No. 6 Softball Heads To Columbus, Georgia For The NFCA Leadoff Classic

Feb. 21, 2001

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ON TAP: The sixth-ranked Arizona State softball team (10-2) will make their fourth appearance at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Georgia, February 23-25. The Sun Devils will play in Pool 4 against fifth-ranked Alabama (10-0), 24th-ranked Massachusetts (3-2) and Kansas (6-5). ASU will open pool play on field three against UMass on Friday at 2:30 p.m. and then take on Alabama at 5:00 p.m. On Saturday, ASU end's pool play against Kansas at 12:30 p.m. All times are EST. Last year, ASU won its pool for the second straight year and posted a 4-2 record, recording wins against Alabama, Oklahoma State, Depaul and Nebraska. ASU fell to LSU and Michigan.

ABOUT THE NFCA LEADOFF CLASSIC: The tournament is considered one of the nation's best with 15 of the field's 24 team's ranked in the top-25. The Pac-10 will be well represented with five teams participating (ASU, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington, California). Following pool play, the top team from each pool, along with two at-large teams, will advance to the Gold Championship Bracket. The remaining four second-place teams along with four at-large teams will be placed in the Silver Championship Bracket and the remaining eight teams will be assigned to the Bronze Championship Bracket. All brackets will be single elimination consolation. Each team will play a minimum of five games (three pool, two bracket) regardless of pool or bracket assignments. Saturday's bracket play will be at 5:30 p. m. and 8:00 p.m. Sunday's bracket play is scheduled for 9:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

LAST WEEKEND'S TOURNAMENT: Arizona State won the Louisville Slugger Classic Tournament in Tempe by sweeping a doubleheader from Illinois State. The Sun Devils tallied a 5-1 record en route to their title, outscoring its opponents 32-8. Several ASU players had outstanding weekends, including two Sun Devil freshmen, pitcher Kristen Swetel and outfielder Kristin Farber. In three appearances, Swetel recorded a 2-0 record with an unblemished 0.00 earned-run average. Swetel, who pitched 15.2 innings and allowed no earned runs, posted wins against Michigan State and Illinois State. Against Michigan State, she limited the Spartans to four hits. In the championship doubleheader, where ASU had to sweep the Redbirds to claim the title, Swetel tossed the first game, shutting out ISU on five hits. At the plate, Swetel batted .308 with two doubles, one home run and five RBIs. Farber batted safely in all six games, going 10-for-20 (.500) with five runs scored and two RBIs. Farber has now hit safely in 11 of ASU's 12 games. In the two final games against Illinois State for the championship, Farber tied her career-high with three hits in each game. In the first game, she went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and a RBI, while in the championship game she went 3-for-4 with a RBI. In addition, Farber leads the team in batting average (.447), runs (12), hits (17) and stolen bases (5). Junior pitcher Erica Beach recorded a 3-1 record with a shutout and one save. She also twice tied her career high with seven strikeouts. Sophomore Kara Brun slugged two home runs, including a crucial solo shot against Illinois State that tied the game in the sixth inning.

FRESHMEN TRIO: Freshmen Kristin Farber, Phelan Wright and Kristen Swetel have all made immediate impacts early on this year. Combined the three are batting .379 (30-for-79) with 20 runs scored, two doubles, one home run, 12 RBIs and five stolen bases.

HEAD COACH LINDA WELLS: Arizona State's storied tradition of softball excellence continues to flourish under the tutelage of 12th-year head coach Linda Wells, one of the most prominent and successful coaches in NCAA history. Last year, Wells' achieved a coaching milestone that few can or will ever obtain, winning 700 career games. The Sun Devils earned Wells her 700th win with a 8-3 win over Cal State Fullerton (2/13/00). The team also tied school-records in the national polls reaching as high as No. 3 and for posting the most wins in a single season with 43. The 2000 team also advanced to the postseason for the fourth consecutive season, making it to the finals of the Region V Championship. Additionally, Wells team won the National Invitational Softball Tournament in San Jose, Calif. Wells also tutored six players on the Pac-10 All-Conference team, the most since the 1997 season. Wells has now coached 52 all- conference players during her tenure at Arizona State, averaging nearly five All-Pac-10 selections every season. Wells is currently the eighth-most successful active coach in NCAA Division I history with a 747-587-1 career record. She has led the Sun Devils to eight NCAA Regional appearances in 11 seasons, including her first trip to the College World Series in 1999. While at ASU, Wells has compiled 396 victories and has had five players earn a total of eight All-American awards.

LIFE'S A BEACH: Junior pitcher/designated player Erica Beach continues to have a stellar career as a Sun Devil. This year Beach is 6-1, including three shutouts and a 0.87 ERA with 37 strikeouts. She also had a scoreless streak of 27 innings this year and has tied her career-high in strikeouts (7) four different times. Offensively, Beach is batting .286 with one double, a team-high eight walks and one massive home run (250 ft.). Beach is currently tied for second all-time with 14 home runs and is fourth all-time with 92 RBIs. After earning NFCA first-team All-American honors as a freshman, Beach claimed first-team All-Pacific Region honors and was an honorable mention All-Pac-10 pick as a sophomore. Last year in the circle, Beach posted a 13-9 record with eight shutouts, a 2.01 ERA and 78 strikeouts. At the plate, Beach batted .339 with eight home runs (tied single-season mark), including two grand slams and a team-high (single-season record) 48 RBIs. Beach was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week (3/17) after batting .500 with seven RBIs, helping ASU win the 2000 NIST.

VOAK'S RESUME: Two-time junior All-American pitcher/designated player Kirsten Voak is also looking to pick up where she left off last season. This year Voak already has pitched a perfect game (fourth career no hitter) and struck out 24 batters in 18 innings. After two ASU record-setting seasons (24 wins, 314 strikeouts/Fr.), (30 wins, 316 strikeouts/So.) Voak garnered her second NFCA All-American honor, was a first-team All-Pac-10 and second-team All-Pacific Region selection and was named the team's MVP and Pitcher of the Year. Last year Voak fired her first no-hitter of the season (third career) against Simon Fraser and struckout a season-high 15 against Oregon, which also tied her career-high. Additionally, Voak earned three Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors (2/22), (3/17), (4/3) and was named to the NFCA Leadoff Classic and NIST All-Tournament teams. She's currently fourth all-time in career wins (56) and second all-time in career strikeouts (654). Last season Voak averaged eight strikeouts per game and 8.2 for her career ... opponents batted .178 ... averaged only one walk per game ... batted .315 with seven doubles and three home runs ... recorded a .414 slugging percentage and a .434 on-base percentage ... led the team in walks with 33 ... had 13 multi-hit games and four multi-RBI games ... has tallied 15 career double-digit strikeout games.

Voak's Career Double-Digit Strikeout Games (15):

15 -- Oregon, 7 innings (4/2/00)

15 -- Central Michigan, 8.1 innings (5/20/99)

14 -- Utah, 7.1 innings (3/13/99)

13 -- Santa Clara, 7 innings (3/10/00)

13 -- Florida Atlantic, 7 innings (5/22/99)

12 -- UNLV, 7 innings (3/26/00)

12 -- Iowa, 7 innings (3/17/00)

12 -- Portland State, 7 innings (2/26/00)

12 -- Nebraska, 7 innings (2/13/99)

12 -- Oregon State, 6 innings (4/24/99)

12 -- Washington, 8 innings (4/10/99)

11 -- Utah, 7 innings (3/10/00)

11 -- Illinois State, 7 innings (2/20/00)

10 -- Oregon, 7 innings (4/25/99)

10 -- Utah, 7 innings (3/18/99)

CAREER/ALL-TIME MILESTONES: Head Coach Linda Wells needs three wins to reach 750 in her career and four more to reach 400 at Arizona State ... Erica Beach needs three more home runs to become ASU's all-time leader ... Beach needs 24 RBIs for the all-time record ... Voak needs 152 strikeouts for the all-time record and 27 more wins for the school record ... Missy Hixon needs 17 more doubles for the all-time record ... Arizona State, as a program, needs 19 more wins to reach 900 in its history.

BRUN'S A HIT: Sophomore shortstop Kara Brun, who made an immediate impact as a freshman, offensively and defensively, is picking up right up where she left off. Brun's currently batting .390 with 16 hits and a team-high four doubles, two home runs and 14 RBIs. She also leads the team with six multiple hit games and four multiple RBI games. At shortstop, Brun holds a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage and leads the team with 23 assists. In the ASU record book, she is already tied for fourth all-time with 10 home runs and eighth all-time with 20 doubles. As a freshman, Brun earned All-Pac-10 second team accolades, was selected to the Region V All-Tournament team and was named the team's Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year. At the plate, Brun led the team in batting average (.352), hits (68), doubles (16), runs (44), total bases (108), and was second in RBIs (38). Brun also tied the single-season record in home runs (8). Brun posted 18 multi-hit games, eight multi-RBI games and held a team-high 16 game hitting streak. On the field, the strong-arm shortstop led the team in assists (133) and committed only five errors for a .978 fielding percentage.

A PERFECT START: In Arizona State's first game of the year, junior All-American pitcher Kirsten Voak claimed only Arizona State's second perfect game in school history as she blanked Utah State, 10-0 in five innings. Voak struckout nine batters with only two balls leaving the infield. For her effort, Voak was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week (Feb. 5-11). It was Voak's first perfect game and fourth career no hitter.

DYNAMIC DUO: Juniors Missy Hixon and Nichole Thompson, who play second base and center field respectively, each contribute in similar ways. Hixon, a two-time All-Pac-10 selection, is a three-year starter and has played in 142 career games ... she has produced 130 hits, scored 67 runs and recorded 46 RBIs ... Hixon has also tallied 23 career doubles and stole 11 bases. Thompson, also a three-year starter, earned All-Pac-10 honors her freshman year and was an All-Pacific Region choice as a sophomore ... Thompson holds a career .327 batting average in 136 games ... she has produced 136 hits, scored 92 runs and recorded 43 RBIs ... Thompson has also tallied 16 doubles and stole 19 bases.

DEVIL NOTES: ASU starts one senior, sometimes none at all ... eight players hold a cumulative grade-point average above 3.0 ... ASU has outscored its opponents 71-15 ... ASU pitchers are holding opponents to a .161 average ... ASU has walked 43 times compared to only 11 times for its opponents ... 10 players have three or more RBIs this year ... six of ASU's 10 wins have been shutouts ... Kristin Farber is batting .600 with runners in scoring position ... with runners on base, Kristen Swetel is holding opponents to a .125 batting average ... Farber holds the team's longest hitting streak, currently at six games.

TOUGH SCHEDULE/TOUGHER CONFERENCE: As in any season, Arizona State will face many of the nation's top programs, including five of its first 10 games against top-25 competition. Within the toughest conference in the nation, the Pacific-10, ASU will face a nationally-ranked team every time out. For the second consecutive year, all eight Pac-10 teams are ranked in the top-20, including six of the top ten positions. Additionally for the second straight season, all eight teams made postseason appearances with four teams advancing to the College World Series.

MEDIA INFORMATION: All publicity for the ASU softball team are coordinated by Assistant Media Relations Director Will Phillips at (480) 965-1237. Any interviews with ASU softball players or coaches should be arranged through Phillips with at least 48 hours notice.

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