#6 Softball Heads to Tucson to Face #3 Arizona Before Hosting #7 Cal and #8 Stanford

May 2, 2006

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Leading Off:

The #6 Sun Devils (42-9, 6-6 Pac-10) returned home from Seattle and LA last weekend 1-2 as they grabbed a 1-0 win over the #16 Washington Huskies before falling twice to the top-ranked UCLA Bruins at Easton Stadium in Westwood, Calif. ASU is now currently in 5th place in the Pac-10 standings behind UCLA, Oregon State, Arizona and California. ASU was able to top the Huskies last Friday in Seattle as Katie Burkhart struck out 15 en route to a 1-0 win where UW's Danielle Lawrie struck out 19, though was unable to hold the Devils as they snagged their game-winning run in the seventh after a lead-off double from Rhiannon Baca was brought home by another double from Kim Zadrozny as ASU took the series from the Huskies 2-1 this season.


The Sun Devils held their own against the top-ranked Bruins though they were unable to garner any offense against UCLA as they scored only one run against the Bruins all weekend, which came from Kaitlin Cochran's lead-off blast in the first inning of Sunday's 3-1 loss off of Anjelica Selden. The home run is Cochran's 12th of the year and her 2nd against Selden, her first coming in their first match-up of the season on April 7 when Cochran belted a 3-run shot over right field at Farrington Stadium. Sunday's home run tied Cochran for a single-season record of RBIs at 52, a mark set by Kara Brun in the 2002 season.


Katie Burkhart grabbed her 21st win of the season as she garnered a .54 ERA in 13 innings of work while allowing only seven hits and one earned run. She struck out 21 while allowing only a .163 opposing batting average. Teammate Desiree Serrano in 6 innings of work Saturday against #1 UCLA allowed only 2 hits and one unearned run while holding the Bruins to a .95 batting average.


Over the weekend, the Sun Devils compiled a .116 average, while scoring two runs on 8 hits with a slugging percentage of .203 and an on-base percentage of .176. The team was led at the plate by Kaitlin Cochran who batted .286 with two hits, and on the mound by Katie Burkhart who threw for 13 innings, allowing only 7 hits and one earned run while striking out 21 and compiling a .54 ERA.


The Sun Devils currently lead the Pac-10 in runs (254), RBI (238) and stolen bases (82).


On Deck:

The #6 Sun Devils will head to Tucson Wednesday for their final regular-season road trip as they set to face off in the series-deciding game against in-state rival, #3 Arizona (36-9, 7-6 Pac-10) at 7 p.m. They will then return to Farrington Stadium to host #8 Stanford (34-12, 7-8 Pac-10)  and #7 Cal (40-9, 8-7 Pac-10) with a 7 p.m. game versus the Cardinal on Friday and Saturday night and a 1 p.m. start time against the Cal Bears on Sunday.


`Cat Tracks:

The #3 Arizona Wildcats are currently 36-9 on the season with a 7-6 conference record after coming off of a 2-1 weekend which saw them fall 8-2 on Friday at #1 UCLA then sweep the #16 Huskies of Washington 2-0 and 10-1 on Saturday and Sunday.


The Wildcats currently lead the Pac-10 in ERA (1.03), on-base percentage (.390), opposing batting average (.148), batters struck out (512), hits allowed (154), runs allowed (52) walks allowed (47), doubles allowed (9) and triples allowed (0). Arizona is lead at the plate by Caitlin Lowe, who is currently 2nd in the Pac-10 in batting average (.448) and on-base percentage (.504), 3rd in triples (4) and stolen bases (22) and 8th in slugging percentage (.638). Leading on the mound for the `Cats is Alicia Hollowell who in the Pac-10 is 2nd in opposing batting average (.140), 3rd in ERA (.89), 4th in strikeouts (280) and 5th in wins (19). In conference play, Hollowell is 5th in opposing batting average (.199), strike outs (91) and wins (5) and is 7th in ERA (.144).


Nationally, the `Cats are ranked 6th in ERA (1.03), 7th in fielding percentage (.979), 12th in win-loss percentage (.8), 13th in home runs per game (1.0), 24th in scoring (5.29), 19th in slugging percentage (.468) and 25th in batting average (.301). Individually, Caitlin Lowe is ranked 11th batting average with a .448 and 7th in stolen bases (.61), while Alicia Hollowell is ranked 14th in ERA (.89) and 4th in strikeouts per seven innings (12.5).


Catching Up With the Cardinal:

The #8 Stanford Cardinal are now 34-12 overall and 7-8 in conference play after a 1-2 weekend against the Oregon schools, which saw Alicia Cook throw the first perfect game in the program's history against the Cardinal en route to a 9-0 route by the Ducks. The Cardinals then took on the #8 Oregon State Beavers on Saturday and Sunday, where they pulled off a come from behind win on Saturday to take the game 7-5 from the Beavers. OSU rallied back on Sunday though to blank the Cardinal 4-0.


The Cardinal currently lead the Pac-10 in fielding percentage (.983) and are lead at the plate by senior, Catalina Morris who is currently batting .377 with six doubles, three triples and seven home runs on the season. Morris is 4th in the Pac-10 in hits (47) and 6th in total bases (90). Leading on the mound for Stanford is freshman, Missy Penna with a 2.10 ERA in 156.1 innings pitched with 146 strikeouts and a .194 opponent batting average. Penna is 6th in the Pac-10 in wins (18) and 10th in strikeouts (146). Senior, Lauren Lappin has also come through for the Cardinal in conference play as she leads the Pac-1o in conference play in batting average (.405) with 17 hits in conference action.


Nationally the Cardinal is 19th in batting average (.306), 1st in fielding percentage (.983) and 27th in win-loss percentage (.739). Individually, sophomore Anna Beardman is ranked 22nd in triples per game with a .11 average.


Breaking Down the Bears:

The #7 Cal Golden Bears are holding a 40-9 overall record and an 8-7 conference record where they sit in 4th place in the Pac-10. Last weekend the Golden Bears went 2-2 against the Oregon schools as they fell to OregonState 4-2 on Friday, split with Oregon on Saturday with a 4-0 win followed with a 5-1 loss to the Ducks. They came back strong Sunday powered by Kristina Thorson's no-hitter and Haley Woods and Julie Myers' home runs as they rolled on to beat the Ducks 6-0.


Cal currently leads the Pac-10 in batting average (.308), runs scored (254) and hits (412). In conference play they lead the Pac in ERA (.149) and in home runs allowed (6). Leading the Bears on the mound is senior, Kristina Thorson who leads the Pac-10 in wins (28), strikeouts (342) and saves (6).  In conference play, Thorson leads the Pac in strikeouts with 124. Leading at the plate for the Bears is senior catcher, Haley Woods, who leads the Pac in doubles with 13, and is 6th in batting average (.384) and on-base percentage (.466), 2nd in slugging percentage (.728), RBIs (50) and total bases (110) and, 3rd in hits (58) and home runs (13).


Nationally, the Bears are ranked 18th in batting average (.308), 12th in ERA (1.28), 15th in fielding percentage (.974) and 12th in win-loss percentage (.8). Individually, Thorson is ranked 3rd in victories (28), 12th in ERA (.87), 15th in strikeouts (10.6), and 2nd in saves (6), with her teammate Haley Woods ranked 22nd in RBIs (1.0).


We've Met Before:

Arizona currently holds the all-time series record at 73-90 with their last meeting in April seeing both teams take away a win in a two-game series with ASU topping the `Cats 4-2 in their first meeting of the season and UA rallying back to take the second game 3-0. The Sun Devils lead the series against the Cardinal 30-19, also splitting their two-game series at Stanford in April both winning one game apiece, 3-1. Against Cal, the Devils are behind in the series, though thus far this season have topped the Bears with a 2-0 in their first meeting of the year on April 21st in Berkeley.


Playing With Fire:

ASU leads the Pac-10 Conference in three offensive categories: runs scored (254), RBIs (238) and stolen bases (82) after 12 weeks of play.


In conference play, ASU leads the Pac-10 in opposing batting average (.180), hits allowed (58), earned runs allowed (22) and doubles allowed (4).


Beginner's Luck?:

Freshman Kaitlin Cochran in her first season of collegiate softball, exploded onto the scene to claim the first Pac-10 Player of the Week award of the season. The Yorba Linda, Calif. native thus far has batted 65-142 (.458) at the plate with 12 home runs (two in one game against OregonState and two off of UCLA's Anjelica Selden), four triples, seven doubles, 39 runs scored and 52 RBIs. Cochran's 52 RBIs have tied her for the ASU single-season record for RBIs which Kara Brun set in 2002. 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 (.458), slugging percentage (.817), on-base percentage (.563), RBIs (52) and total bases (116).


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 (42), 2nd in the Pac-10 in ERA (1.09) and batters struck out (492), 3rd in opposing batting average (.168), hits allowed (214) and runs allowed (78).


 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 sixth and eighth place with 1.09 and 1.27 ERAs and a #4 ranking for Burkhart with a .145 opposing batting average and for batters struck out (280).


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 9th in ERA (1.09), 7th in won-loss percentage (.824), 11th in home runs per-game (1.04) and 13th in stolen bases per-game (1.61). Sun Devil individuals are showing up on the national radar as well with Kaitlin Cochran in 9th for batting average (.458), 20th in RBI per-game (1.02) and 11th in slugging percentage (.817). Mindy Cowles is 21st in home runs per-game (.28) and 16th in walks (.68). Jackie Vasquez jumped onto the list ranked 26th in the toughest to strike out list. For the pitchers, Katie Burkhart and Desiree Serrano are ranked, respectively 25th and 32nd in ERA (1.09 & 1.27), 9th and 29th in strikeouts per seven innings (10.9 & 9.3) and Burkhart alone ranked 27th in victories with 21. Michelle Smith also made the list ranked 8th in stolen bases (.6).


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 and retaining those positions for a week before jumping to #9 in both polls for two weeks before moving into the #8/9 spots then and grabbing a #9/10 ranking before moving to a #8/10 ranking and a #7/10 ranking last week with a #6 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 53 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 238 RBI, which is more than last year's season total of 158 and only 21 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 82-98 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 254 runs on the season, 40 shy of ASU's all-time season record by the 1996 team. ASU has also connected for 371 hits with a slugging percentage of .433 while posting a 4.38 ERA on their opposing pitchers.  On defense, ASU has held its opponents to only 78 runs off of 214 hits and a .168 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, 6, 7, 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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