San Luis Obispo High School was the start towards softball greatness for Katie Burkhart, who played for Mike Lee in the mid-2000s and led Arizona State University (ASU) to a Women’s College World Series championship in 2008. Burkhart said Lee sent dozens of letters to college coaches across the country during her recruitment process, and the two kept in touch as she played professionally in Japan and Italy and for the U.S. national team.
Katherine Burkhart was born February 24, 1986 and is a former collegiate All American, left-handed softball pitcher. She won a National Championship for the Arizona State University Sun Devils where she played from 2005-2008 and also pitched for the USA Softball Team. Burkhart also played professionally for the USSSA Pride, Tennessee Diamonds, and Carolina Diamonds in addition to playing in Japan. She owns numerous records for the Sun Devils and for the NCAA Division I. Following the 2012 season, Burkhart announced her retirement as a player. In April 2016 Arizona State University honored her by retiring her jersey #7, before their game against the University of Oregon Ducks.
Burkhart began her ASU Sun Devils freshman year with a top-five season strikeouts record and throwing a no-hitter vs. the San Diego State University Aztecs. For her sophomore campaign, Burkhart was named to the Pac-10 Second Team. She threw a no-hitter and set new school records in strikeouts, and strikeout ratio. Her wins were good for second all-time; all of her marks remain top-10 for the Sun Devils.
Beginning on March 2 in a win over Southern Utah, Burkhart went on a career-best 41.2 consecutive scoreless inning streak. For the streak, Burkhart went 6-1 over 9 games (4 complete) fanning 69 and giving up 17 hits and 4 walks. On April 8, Burkhart set a school and career record by recording 23 strikeouts in a loss to the University of Washington Huskies. The single game total tied her for 5th all-time in the NCAA. Combined with two other pitchers, the game featured the most strikeouts combined ever in a game.
In her junior year, Burkhart earned her first 2007 NFCA First Team All-American citation to accompany First Team Pac-10 and Pitcher of The Year honors. She set the season strikeouts and innings record with career bests, while also breaking her own wins and strikeout ratio marks and tying the shutout record again.
Burkhart fired her first career perfect game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on March 15. Later on April 24, Burkhart reached 1,000 strikeouts. For her senior year, she was awarded First Team All-American, All PAC-10 and Pitcher of the Year for a second year in a row. Burkhart achieved the conference pitching Triple Crown for her strikeouts, wins and ERA. Her shutouts, and strikeout ratio (11.3) were also career highs and together with her wins set new school records.
Defeating the Arizona Wildcats on April 9, Burkhart won her 100th career game. Arizona State won the 2008 Women’s College World Series, and Burkhart was named the Most Outstanding Player on June 3 vs. the Texas A&M Aggies. She pitched back-to-back shutouts against Aggies with 13 strikeouts in the final game to clinch the title. This was Arizona State’s first WCWS championship. She also matched the finale game record for strikeouts with 13 in the game. To get there the Sun Devil went undefeated and ended her career on an 11-game win streak.
In her career overall, Burkhart set and owns the Arizona State records for wins, strikeouts, shutouts, strikeout ratio and innings pitched. In the NCAA, Burkhart ranks 7th in strikeouts, 10th in strikeout ratio for her career. On February 18, 2008, before her final season at Arizona State, Burkhart was selected first overall in the National Pro Fastpitch Draft.
After posting league highs of 13 wins and a 1.87 ERA along with team highs of 149 strikeouts, and 131⅔ innings pitched during her rookie season in the NPF, Burkhart was voted as the NPF Player of the Year. For the American offseason, Burkhart commenced her rookie season in the Japan Softball League, for Toyota Shokki. Burkhart has played for the Philadelphia Force, USSSA Pride, & the Carolina Diamonds, before retiring in 2012. Since then she has coached D1 programs as the assistant coach and runs Pitch Responsibly, Inc. a company dedicated to giving back to the young women and parents in the sport.
In 2016 she was announced to the Pac-10 All-Century team. ASU is retiring her #7 jersey in honor of her outstanding records that are held at the university. She has also been inducted into the ASA Hall of Fame and at San Luis Obispo High School as a Hall of Fame Athlete. In 2006, Burkhart was part of an American team of college players that won gold at the 2006 World University Games in Taiwan. Burkhart was first named to the USA Softball national team on June 15, 2009. She made her first appearance at the 2009 Canada Cup and pitched a no-hitter against the Netherlands, which the United States won 8–0 in five innings.