No. 24/22 Softball Competes at the KIA Klassic
March 15, 2005
ON TAP:The No. 24/22 Arizona State University softball team (23-5) will play in their final regular-season tournament at the KIA Klassic in Fullerton, California (March 16-20). ASU will open pool play on Wednesday against Syracuse at 4:30 p.m. (PT).
KIA NOTES: The tournament, hosted by Cal State Fullerton, is one of the strongest fields short of the College World Series ... ASU will play in Pool 'A' against Syracuse, (9/11) Oklahoma and (7/8) Louisiana-Lafayette ... 10 of the 16 teams are nationally ranked ... four pools of four teams each will play for seeding into Saturday's bracket play with the top two teams advancing to the championship bracket, while the bottom two teams will play in the consolation bracket.
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 played 29 games (nearly half of all their games) against top-25 teams, while 16 games were against top-10 competition. This year is no different as ASU will play several non-conference/Pac-10 regular-season games against nationally-ranked teams. Within the toughest conference in the nation, the Pac-10, ASU will face a nationally-ranked team nearly every time out. Six Pac-10 opponents are ranked in the top-16, including the No. 1, 2 and 3 ranked teams and five of the nation's top-14. Additionally, The Pac-10 placed seven of its eight squads in the NCAA Tournament last season, with three teams advancing to the WCWS. For the fourth consecutive year (11th time overall), two Pac-10 teams squared off in the National Championship game, giving the conference its 17th title and fourth straight.
DEVIL NOTES: ASU leads the Pac-10 in saves (4) and doubles (35) ... the pitching staff's 0.90 ERA and 213 strikeouts is third-best in the conference ... 12 of ASU's 23 wins have been shutouts, tied for the Pac-10 high ... ASU is hitting .444 with the bases loaded ... 14 of ASU's 15 players have at least one double ... opponents are batting .132 with runners in scoring position ... ASU has won 16 of the last 19 games ... ASU is out scoring its opponents 40-6 in the first two innings.
SOFTBALL HISTORY:One of the nation's founding programs, the Sun Devils are in their 39th season on the diamond in Tempe. ASU holds a 1,039-561-1 (.649) all-time record since the 1967 team posted a 5-1 record. ASU has recorded 23 season of at least 30 wins and six with 40 or more victories, including an all-time high of 46 in 2002. The Sun Devils have earned 16 postseason bids, fourth all-time in the Pac-10 Conference, and has made four trips to the College World Series. Prior to the current NCAA format, ASU went to seven WCWS, claiming back-to-back national tiles in 1972 and 1973.
HEAD COACH Linda Wells: Arizona State's storied tradition of softball excellence continues to flourish under the tutelage of 16th-year head coach Linda Wells, one of the most prominent and successful coaches in NCAA history. Wells, who is currently the 7th-most successful active coach in NCAA Division I history with 907 victories (9th all-time), has led the Sun Devils to 11 (seven consecutive 1997-03) NCAA Regional appearances in 15 seasons, including two trips in the past six years to the College World Series (1999/2002). While at ASU, Wells has compiled a record of 554-394 and has had seven players earn a total of 12 All-American awards. Her 554 wins are the most victories all-time in ASU's storied 39-year history, surpassing coaching legend Mary Littlewood's 536. Wells earned the victory with a 3-2 win over Sacramento State (2/13/05). 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 competed in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Wells has coached 35 career .300 hitters at ASU in her 15 seasons, averaging a combined .335 -- not an easy accomplishment in the pitching-rich Pac-10 where games are traditionally low scoring, and with the addition of three more All-Pac-10 selections in 2004, Wells has now coached 75 all-conference players during her tenure at Arizona State, averaging five All-Pac-10 selections every season.
SERRANO TIME: Junior pitcher Desiree Serrano is off to a 9-1 start with 78 strikeouts and a 0.96 ERA. She is currently third all-time in career strikeouts with 512 and is ninth all-time with 43 victories. Serrano combined with Burkhart to no-hit UC Davis at the NIST and in three appearances at the Louisville Slugger Triangular, Serrano went 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA with 20 strikeouts, including a career-high 14 against Southern Utah. She allowed only three hits in 11 innings and walked only one batter. At the Littlewood Classic, Serrano pitched one of her best games all-time as she recorded a complete game, five-hit shutout over Illinois State. She struckout a season-high 11 and walked only one batter. Last year she led the pitching staff with a 2.21 ERA in 200 innings, making 28 starts in 41 appearances. Serrano, who averaged over seven strikeouts per contest, recorded a team-high 16 wins with eight shutouts and struck out 208 batters, eighth all-time in a single-season. She also posted five double digit strikeout games, including a season-high 13 against Illinois State, pitched a two-hit, 10 strikeout game against Wisconsin and a one-hit, 11 strikeout game against Princeton. As a redshirt freshman, Serrano made a Pac-10 second-best 49 appearances on her way to an 18-15 overall record, including seven shutouts and nine saves (second all-time in the Pac-10 in a single season). Serrano, an honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection, also posted 226 strikeouts (fourth in the Pac-10 and fifth all-time in a single-season at ASU), while holding opponents to a .209 batting average. To end her initial season, Serrano was named to the NCAA Region III All-Tournament team after posting a 0.38 ERA in 18 innings. 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).
KNABE'S D-FENCE: Sophomore catcher Heidi Knabe, who has started all 28 games and has played every inning except one, is the only Pac-10 catcher to have picked off two runners this year. She has also thrown out seven base runners (6 for 13), tied for tops in the conference and the three stolen bases is tied for the conference low. Offensively, Knabe is hitting at a .317 clip (third on the team with 26 hits) with four doubles, a grand slam, 11 runs scored and 12 RBIs.
SPECIAL K:Freshman pitcher Katie Burkhart has made an immediate impact on the pitching staff. She has already notched eight wins, including a no-hitter, a combined no-hitter with four shutouts and a Pac-10 leading four saves on the season. Overall in 15 appearances (67 innings), Burkhart carries a team-leading 0.31 ERA, allowing only 20 hits with 110 strikeouts (six double digit strikeout games), and has only walked five batters. Burkhart also leads the team in opponents batting average (0.91). Burkhart was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week (3/14) after going 3-0, including a complete game two-hit shut out over No. 2 California to lift ASU to the NIST title. She won three of ASU's five games, combined for a no-hitter and did not allow a single run to score the entire tournament. In four appearances, Burkhart pitched 16 and two-thirds innings, posting a 0.00 ERA and allowed only two hits with 30 strikeouts. She also held opponents to a 0.38 batting average. In the championship game against Cal, Burkhart recorded her third win at the NIST, allowing only two singles with nine strikeouts. Burkhart threw her first career no-hitter, including 13 strikeouts (eight strikeouts through the first four innings of work) as ASU topped San Diego State, 1-0 in the first game of the Louisville Slugger Triangular. It was the first no-hitter at ASU since Desiree Serrano's performance against Iowa (2/16/03). Earlier in the week against Eastern Michigan, Burkhart was just one out away from a perfect game as she allowed just one hit with 12 strikeouts, including striking out the side in the fourth inning. She also fanned four EMU hitters two or more times. In her past four starts (27 innings), Burkhart is 3-1 with two shutouts, has allowed only nine hits, no walks and two runs with 44 strikeouts. Burkhart made her first career start against Hawai'i and did not disappoint. She pitched a complete game, two-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts, and walked only one batter. At the Palm Springs Classic, she recorded a shutout win along with making two saves. Burkhart went unscathed through the tournament in 12 innings, recording a 0.00 ERA. In three appearances she allowed only seven hits, did not walk a batter and struck out 23. Burkhart notched her first save of the tournament against Bethune-Cookman. Burkhart pitched the final three innings, facing nine batters, allowing no hits, no walks with seven strikeouts. Burkhart then had her best outing of the season as she shutout Northwestern on five hits while fanning a career-high 14 batters. Burkhart struck out the Wildcat side in the first inning and struck out the side again in the fourth inning on just 11 pitches. Following that game, Burkhart recorded her second save of the tournament against Notre Dame. ASU had just taken a 2-1 lead when Burkhart came in relief in the bottom of the sixth and retired the Irish in order. She then finished off the seventh as well. She gave up only two hits while striking out two more.
MIGHTY MOUSE: Despite only standing 5'-4', freshman infielder/pitcher Mindy Cowles proves size doesn't always matter as she swings a big bat and possess a strong arm. Cowles is batting at a team-second best .363 clip with a team-high 10 home runs, 32 runs scored, 28 RBIs and a .844 slugging percentage. She is also batting a robust .647 with runners in scoring position. Cowles 31 runs scored 10 home runs and 65 total bases leads the Pac-10 and her 17 walks are second. Cowles is third in the conference with 28 RBIs. In Palm Springs, Cowles batted .313 with two home runs, one double, five runs scored and eight RBIs. She was also 3 for 3 in stolen bases and fielded her position flawlessly, making 11 putouts and five assists. To open the tournament against Long Island, Cowles went 3 for 3 with a grand slam and a three-run home run to tally seven RBIs on the day. She also scored three runs and walked once. Cowles accounted for half of the team's runs as ASU won 14-0. Cowles, who plays third and second base in the infield, also pitched 1.2 innings allowing no hits with one strikeout. Against Bethune-Cookman, Cowles again led ASU with a 2 for 4 game, including a double and RBI and two runs scored. In two games against Hawai'i, Cowles went 4 for 6 with two home runs, four RBIs and three runs scored. Her back-to-back home runs carried ASU to a 2-0 win. To begin the season against Texas-San Antonio, Cowles proved her might as she batted .500 (4 for 8) with all four hits going as extra bases, including two home runs and two doubles. Cowles drove in a team-leading five RBIs and also started the final game in the circle, pitching four and two-thirds innings.
SIZZLING SEVILLA:After a breakout junior year, senior outfielder Valerie Sevilla looks to continue that trend in 2005. Sevilla is currently hitting at a team-leading .369 pace with a team and Pac-10 leading nine doubles, along six home runs. Sevilla hit the game-winning home run to lift ASU to a come from behind 2-1 win over Notre Dame in Palm Springs. In the three-game series against Texas-San Antonio to open the year, Sevilla hit two home runs and drove in three runs. She is currently fourth all-time in home runs (21), tied for fourth in doubles (37) and tied for eighth all-time in batting average (.333). As a junior, Sevilla earned NFCA second-team All-Region honors, second-team All-Pac-10 accolades and was named Pac-10 Player of the Week (3/19). Remarkably, Sevilla had never hit a home run before last year as she slugged three grand slams and tied the single-season record for home runs (15). She also tied the single-season record for doubles (17), finished fifth all-time in a single-season with 46 RBIs and seventh with 70 hits. Sevilla hit at a .363 clip and led the team in hits (70), home runs (15), doubles (17), runs scored (36), total bases (132) and tallied a team-leading 21 RBIs with two outs. She led the team in multi-hit games (19), multi-RBI games (12) and batted a team-leading .421 with runners on base (.380 with runners in scoring position).
ZALESKI'S BIG WEEKEND: Named Pac-10 Player of the Week (3/14), Sharee Zaleski was one of the main offensive players to carry ASU to five straight wins, including a game-winning home run in the championship game as ASU shut out No. 2 California, 1-0 to win the National Invitational Softball Tournament title in Sunnyvale, Calif. In the tournament, Zaleski batted .600 (6 for 10) with four home runs, five runs scored and 11 RBIs. She had 18 total bases and a slugging percentage of 1.800. She also had an on-base percentage of .583. In the championship game against California, Zaleski tallied the only run of the game in the fifth inning as she took Cal pitcher Kristina Thorson's ball over the center field fence. In the quarterfinal game against UC Davis, Zaleski went 2 for 2 with two home runs, including a grand slam with five RBIs. In the semifinal game against Colorado State, Zaleski went 2 for 2 with another home run and five more RBIs. On the year, Zaleski is batting .303 with a team second-best nine home runs and 25 RBIs. She has scored 13 runs and holds a .684 slugging percentage.
OLYMPIC CONNECTION:Three members of the ASU staff either coached or played for Greece in 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Linda Wells was the head coach of the host Greek National Team, while assistant coach Stacey Farnworth was team's catcher and administrative assistant Jessica Bashor was the starting outfielder.
DEVILS ON THE WEB: All of ASU's 29 home games at Farrington Stadium will be available via LiveStats on ASU's home website at www.thesundevils.com.
STADIUM & FIELD AWARDS: For the third time in the past four years, Arizona State was honored with another award. Alberta B. Farrington Stadium was named the 2003 Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) Softball Field of the Year in the College/University division. The commitment to excellence in overall field quality, safety, playability and appearance earned Farrington Stadium the top honor. The Field of the Year is the highest honor STMA bestows upon a facility. In 2002, Farrington Stadium was named the college/university winner of the NFCA/Turface Grounds Crew Field Maintenance award. Dedicated in April, 2000, Alberta B. Farrington Stadium is a 1,535 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. ASU 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. Additionally, Farrington Stadium was 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.