Alabama 3, Arizona State 1

May 21, 2005

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Arizona State University softball team jumped to an early lead, but was unable to close out the game on top as No. 8 Alabama secured a 3-1 defeat of the Sun Devils at the 2005 NCAA Region 12 Championships at the UA Softball Complex in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday afternoon. The Sun Devils (30-25) lost their first game in the double-elimination event and will now need to claim victory in its next three games in order to advance in the tournament. The Crimson Tide improved to 59-13 overall on the season while also improving to 30-3 at home this season.

The Sun Devils got off to a solid start in the top of the first with Bridgette Caron leading off the game with a single to second as she beat out the throw. Two batters later, Valerie Sevilla battled at the plate and earned a double that made its way to the left center fence after sneaking through the left side, allowing Caron to score for the early 1-0 lead.

Looking to protect their early lead, the Sun Devils did not make it easy on themselves as the bottom half of the first saw the Tide load the bases following a pair of errors on Jen McCard and an intentional walk. But, with one out, Katie Burhart found her groove and retired the side with a pair of strikeouts, one looking and one swinging, to end the inning.

From the top of the second through the bottom of the fifth inning, neither team could place a run on the board as ASU's Burkhart and UA's Stephanie VanBrakle limited their opponents opportunities at the plate. Burkhart tallied a pair of strike outs while allowing four hits as the Crimson Tide stranded four base runners while VanBrakle collected six strikeouts and allowed two hits.

Still leading 1-0 at the top of the sixth, the Sun Devils looked to add insurance runs and, with one out, Sevilla singled to second base on a chopper and then moved to second on Ashley Werschky's single through the right side of the infield. But a pair of fielder's choices allowed UA to get out of a jam and prevent ASU from scoring.

The bottom half of the sixth was were the Crimson Tide did their damage as Dominique Accetturo doubled down the left field line to lead things off. Staci Ramsey then singled to left to put runners on first and second before a Dani Woods single through the middle scored UA's first run of the game to tie the score at one. After another Burkhart strikeout, Leah White singled to left to bring home the home team's second run of the game and give them their first lead of the contest. From there, a Jackie Wilkins infield single loaded the bases and chased Burkhart from the game.

Desiree Serrano spelled the Sun Devil starter and opened the inning by walking home one run for the final Crimson Tide score. A fielder's choice play at home and a Serrano strikeout ended the inning with ASU trailing 3-1. In the top of the seventh and down to their final three outs of the game, the Sun Devils grounded out three times to end the contest and send the visitors to the consolation bracket.

On the day, Burkhart pitched 5.1 innings, allowing three runs on nine hits while striking out five and walking one while absorbing the loss to slip to 12-14 on the year. Serrano pitched two-thirds of one inning in relief, walking one batter and striking out another on 10 pitches. VanBrakle improved to 30-6 on the season after throwing 7.0 innings and allowing one run on six Sun Devil hits while recording eight strikeouts.

Offensively, Sevilla and Werschky connected for a pair of hits each while Sevilla tallied one run batted in as she brought Caron home. Caron and Michelle Smith collected the other hits for ASU.

ASU will now await the winner of the Hofstra-Mississippi Valley State game for a 6:30 p.m. contest. The winner of the night cap will advance to Sunday's final where they will need a pair of victories over the host Crimson Tide to advance to next weekend's Super Regional.

-- Courtesy Arizona State University