No. 7 Softball Opens Pac-10 Play at #11 UCLA and #12 Washington; Katie Burkhart Looks to Break Career Strikeout Record
March 29, 2007
The Arizona State Sun Devil Softball team will open up Pac-10 play this weekend as they hit the road to take on #11 UCLA and #12 Washington. ASU will face the Bruins on Friday, March 30 in Los Angeles at Easton Stadium at 1 p.m. PT before heading to Seattle to face the Huskies on Saturday and Sunday March 31 and April 1 at Husky Stadium at 2 p.m. and 1 p.m. PT.
Since their first meeting in 1980, the UCLA Bruins have held a dominant lead over the Sun Devils and currently hold a 87-17 lead over ASU all-time. In their last meetings in 2006, UCLA swept the three game series from the Sun Devils winning 7-4, 1-0 & 3-1.
Since the Huskies joined the Pac in 1993, they've also held a lead over ASU with a current 41-12 all-time series record over the Sun Devils. The Sun Devils took the series from the Huskies last year as they won two of the three. They won 5-4 in 13 innings and 1-0, but dropped a 3-1 game in 11 innings last year even as Katie Burkhart tied an NCAA record with 23 strikeouts in a single game.
The Sun Devils will take to the road again next weekend as they head south to face their in-state rivals and current defending National Champions, Arizona. They face the `Cats on Friday, April 6 and Saturday, April 7 at 7 p.m.
Where they Stack up
As always, the Sun Devils will play one of the toughest schedules in the country, with the always powerful Pac-10 Conference schedule. Currently, the Pac-10 has seven of the eight teams ranked in the top 25, with two in the Top-10 alone.
Non-Stop Until they reach the top
In the first polls of 2006, the Sun Devils were ranked fifth in in both the NFCA and USA Softball polls. Week Two saw them jump up to No. 2, while last week saw ASU remain 2 in the NFCA poll and slip to #3 in the USA Softball Poll, despite being undefeated at 13-0. Even after a loss to Northwestern, the Sun Devils remained No. 2 in the NFCA Poll and slipped to No. 4 on the USA Softball Poll. Currently after seven weeks and wrapping tournament play with three tough
losses at the Judi Garmen Classic and two against UTEP, the Sun Devils have slipped back to #7 and #9 in the polls. Last year, the Sun Devils finished ranked 6th in the country after posting an 53-15 overall record and advancing to the NCAA Women's College World Series for the fifth time. The Sun Devils have now made two consecutive postseason appearances and 20 since 1982, the fifth most in NCAA history.
Leaders of the Pac
After seven weeks of play the Sun Devils have found themselves at the top of the Pac-10. Tied in wins with Oregon, the Sun Devils are also dotting their names in individual standings. Kaitlin Cochran is leading in batting average (.530), slugging percentage (.923), on-base percentage (.620), runs scored (45), hits (62), fourth in RBIs (41), first in doubles (12) and in total bases with 108. Cochran also claimed the first Pac-10 Player of the Week of the season for the second time in her career, and is also currently this week's Pac-10 Player of the Week.
Katie Burkhart is no slouch on the mound either as she is fourth in the Pac-10 in ERA (1.00), first in opposing batting average (.137), first in batters struck out (249), first in batters struck out looking (55), and fourth in wins (16).
On offense, ASU is third in the Pac-10 in batting average (.318), slugging percentage (.514) and second in on-base percentage (.420). The Sun Devils lead the Pac in runs scored (267), hits (345), RBIs (257), home runs (50) and total bases (557).
On defense, ASU is leading the Pac-10 in batters struck out (373), batters struck out looking (102) and wins (33).
You're Such a Record Breaker
Junior pitcher, Katie Burkhart is on the prowl again for yet another ASU and a Pac-10 record. Burkhart is only four strikeouts away from the ASU career record of 893, held by current ASU pitching coach, Kirsten Voak. She is also only five strikeouts away from tying for 10th place all-time in career leaders for the Pac-10 with Jennifer Spediacci of Washington. Burkhart also topped another ASU record last year as she beat Kirsten Voak's single-season strikeout record of 316 with 420 in the 2006 season. She also claimed a career first perfect game against Notre Dame at the Judi Garman Classic March 15.
Sun Devils to watch
The Amateur Softball Association, the National Governing Body of Softball in the United States, has selected its initial 'Watch List' for the 6th Annual USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award. This award, which is considered one of the most prestigious honors in women's collegiate softball, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country. Already on the list for this season are junior pitcher, Katie Burkhart and sophomore First-Team All-American, Kaitlin Cochran. The pair was also named to the ESPN.com Pre-season All-American List.
Burkhart has also claimed Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors twice already this season, the first week of the season and is the current holder of the award.
At the Helm:
Head Coach Clint Myers enters his second season as the leader of Sun Devil Softball after a 2006 campaign that saw the Sun Devils set offensive records in: wins with 47 (former record was 46 set in 2002), runs with 307 (former record was 294 in 1996), home runs 66 (former record was 45 set in 2003), RBIs with 285 (former record was 259 in 1996), walks with 228 (former record was 180 in 2000) and strikeouts pitched with 666 (former record was 415 in 2004 and 1999). The 2006 team also recorded an 11-10 record in conference play, their first winning record in Pac-10 play since 1991, placing them fourth in the Pac-10 after finishing last the year before and being picked to finish last in the coaches pre-season poll.