#10 Softball Takes on Santa Clara in Doubleheader; Heads to NIS Tournament

March 8, 2006

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Leading Off:

The #10/11 Devils added six more wins to their record over the weekend as they took on Southern Utah in a doubleheader winning twice before heading to play in the UNLV Invitational over the weekend.  While at the Invite, the Devils suffered their first loss of the season 2-1 in extra innings from Virginia Tech. Otherwise though, the Devils remained flawless, as they took down Nevada 12-2 and Southern Utah 2-0 in the first day of action, defeated UNLV 4-2 in their second day of action and beat Portland State 3-0 and the Chinese National Team in an exhibition game 2-0 on their last day at the Invite.  The Devils batted .328 on the weekend while scoring 34 runs in 61 hits including six doubles and seven home runs, one from Kristen Miller and two apiece from Sharee Zaleski, Rhiannon Baca and Mindy Cowles. The Devils also compiled a .484 and .423 slugging and on-base percentage while going 13-19 in stolen base attempts.


The Sun Devils hurlers also compiled a 1.62 ERA on the weekend with Ashley Werschky, Desiree Serrano and Katie Burkhart all picking up two wins apiece on the weekend with Serrano taking the only Devil loss as well. The pitching squad gave up only eight runs the whole weekend and tallied 64 strikeouts, with Katie Burkhart doing the lion share with 31 over the weekend, putting her season total at 93 for the season, not including the nine she had against Team China.


On Deck:

The Devils are set to hit the road and continue on their season Thursday as they head to California to take on the 7-11 Santa Clara Broncos in a doubleheader Thursday night after which they will begin competition at the NIS Tournament in Sunnyvale the rest of the weekend, where in day one of play they are scheduled to take on the 12-1 Southern Illinois Salukis and the 5-12 UC Davis Aggies in the first day of Pool Play before entering bracket play the rest of the weekend.  Also competing in the NIS Tournament are the #6 California Bears (13-2), and Iowa Hawkeyes, as well as seven other opposing teams to consist of the four pools for the NIS Tournament.  #6 California thus far this season has hit .323 while scoring 89 runs with 16 home runs.


Series History:

The Devils lead the all-time series history against Santa Clara 15-1, are tied 1-1 in series history with the Southern Illinois Salukis and lead UC Davis 1-0.


Playing With Fire:

ASU leads the Pac-10 Conference in six hitting categories: runs scored (138), runs batted in (128), home runs (30), total bases (298), walks (91) and stolen bases (46) after 22 games and four weeks of play.


Freshman Kaitlin Cochran in her first season of collegiate softball, has 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 31-64 (.484) at the plate with six home runs, two triples, two doubles, 18 runs scored and 32 RBI. Cochran's 32 RBI have put her on a record-shattering pace, as the ASU season record for RBI is 58. 


After four weeks of tournament play, Cochran continues to lead the Pac-10 in on-base percentage (.571) and RBI (32).


Her fellow Devils are no slackers either as teammate Michelle Smith is second in the Pac-10 scoring 24 runs. Smith is also leading the Pac-10 in stolen bases with 20 on the season.


The Sun Devil pitching squad is also coming up huge for ASU this year as Ashley Werschky is currently holding fourth place in ERA in the Pac-10 with a .42 average and fourth place with an .143 opponent batting average, and her fellow Devil Desiree Serrano also made the list in sixth place with a .89 ERA. 


Katie Burkhart also holds the #5 spot for batters struck out with 93, with teammate Desiree Serrano in the #7 spot with 81. Both Burkhart and Serrano are tied for seventh place in the Pac-10 with eight 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 followed by a #12/13 ranking with yet another jump up this week to the #10/11 spots in the USA Today-ESPN/NFCA ranking this week 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 30 home runs in 22 games, while last year the Devils only hit 34 home runs in the entire season.  The Devils have also batted in 128 RBI, which is 81% 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 46-56 in stolen base attempts, where last season they only stole 34 bases all season.  It took 31 games last season before the Devils obtained their current 138 runs on the season with 182 hits and a slugging percentage of .510 while posting a 7.63 ERA on their opposing pitchers.  The Devil defense has also held its opponents to only 30 runs off of 93 hits and a .172 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, 4, 6, 9 and 10 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.