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Cats, Bruins Meet for Top-10 Showdown
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/14/2014
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WEEK 6 (MARCH 15-17): UCLA // Westwood, Calif.

 

#6/8 Arizona Wildcats (23-3) vs. #3/3 UCLA Bruins (23-1)

THE GAMES

Date                                      Time (PDT)          Opponent             Location                 T.V.

Saturday, March 15             12:00 p.m.           UCLA                     Easton Stadium   Pac-12 Network

Sunday, March 16                12:00 p.m.           UCLA                     Easton Stadium  Pac-12 Network

Monday, March 17               5:00 p.m.             UCLA                     Easton Stadium   Pac-12 Network

FOLLOW THE CATS

T.V.: Pac-12 Network

Live Stats: arizonalivestats.com

Live Updates: Twitter: @UA_Softball (twitter.com/ua_softball)

THIS WEEK: Sixth-ranked Arizona (23-3) will begin the gauntlet of Pac-12 softball this week when it heads to Westwood, Calif., to reignite the biggest rivalry in college softball. Arizona and UCLA, who have combined to win 19 of the 31 Women’s College World Series titles, meet for three games in a rare Saturday through Monday series on the Pac-12 Networks. The Cats and Bruins meet Saturday and Sunday at noon before concluding the series at 5:00 p.m. PDT. This marks the first series that Arizona and UCLA have both been in the top 10 since 2010.

ARIZONA AGAINST UCLA: The Wildcats and Bruins have met 123 times between the white lines, Arizona’s second most frequent opponent in team history (Arizona State). UCLA has won 68 of the previous 123 matchups, making it the only team to hold the all-time series advantage (with three or more games played). However, Arizona owns an 8-7 advantage in games played in the postseason, with all 15 games taking place at the Women’s College World Series. Half of Arizona’s national titles have been the result of beating UCLA in the WCWS title game (1991, 1993, 1997, 2001). UCLA has won the series eight of the last nine years, including taking 2-of-3 from Arizona in Tucson last season. Arizona’s lone series victory in the last nine seasons came in 2011.

LEADING OFF

- Arizona’s .389 batting average is the best in the nation by a whopping .034 points. Arizona has six players with batting averages of .400 or better, led by Kelsey Rodriguez’s .492 clip, which ranks 21st nationally.

- The Cats also lead the country in home runs with 39 big flies. Catcher Chelsea Goodacre is tied for NCAA lead with 11 home runs. Shortstop Kellie Fox is not far behind with nine homers, which is tied for fifth nationally. Goodacre’s 40 RBI lead the country.

- Hallie Wilson has not struck out in 68 at-bats this season, making her the toughest batter to strikeout in the country.

- From Feb. 22 to March 4, Arizona run-ruled eight consecutive opponents, setting a school record. The previous record was six straight mercy wins, accomplished thrice (2003, 2001 and 1994). The Cats have run-ruled 16 opponents on the season in just 26 chances after run-ruling eight opponents in 59 games in 2013.

- Arizona is set to embark on a 10-game road swing, its longest regular-season road swing since an 11-gamer in 2010.

- Arizona is the only team in the country that ranks in the top 15 in the country in batting average (1st - .389), ERA (8th - 1.20) and fielding percentage (13th - .978).

- Arizona’s pitching staff has allowed just 26 earned runs this season in 26 games and has a miraculous 1.20 ERA. In 26 games this year, Arizona has tossed 11 shutouts. In 59 games in 2013, UA threw just three shutouts. UA pitchers have thrown five one-hitters this season and one no-hitter (Estela Piñon and Kenzie Fowler, Feb. 9 vs. Southern Miss).

- Offensively, Arizona has the Pac-12 leader in slugging percentage (Kellie Fox - .955), on-base percentage (Kellie Fox - .591), runs scored (Hallie Wilson - 34), RBI (Chelsea Goodacre - 40), home runs (Chelsea Goodacre - 11), total bases (Kellie Fox - 63), sacrifice bunts (Chelsea Suitos - 6) and sacrifice flies (Chelsea Goodacre - 4).

- Arizona’s 23-3 start is its best since beginning the 2010 campaign 29-3. Ironically, in both years, Arizona’s first two losses of the season came to ranked Missouri and Michigan squads.

- With Pac-12 play just around the corner, it will be difficult to keep these figures up, but as of right now, Arizona’s .389 average would be the best in team history while its 1.20 ERA would be the best since the 2006 team’s 1.10 ERA. Also, the Wildcats’ .978 fielding percentage would be the second best in school history.

- On the season, Arizona has 82 extra-base hits. Its opponents have 95 TOTAL hits.

- Hallie Wilson was named Pac-12 Player of the Week in week 5, marking the second consecutive week that an Arizona player received the recognition (Kelsey Rodriguez - week 4). Wilson hit .650 with seven extra-base hits during the week, including three triples, after entering the week with just a single triple in her career.

OPPONENT

UCLA: The Bruins (23-1) enter the weekend ranked third in both polls. UCLA went 6-0 at the UCLA/CSUN Invitational with victories over UNLV, Loyola Chicago (twice), Charleston Southern, Bakersfield and Georgetown. The Bruins are 4-1 against ranked competition, with victories over then-No. 13 Oklahoma, then-No. 16 Missouri, then-No. 11 Nebraska and a two-game split with then-No. 4 Michigan. UCLA’s 0.96 ERA is second in the nation, led by Jessica Hall (8-0, 0.64 ERA, 74 Ks, 55.0 IP) and Ally Carda (13-1, 0.96 ERA, 94 Ks, 80.0 IP). Delaney Spaulding (.431 avg, 7 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 23 RBI) leads an offense which has outscored its opponents 156-36 on the year.

HEAD COACH MIKE CANDREA: Arizona head coach Mike Candrea is in his 29th year at the helm of the Arizona softball program with a career record of 1,366-325-2 (.808). A winner of eight national championships (1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2006, 2007), Arizona has made 22 trips to the Women’s College World Series under his guidance, missing just four times in the last 26 years (2004, 2011, 2012, 2013). In 2012, Candrea became the sport’s fastest ever, and second all-time, to reach 1,300 wins. Under Candrea, Arizona has a spectacular postseason record of 152-47. An even 50 All-Americans with a staggering 90 total citations have played in the program since Candrea took over.

THE RANKINGS: Arizona moved up to sixth in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll and remained eighth in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25. UA began the season unranked, marking the first time since the NFCA began publishing polls in the early 90s that Arizona was unranked in the preseason poll.

RECENT RESULTS: Arizona posted a 3-2 record at the Judi Garman Classic last weekend, coming through with three straight victories over Cal State Fullerton, Houston and San Jose State after being swept by No. 4 Michigan and Wisconsin to open the event. Hallie Wilson hit .600 with two doubles, two triples and seven RBI, helping her win Pac-12 Player of the Week.

3/7/14 - Cats Fall to Michigan and Wisconsin on Day One: Seventh-ranked Arizona softball dropped a pair of games on day one of the Judi Garman Classic Friday in Fullerton, Calif.

The Cats were shutout by fifth-ranked Michigan 3-0 before falling to Wisconsin 7-5.

The Cats managed just five baserunners against Michigan pitcher Haylie Wagner as the Wolverines shutout Arizona 3-0, handing UA its second loss of the year.

Arizona’s late comeback bid fell just short in the nightcap, as the Wildcats rallied from five down and had the go-ahead run at the plate with no one out in the bottom of the seventh, but ultimately fell 7-5 to Wisconsin.

3/8/14 - UA Crushes Fullerton, Beats Houston in Extras: No. 7 Arizona softball swept day two of the Judi Garman Classic in dramatic fashion, crushing Cal State Fullerton – while accomplishing something it had not done since 2001 – and using a late-inning comeback to force extras against Houston, where it would eventually win 6-5.

In game one, Arizona scored 15 runs in the fifth inning, the most in an inning since setting a school record with 17 against Bowling Green in 2001, en route to a 15-0 run-rule victory over hosts Cal State Fullerton.

In game two, the Cats trailed by two runs in the sixth inning, but plated a run in each the sixth and the seventh to force extras, where Lauren Young’s go-ahead sacrifice fly in the ninth proved to be the difference.

Chelsea Goodacre homered three times on the day, including twice in the fifth inning vs. Cal State Fullerton. The three homers gave her the Pac-12 lead with 11 bombs on the year.

Hallie Wilson went 5-for-7 with four RBI, including a game-tying RBI single in the top of the seventh inning.

3/9/14 - No. 7 Arizona Cruises to an 8-1 Victory: No. 7 Arizona softball completed its participation at the Judi Garman Classic by defeating San Jose State 8-1 Sunday at Anderson Family Field.

Hallie Wilson went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI, including an RBI triple in the fourth inning.

Nancy Bowling (6-0) earned the win in the circle for the seventh-ranked Cats. The sophomore pitched five innings and allowed one run on four hits. Bowling struck out four and did not walk a batter. She was relieved in the sixth by Estela Piñon, who did not allow a run in two innings of two-hit ball. The senior walked one and struck out one in the outing.

RECENT RESULTS AGAINST UCLA: UCLA took the series from Arizona in Tucson in 2013. The Cats took game one in dramatic fashion when Hallie Wilson’s two-out, three-run, walkoff home run to bring UA back from down a run in the 10th downed the Bruins. UCLA took the next two games by an aggregate score of 22-4.

4/18/13 - Cats Walk Off in Extras: Twenty-second ranked Arizona softball celebrated the 20th birthday of Rita Hillenbrand stadium in style when it walked off with an 8-6, 10-inning victory over eighteenth-ranked UCLA on Friday night.

Trailing by a run and down to the last out in the bottom of the 10th, Hallie Wilson blasted the first pitch of her at-bat to deep right-field with runners on first and second to help Arizona take game one of the three game series against the Bruins. The home run was Wilson’s sixth of the year.

4/19/13 - Bruins Power Way Past Arizona: No. 22 Arizona softball gave up a school record seven home runs and dropped a 13-3 decision to No. 18 UCLA on Friday evening at Rita Hillenbrand Stadium.

UCLA hit five home runs in the first three innings to take an 8-0 lead and cruised to a 13-3 victory.

The Bruins plated 13 runs on 16 hits, the most hits allowed by Arizona pitching all season; the previous high was 11.

4/20/13 - Arizona Drops Series to UCLA with 9-1 Defeat: After splitting the first two games, 22nd-ranked Arizona softball (28-19, 5-10 Pac-12) fell, 9-1 in six innings, to eighteenth-ranked UCLA (30-15, 7-11 Pac-12), on Saturday evening at Rita Hillenbrand Stadium.

Arizona’s early 1-0 lead in the second inning quickly disappeared as UCLA responded with six runs over the following two innings. UCLA tacked on three more in the top of the sixth to seal the game and the series.

WHO’S HOT?

Hallie Wilson: After her batting average bottomed out a season-low .289 Feb. 25 against UTEP, Wilson has gone 20-for-her-last-30 (.667) over her last 11 games. In that span, she has eight multi-hit games, including each of her last four. Also in that span, Wilson has walked 10 times, helping her to a ridiculous .756 on-base percentage in her last 11 games. Wilson leads the Pac-12, and is third nationally, with 34 runs scored.

Kelsey Rodriguez: Despite having her career-high 10-game hitting streak snapped last weekend at Judi Garman Classic, Rodriguez stayed hot in Fullerton, putting together two multi-hit games as she moved to the cleanup spot in the Arizona order. Over her last 31 at-bats, Rodriguez is hitting .581 with seven doubles, two homers and 15 RBI.

Courtney Rodriguez: After recording just eight hits in 36 starts as a freshman, C-Rod has more than tripled that in 26 games this season. Rodriguez is 26-for-58 (.448) on the year, good for fifth on the team and ninth in the conference. Rodriguez is second on the team with eight doubles and has 12 RBI after having just one and three, respectively, in 2013. She is batting .321 points better than last season.

Estela Piñon: The senior leads qualified Pac-12 pitchers with a 0.48 ERA this season, having allowed just three earned runs in 43.1 innings pitched. In case her 43.1 innings this season are too small of a sample size, consider her last 65.2 innings pitched, dating back to last season. In the stretch, Piñon has allowed a total of five earned runs (0.53 ERA), with 72 strikeouts. The Tucson native’s 54/43.1, K/IP ratio is the best on the team.

Kellie Fox: The junior leads the Pac-12 in three different offensive categories and is second in two more. She leads the conference in slugging percentage (.955), on-base percentage (.591) and total bases (63). She is second to teammate Chelsea Goodacre in RBI (37) and home runs (9).

NEARING THE CENTURY MARK: Kenzie Fowler has 82 career wins, eighth most in program history. With 21 wins in 2014, Fowler would become the eighth pitcher in Wildcat history to reach the 100-win milestone (Alicia Hollowell - 134, Nancy Evans - 124, Jennie Finch - 119, Carrie Dolan - 103, Becky Lemke - 103, Susie Parra - 101 and Taryne Mowatt - 100). Fowler is also on pace to become the fourth pitcher in school history to strike out one thousand batters.

HOME SWEET HOME: The Wildcats are a perfect 16-0 this season inside the friendly confines of Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium. Since its opening in 1993, Arizona has put up a 599-69 record on the field. That’s a .897 winning percentage at home in the last 20-plus years. Hillenbrand has led the nation in attendance nine times since 1994 and set the NCAA record in attendance in 2011 when 77,129 fans turned the turnstiles (since broken by Alabama). For the sixth consecutive season, Arizona is drawing over 2,000 fans per game in 2014. In 12 home dates, the Wildcats are averaging 2,108 per contest.

PICK YOUR POISON: The Wildcats have had production 1-through-9 in the order this season and boast a lineup that, for the most part, is void of any holes. This offensive balance is the reason Arizona is second in the country in runs scored (220). Here is what Arizona has had out of each spot in the order:

1 - .443 avg, 5 2B, 3 3B, 3 HR, 24 RBI

2 - .427 avg, 2 2B, 2 HR, 12 RBI

3 - .448 avg, 2 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 37 RBI

4 - .310 avg, 3 2B, 8 HR, 36 RBI

5 - .460 avg, 8 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 26 RBI

6 - .264 avg, 2 2B, 3 HR, 16 RBI

7 - .377 avg, 4 2B, 5 HR, 21 RBI

8 - .379 avg, 8 2B, 3 HR

9 - .397 avg, 3 2B, 10 RBI

DEADLY D: One of Arizona’s strengths in 2014 will surely be its defense. With athleticism at every infield position, head coach Mike Candrea has stated that this may his best infield D since he arrived at Arizona in 1987. The Cats own a .978 fielding percentage on the year, the top mark in the conference.

BEATING THE BEST: In 2014, Arizona is scheduled to play 21 games against teams currently ranked in the NFCA Top 25, including 13 against the top 10 and seven against the top five. This year, UA is 4-2 against the top 25, 2-1 against the top 10 and 2-1 against the top five. Since 1994, Arizona is 516-199-1 (.721) against ranked competition, 251-138 (.645) against top-10 teams and 122-94 (.565) against top-five teams.

THE K ZONE: In 610 at-bats this season, UA hitters have struck out just 72 times (12 percent of at-bats). On the other side of the ball, Arizona pitchers have struck out 163 batters in 152.0 innings pitched. Thirty percent of opponent at-bats have resulted in strikeouts. The Wildcats have not had a positive K/IP ratio since Arizona pitchers struck out 492 hitters in 392.2 innings in 2008. Offensively, the .118 strikeout rate would be the best since 1995 when it posted a .100 strikeout rate. In the leadoff spot, Hallie Wilson has not struck out in 68 at-bats.

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: Arizona is scheduled to play 21 games against ranked competition. In the nonconference schedule, the Cats played six games against ranked opponents, three of those coming against top-five competition. UA is 4-2 against ranked teams so far this season. Other than Arizona, the Pac-12 has four teams ranked in the top seven in the latest USA Today/NFCA Top 25. Arizona will play three of those four series on the road, starting this weekend at third-ranked UCLA.

FRESH FACES: The 2014 Arizona roster features nine newcomers. Five of the nine newbies are transfers -- Nikki Dunlap (Texas Tech), Payton Kornfeind (Colorado at Colorado Springs), Cynthia Pelayo (Pima College), Siera Phillips (Dixie State) and Erika Tapia (Paradise Valley Community College) -- and four are freshmen -- Michelle Floyd (San Marino, Calif.), Katiyana Mauga (San Diego, Calif.), Mo Mercado (Temecula, Calif.) and Eva Watson (Victoria, Va.).

FAMILY TIES: Prior to last season, head coach Mike Candrea had never had sisters come through the program, in 2014, he has two pairs. Siblings Kelsey and Courtney Rodriguez are the first pair of sisters to ever be on the same Wildcat team. UCLA transfer Kellie Fox is the sister of former Wildcat shortstop and two-time national champion Kristie Fox (04-07). Additionally, third baseman Lauren Young’s brother Brandon is one of the team’s managers.

FOLLOW THE TEAM: Be sure to follow the Wildcats on their various social media platforms. To stay up-to-date on all the latest happenings with the team, follow Arizona softball on Twitter (@UA_Softball) and for behind-the-scenes photos and infographics, follow the team on Instagram (@UA_Softball).

UP NEXT: The Wildcats head to Las Vegas to take on UNLV in a doubleheader on March 19 following the UCLA series.

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