BEST FEMALE COLLEGE ATHLETE - 2007
ASU's softball program had been wobbling under the sports radar for a generation before Clint Myers took over as head coach last year and immediately led his team to the College World Series. Myers was blessed right out of the chute with Katie Burkhart, a statuesque left-handed pitcher with a potent riseball and a nasty changeup, who was entering her sophomore year as a Sun Devil. Those who never have seen a fast-pitch game should understand this: It's all about the pitching. Diamondback great Randy Johnson's best year isn't even in the same, um, ballpark as what Burkhart accomplished in the past two seasons 65 wins, 833 strikeouts and enough personal honors to fill a trophy case. Though she's an intense competitor on the field, the broadcasting major from San Luis Obispo, California's teammates love her for her great sense of humor and gregarious personality. Her coach loves that, too. But he loves her riseball even more. Before she's through at ASU after next season, Burkhart surely will break every pitching record at the school. And she may even get a few more wins over archrival University of Arizona, which we're guessing would mean more to her than any personal trophy she might ever earn.