Sun Devil Softball Travels to Oklahoma City for the Women's College World Series

May 30, 2006

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Leading Off:

The 6th-seeded Sun Devils (52-13, 11-10 Pac-10) returned home last week to host Florida State in a best-of-three face-off at the Tempe Super Regional where they took the series in two games, giving Florida State only a two-run allowance through both games to ASU's 11.

 

 In Game One, Katie Burkhart took to the mound against FSU's Tiffany McDonald, where Burkhart pitched a nearly flawless game giving up only one solo shot to Veronica Wootson in the fourth, while racking up nine K's on the night to McDonald's three. The Sun Devil offense clicked into place as well with Kaitlin Cochran going deep to left field for a two run shot in the first to put ASU up for good. Bianca Cruz dug in with bases loaded in the third to crush a grand slam over the left field wall to slam the door on the Seminoles as ASU rolled on to a 6-1 win.

 

Game Two saw Burkhart take the mound again against Freshman FSU pitcher, Melissa May who went 4.1 innings allowing three hits and two unearned runs before McDonald came in to relieve her in the fifth. The Sun Devils tacked on two more hits and three more runs, including Mindy Cowles hitting a long ball over center field in the seventh for her 17th home run of the season. Burkhart stepped up to strikeout 10 on the night as ASU rolled on to take game two 5-1 and advance to the Women's College World Series for the first time since 2002.

 

The Sun Devils have now advanced to the College World Series 12 times, with 2006 being their fifth trip since the NCAA began holding the softball championship in 1982, advancing in 2002, 2000, 1987 and 1982. Prior to that the Devils advanced seven times from 71'-73' and 76'-79', with first place finishes in 72' & 73' under Head Coach and founder of Sun Devil Softball, Mary Littlewood.

 

Against FSU over the weekend, Katie Burkhart picked up wins No. 28 and 29 as she threw for 13 innings allowing only nine hits for two runs with 19 strikeouts all while holding FSU to a .196 batting average.  Burkhart's 19 strikeouts bring her season total to 385, a new ASU all-time single season record, surpassing the old record of 316 set in 2000 by former All-American and current pitching coach, Kirsten Voak.

 

Over the weekend, the Sun Devils compiled a .192 average at the plate, while scoring 11 runs on 10 hits with a slugging percentage of .385 and an on-base percentage of .300. The team was led at the plate by freshman, Kaitlin Cochran who batted .600 with three hits, two runs scored, a home run and two RBIs with a slugging percentage of 1.400.

 

The Sun Devils currently lead the Pac-10 in ERA (1.16), walks (221) and stolen bases (90). In addition to ERA, the pitching staff also leads the conference in batters struck out (631) and wins (52). In conference play, the Sun Devil hurlers lead in opposing batting average (.199).

 

On Deck:

After sweeping Florida State in the Tempe Regional, the Sun Devils garnered their 12th trip to the College World Series along with the University of Arizona Wildcats (49-10, 15-6 Pac-10), Oregon State Beavers (43-14, 10-10 Pac-10), Texas Longhorns (54-7, 15-2 Big-10), Northwestern Wildcats (47-13, 16-3 Big-10), Alabama Crimson Tide (54-9, 25-4 SEC) and UCLA Bruins (48-7, 15-5 Pac-10).

 

Game One for the Sun Devils will be Thursday, June 1 at 2 p.m. CT (12 p.m. PT) against the Texas Longhorns at Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, OK.

 

Lights, Camera, Action!

The 2006 Women's College World Series will be completely televised by ESPN and ESPN 2. To catch Thursday night's match-up against the Longhorns, tune into ESPN 2, airing 2 p.m. CT (12 p.m. PT and 3 p.m. ET).

 

Bam-A They're Good:

After beating Mississippi State 8-0 and Georgia Tech 8-5 & 7-2, the Tide hosted the Stanford Cardinal in the Tuscaloosa Super Regional over the weekend where they made quick work of the Cardinal in game one 4-1. The Cardinal fought back in game two to push the game into extra innings where the Tide rolled on Stanford to finally take the game 8-7 in eight innings sending Alabama to their second consecutive WCWS. The Tide will take on Northwestern in their first game of the WCWS on Thursday at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN2.

 

Wile E. Wildcats:

The University of Arizona Wildcats saw their 14-game winning streak snapped against LSU over the weekend after taking game one 5-0 over the Tigers only to see LSU turn it around in game two to win 3-2 forcing a game three where the `Cats came out blazing to take the game 14-5 in five innings to dispatch the Tigers. The `Cats will take on OregonState in game one of the WCWS Thursday at 12 p.m. CT on ESPN2.

 

Another Pack of `Cats on the Prowl:

After taking down Southern Illinois 4-0 and Notre Dame 9-0 (5 inn.) & 7-4 in Regionals, the Wildcats hosted the UMASS Minutewomen where they were handed a 1-0 upset by the underdogs, only to rally back to take the last two games 4-2 & 9-0. The Wildcats will take on Alabama in their game three on Thursday at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN2.

 

Up Beaver Creek:

The Beavers are headed to their first WCWS after defeating Nevada 2-1 and 5-3 & 3-1 over Baylor to advance to Super Regionals where they took down the Cal Golden Bears rallying back from a 2-1 game one loss to win 3-0 and 1-0 in games two and three to earn their WCWS spot. The Beavers are set to take on the Arizona Wildcats in game one of the WCWS on Thursday at 12 p.m. CT on ESPN2.

 

A Perfect Ten-nessee:

After beating Tennessee Tech 6-4, Virginia Tech 9-1 and Louisville 8-1 in their Regional, the Lady Vols faced the defending national champions Michigan en route to the WCWS. Tennessee took the first game 5-3 from the Wolverines, but Michigan made a case for themselves with a 5-1 win in game two before the Lady Vols slammed the door in game three with a 1-0 nail-biter to advance on. The Lady Vols will take on the No. 1 seed, UCLA in game four on Thursday at 8 p.m. CT.

 

Texas Won't Hold `Em Back:

With storied pitcher Cat Osterman leading the way for the Longhorns, Texas rolled through their Regional, beating UT-San Antonio 4-0, Indiana 3-0 and Utah 3-0. They followed that performance with a two-game elimination of the Washington Huskies with 1-0 and 9-1 wins over UW. Texas and the Sun Devils will lock horns Thursday in game two of the WCWS at 2 p.m. CT on ESPN2.

 

Brutally Bruin:

The No. 1 seed coming into the WCWS, the Bruins won 11-2 over MissouriState, 5-0 over Long BeachState and 7-0 over San DiegoState in their Regional before taking on the South Florida Bulls in their Super Regionals, sending the Bulls home in two games with 2-0 and 3-1 wins. The Bruins take on Tennessee in game four of the WCWS on Thursday at 8 p.m. CT.

 

 

We've Met Before:

The series between ASU and Alabama stands tied at 3-3.

Arizona leads the all-time series over ASU 73-91.

ASU leads the all-time series over Northwestern 5-3.

ASU leads the all-time series over OregonState 58-25.

ASU leads the all-time series over Tennessee 1-0.

Texas leads the all-time series over ASU 1-0.

UCLA leads the all-time series over ASU 16-80-1.

 

35-2    

 

Playing With Fire:

ASU leads the Pac-10 Conference in three offensive categories: ERA (1.16), walks (221) and stolen bases (90).

 

In conference play, ASU leads the Pac-10 in opposing batting average (.199).

 

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 81-181 (.448) at the plate with 17 home runs (two in one game against OregonState and two off of UCLA's Anjelica Selden), four triples, eight doubles, 47 runs scored and 61 RBIs. Cochran's 61 RBIs have set a new ASU single-season record for RBIs which was formerly 52 set by Kara Brun in 2002. Cochran's prowess at the plate is becoming well-known as she has been intentionally walked 11 times this season.  Her 17 home runs also tie her for the lead in the Pac-10 with teammate, Mindy Cowles.

 

After 16 weeks of play, Cochran continues to lead the Pac-10 overall in batting average (.448), slugging percentage (.818), on-base percentage (.556), hits (81), home runs (17) and total bases (148).

 

Big Power, Small Package:

Standing at only 5-4, sophomore shortstop, Mindy Cowles has been another asset for ASU this year as she is tied for the lead in the Pac-10 overall with 17 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. Both Cowles and Kaitlin Cochran have surpassed ASU's single-season home run record of 15 formerly held by Valerie Sevilla in 2004 and Phelan Wright in 2003.

 

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 (52), batters struck out (631), and in ERA (1.16), 3rd in opposing batting average (.177) and 4th in hits allowed (290) and runs allowed (106).

 

Katie Burkhart and Desiree Serrano are also appearing on the Pac-10 leaders lists in fourth and seventh place in ERA with 1.11 and 1.41 averages and a #4 and #9 ranking for Burkhart Serrano with a .157 and .209 opposing batting averages, with Burkhart ranked third in batters struck out (385).

 

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 and currently has 385 strikeouts, which breaks the all-time single season record of 316 held by former All-American pitcher and current pitching coach, Kirsten Voak in 2000. 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 7th in ERA (1.16), 8th in won-loss percentage (.800), 13th in home runs per-game (.98) and 25th in stolen bases per-game (1.38). Sun Devil individuals are showing up on the national radar as well with Kaitlin Cochran in 7th for batting average (.448), 23rd in RBI per-game (.94), 29th in home runs per game (.26) and 8th in slugging percentage (.818). Mindy Cowles is 27th in home runs per-game (.27). For the pitchers, Katie Burkhart and Desiree Serrano are ranked, respectively 21st and 34th in ERA (1.11 & 1.41), 8th and 29th in strikeouts per seven innings (10.9 & 9.0) and Burkhart alone ranked 12th in victories with 29. Michelle Smith also made the list ranked 23rd in stolen bases (.47).

 

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 followed with a #7/10 ranking and a #6/10 ranking before settling in at #7/9 last week with a #7 ranking heading into the post season regionals.

 

Statistics 101:

The 2006 squad has already begun to show their prowess in breaking records as they have as a team has hit 64 home runs in 63 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 282 RBI, which is more than last year's season total of 158 and which also breaks 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 90-108 in stolen base attempts, where last season they only stole 34 bases all season, and they falling close to 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 303 runs on the season, breaking ASU's all-time season record of 294 by the 1996 team. ASU has also connected for 450 hits with a slugging percentage of .412 while posting a 4.07 ERA on their opposing pitchers.  On defense, ASU has held its opponents to only 106 runs off of 290 hits and a .176 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 (65) 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.

 

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, 2, 4, 7, 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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