Burkhart And Baca Shine As No. 9 Softball Outlasts Southern Utah In NCAA Regional First Round

May 17, 2007

PROVO, Utah - In another banner day for Katie Burkhart who had 23 strikeouts on the day and gave up only two hits as well as jumping into the NCAA record books twice, the No. 9 Sun Devil Softball team opened the NCAA First Round Regionals by outlasting the Southern Utah Thunderbirds 2-1 in nine innings. The Sun Devils are now 50-15 overall with a game versus the winner of the Cal Poly and BYU game in progress tomorrow at noon.


The game stayed knotted a 0-0 until the fifth when Southern Utah managed to pull a runner around after a fielder's choice put Erin Niederhauser on base followed with SUU's first hit of the game, with a single to third from Karli Jenson. Neiderhauser was just under the tag after to steal third before a Sun Devil throwing error on Jenson's steal attempt on second went wild allowing Niederhauser to take home and the lead for SUU.


The lead was short-lived though as Rhiannon Baca stepped in for the Sun Devils in the bottom of the inning where she fouled off four to battle through nine pitch at-bat to a 3-2 count before launching her eighth home run of the season to bring it back to a tie at 1-1.


The game remained locked through eight innings as Burkhart battled on the mound for ASU until the ninth when a lead-off single from Mindy Cowles on a 2-1 count was brought around on a sac bunt and a single up the left line from the ASU's only offense on the day, Rhiannon Baca, to close the game out with a 2-1 score in favor of the Sun Devils and advance them to the next round


With her 23 strikeouts on the day, Burkhart claimed a few more records, as well as tying her all-time high for strikeouts for a single-game outing of 23 (against Washington in 2006 in 11 innings), which is good for sixth all-time in NCAA history. She also entered the NCAA record books in season strikeouts with 452, good for 21st place in all-time history. Burkhart now has a secure hold on sixth place all-time in Pac-10 career strikeouts as well as she surpassed Cal's Kristina Thorson (1,071) with her current 1,092 career strikeouts, four short of tying UCLA's Keira Goerl's career record of 1,095.


The Sun Devils will take the field again tomorrow as they will set to take on the winner of Game Two of Brigham Young versus Cal Poly at noon MT at Gail Miller Field in Provo.

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