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Sun Devil softball ready to kick off Pac-10 slate

Sophomore third basemen Krista Donnenwirth makes a throw during a game against UTEP at Farrington Stadium. (Matt Pavelek | The State Press)

Sophomore catcher Kaylyn Castillo has played softball at the collegiate level before. The idea is nothing new to her.

She knows how serious the games are and has been instilled with the desire to win them all.

Still, this weekend is a first.

“I’m excited because I’ve never played in the Pac-10, and it’s such a competitive conference,” she said. “It’s my first real big conference game on this team, and I want to make a good impression.”

A transfer from Louisville in Kentucky, Castillo’s experience is in the Big East. This weekend marks the first time she will join the rest of her new team in the Pac-10 regular season, a feat she knows isn’t going to be easy.

This weekend, the No. 6 Sun Devils (25-5) are scheduled to face off against Oregon and Oregon State and are hoping not only to employ the lessons they learned from preseason games, but also to show the Pac-10 how far they’ve come.

“Our first game of the whole season, we started a little slower,” sophomore outfielder Lesley Rogers said. “In the first game of the Pac-10 [season], we will be so far and beyond how we started the actual season, so I’m excited.”

And as the Sun Devils enter the home stand against the Ducks and the Beavers, they are going to need to focus on themselves.

“We need to focus on getting our jobs done,” Castillo said. “Our coaches keep telling us that the team that doesn’t beat themselves will win the game. That’s what I think we have to focus on: ourselves. We can’t worry about outstanding pitches; we have to take care of our business, take care of our team and worry about our effort levels.”

And even though the Sun Devils are 44-33 overall against the Ducks — including a sweep of last year’s home series — and have won 15 of their last 16 games this season, the initial contests against Pac-10 foes this weekend won’t be taken lightly.

“I think it’s just going to be interesting,” Rogers said. “This year the Pac-10 is really close. Everybody is so equal in talent; it’s going to be interesting to see who comes out on top. It’s going to be tough.”

The Sun Devils will continue to work on hitting with runners in scoring position, but the real key to success in the Pac-10 is not making any errors.

“I think we’re going to have to play perfect softball,” Rogers said. “No errors, just do the little things, as cliche as that sounds. The little things are what are going to get it done. These are going to be close games, [so] whoever makes the least mistakes and who mentally prepares the best will come out on top.”

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