Arizona finished the year 59-9 overall and 16-4 for second place in Pacific-10 Conference play. The Cats won an NCAA Regional championship for the 13th consecutive season, thereby appearing in their 13th consecutive College World Series. The NCAA Tournament appearance was the 14th consecutive. Arizona finished in a tie for third at the WCWS with a 2-2 record. The Cats were eliminated by eventual national champion Oklahoma, only the second non-Pac-10 team to win the title since 1987 (Fresno State in 1998 was the other).
Regional Champs Mark
UA finished 4-0 in NCAA Region 2 play in Tucson to win its 13th 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 second time since 1990, Arizona did not make it to the NCAA Championship title game. The Cats lost their first-round College World Series game (1-0 vs, Southern Mississippi), the victims of a perfect game thrown by USM All-American Courtney Blades. Arizona rebounded to eliminate California (6-0) and Washington (4-2), then came up short in a semifinal match against Oklahoma (1-0). Arizona won five NCAA Championships in the 1990s (1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997) and lost out on its first try of the new millennium.
Arizona won 50 games for the 10th time in school history and the 10th time in coach Mike Candrea's 15 seasons as head coach. Arizona's highest victories total was a then 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. The 59 victories this year were the fifth-highest total in school history. Arizona's winning percentage was .868.
Pac-10 Flavor to NCAAs in 1999
All eight conference teams earned bids to the NCAA Championships for the second consecutive year and were sent to eight different sites per NCAA requirement. Four of them reached the Women's College World Series -- Arizona, national runner-up UCLA, Washington and California. Every single Pac-10 game played for the last two seasons matched ranked opponents who later appeared in the NCAA Tournament. Here are the final Pac-10 standings:
In 2000, the Pac-10 switched from league doubleheaders and a 28- game schedule to a 21-game schedule featuring three games per weekend (one at one road partner, and successive games at the other team's venue). Arizona lost a Friday road game to rain at Oregon State and therefore missed a chance at a tie for the league championship.
1. Washington 17-4 62-9 2. Arizona 16-4 59-9 3. UCLA 14-7 46-12-1 4. Stanford 9-12 45-18 5. Arizona St. 8-13 43-20 6. Oregon St. 7-13 40-21-1 7. California 6-14 49-25 8. Oregon 6-15 36-29
All NCAA-Tournament Honors
UA placed seven players on the All-Region 2 Team - Most Outstanding Player Jennie Finch, left fielder Lauren Bauer, center fielder Nicole Giordano, second baseman Katie Swan, pitcher Becky Lemke, third baseman Toni Mascarenas and catcher Lindsey Collins.
Five Arizona players earned National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America honors and were cited at the annual College World Series banquet in Oklahoma City May 24. Pitcher/1st baseman Jennie Finch earned first-team honors as an at-large selection, third baseman Toni Mascarenas and outfielders Lauren Bauer and Nicole Giordano earned second-team selection, and catcher Lindsey Collins was a third-team pick. Arizona has had 54 All-America honor winners in the 19 years of NCAA Division I softball history. UA coach Mike Candrea has coached 54 of those players.
Arizona appeared in its 13th consecutive College World Series and 14th consecutive NCAA tournament under coach Mike Candrea, the top active Division I winning coach. 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, 1999 and in 2000.
Arizona's Record in NCAA Play
Arizona has a 74-22 overall record in NCAA Tournament games.
Arizona is 38-5 in NCAA Regional games.
Arizona is 36-17 in NCAA College World Series games.
Arizona has played in Regionals in the state of Arizona all but one year in its 15 tournament appearances.
Arizona Coach Mike Candrea
Arizona's mentor made his 14th consecutive foray into post-season play and took an Arizona club to the Women's College World Series for the 13th consecutive year. That's in 15 years as UA's head coach.
His overall record is 806-168, a winning percentage of .830.
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 nine Pacific-10 Conference titles (1992, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998) and finished second the other four years. This year's team lost a rain date or otherwise might have tied Washington for the title (UA: 16-4; UW: 17-4).
Candrea won his 800th game late in the year, only the eighth NCAA softball coach in history to do so.
He was honored in May as Pac-10 Co-Coach of the Year, his sixth league citation since it began play in 1987. His Division I winning percentage (.830) is No. 2 all time and No. 1 among active coaches.
0 Three times he has been named National Coach of the Year (NFCA '94, '96, '97). In all, during his career he has won 14 conference, regional or national coaching honors. 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 in the top five in the NCAA record book at the conclusion of those seasons and the 66-6 mark in 1995 were the most victories to that date.
His players have earned 54 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 from 1991 through 1998 when that remarkable streak was broken at the CWS. The 2000 club finished tied for third.
Strength of Schedule
In all, Arizona played 44 games in 2000 against teams picked for (or that played in) the NCAA Tournament and was 36-8. Including NCAA play UA recorded a 31-8 record against ranked teams.
College World Series History
Only five different teams have won 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. Oklahoma beat defending champion UCLA in 2000. Arizona has won five titles in the 17-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 placed six players on the 2000 All-Pacific-10 Conference team. First-team selections were junior outfielder Nicole Giordano and sophomore pitcher/first baseman Jennie Finch. Second-team picks were junior shortstop Allison Andrade, junior pitcher Becky Lemke, junior third baseman Toni Mascarenas and senior second baseman Katie Swan. Honorable mention honors went to junior outfielder Lauren Bauer and junior catcher Lindsey Collins. Arizona had five players earn Pac-10 weekly honors -- Jennie Finch (2/22) and Lauren Bauer (5/8) as Player of the Week, and Finch (2/29 and 5/8) and Becky Lemke (2/15) as Pitcher of the Week. Senior outfielder Chrissy Gil earned second-team Academic All-Pac-10 honors for her 3.13 performance in retail consumer studies.
All Pacific Region
Five UA players earned All-Pacific-Region honors. First-team picks were pitcher Jennie Finch, third baseman Toni Mascarenas, catcher Lindsey Collins and outfielder Nicole Giordano. Outfielder Lauren Bauer earned second-team all-region honors. Bauer (1998-1st team, 199-2nd), Giordano (1999-2nd) and Mascarenas (1998-1st) were repeaters.
Arizona Home Softball Attendance
Arizona drew well at home in 2000. The team attracted 34,581 fans for 26 dates, an average of 1,330. The all-time average is 1,592 (1997). The largest crowd in 2000 was 2,329 for the Washington game May 5. That's the fifth-largest crowd in Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium history. The Cats drew 6,957 for four NCAA dates May 18-21.
Final NFCA Top 10 1. Oklahoma 66-8 6. Alabama 66-14 2. UCLA 46-12-1 7. California 49-25 3. Arizona 59-9 8. DePaul 40-22 4. Southern Miss 63-13 9. LSU 59-12 5. Washington 61-9 10. Arizona State 43-20 10. Fresno State 54-14
Arizona's Usual 2000 Lineup Lauren Bauer-lf Nicole Giordano-cf Katie Swan-2b Toni Mascarenas-3b Lindsey Collins-c Jennie Finch-1b/p Chrissy Gil-rf Allison Andrade, ss Erika Hanson-dp/1b Becky Lemke-p Off-the bench: Lindsey Robinson-pr, Lisha Ribellia-ph/pr, Teresa Ayoub-ph, Lindsey Rice-ph.. Redshirted: Leneah Manuma-1b/dp.
Arizona had a nice one - 34 games -- following a loss to Washington the first week of the year and ending with a loss to Washington at the Kia Klassic title game in Fullerton, Calif. Arizona concluded the regular season with a 14-game winning streak but lost in the opening round of the Women's College World Series.
Prospects for 2001
Arizona will be back in 2001 and should be expended to again contend for national prominence.
The Cats lose second baseman Katie Swan and right fielder Chrissy Gil, plus reserve outfielder/pinch runner Lindsay Robinson.
Arizona will return eight starters in 2001 -- Bauer (lf), Giordano (cf), Mascarenas (3b), Collins (c), Finch (1b/p), Andrade (ss), Hanson (1b/dh) and Lemke (p). Seven of those will be seniors. Additionally, slugging designated player/first baseman Leneah Manuma, a freshman slugger who redshirted because of knee surgery prior to the season, and letter winning infielders Lisha Ribellia and Lindsey Rice, and pitcher Teresa Ayoub, return. Incoming recruits include three outstanding prep stars -- right-handed pitcher Jenny Gladding of Martin County High School, Stuart, Fla.; Mackenzie Vandergeest, a catcher, third baseman or outfielder from La Reina High School, Thousand Oaks, Calif.; and pitcher/outfielder Kim Balkan of Ruben Ayala High School, Chino Hills, Calif. Arizona, which led the nation in team hitting, should be a better hitting team in 2001, and will have an upperclass pitching staff with College World Series experience, plus returns players who combined to steal 75 bases.
Arizona 1999 Notes
...Arizona hit .342 in the regular season, then hit .230 at the World Series to finish with an overall figure of .336. Basically that's what all teams do at the national finals, but it hurt the Cats' typical explosive nature... And it mor or less wasted the Lemke/Finch earned run average of 1.00 in Oklahoma City...
...Lemke and Finch each tossed three no-hitters in 2000 -- Lemke vs Southern Mississippi in the season opener, Finch vs. Tennessee Tech on Feb. 18, Finch vs. Drake on Feb. 25, Lemke vs. Brigham Young on March 11, Lemke vs. Middle Tennessee State in the NCAA regional opener, and Finch against Nebraska in the NCAA Regional final...
...After a 1999 season when only two players hit above .300, the Wildcats did a much better job in 2000, with seven regulars hitting above the mark including Nicole Giordano's team-best .436, the 10th best season average in UA history... One big key was the hitting of junior transfer shortstop Allison Andrade, who chipped in a .335 average, plus scored 40 runs and drove in 53, hitting mostly in the No. 8 spot in the batting order. She had 14 doubles and 11 home runs, too, and added considerable punch to the infield's hitting. Jennie Finch improved her batting average to .335 and tied for the team lead with 16 home runs...
...Becky Lemke broke the Arizona season strikeouts record and finished with 314, topping Susie Parra's mark of 256 in 1993 when Susie was 28-3. Lemke's 30-victory season was only the 10th time an Arizona pitcher has won that many games in a year. She improved her career mark to 84-19, the fourth-highest victory total on the Wildcat charts...
...Bauer stole 38 bases in 40 attempts to lead the club for the second year. She has 95 career thefts, but stayed in the No. 4 spot on the UA career chart...
...UA's fielding percentage of .977 was among the nation's best. Oddly, Arizona made six errors at the College World Series, however, and one of them led to the unearned run in UA's opening-round loss... The .977 figure, however, is the fourth best season team fielding percentage in Arizona's Division I history...
...Arizona was No. 2 in the rankings all season, then NFCA coaches were polled after the WCWS for the first time and the Cats finished No. 3 behind NCAA champion Oklahoma and runner-up UCLA...