Time was, Arizona State's fast-pitch softball team was a decided lesser-light, an afterthought of a program whose "rivalry" with the Arizona Wildcats was anything but.
But the arrival of a new head coach, Clint Myers, a few years ago changed all that in a hurry.
These days the program is on a par with that of the Tucson school, having won the national championship in 2008.
Actually, this year, the Sun Devils have been better than Arizona, sweeping the season series down in Tucson and ending the season as Pac-10 league champions and the number one team in the nation overall.
A freshman pitcher from Phoenix St. Mary's by the cool name of Dallas Escobedo has been dominant much of the time, leading ASU with a record of 27-3. Dallas' pitching coach, Chuck D'Arcy -- a former men's great who joined the staff this season -- has done a terrific job taking the kid to the next level.
On Friday night, the Sun Devils will take on North Dakota State in a first-round home game in Tempe. It's what the team hopes will be the first step toward the College World Series in Oklahoma City. San Diego State plays Long Beach State in the other game.
Down in Tucson, Arizona also is hosting another four-team regional, though the inconsistent Wildcats are "only" the nation's eighth-seeded team.
We rarely say this, but we hope that both Arizona schools make it through to the Super Regionals, and then to the coveted College World Series.
If the Devils and Cats both make it to Oklahoma City, then, well, we did matriculate in Tucson, so....
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