#9 Softball Heads to Oregon to Kick-Off Pac-10 Play

March 30, 2006

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Leading Off:

The #9 Devils added four more wins to their record after sweeping the UNLV Rebels and UTEP Miners in doubleheaders pushing their record to 36-3 and placing an eight-game winning streak under their belts. ASU defeated UNLV 3-1 and 10-1 and UTEP 5-4 and 12-0. The Sun Devils brought in 30 runs off of only 39 hits, six of them for long-balls and seven for doubles, bringing the Sun Devils to a total of 44 home runs on the season, with the ASU team record for home runs in a season standing just one away at 45. The Sun Devils also drove home 29 RBI and added two more stolen bases to their Pac-10 leading stats, in which they lead the Pac in RBI (213) and stolen bases (75).  Sun Devil sophomore, Mindy Cowles also had a banner performance in the second game of the UTEP series as she entered NCAA record books with three home runs and ten RBI in one game, which ties her for second in NCAA history.


The Sun Devils hurlers also compiled an 1.88 ERA in four games with Desiree Serrano allowing no earned runs. The pitching squad gave up only five earned runs and tallied 35 strikeouts, with Katie Burkhart doing the lion share with 18 against the Rebels and Miners, putting her season total at 175 for the season.


On Deck:

The Sun Devils now take to the road to open Pac-10 play as they set to face off against the Ducks of Oregon and seventh-ranked Beavers of Oregon State. ASU will play the Ducks once in Eugene on Friday, March 31 and a two-game series against OregonState on April 1 and 2. 


Duck Hunting:

The University of Oregon Ducks are currently 15-10 on the season and prior to a sweep over UAB on Tuesday, the Ducks hosted a trio of teams in the Wilson Cascade Clash at Howe Field, where they won by forfeit vs. then-No. 22 DePaul and then lost 4-3 to Akron in nine innings to conclude tournament play. Pitcher Alicia Cook returned to action and went 1-1 while senior Amy Harris also returned. Harris threw six hitless innings vs. Akron and struck out three batters.


In the Beaver Den:

Oregon State stands at 27-2 and will put their 27-game winning streak to the test this weekend as they open Pac-10 play. The Beavers also are the only other team in the country other than UCLA to have only lost two games on the season. OSU is coming off of four wins at the OSU/Oregon Spring Fling last weekend as well as two more wins from a doubleheader against UAB on Wednesday.


We've Met Before:

The Devils lead the all-time series history against the Ducks 35-33, as they spilt the last two-game series against Oregon last year with a 2-1 win and 3-0 loss on April 30 and May 1 of last year.  ASU also holds the lead against the Beavers, 56-24 with a 1-0 win in their last meeting with the Beavers on April 29 of last year.



Playing With Fire:

ASU leads the Pac-10 Conference in seven offensive categories: runs scored (212), hits (289), runs batted in (197), home runs (40), walks (142), stolen bases (74) and total bases (451) after seven weeks of play, before adding in the UTEP doubleheader stats.


Freshman Kaitlin Cochran in her first season of collegiate softball, has exploded onto the scene to claim the first Pac-10 Player of the Week award of the season. The Yorba Linda, Calif. native thus far has batted 54-107 (.505) at the plate with eight home runs, four triples, four doubles, 32 runs scored and 45 RBI. Cochran's 45 RBI have put her on a record-shattering pace, as the ASU season record for RBI is 58. 


After seven weeks of play, Cochran continues to lead the Pac-10 in batting average (.490), on-base percentage (.580), hits (50) and RBI (45).


Her fellow Devils are no slackers either as teammate Michelle Smith is first in the Pac-10 scoring 35 runs. Smith is also leading the Pac-10 in stolen bases with 30 on the season and is only three stolen bags from tying the ASU single-season record of 33.


The Sun Devil pitching squad is also coming up huge for ASU this year as Ashley Werschky is currently tied for third place in ERA in the Pac-10 with a .57 average and fifth place with an .150 opponent batting average, and her fellow Devils Katie Burkhart and Desiree Serrano also made the list in seventh and eighth place with a .81 and 1.00 ERA with Burkhart ranked fourth with an 1.39 opponent batting average.


Katie Burkhart also tied for the #6 spot for batters struck out with 165, with teammate Desiree Serrano in the #7 spot with 148. Burkhart and Serrano are tied for fifth with 14 wins apiece, all not-including UTEP statistics.


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 three weeks ago to the #10/11 spots in the USA Today-ESPN/NFCA ranking last week and retaining those positions for a week before jumping to #9 in both polls last week and retaining the ninth-spot this week as well.


Statistics 101:

The 2006 squad has already begun to show promise in breaking records as they have as a team has hit 44 home runs in 39 games, already superseding their total of 34 from last year's entire season, as well as falling just one shy of breaking the all-time ASU season record of 45, set by the 2003 Sun Devil squad.  The Sun Devils have also batted in 213 RBI, which is more than last year's season total of 158 and only 46 RBI from breaking ASU's all-time team RBI per season of 259 set in 1996. ASU has already shown their speed and confidence on the base-paths as well, going 75-87 in stolen base attempts, where last season they only stole 34 bases all season.  Last season's Sun Devils plated 177 runs total on the season, while currently they have 229 runs on the season, 65 shy of ASU's all-time season record by the 1996 team. ASU has also connected for 311 hits with a slugging percentage of .478 while posting a 6.99 ERA on their opposing pitchers.  The Sun Devil defense has also held its opponents to only 49 runs off of 156 hits and a .166 batting average.


On Fire in the Fourth:

The Sun Devils have found their groove in the middle of games as the majority of their runs scored (42) have come in the fourth inning against opponents.


It's Getting Drafty in Here...

ASU's own senior pitcher, Desiree Serrano was drafted into the National Professional Fastpitch League in February by ASU's own in-state team, the Arizona Heat. The Heat also drafted Arizona pitcher Alicia Hollowell and Stanford shortstop, Lauren Lappin. 


Tough Schedule/Tougher Conference:

The Sun 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, 2, 5, 6, 8 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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