Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Cats Win 12th Straight Regional In 1999
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: June 07, 1999
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Arizona Softball 1999 Season Wrap-up

The Season
Arizona finished the year 53-16 overall and 19-9 for second place in Pacific-10 Conference play. The Cats won an NCAA Regional championship for the 12 consecutive season, thereby appearing in their 12th consecutive College World Series. The NCAA Tournament appearance was the 13th consecutive.

Regional Champs Mark
UA finished 5-1 in NCAA Region 2 play in Tucson to win its 12th consecutive NCAA Regional and advance to the CWS, the longest active streak of appearances. UCLA has the overall high mark (15, ended in 1998).

No Title Game
For the first time since 1990, Arizona did not make it to the NCAA Championship title game. The Cats won their first-round College World Series game (3-0 vs. California), but lost its next two contests, 3-0 to Washington and 1-0 to DePaul, to be bumped from the tournament short of the title game. Arizona won five NCAA Championships in the 1990s (1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997) but lost out on its final try of the millennium.

Nifty 50
Arizona won 50 games for the ninth time in school history and the ninth time in coach Mike Candrea's 14 seasons as head coach. Arizona's highest victories total was an NCAA-record 67-4 mark in 1998. Candrea also has three other 60+ seasons 66-6 in 1995, 64-3 in 1994 and 61-5 in 1997.

Pac-10 Flavor to NCAAs in 1999
All eight conference teams, perhaps unprecedented in Division I NCAA competition, earned bids to the NCAA Championships and were sent to eight different sites as per NCAA requirement. Five of them reached the Women's College World Series -- Arizona, eventual champion UCLA, national runner-up Washington, Arizona State and California. Every single Pac-10 game played in 1999 matched ranked opponents who later appeared in the NCAA Tournament. Here are the final Pac-10 standings:

  1. UCLA 22-6
  2. Arizona 19-9
  3. Washington 15-12
  4. Oregon State 14-14
  5. California 13-14
  6. Oregon 10-18
    Stanford 10-18
  7. Arizona State 8-20

All NCAA Region 2 Honors
UA placed five players on the All-Region 2 Team Most Outstanding Player Jennie Finch, who pitched a no- hitter, one-hitter and two-hitter; left fielder Lauren Bauer, center fielder Nicole Giordano, second baseman Katie Swan and pitcher Becky Lemke. The latter pitched a one-hitter in the regional title game.

All-America Honors
Three sophomore Arizona players earned All-America honors and were cited at the annual College World Series banquet in Oklahoma City May 26. Outfielders Lauren Bauer and Nicole Giordano and pitcher Becky Lemke each were named to the NFCA third-team All-America squad. Arizona has had 50 All-America honor winners in the 18 years of NCAA Division I softball history. UA coach Mike Candrea has coached 49 of those players.

Post-season Habit
Arizona appearing in its 12th consecutive College World Series and 13th consecutive NCAA tournament under coach Mike Candrea, one of the top Division I winning coaches in history. Additionally, Arizona also played in the 1974 and 1975 College World Series of the former Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women under coach Judy Spray and in 1977 and 1979 under coach Ginny Parrish. Arizona was a regional host in 1988, 1990, 1992-95,1997, 1998 and this year.

Arizona's Record in NCAA Play
Arizona has a 68-20 overall record in NCAA Tournament games.
Arizona is 34-5 in NCAA Regional games.
Arizona is 34-15 in NCAA College World Series games.
Arizona has played in Regionals in the state of Arizona all but one year in its 14 tournament appearances.

Arizona Coach Mike Candrea
Possibly the best of Mike Candrea's coaching jobs at Arizona was this year, despite the eventual bad taste left from defeat at the College World Series.

The club lost the country's best pitcher/player, the career NCAA home run leader, the NCAA career hits and runs leader, another storied slugger who won first-team All-America honors at four different positions and a senior pinch- hitter/defensive replacement who didn't make an error in three years. Then, early in the year, UA lost its only senior starter, shortstop Michelle Churnock.

But Candrea took a sophomore laden group and won 53 games. More importantly, he took the Wildcats back to the College World Series for the reigning best streak of 12 consecutive times.

He led UA to NCAA Championships five times in the 1990s (1991, '93, '94, '96, '97) and his teams have won five of the past eight Pacific-10 Conference titles (1992, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998) and finished second the other three years.

Candrea became the eighth Division I coach in history to win 700 games earlier this season.

After 14 seasons at Arizona, Candrea carries a record of 747-159, a winning performance of .825. That Division I winning percentage is No. 1 among active coaches.

Three times he has been named National Coach of the Year (NFCA '94, '96, '97).

He was elected to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1996. His teams' 67 victories in 1998, 66 victories in 1994 and 64 victories in 1995 were Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in the NCAA record book entering 1999. His players have earned 49 All-America playing honors and six Academic All-America honors, plus he has coached three players to the Honda Softball Award as the national player of the year.

His average yearly record to date: 53-11.

The Cats played in the NCAA Championship game in eight of the last 10 seasons.

Strength of Schedule
In all, Arizona played 53 games in 1999 against teams picked for the NCAA Tournament and was 40-13. Including NCAA play UA recorded a 34-15 record against ranked teams.

College World Series History
Arizona or UCLA have won 11 of the last 12 NCAA titles. In 1987 Texas A&M won in the first year Arizona began play in the Pac-10 Conference. Fresno State broke the Pac-10's grip on the crown by beating Arizona in the title game in 1998. Arizona has won five titles in the 16-year history of the Women's College World Series (1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997). UCLA won the title eight times since softball became a Division I championships sport in 1982 (1982, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1999). Texas A&M won twice (1983, 1987). Cal State Fullerton won once (1986). UCLA was made to vacate its 1995 championship because of NCAA violations.

Arizona in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association/USA Today poll
Arizona was No. 2 in the pre-season poll and for a number of weeks, then No. 3 throughout the rest of the year. Arizona has been in the national rankings every single period since 1990.

All-Pacific-10 Conference
Arizona placed four players on the 1999 All-Pac-10 team. First-team picks were sophomore outfielders Lauren Bauer and Nicole Giordano. Sophomore pitcher Becky Lemke and sophomore third baseman Toni Mascarenas earned second-team selection. UA players receiving honorable mention were sophomore catcher Lindsey Collins, freshman pitcher/infielder Jennie Finch and junior outfielder Chrissy Gil.

Junior right fielder Chrissy Gil earned second-team Academic All-Pac-10 honors for her 3.13 performance in retail consumer studies.

All Pacific Region
Sophomore outfielders Lauren Bauer and Nicole Giordano earned second-team All-Pacific Region honors.

Arizona Home Softball Attendance
Arizona drew well at home in 1999. The team averaged attracted 28,189 fans for 21 dates, an average of 1,342. Its all-time average was 1,592 in 1997. The largest crowd in 1999 was 2,746 for a UCLA doubleheader May 7. That's the second-largest crowd in Hillenbrand Stadium history. The Cats drew 5,756 for four NCAA Region 2 dates. Six of the top 40 crowds in Rita Hillenbrand Stadium history watched games in 1999.

Arizona's Usual 1999 Lineup
Nicole Giordano-cf
Lauren Bauer-lf
Toni Mascarenas-3b
Lindsey Collins-c
Jennie Finch-1b/p
Felecity Willis-ss
Chrissy Gil-rf
Katie Swan-2b
Erika Hanson-dp/1b
Becky Lemke-p
Off-the bench: Teresa Ayoub-ph, Lindsay Robinson-pr, Teresa Acuna-pr, Meghann Pricer/Ayoub-p, Amy Baray-3b

Winning Streaks
Arizona had nice one 15 -- then faced Pac-10 competition: 28 games against teams ranked in the Top 20. It showed in the Cats' 19-9 league mark.

Arizona 1999 Notes
...Lauren Bauer takes a 13-game hitting streak into the 2000 season. It was the Cats' best streak during the year. Bauer hit. 593 in the NCAA Tournament with 16 hits in 27 at bats...

...The Cats hit .363 in the NCAA Regional to raise the team batting average eight points to .308, then fizzled with eight hits in 66 at bats at the College World Series (.121) to complete the year with a .301 team batting average, the lowest since the 1990 team hit .271...

...Arizona had 44 home runs in 1999, the No. 6 team total in 18 years of Division I play. The school record is 100 by the 1995 Wildcats...

...Bauer at .423 and Nicole Giordano at .396 were the only Arizona regulars to hit above .300 in 1999

...Senior shortstop Michelle Churnock (.400) had 16 hits early in the year before a broken leg in February pretty much ended her season. She had two pinch-hit appearances the final week of the regular season and in NCAA Regional play. Pinch- hitter Teresa Ayoub (4-for-11, .364) and reserve third baseman Amy Baray (5-for-11, .375) also hit above the .300 mark...

...Soph pitcher Becky Lemke posted a 29-8 record with an ERA of 1.21. That's No. 10 on the UA single-season victories chart. Her 54-10 career mark is No. 7. She struck out 237 batters in 1999, No. 6 on the chart, and her career total of 398 is No. 3 behind former UA Honda Softball Award winners Susie Parra (874) and Nancy Evans (733)...

...Bauer stole 43 bases in 45 attempts to lead the club and help pace the team to 125 successful thefts in 138 tries. The total is the second highest in UA history behind the 136-149 effort by the 1998 team...

...UA's fielding percentage of .963 is No. 9 in its 18 years of Division I play -- basically average by its own usual high standards. The team gave up 33 unearned runs, about one every two games. In NCAA Region 2 play, Maryland scored five unearned runs in the top of the seventh inning to put UA in the loser's bracket, though the Cats came back and whipped the Terrapins twice the next day...