Arizona State One Win From NCAA Softball Title

June 2, 2008

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -Freshman Krista Donnenwirth homered and had two RBI singles, and Katie Burkhart threw a two-hitter to lead Arizona State past Texas A&M 3-0 Monday night in Game 1 of the Women's College World Series finals.

Donnenwirth, who leads all freshmen with 73 RBIs, went the opposite way for a pair of run-scoring singles to right and also pulled an inside pitch over the left-field fence for a solo home run to provide all of the offense for the Sun Devils.

Burkhart (40-5) struck out 11 and yielded only a pair of doubles, never allowing Texas A&M (57-9) to put a runner on third. The senior left-hander retired the last eight batters in order and didn't give up a hit after the fourth inning.

The sixth-seeded Sun Devils (65-5) are one win away from their first national championship. Game 2 of the best-of-three championship series will be played Tuesday night.

Kaitlin Cochran, who'd been intentionally walked in her first six World Series plate appearances to spark Arizona State rallies, finally got her first hit with a fifth-inning single. But it was Donnenwirth who gave Aggies starter Megan Gibson (41-3) the most trouble.

One pitch after Jackie Vasquez moved into scoring position on a wild pitch, Donnenwirth lined a single down the right-field line to give Arizona State a 1-0 first-inning lead.

She followed that with her line-drive home run to left in the third and then brought in Cochran on a grounder through the hole on the right side, one pitch after Cochran stole second.

The Sun Devils came in trying to avoid another 'two and barbecue' exit from the World Series after being the first team eliminated at last year's event.

They brought in three freshmen in the heart of their lineup, and the trio has combined for all but one of the big hits needed to put Arizona State one step away from joining UCLA, Arizona and California in bringing NCAA softball titles to the Pacific 10.

A win in Game 1 hardly guarantees a title, though. Two of the three titles won since the three-game championship series began were taken by teams that rallied after losing the first game.

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