No. 13/14 Softball Begins Pac-10 Play Hosting No. 19/19 Oregon And No. 22/21 Oregon State
March 26, 2003
ON TAP: The No. 13/14 Arizona State Sun Devils (23-9; 0-0 Pac-10) will open Pac-10 Conference play at Farrington Stadium hosting No. 19/19 Oregon (17-6; 1-0 Pac-10) on Friday, March 28 at 7:00 p.m. ASU will then host No. 22/21 Oregon State (22-11; 0-1 Pac-10) on Saturday, March 29 at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, March 30 at 1:00 p.m. The Devils hold a 31-28 all-time record against the Ducks and a 52-19 mark against the Beavers.
LAST TIME OUT: ASU took the week off from NCAA competition as they hosted the Canadian national Team. The Devils split the doubleheader, winning the first game 9-1 in five innings, but dropping the second game 4-1. In the first game, Phelan Wright led the charge with a 2-for-4 five RBI game as pitcher Desiree Serrano held the Canadian National Team to one run on six hits. ASU posted one run in the first off of a Wright groundout and four more in the second. Billie Akauola scored the first run in the in the four run second on error by the second baseman, one of four committed by the Canadian National Team. Kristin Farber then tallied an RBI as she reached on a fielder's choice as Wright recorded two more RBIs as she singled to center. In the fourth inning, Jennifer Forner opened the frame with a single to right and moved to second on a sacrifice by Farber. Kara Brun then reached on another error by Canadian shortstop Angela Litchty as Forner went to third. Wright then singled to center again to drive in Forner for her fourth RBI. The national team got one back in the fifth inning when ASU center fielder Joy Hull lost the ball in the sun, allowing Rachel Schill to come home from first. The Devils then ended the game in the bottom of the fifth with three more runs. Kelly Zeilstra started for the Canadian National Team and suffered the loss, allowing six runs, one earned on six hits. Auburn Sigurdson pitched the final two-thirds, giving up two hits and three runs. In the second game, Brun's solo home run over the left field fence to break a scoreless tie in the fourth inning was the only run the Devils could manage off Canadian pitcher Ani Nyhus. The national team posted all four runs in the fifth inning. With the bases loaded Schill singled to center field off ASU starter Ashley Werschky to drive in two runs. Susan Aguilar then replaced Werschky, but gave up another base loaded single to Erin White to plate the final two runners. Cheryl Evans pitched a perfect final two innings for the Devils with two strikeouts.
TOUGH SCHEDULE/TOUGHER CONFERENCE: As in any season, Arizona State will face many of the nation's top teams and traditionally holds a high RPI. Last year, ASU was second in the Pac-10 in most games played against top-25 teams (34). This year will be no different as the Devils will face numerous teams ranked in the USA Today/NFCA and ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top-25. Within the toughest conference in the nation, the Pacific-10, ASU will face a nationally-ranked team every time out. All eight of the Pac-10 teams are ranked in the top-25, including the top-3 and six of the top-13. The Pac-10 holds a 193-43-1 (.816) record against non-conference teams.
THE WRIGHT STUFF: Junior All-American third baseman Phelan Wright enters the 2003 season as one of the premier softball players in the country. After posting outstanding numbers as a freshman and as a sophomore, Wright continues to post great numbers. In 2003, Wright is currently batting at a .347 clip with a team-leading 34 RBIs (16 with 2 outs) and a second-best eight home runs. Wright also accomplished an ASU record (as far as the books indicate) by slugging three home runs in three straight at-bats against SW Texas State. In addition, she is currently ASU's all-time leader in career batting average (.390). Last year Wright led the team throughout the year in batting average (.405/4th Pac-10), hits (75/6th Pac-10) and doubles (17/3rd Pac-10). She finished second in home runs (8), RBIs (40) and batted .350 in the pitching rich Pac-10 Conference. Wright also led the team in multi-hit games (23), multi-RBI games (11) and posted the team's second longest hitting streak at 10 games. She was also one of 10 finalists for National Player of the Year honors and was named first-team All-Pacific Region and All-Pac-10. Wright also was named to the NIST All-Tournament team and the Region III All-Tournament team. As a freshman, Wright was named the team's Offensive Player of the Year after leading ASU in batting average (.399/average was the highest posted by a freshman in the Pac-10 since 1999), hits (67) triples (2) and slugging percentage (.530). She also earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors, Louisville Slugger/NFCA National Player of the Week honors and Pac-10 Player of the Week honors. In 21 Pac-10 games she batted an amazing .418 in the pitching rich conference and posted the team's longest hitting streak at 13 games (fifth longest in the Pac-10). Wright produced a team-high 18 RBIs with two outs and finished tied for second on the team with 17 multi-hit games and third in multi-RBI games (6). She batted .530 at the National Invitational Tournament, earning all-tournament honors and led the team in postseason batting average at a .455 clip, earning Region III All-Tournament team honors.
HEAD COACH LINDA WELLS: The Sun Devil softball program continues its success on the national scene under the tutelage of 14th-year head coach Linda Wells, one of the most prominent and successful coaches in NCAA history. Wells, who is currently the seventh-most successful active coach in NCAA Division I history with 842 victories, has led the Sun Devils to 10 (six consecutive 1997-02) NCAA Regional appearances in 13 seasons, including two trips in the past four years to the College World Series (1999/2002). While at Arizona State, Wells has compiled 491 wins (14 short of the all-time record) and has had seven players earn a total of 10 All-American awards. Wells' vast coaching experience and tireless work ethic has not gone unnoticed by the country or by the world as she was named the head coach of the Greek Olympic National Team that will compete in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Wells, who has previous international experience, was selected among several highly qualified coaching professionals to lead the host team into the games. Wells' achieved a coaching milestone that few can or will ever obtain, winning 800 career games. The Sun Devils earned Wells her 800th win with an 11-1 win over Rutgers (3/16/02). The 2002 team, arguable her most talented and successful, also tied a school-record in the national polls, finishing at No. 3 and for posting the most wins in a single season with 46. The 2002 season also marked the second appearance for Wells in the Women's College World Series where they finished third, the best in school history since the NCAA established the current format. Players again flourished under Wells as she produced two All-Americans, five All-Pac-10 players, two All-Pacific Region players and two Academic All-American players. Wells also had two players earn National Player of the Week honors and five Pac-10 Pitcher/Player of the Week honors. With the addition of five All-Pac-10 selections in 2002, Wells has now coached 64 all conference players during her tenure at Arizona State, averaging five All-Pac-10 selections every season. Wells has coached 31 career .300 hitters at ASU in her 12 seasons, averaging a combined .330 - not an easy accomplishment in the pitching-rich Pac-10 where games are traditionally low scoring.
BEHIND THE PLATE: Senior Adriana Garcia, who is having her best year as a Sun Devil, will lead a trio of catchers in 2003. Garcia is currently hitting a team second-best .372 and has already surpassed all of last year's totals by hitting eight home runs (tied for second) and posting 27 RBIs (third on the team). She has also thrown out six base runners, picked off another while recording 16 assists and a .991 fielding percentage. Last year Garcia played in 60 games, making 57 starts with five doubles, 21 RBIs, while 17 of her 21 RBIs came with two outs. Defensively, she picked off eight base runners and made only two errors in 268 chances for a team-high .993 fielding percentage. Prior to ASU, Garcia earned 2001 NFCA/NJCAA Division I Diamond Sports National Catcher of the Year honors and was a 2001 first-team All-American. The two-time all-region and all-conference selection, Garcia played two years at Arizona Western College in Yuma, Ariz. where she batted .448 with six home runs and 68 RBIs. Garcia recorded a fielding percentage of .991, while throwing out 29 base runners attempting to steal.
BRUN'S AN ALL-TIME HIT: Senior shortstop Kara Brun, who was featured on espn.com (http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/index), has made a huge impact while wearing the Maroon and Gold, offensively and defensively. Brun, who has a team-leading 10 doubles this year, is now the all-time record holder with 47. She also became ASU's all-time home run hitter, currently at 33 and all-time RBI producer at 162. Brun currently leads the team in batting average (.434), runs (34), hits (46) and home runs (9). At the National Invitational Softball Tournament, Brun, who hit safely in all six games, led the team in every offensive category, batting .591 (13 x 22) with three home runs, three doubles, seven runs scored and seven RBIs. She had a 1.136 slugging percentage and a .485 on-base percentage. Brun also did not strikeout in 22 at bats and did not commit an error in 20 chances. For her efforts she was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week and to the All-NIST Tournament Team. Brun, one of 25 finalists for National Player of the Year honors as a junior, led the team in home runs (10), RBIs (52) and finished second in hits (72). The 52 RBIs was also a single-season record along with her 10 home runs. Brun was a first-team All-Pac-10 selection and struck out only 14 times in 206 at bats (once every 15 ab). She also turned a Pac-10 and team-high 17 double plays, as well as leading the team and Pac-10 with 168 assists. Academically, Brun is just as impressive, earning second-team Verizon Academic All-American acclaim, first-team Academic All-Pacific Region and first-team Academic All-Pac-10 honors. She also earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors (2/25). As a sophomore, Brun earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors, as well as the team's Defensive Player of the Year while recording a 12 game hitting streak, second longest on the team and eighth longest in the Pac-10. She batted .311 with 59 hits, a team-high 34 runs and posted team-highs in RBIs (42) and doubles (10). Brun finished second on the team in home runs (6), had a .458 slugging percentage and recorded a team second-best 15 RBIs with two outs. Defensively, she turned 14 double plays, good for fourth in the Pac-10 and led the team with 129 assists. As a freshman, Brun earned All-Pac-10 second team honors, selected to the Region V All-Tournament team and was named the team's Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year.
RUNNING WITH THE DEVIL: Junior Kristin Farber looks to continue her fast pace from last year when she led the team for the second straight year in stolen bases (21). This year, Farber is 7-for-10, and in her two-plus year career, Farber has been cut down only five times in 49 chances and is fourth all-time with her 44 steals. Named to the WCWS All-Tournament Team, Farber also posted the team's longest hitting streak (third longest in Pac-10) at 16 games and batted .330. In her initial season she was named the team's Freshman of the Year, earning second-team All-Pacific Region accolades and was named honorable mention All-Pac-10 after finishing fifth in the Pac-10 with 16 stolen bases.
GOING DEEP ALL-TIME: Through 32 games this season, the Devils have hit 36 home runs, shattering the all-time mark of 31 set in 2000. Eight different players have hit home runs while six different players have slugged multi-home runs with Kara Brun (9) Phelan Wright (8) and Adriana Garcia (8) leading the team. ASU has hit at least one home run in 17 games and have tallied multi-home runs in nine different games. In addition, the Devils have hit three grand slams to date (Wright, Pulcifer, Evans).The 36 home runs is good for third-best in the Pac-10 Conference.
SERRANO ON FIRE: In 27 appearances (Pac-10 high), freshman pitcher Desiree Serrano is now 14-5 overall with five shutouts, four saves (Pac-10 high) and 154 strikeouts (54 looking a Pac-10 high), while holding opponents to a .204 batting average. At the NIST Tournament, Serrano recorded a 4-0 record, including a shutout in 30 innings with 37 strikeouts. In addition, Serrano posted shutout wins against No. 8 DePaul and No. 21 Ohio State at the NFCA Leadoff Classic. Serrano recorded four of Arizona State's five wins, including her first career no-hitter as she led the Sun Devils to a perfect 5-0 record to take the Louisville Slugger Classic Tournament title and win Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors.On the weekend, Serrano went 4-0 with a 0.31 ERA in 22 innings of work. She allowed only nine hits and one earned run while striking out 26 batters. In her no-hitter against Iowa, Serrano faced one batter over the minimum, and was just an infield error short of a perfect game as she struckout five Hawkeye's to record ASU's first no-hitter since Kirsten Voak accomplished the feat (2/29/01). In her opening win against Illinois State, Serrano did not allow an earned run while striking out 10 Redbirds.In the Sun Devils other game against Illinois State, Serrano came in relief and pitched the final three innings for the win, allowing just one hit with four strikeouts.
NEW TOP-25 RANKINGS: In addition to the USA Today/NFCA Top-25, a second Top-25 poll will be released by ESPN.com/USA Softball. The poll is voted on by NCAA Division I coaches representing 15 ASA regions and 12 collegiate conferences. The poll is also voted on by selected media members. In this release the rankings are in the order of the USA Today/NFCA Poll/ESPN.com/USA Softball.
DEVILS UP FOR POY: The Amateur Softball Association, the National Governing Body of Softball in the United States, announced its initial watch list for the 2nd annual USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award. Arizona State senior shortstop Kara Brun and junior third baseman Phelan Wright are among the initial 40 players selected to be on the watch list. Last year, Wright was one of 10 finalists for the inaugural player of the year honor, while Brun was one of the 25 finalists. The award is considered the Heisman Trophy in women's collegiate softball and is the only national player of the year award. The first cut of the 25 finalist will be announced on April 8th. It will then be reduced to 10 players on April 29th, with three finalists named on May 13th. The winner of the 2003 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award will be announced at the 2003 NCAA Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.
DEVIL NOTES: Arizona State was picked to finish sixth in the 2003 Pac-10 Preseason Coaches Poll ... the Sun Devil preseason ranking of No. 13 is the lowest beginning ranking since the 1999 preseason poll tabbed ASU No. 15. Also, the No. 13 ranking is the lowest ASU has been ranked since the beginning of May 1999 (No. 16) before the Devils advanced to the College World Series, finishing 7th ... the opening game against UT-San Antonio on January 31 was the earliest opening game, dating back to at least the mid 1980's and is the earliest opening game in head coach Linda Wells 14 years ... ASU is hitting .517 with the bases loaded (three grand slams) and .341 with runners in scoring position ... ASU's nine game winning streak was the longest in two years ... Kara Brun's current 13 game hitting streak is a team high and the third longest in the Pac-10 ... Brun has struckout only three times in 106 at bats (1:35) ... the Devils have hit one less home runs (36) than doubles (37) this year ... ASU is third in the Pac-10 with a .309 batting average ... ASU is second in the Pac-10 in turning double plays with nine ... ASU's 270 hits are second highest in the Pac-10.
STADIUM & FIELD AWARDS: For the second time in the past three years, Arizona State was the college/university winner of the NFCA/Turface Grounds Crew Field Maintenance award for the 2002 season. Dedicated in April, 2000, Alberta B. Farrington Stadium is a 1,500 seat facility that includes 500 back seats. Among the stadium's many features are sunken dugouts, home/visitor/umpire locker rooms, offices, trainers room, concession stands, a team shop and a team room. Arizona State also won the 2000 NFCA/Turface Grounds Crew Field Maintenance award. The field maintenance staff is headed by Pete Wozniak. Award winners were chosen by a panel of independent judges made up of grounds maintenance professionals selected by the NFCA and Turface. Farrington Stadium was also awarded 'The Crescordia' (To Grow In Harmony) honor in 2000. The honor is for Environmental Excellent in building and structures awarded by the Valley Forward Association and Honeywell.
TELEVISION EXPOSURE: The Sun Devils are scheduled to have two games broadcast live on KAZ-TV (cable channel 13). The televised games are against Pac-10 foes Stanford (April 12) and Arizona (April 23). The Devils were also selected for a FOX Sports Net broadcast against Washington on Friday, May 9 at 7:00 p.m. That game, however, will be broadcast at a later date and time.
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.