#12 Softball Takes to the Road to Face-Off at UNLV Tournament

March 1, 2006

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Leading Off:

The #12/13 Sun Devils are now a perfect 15-0 on the season after returning home from competing in the 2006 NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, GA where the Devils were only able to play two games on the weekend due to inclement weather which left the fields unplayable the rest of the weekend. In the first of their two games played, the Devils faced off against the #23 Tarheels of North Carolina where the Devils found themselves almost able to take the win without a hit as they led 2-0 until the seventh inning where the Tarheels tied the game up. The Devils came back in extra innings to seal the win 4-3 in nine innings. ASU's second game of the weekend against #20 Auburn also went into extra innings which saw Katie Burkhart pitch almost eight perfect innings allowing only one hit while striking out 18 of the 25 batters she faced to pick up her sixth win of the season and put her strikeout tally on the season at 62.

 

 

On Deck:

The Devils are geared up to kick off an eight-game weekend of competition as they take to the road for a double-header on Thursday, March 2. Following their match-up in Cedar City the Devils head to Las Vegas to compete in the UNLV tournament where they will play Nevada, Southern Utah, Virginia Tech, UNLV, Portland State and an exhibition game against Team China on Sunday. The Devils will face some tough competition, especially against Virgina Tech, who have thus far this season posted a 9-0 record while throwing a combined .60 ERA, allowing only five runs scored in nine games. The Hokies have also tacked 59 runs on the scoreboard while batting with a team average of .365 including five homeruns. The Devils will face off again against Nevada who they defeated in the Kajikawa Classic, the 8-8 UNLV Runnin' Rebels, as well as the 5-5 Portland State Vikings.

 

 

Series History:

The Devils lead the all-time series history against Southern Utah 7-0 coming into this series as well as against UNLV at 14-5, 5-0 against Nevada and PortlandState, and Virginia Tech 2-0.

 

 

12-3      

 

Playing With Fire:

Freshman Kaitlin Cochran in her first season of collegiate softball, exploded onto the scene and claimed the first Pac-10 Player of the Week award of the season. The Yorba Linda, Calif., native thus far has batted 23-44 (.523) at the plate with six home runs, two triples, a double, 15 runs scored and 26 RBI. Cochran's 26 RBI have put her on a record-shattering pace, as the ASU season record for RBI is 58. 

 

After three weeks of tournament play, Cochran leads or is tied for the Pac-10 lead in four hitting categories - slugging percentage (1.045), RBI (26), home runs (6) and total bases (46). She is also third in runs scored (15) and in stolen bases (6).

 

Her fellow Devils are no slackers either as Mindy Cowles leads the Pac-10 in runs scored with 19, with teammate Michelle Smith tied for third in the Pac-10 scoring 17 runs. Smith is also leading the Pac-10 in stolen bases with 14 on the season.

 

The Sun Devil pitching squad is also coming up huge for ASU this year as Ashley Werschky is currently holding fifth place in ERA in the Pac-10 with a .31 average and fourth place with an .127 opponent batting average, and her fellow Devil Desiree Serrano also made the list in seventh place with a .87 ERA and ninth with an .170 opponent batting average. 

 

Katie Burkhart also holds the #7 spot for batters struck out with 62, with teammate Desiree Serrano tied for ninth place with 55. Both Burkhart and Serrano are tied for eighth place in the Pac-10 with six wins apiece.

 

 

The Votes Are In:

After starting off the season un-ranked, the Devils have not-so-quietly exploded into the top 25, with a #22 ranking after their first week of play and jumping rapidly into the #15/16 (USA Today-ESPN/NFCA) positions after just two weeks of play followed by a #12/13 USA Today-ESPN/NFCA ranking this week with no signs of slowing.

 

 

Statistics 101:

The 2006 squad has already begun to show promise in breaking records as they have as a team has hit 23 home runs in 15 games, while last year the Devils only hit 34 home runs in the entire season.  The Devils have also batted in 94 RBI, which is 59% of last year's season total of 158 already. The Devils have already shown their speed and confidence on the base-paths as well, going 33-37 in stolen base attempts, where last season they only stole 34 bases all season.  It took 22 games last season before the Devils obtained their current 104 runs on the season with 121 hits and a slugging percentage of .523 while posting a 8.75 ERA on their opposing pitchers.  The Devil defense has also held its opponents to only 22 runs off of 56 hits and a .156 batting average.

 

 

Tough Schedule/Tougher Conference:

The Devils as always find themselves competing against some of the best softball teams in the world, in arguably the hardest softball conference in the world in the Pac-10. Currently, seven of the eight teams of the Pac-10 are ranked in the top 25, including the number 1, 4, 5 and 8 seeds.  Since the Women's College World Series began in 1981, 17 of 24 National Champions have been Pac-10 teams, in 10 of those championship games, both teams were Pac-10 teams.

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