#15 Softball Heads Undefeated to Georgia to Face the Nation's Top Teams at NFCA Leadoff Classic

Feb. 22, 2006

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Tempe, Ariz. -

Leading Off:

The #15/16 Sun Devils are now a perfect 13-0 on the season after sweeping the sox-game Littlewood Classic tournament last week from IllinoisState and the #22 Iowa Hawkeyes. The Devils are off to one of their best starts ever, and just four other top-25 teams hold an undefeated record, only one other of which have yet reached 13-0 or better.  The University of Arizona was given the #1 seed after compiling an 11-0 record and two Michigan losses last week. The other undefeated squads include: #2 Tennessee (8-0), #16 Louisiana-Lafayette (11-0) and #19 LSU (16-0).



On Deck:

Next up, the Devils will test their road legs for the first time this season as they take off for the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, GA where they could potentially play some of the best teams in the country. There, the Devils are set to face off against two ranked opponents in the first two days of pool play of the tournament. First up on Friday at 2:30 p.m. they'll take on the Tarheels of North Carolina who are 8-1 heading into the weekend, with their only loss being a 3-2 extra innings defeat from Iowa who the Sun Devils swept last weekend.  The Devils' second game on Friday is a 3:00 p.m. match-up against the #20 Auburn Tigers who are 9-1 coming into the tournament. In their last game of pool play before breaking into brackets the Devils will have a 10:30 a.m. game on Saturday against #24 Missouri, who are currently 4-4 as 24 teams head down to compete in the NFCA Leadoff Classic, with 11 of the 24 in the top-25 including the 2005 National Champions, Michigan.


Series History:

The Devils lead the all-time series history against the Tarheels 3-0, and the series against Missouri with a narrow 6-5 lead. It will be the first meeting of Auburn and ASU this weekend.




Playing With Fire:

Freshman Kaitlin Cochran in her first two weeks of collegiate softball, exploded onto the scene and claimed the first Pac-10 Player of the Week award of the season. The Yorba Linda, Calif., native thus far has batted 21-38 (.553) at the plate with six home runs, two triples, a double, no strikeouts, 15 runs scored and 25 RBI. Cochran's 25 RBI have put her on a record-shattering pace, as the ASU season record for RBI is 58. 


After two weeks of tournament play, Cochran leads or is tied for the Pac-10 lead in seven hitting categories - batting average (.553), slugging percentage (1.158), On-base percentage (.633), hits (21), RBI (25), home runs (6) and total bases (44). She is also third in runs scored (15) and in stolen bases (6).


Her fellow Devils are no slackers either as Mindy Cowles leads the Pac-10 in runs scored with 17, with teammate Michelle Smith right behind her scoring 16 runs. Smith is also leading the Pac-10 in stolen bases with 14 on the season. Cowles is also currently tied for second in home runs in the Pac-10 with four on the season.


The Sun Devil pitching squad is also coming up huge for ASU this year as Ashley Werschky is currently holding fifth place in ERA in the Pac-10 with a .31 average and a .127 opponent batting average, and her fellow Devil Desiree Serrano also made the list in ninth place with a 1.12 ERA and a .167 opponent batting average. 


Katie Burkhart and Desiree Serrano also hold the 6 & 7 spots for batters struck out with 44 and 42, respectively and they are both tied for second in the Pac-10 with five wins apiece.


The Votes Are In:

After starting off the season un-ranked, the Devils have not-so-quietly exploded into the top 25, with a #22 ranking after their first week of play and jumping rapidly into the #15/16 (USA Today-ESPN/NFCA) positions after just two weeks of play with no signs of slowing.



Statistics 101:

The 2006 squad has already begun to show promise in breaking records as they have as a team has hit 23 home runs in 13 games, while last year the Devils only hit 34 home runs in the entire season.  The Devils have also batted in 92 RBI, which is 58% of last year's season total of 158 already. The Devils have already shown their speed and confidence on the base-paths as well, going 31-34 in stolen base attempts, where last season they only stole 34 bases all season.  It took 22 games last season before the Devils obtained their current 99 runs on the season with 115 hits and a slugging percentage of .586 while posting a 10.69 ERA on their opposing pitchers.  The Devil defense has also held its opponents to only 19 runs off of 42 hits and a .162 batting average.


Tough Schedule/Tougher Conference:

The Devils as always find themselves competing against some of the best softball teams in the world, in arguably the hardest softball conference in the world in the Pac-10. Currently, seven of the eight teams of the Pac-10 are ranked in the top 25, including the number 1, 3, 6 and 9 seeds.  Since the Women's College World Series began in 1981, 17 of 24 National Champions have been Pac-10 teams, in 10 of those championship games, both teams were Pac-10 teams.



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