#7 Softball Travels to Take On #15 Washington and Top-Ranked UCLA

April 26, 2006

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Leading Off:

The #7 Sun Devils (41-7, 5-4 Pac-10) returned home from the Bay Area 2-1 as they recorded a win over the #8 Cal Bears and split a two-game series between the #5 Stanford Cardinal. The wins currently tie the Sun Devils for second in the Pac-10 with #9 OregonState while #1 UCLA holds the top spot with an 8-2 conference record. ASU shut out the Bears in a 2-0 win on Friday, with the only runs on the day coming off of a Kaitlin Cochran double and a single from Rhiannon Baca who were belted home by a single up the middle from Ashley Werschky, while Katie Burkhart and the Sun Devil defense blanked the Bears powered with Burkhart's seven strikeouts.


In their first match-up against Stanford, the Devils grabbed the lead in the fifth with a solo home run from Pac-10 home run leader, Mindy Cowles, as she hit her 14th of the season. Stanford rallied back in the bottom of the inning tying the score with two singles. The Cardinal grabbed the lead for good in the sixth inning as they added two runs to the board giving them the 3-1 win with the Devil offense unable to retaliate. The second game of the series saw the reverse, as Stanford jumped out to the 1-0 lead in the first. The Devils came back to grab two in the third as singles from Jackie Vasquez and Jessica Mapes were brought home off a triple to right field from Michelle Smith. Smith stepped up in the fifth inning as well to plate a Kristen Miller single with yet another triple to the right field gap, as the Sun Devils rolled on to a 3-1 win with Katie Burkhart striking out eight as she grabbed her 20th win on the season as ASU now stands at 41-7 on the season and 5-4 in conference play.


Over the weekend, the Sun Devils compiled a .208 average, while scoring six runs on 15 hits with a slugging percentage of .319 and an on-base percentage of .240. The team was led at the plate by Michelle Smith and Jessica Mapes, both with three hits and on the mound by Katie Burkhart who threw for 14 innings, allowing only 10 hits and one earned run while striking out 15 and compiling a .64 ERA.


The Sun Devils currently lead the Pac-10 in runs (252), RBI (236), home runs (52) and stolen bases (82).


On Deck:

The #7 Sun Devils will take off on one-of their final regular-season road trips this weekend as they head to Seattle to face the #15 Washington Huskies (30-15, 4-7) before heading down to LA to play the #1 UCLA Bruins (36-5, 8-3). The Washington game is set to kick off at 1 p.m. on Friday with 2 and 1 p.m. games against UCLA following on Saturday and Sunday.


Tracking the Dawgs:

The #15 Washington Huskies are currently 30-16 on the season with a 4-8 conference record after coming off of a 1-2 weekend against Oregon and OregonState where they beat Oregon 5-0 to open the weekend, and then fell in two straight losses to the #9 Oregon State Beavers, 3-2 and 5-0. The Huskies also traveled on Wednesday to LA to face #1 UCLA where in the first game, a continuation of their halted game on 4/15 saw the Huskies take the win from the top-ranked Bruins in 12 innings, 3-2. In the second game of the day UCLA rallied back to beat the Huskies 7-6, dropping the Huskies to 4-8 in conference play.


The Huskies currently lead the Pac-10 in conference play in doubles with 14 and the pitching staff is third in strikeouts with 108. The Huskies are lead at the plate by Ashley Charters, who is currently batting .423 with four doubles, four triples, a home run and 21 RBIs. She's also compiled a .523 slugging percentage and a .463 on-base percentage while stealing 25 bases on the season. The lead pitcher on the mound for UW is freshman, Danielle Lawrie who's holding a 1.52 ERA in 170.2 innings pitched and 17 wins. Lawrie has held opposing batters to a .188 average while fanning 250 batters and coming in for two saves on the season. Nationally, the Huskies are ranked 28th in ERA (1.74), 30th in fielding percentage (.969) and in stolen bases per game (1.41). Individual leaders for the Huskies are Ashley Charters who is ranked 28th in batting average (.423) and 13th in stolen bases (.57). Danielle Lawrie made the list ranked 18th in strikeouts per seven innings with a 10.3 average.


Breaking Down the Bruins:

The #1 UCLA Bruins are currently have a 37-5 overall record and an 9-3 conference record after going 2-1 last weekend against the Oregon schools. The Bruins fell to #9 Oregon State 2-0 in the opening game of the weekend last Friday, but came back to sweep a two-game series over the Oregon Ducks 9-3 and 5-2. On Wednesday, the Bruins hosted #15 Washington, where they resumed a previously halted game from 4/15 which saw the Bruins upset by the Huskies in a 12-inning 3-2 game. In the second game of the series, the Bruins rallied back to take the game 7-6 and improve to 9-3 against conference foes.


The Bruins currently lead the Pac-10 in slugging percentage (.506), sac bunts (38), and sac flies (11). In conference play, the Bruins lead the Pac in batting average (.290), slugging percentage (.491), on-base percentage (.349), runs (48), RBIs (45), home runs (14), total bases (132) and wins (8). Leading the bats for the Bruins is junior, Jodie Legaspi, who is currently posting a .370 batting average with eight doubles, 12 home runs and 31 RBIs. Legaspi has also compiled a slugging percentage of .739 and an on-base percentage of .453. She is currently second in the Pac-10 in slugging percentage, ninth in RBIs, second in home runs and fifth in total bases (88). In conference play, she is first in the Pac in batting average (.433), third in slugging (.800), on-base percentage (.486), hits (13) and RBIs (7), second in runs (7), and fourth in home runs (3). On the mound for the Bruins is Anjelica Selden who leads the Pac-10 in opposing batting average (.129), she is also ranked third in ERA (.84) and is second in batters struck out (262) and wins (21).  Nationally, the Bruins are 11th in ERA (1.19), 23rd in scoring (5.38), 1st in win-loss percentage (.90), 5th in home runs per game (1.23) and 7th in slugging percentage (.506).


We've Met Before:

UCLA currently holds the lead in the series history with the Sun Devils and in their last meeting earlier this month on April 7 the Devils fell in a tough 7-4 loss at home. The Washington Huskies also hold the lead in the series history against the Sun Devils, though the two split in their last two-game series earlier this month in Tempe with the Huskies taking a 3-1 win in 11 innings on April 8 and the Devils taking a 5-4 win in 13 innings on April 9.




Playing With Fire:

ASU leads the Pac-10 Conference in six offensive categories: runs scored (252), RBIs (236), home runs (52) and stolen bases (82). walks (182) and total bases (551) after ten weeks of play.


In conference play, ASU is tied for the lead in the Pac-10 in triples (2), opposing batting average (.180) and doubles allowed (3).


Beginner's Luck?:

Freshman Kaitlin Cochran in her first season of collegiate softball, has 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 63-135 (.467) at the plate with 11 home runs (two against OregonState), four triples, six doubles, 38 runs scored and 51 RBIs. Cochran's 51 RBIs have put her on a record-shattering pace, as the ASU single-season record for RBI is 52, putting her only two shy of breaking the title. Cochran's prowess at the plate is becoming well-known as she has been intentionally walked seven times this season.


After 11 weeks of play, Cochran continues to lead the Pac-10 overall in batting average (.467), slugging percentage (.815), on-base percentage (.569), hits (63), RBIs (51) and total bases (110).


Big Power, Small Package:

Standing at only 5-4, sophomore shortstop, Mindy Cowles has been another asset for ASU this year as she leads the Pac-10 overall with 14 home runs, three of which she hit in one game against UTEP on March 29, also batting in ten RBI in that game, tying her for second place in NCAA records for home runs and RBI in a game. Cowles was awarded Pac-10 Player of the Week for the week of April 4, joining Kaitlin Cochran, who won the award earlier this year.


A Thief on the Basepaths:

Junior outfielder, Michelle Smith is leading the Pac-10 in stolen bases with 30 on the season and is only three stolen bags from tying the ASU single-season record of 33, set by Kristin Farber in 2004. She also had a career game against Stanford where she hit two triples in back-to-back at-bats, bringing in all three runs for the Sun Devils in their 3-1 win against the Cardinal.


A Menace on the Mound:

The Sun Devil pitching staff is also coming up huge for ASU this year as they are 1st in wins (41), 2nd in the Pac-10 in ERA (1.13) and batters struck out (466), 3rd in opposing batting average (.170) and 4th in hits allowed (205) and runs allowed (74).


 Senior, Ashley Werschky is currently in first place in ERA in the Pac-10 with a .57 average and fifth place with a .150 opponent batting average, with her fellow Devils Katie Burkhart and Desiree Serrano also on the lists in seventh and tenth place with 1.14 and 1.33 ERAs and #3 ranking for Burkhart with a .144 opposing batting average and for batters struck out (259).


Burk Alert:

Sophomore pitcher, Katie Burkhart has already been honored twice this season as the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week in consecutive weeks for her efforts against Arizona where she struck out 22 `Cats in her 10 inning complete-game win which ties her for sixth in NCAA history for strikeouts in a game, only one week after she threw 23 strikeouts against Washington, tying her for fifth as well. She has already surpassed her freshman total of 220 strikeouts which she posted for the entire 2005 season. Burkhart was also honored this season as the NFCA National Player of the Week. 


National-Born Leaders:

In overall NCAA standings, the Sun Devils are 10th in ERA (1.13), 29th in scoring (5.25), 5th in won-loss percentage (.854), 9th in home runs per-game (1.08) and 8th in stolen bases per-game (1.71). Sun Devil individuals are showing up on the national radar as well with Kaitlin Cochran in 6th for batting average (.467), 16th in RBI per-game (1.06) and 11th in slugging percentage (.815). Mindy Cowles is 21st in home runs per-game (.30) and 9th in walks (.72). For the pitchers, Katie Burkhart and Desiree Serrano are ranked, respectively 25th and 38th in ERA (1.14 & 1.33), 12th and 28th in strikeouts per seven innings (10.9 & 9.4) and Burkhart alone ranked 18th in victories with 20. Michelle Smith also made the list ranked 7th in stolen bases (.64).


The Votes Are In:

After starting off the season un-ranked, the Sun 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 #16/15 (USA Softball-ESPN/NFCA) positions after just two weeks of play followed by a #13/12 ranking with yet another jump up four weeks ago to the #11/10 spots in the USA Today-ESPN/NFCA ranking last week and retaining those positions for a week before jumping to #9 in both polls for two weeks before moving into the #8/9 spots last week and grabbing a #9/10 ranking before moving to a #8/10 ranking last week and a #7/10 ranking this week.


Statistics 101:

The 2006 squad has already begun to show their prowess in breaking records as they have as a team has hit 52 home runs in 48 games, already superseding their total of 34 from last year's entire season, as well as breaking the all-time ASU season record of 45, set by the 2003 Sun Devil squad.  The Sun Devils have also batted in 236 RBI, which is more than last year's season total of 158 and only 23 RBI from breaking ASU's all-time team RBI per season of 259 set in 1996. ASU has already shown their speed and confidence on the base-paths as well, going 82-97 in stolen base attempts, where last season they only stole 34 bases all season, and they are rapidly approaching the all-time stolen base record of 107 set by the 1997 team.  Last season's Sun Devils plated 177 runs total on the season, while currently they have 252 runs on the season, 42 shy of ASU's all-time season record by the 1996 team. ASU has also connected for 363 hits with a slugging percentage of .445 while posting a 5.94 ERA on their opposing pitchers.  On defense, ASU has held its opponents to only 74 runs off of 205 hits and a .170 batting average.


A Threat in the Third:

The Sun Devils have found their groove in the middle of games as the majority of their runs scored (50) have come in the third inning against opponents.


USA Softball National Collegiate Player-of-the-Year Finalists:

ASU's Katie Burkhart and Kaitlin Cochran were both named to the USA Softball POY list of 25 finalists, with Burkhart remaining on the pre-season list and Cochran being added to the 25 finalists. USA Softball cut its initial list of 50 candidates in half, and will narrow the list down to three finalists before the Women's College World Series.


It's Getting Drafty in Here...

ASU's own senior pitcher, Desiree Serrano was drafted into the National Professional Fastpitch League in February by ASU's own in-state team, the Arizona Heat. The Heat also drafted Arizona pitcher Alicia Hollowell and Stanford shortstop, Lauren Lappin.


Tough Schedule/Tougher Conference:

The Sun 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, 3, 5, 7, 8 and 9 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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