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Wildcats Set for Rivalry Series at No. 11 Arizona State
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/26/2014
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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WEEK 8 (MARCH 28-30): ARIZONA STATE // Tempe, Ariz.

#8/9 Arizona Wildcats (28-6, 3-3 Pac-12) vs. #9/11 Arizona State (30-5, 4-2 Pac-12)

THE GAMES

Date                                         Time (PDT)      Opponent           Location

Friday, March 28                     5:00 p.m.         Arizona State     Farrington Stadium    

Saturday, March 29                7:00 p.m.         Arizona State     Farrington Stadium    

Sunday, March 30                   7:00 p.m.         Arizona State     Farrington Stadium    

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Live Stats: arizonalivestats.com

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

THIS WEEK: Eighth-ranked Arizona (28-6, 3-3 Pac-12) heads to Tempe to take on 11th-ranked Arizona State in a series televised by the Pac-12 Network. Both teams look to keep their momentum going after week 7 Pac-12 sweeps. The Cats’ three-game sweep of Oregon State featured three mercy victories in which UA outscored the Beavers 36-2. Meanwhile, Arizona State used a run-rule win sandwiched between two bottom of the seventh comebacks to sweep Stanford. Arizona will be the first top-10 team that ASU has faced all season. Arizona and Arizona State meet Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 5:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. PDT, respectively.

ARIZONA AGAINST OREGON STATE: The Wildcats own an 88-46-1 record all-time against Arizona State. Arizona’s 135 meetings with ASU are the most with any opponent. The Cats erased a six-game losing streak in the series when they took two of three from the Sun Devils last season in Tucson. The Cats, who entered the series unranked, took the first two games from the then-third-ranked Sun Devils before dropping game three after taking a three-run lead into the seventh. 

LEADING OFF

- Arizona is at or near the top of nearly every offensive ranking in the NCAA. Arizona leads the nation in batting average (.361), home runs (54) and slugging percentage (.638). The Cats are third in scoring, averaging 7.94 runs per game.

- UA is getting done on the other side of the ball as well. Arizona’s 1.47 ERA ranks 10th nationally while its .980 fielding percentage is tied for second in the country.

- Catcher Chelsea Goodacre is tied for NCAA lead with 13 home runs. Shortstop Kellie Fox is not far behind with 12 homers, which is tied for fifth nationally. Goodacre has 48 RBI, fourth in the country, while Fox’s 45 RBI rank fifth.

- Arizona is 19-0 at home, including 16 run-rule victories. Arizona is outscoring opponents by an average of 9.95-0.74 at home. On the road (neutral plus away games), Arizona in 9-6 with just three mercy wins. On the road, Arizona’s average margin of victory is just 2.8 runs, compared to the 9.21 run average margin of victory at home. Arizona is hitting .442 at home while batting just .268 on the road.  

- Arizona hit three grand slams last week in five games: Katiyana Mauga vs. UNLV (game 2), Hallie Wilson vs. Oregon State (game 1) and Chelsea Goodacre vs. Oregon State (game 3). The three grand slams in six days betters Arizona’s entire 59-game total from 2013, when UA hit two grand slams. On the season, Arizona has hit seven grand slams. Mauga has hit three grand slams this season.

- 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 19 opponents on the season in just 34 chances after run-ruling eight opponents in 59 games in 2013.

- Arizona heads back on the road after a brief three-game stint in Tucson last weekend. At the conclusion of the ASU series, Arizona will have played 13 of its last 16 games away from Hillenbrand Stadium. The recently-completed 10-game road swing was 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 10 in the country in batting average (1st - .361), ERA (10th - 1.47) and fielding percentage (t2nd - .980).

- Arizona’s pitching staff has allowed just 42 earned runs this season in 34 games and has a 1.47 ERA. In 34 games this year, Arizona has tossed 12 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).

- Arizona leads the conference in batting average (.361), slugging percentage (.638), on-base percentage (.461), runs scored (270), RBI (254), home runs (54), total bases (521) and fielding percentage (.980).

- With Pac-12 play just beginning, it will be difficult to keep these figures up, but as of right now, Arizona’s .361 average would be the best since 1998 (.385) while its 1.47 ERA would be the best since the 2006 team’s 1.10 ERA. Also, the Wildcats’ .980 fielding percentage would be second best in school history.

- On the season, Arizona has 111 extra-base hits. Its opponents have 132 total hits.

- Opponents are just 2-for-22 (.091) batting with the bases loaded. Meanwhile, Arizona is 21-for-60 (.350) with the bases loaded, including the aforementioned seven grand slams.

OPPONENT

Arizona State: The Sun Devils (30-5) enter the weekend coming off of a series sweep at home against No. 24 Stanford. The series opener was a dramatic 16-15 extra inning shootout victory for ASU before shutting down the Cardinal in game two. The series finale was another dramatic win as the Sun Devils got a walk-off homer from Cheyenne Coyle to complete a come from behind victory. Amber Freeman leads ASU at the plate with a .447 average to go with five homers and 29 RBI. The duo of Mackenzie Popescue and Dallas Escobedo lead the Sun Devils in the circle with a combined 28-5 record.

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 1,371-328-2 (.806). 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 down one spot to eighth in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll and it remains ninth 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 swept the three-game series against Oregon State over the weekend to even its Pac-12 record to 3-3 on the season. The Cats’ three-game sweep of Oregon State featured three mercy victories in which UA outscored the Beavers 36-2. Arizona also slugged 10 home runs for the series including two grand slams.

RECENT RESULTS AGAINST ARIZONA STATE: he Cats erased a six-game losing streak in the series when they took two of three from the Sun Devils last season in Tucson. The Cats, who entered the series unranked, took the first two games from the then-third-ranked Sun Devils before dropping game three after taking a three-run lead into the seventh.

5/3/13 - Down Eight Runs, Cats Come Back, Walk Off : Down eight runs early, Arizona softball, with help from a pair of two-run homers by Chelsea Goodacre, chipped away and completed a grand comeback when Hallie Wilson’s two-out single in the bottom of the seventh gave Arizona a 10-9 victory at home against third-ranked Arizona State.

The Wildcats plated three in the third inning, one in the fourth, two in the fifth, three in the sixth and one in the seventh to earn the come-from-behind victory that will go down as one of the classics on a field that has had its share of awesome moments.

5/4/13 - Cats Win Another Comeback Thriller :  For the second consecutive night, Arizona needed a late-inning rally to defeat third-ranked Arizona State. For the second consecutive night, the Wildcats prevailed. Down four runs in the fifth inning, the Cats scored the game’s final six runs, punctuated by a three-run, go-ahead Mandie Perez home run in the sixth inning to give Arizona the eventual 6-4 victory.

The Wildcats (30-22, 7-13 Pac-12) used a three-run fifth and a three-run sixth to earn their second straight come-from-behind victory over the Sun Devils. Arizona, which had just three top-25 victories entering the series, has ensured itself a series victory over the third-ranked Devils (42-9, 13-7 Pac-12).

The Cats, who did not have a hit until the fourth inning, plated six runs on four hits in the final two innings after getting just four total base runners in the first four innings.

5/5/13 - Softball Falls Short on Senior Day: For the third consecutive game, a team used a dramatic, late-game comeback to persevere in the Territorial Cup battle between Arizona softball and Arizona State. For the first time, though, Sunday Arizona was the victim, not the conqueror.

The Wildcats (30-23, 7-14 Pac-12) took a three-run lead into the top of the seventh inning, three outs away from sweeping the third ranked Sun Devils. ASU (43-9, 14-7 Pac-12) scored four times in the seventh to rally and defeat the Wildcats, who took the first two games of the series.

In her final game in Hillenbrand Stadium, Arizona’s lone senior Brigette Del Ponte put together arguably her best game of the season. For the first time in 2013, Del Ponte had three hits, including a home run and a two-run double. The senior drove in four of Arizona’s six runs in the game, tying for her most RBI in a game all season.

PLAYER NOTES

Hallie Wilson: Wilson is the table setter for the Arizona offense as she leads the Pac-12 in runs scored (42), while ranking second in walks (29) and triples (3) and she finds herself third in the league in RBI (35) and total bases (70). She currently ranks fourth on the squad with a .404 batting average. Wilson hit .556 with a team-best three homers and 11 RBI in the series sweep of Oregon State this past weekend.

Cynthia Pelayo: The junior has made the most of her nine plate appearances this season, producing in eight of them. Pelayo has five hits in six at-bats (.833 avg) plus has been hit by a pitch, walked and registered one sacrifice bunt. One of her five hits was a home run. She has four RBI on the season.

Kelsey Rodriguez: In the first 72 games of her Arizona career (58 games in 2013, first 14 games of 2014), Rodriguez hit 12 total doubles, (.167 2B/G). In her last 20 games, Rodriguez has hit eight doubles (.400 2B/G). The senior leads Arizona (and is third in the Pac-12) with a .462 average and is third in the conference with a .558 on-base percentage.

Courtney Rodriguez: After recording just eight hits in 36 starts as a freshman, C-Rod has more than tripled that in 34 games this season. Rodriguez is 28-for-77 (.364) on the year, good for fifth on the team. 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 .237 points better than last season.

Estela Piñon: The senior leads the team and is third in the Pac-12 with a 1.09 ERA this season, having allowed just 10 earned runs in 64.0 innings pitched. In her last 86.1 innings pitched, dating back to last season, Piñon has allowed a total of 12 earned runs (0.97 ERA), with 84 strikeouts.

Kellie Fox: The junior leads the Pac-12 in three different offensive categories and is second in three more. She leads the conference in slugging percentage (.944), on-base percentage (.573) and total bases (85). She is second to teammate Chelsea Goodacre in RBI (45) and home runs (12), and second to teammate Hallie Wilson in runs scored (38).

Kenzie Fowler: Fowler has given up just 19 hits in 45.1 innings pitched this season. Her .130 opposing batting average ranks first in the Pac-12 and her 1.70 ERA ranks ninth in the league.

NEARING THE CENTURY MARK: Kenzie Fowler has 84 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 19-0 this season inside the friendly confines of Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium. Since its opening in 1993, Arizona has put up a 602-69 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 19 home dates, the Wildcats are averaging 2,135 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 third in the country in runs scored (256). Here is what Arizona has had out of each spot in the order:

1 - .396 avg, 8 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 35 RBI

2 - .378 avg, 2 2B, 2 HR, 12 RBI

3 - .440 avg, 5 2B, 2 3B, 12 HR, 45 RBI

4 - .316 avg, 6 2B, 10 HR, 44 RBI

5 - .434 avg, 9 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 33 RBI

6 - .287 avg, 5 2B, 6 HR, 25 RBI

7 - .333 avg, 4 2B, 7 HR, 24 RBI

8 - .359 avg, 8 2B, 5 HR, 25 RBI

9 - .318 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 .980 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 4-5 against the top 25, 2-4 against the top 10 and 2-4 against the top five. Since 1994, Arizona is 516-202-1 (.718) against ranked competition, 251-141 (.640) against top-10 teams and 122-97 (.557) against top-five teams.

THE K ZONE: In 817 at-bats this season, UA hitters have struck out just 111 times (13.5 percent of at-bats). On the other side of the ball, Arizona pitchers have struck out 196 batters in 200.1 innings pitched. Twenty-eight 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 .135 strikeout rate would be the best since 1995 when it posted a .100 strikeout rate. In the leadoff spot, Hallie Wilson has struck out just twice in 94 at-bats, making her the 14th hardest batter to strikeout in the country.

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 4-5 against ranked teams so far this season. The Pac-12 has three teams ranked in the top five in the latest USA Today/NFCA Top 25. Arizona will play two of those three series on the road this season, starting at second-ranked UCLA, plus a meeting with 5th-ranked Washington on the road in early May.

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 return home to take on No. 24 Stanford, April 4-6.

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