2.51 ERA and 119 strikeouts. She is currently third all-time in career strikeouts with 553 and is tied for eighth all-time with 46 victories. Serrano posted back to back Pac-10 wins against No. 8 Oregon State and Oregon, while she recorded her 10th win of the year against No. 7 Louisiana-Lafayette at the KIA Klassic. She pitched in relief for three innings, allowing only two hits with two strikeouts. Serrano combined with Burkhart to no-hit UC Davis at the NIST and in three appearances at the Louisville Slugger Triangular, Serrano went 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA with 20 strikeouts, including a career-high 14 against Southern Utah. 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. 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. 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 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).

SPECIAL K:

Freshman pitcher Katie Burkhart, who has been named one of the 32 initial athletes invited to participate in the 2005 Women's National Team Selection Camp, June 13-17, at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., has made an immediate impact on the pitching staff. She has notched 11 wins, including a no-hitter, a combined no-hitter with six shutouts and a Pac-10 leading five saves (10th nationally). Overall in 36 appearances (176 innings), Burkhart, who strikes out 8.4 batters per 7 innings, carries a team-leading 1.43 ERA (sixth in the Pac-10) with 211 strikeouts (six double digit strikeout games and two nine K games). Burkhart also leads the team in opponents batting average (167/fifth in Pac-10). She tallied her first Pac-10 win against No. 6 Stanford, shutting out the Cardinal on four hits with eight strikeouts, and tallied her second win over No. 2 California in the final game of the year. Burkhart was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week (3/14) after going 3-0, including a complete game two-hit shut out over No. 2 California to lift ASU to the NIST title. She won three of ASU's five games, combined for a no-hitter and did not allow a single run to score the entire tournament. In four appearances, Burkhart pitched 16 and two-thirds innings, posting a 0.00 ERA and allowed only two hits with 30 strikeouts. She also held opponents to a 0.38 batting average. In the championship game against Cal, Burkhart recorded her third win at the NIST, allowing only two singles with nine strikeouts. Burkhart threw her first career no-hitter, including 13 strikeouts (eight strikeouts through the first four innings of work) as ASU topped San Diego State, 1-0 in the first game of the Louisville Slugger Triangular. It was the first no-hitter at ASU since Desiree Serrano's performance against Iowa (2/16/03). Earlier in the week against Eastern Michigan, Burkhart was just one out away from a perfect game as she allowed just one hit with 12 strikeouts, including striking out the side in the fourth inning. She also fanned four EMU hitters two or more times. In her past four starts (27 innings), Burkhart is 3-1 with two shutouts, has allowed only nine hits, no walks and two runs with 44 strikeouts. Burkhart made her first career start against Hawai'i and did not disappoint. She pitched a complete game, two-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts, and walked only one batter. At the Palm Springs Classic, she recorded a shutout win along with making two saves. Burkhart went unscathed through the tournament in 12 innings, recording a 0.00 ERA. In three appearances she allowed only seven hits, did not walk a batter and struck out 23. Burkhart notched her first save of the tournament against Bethune-Cookman. Burkhart pitched the final three innings, facing nine batters, allowing no hits, no walks with seven strikeouts. Burkhart then had her best outing of the season as she shutout Northwestern on five hits while fanning a career-high 14 batters. Burkhart struck out the Wildcat side in the first inning and struck out the side again in the fourth inning on just 11 pitches. Following that game, Burkhart recorded her second save of the tournament against Notre Dame. ASU had just taken a 2-1 lead when Burkhart came in relief in the bottom of the sixth and retired the Irish in order. She then finished off the seventh as well. She gave up only two hits while striking out two more.

MIGHTY MOUSE: Despite only standing 5'4', freshman infielder/pitcher Mindy Cowles proves size does not always matter as she swings a big bat and possess a strong arm. Cowles is batting at a team-best .315 clip with a team second-best 10 home runs. She continues to lead the team with 37 runs scored, 30 RBIs, .458 on base percentage and a .658 slugging percentage. Cowles leads the team with 12 multi-hit games and eight multi-RBI games, including two games with four RBIs and one with five RBIs. She is also batting a robust .458 with runners in scoring position. Cowles also leads the team and has only been caught once trying to steal (11 for 12). In Palm Springs, Cowles batted .313 with two home runs, one double, five runs scored and eight RBIs. She was 3 for 3 in stolen bases and fielded her position flawlessly, making 11 putouts and five assists. To open the tournament against Long Island, Cowles went 3 for 3 with a grand slam and a three-run home run to tally seven RBIs on the day. She also scored three runs and walked once. Cowles accounted for half of the team's runs as ASU won 14-0. Cowles, who plays third and second base in the infield, also pitched 1.2 innings allowing no hits with one strikeout. Against Bethune-Cookman, Cowles again led ASU with a 2 for 4 game, including a double, an RBI and two runs scored. In two games against Hawai'i, Cowles went 4 for 6 with two home runs, four RBIs and three runs scored. Her back-to-back home runs carried ASU to a 2-0 win. To begin the season against Texas-San Antonio, Cowles 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 was the starting pitcher in the final game, going four and two-thirds innings.

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 106 of the 135 polls all-time. Additionally, ASU has been ranked in 102 of the last 114 polls. Arizona State climbed to a school-record No. 3 in the nine-year history of the poll during the 2000 and 2002 seasons.

THE ROCK:

Sophomore catcher Heidi Knabe, who has started all 53 games (one of only two players) and played every inning (354) except one, is one of only two Pac-10 catchers to have picked off two runners. She has also thrown out a Pac-10 leading 15 base runners (20 for 35). Offensively, Knabe is having a career year with a team second-best .295 average with 46 hits, nine doubles, a grand slam, 14 runs scored and 20 RBIs. In Pac-10 play, Knabe batted a team-high .286 with 18 hits, including three doubles, a home run and six RBIs.

DEVIL NOTES: ASU was picked to finish eighth in the Pac-10 Conference ... ASU is tied for first in the Pac-10 in saves (5) and is fifth in batters struck out (373) ... 15 of ASU's 29 wins have been shutouts ... 14 of ASU's 15 players have at least one double ... opponents are batting .216 with runners in scoring position ... opponents are batting .200, fourth in the Pac-10 ... ASU is 24-5 when scoring first and 13-4 when scoring in the first inning.

SIZZLING SEVILLA:

After a break out junior year, senior outfielder Valerie Sevilla continued that in 2005. Sevilla is currently hitting at a .295 pace (second on the team) with a team leading 13 doubles (third in the Pac-10), along with seven home runs. Sevilla, the lone senior on the team, hit the game-winning home run to lift ASU to a come from behind 2-1 win over Notre Dame in Palm Springs. She also hit a game-winning, two-run home run against Loyola Marymount. In the three-game series against Texas-San Antonio to open the year, Sevilla hit two home runs and drove in three runs. She is currently fourth all-time in home runs (22), third in doubles (41) 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).

ZALESKI'S BIG CALI WEEKENDS: Named Pac-10 Player of the Week (3/14), Sharee Zaleski was one of the main offensive players to carry ASU to five straight wins, including a game-winning home run in the championship game as ASU shutout No. 2 California, 1-0 to win the National Invitational Softball Tournament title in Sunnyvale, Calif. In the tournament, Zaleski batted .600 (6 for 10) with four home runs, five runs scored and 11 RBIs. She had 18 total bases and a slugging percentage of 1.800. She also had an on-base percentage of .583. In the championship game against California, Zaleski tallied the only run of the game in the fifth inning as she took Cal pitcher Kristina Thorson's ball over the center field fence. In the quarterfinal game against UC Davis, Zaleski went 2 for 2 with two home runs, including a grand slam with five RBIs. In the semifinal game against Colorado State, Zaleski went 2 for 2 with another home run and five more RBIs. In ASU's final regular season game against No. 2 California, Zaleski again provided the power and game-winner once again as she hit a second inning solo home run off Kelly Anderson to carry ASU to a 2-1 win. On the year, Zaleski leads the team in home runs with 11 (fourth all-time in a single-season), is tied for the team-high with 30 RBIs, has scored 15 runs and holds a .493 slugging percentage.

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.

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.

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