No longer are the Arizona State Sun Devils the little sister of college softball in Arizona. Yes, the Arizona Wildcats have eight national titles and the Sun Devils just picked up their first Tuesday night, posting an 11-0 win to sweep the Women's College World Series best-of-three final over Texas A&M.
But ASU was finally able to step out of the Wildcats' overpowering shadow and step into the softball spotlight as they celebrated on the field of at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. "The big thing for us this year, we swept Arizona three games in the regular season, so people started looking at us,” said ASU outfielder Jackie Vasquez. "It's always been that the Wildcats are the team from Arizona. "We got some respect, but even getting to the World Series, it was still all about how Arizona is the postseason team and everyone's looking at them for a three-peat. We were ranked higher, but everyone was still favoring them.” But the Wildcats left the WCWS early in their hunt for a third straight national title, while the Sun Devils were unstoppable. ASU went 10-0 in the NCAA Tournament and pitcher Katie Burkhart threw three WCWS shutouts, including two in the championship series. "This is what ASU has always been capable of doing,” Burkhart said after allowing four hits and striking out 13 to cap her senior season.
Arizona State's Katie Burkhart, left, celebrates the Sun Devils first NCAA softball championship with her teammates after defeating Texas A&M at ASA Hall of Fame on Tuesday. BY BRYAN TERRY, THE OKLAHOMAN