When it comes to making history, this year’s Arizona State softball team makes it look routine. The Sun Devils have set four single-season team records already, including the smashing of home run and RBI totals. Katie Burkhart, Kaitlin Cochran and Bianca Cruz are toppling individual records, seemingly on a weekly basis.
But it is team record No. 5 that jumps to the forefront this weekend.
A pair of victories against Louisiana State in today and tomorrow’s super regional at Farrington Stadium would give Arizona State 54. It would not only set a standard but give the Sun Devils (52-15) their first back-to-back Women’s College World Series appearances.
Last year, few outside the organization — and early on, even some inside it — felt that ASU had the talent or experience to get to the World Series. It got there and ended up finishing fifth.
This season is different, as the higher-seeded Sun Devils get the “favorites” label as action begins tonight at 7 p.m.
“Last year, our coaches would tell us, 'You guys are going to make the World Series,’ ” junior catcher Kristen Miller said. “As players we didn’t quite believe it because of the past. But as time went on, we realized we were a pretty good team.
“This year we’re like, 'We’re going to do it again.’ We have the talent, we just have to put it all out there on the field.”
LSU isn’t a pushover.
The Tigers are 55-10 and boast a menacing 1-2 punch — Dani Hofer (24-2, 1.20 ERA) and Emily Turner (21-6, 1.24 ERA) — in the circle.
ASU counters with Burkhart (33-11, 1.03 ERA), who can break former Scottsdale Chaparral High School and Arizona State star Erica Beach’s single-season wins record with a victory.
The Sun Devils are mostly unfamiliar with LSU but have plenty of experience playing against high-caliber teams in the talent-rich Pac-10.
Burkhart said she will treat it like one of those games.
“Their colors are purple like Washington, so I’m going to go in like they’re Washington,” Burkhart said. “Really, (the unfamiliarity) doesn’t bother me too much. I trust (assistant coach Kirsten Voak) and I trust Miller, and we’re just going to do what we do every game.”
ASU coach Clint Myers has made it clear that a good showing in Oklahoma City, site of the College World Series, is the expectation, but sometimes just earning a berth is half the battle.
“The idea for every team is to win the last game, and there’s only one team that’s going to be jumping up and down,” he said.
“In order to have that opportunity you’ve first got to get there. We’re not looking past this weekend. It’s going to be some good softball,” Myers said.
Ncaa softball super regional: LSU at ASU
7 p.m. today, Farrington Stadium