Friday, March 31 Oregon 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 1 Oregon State 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 2 Oregon State 1:00 p.m.
The second-ranked Arizona softball team (35-2) returns home for the first time in two weeks to face New Mexico State (16-18) in a doubleheader Tuesday, March 28 at 6:00 p.m. The Cats will then open Pac-10 play by playing host to No. 23 Oregon (23-11), Fri., March 31 at 6:00 p.m. and 12th-ranked Oregon State (27-7-1) Sat., April 1 at 6:00 p.m. and Sun., April 2 at 1:00 p.m. All games will be held at Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium on the UA campus.
New Pac-10 Format
This weekend, Arizona will get its first taste of the new single-game league format against Oregon and Oregon State. The league voted in the off-season to drop the 28-game home-and-home doubleheader series which had been in effect since the early 1990s and move instead to a 21-game schedule featuring single games. On its later road trip to the state of Oregon the Cats will play Oregon State once and Oregon twice.
Arizona softball season tickets are available through the McKale Center Ticket Office (520-621-2287) at varying prices for seat locations, with discounts for children and seniors. Single-game tickets are sold at McKale and at the stadium box office on game days.
Spring Break in California: Coach Mike Candrea gave his players three days off last week after they played on the road in California through spring break. The Cats spent their vacation extending their winning streak to 34 games before losing to top-ranked Washington for the second time this season in the championship game of the Kia Klassic. Arizona swept a doubleheader at No. 7 Fresno State on Tues., March 14, beating the Bulldogs 2-0 and 3-1 with a two-hitter by Becky Lemke and a 10-inning effort by Jennie Finch, respectively. At the Kia Klassic March 16-19 on the Cal State Fullerton campus, Arizona swept through pool play in beating Louisiana-Monroe, 3-1, host and No. 9 Fullerton, 6-0, and No. 22 Hawai'i, 1-0. Lemke threw a one-hitter against Fullerton. Lauren Bauer's eighth-inning single drove in pinch-runner Lisha Ribellia in the close shutout against Hawai'i. In elimination rounds, the Wildcats beat Nevada-Las Vegas, 4-0, behind an RBI single by Toni Mascarenas, a two-run single by Bauer and a run-scoring hit by Finch, who two-hit the Rebels. That afternoon, Lemke came back with a one-hitter against Cal State Northridge, striking out 10 in a 6-0 victory. UA beat an unheralded but strong 18-5 Notre Dame team in the semi-final game, 6-3. Lindsey Collins and Chrissy Gil each hit three-run home runs to pace Arizona. Finally, the top-ranked Huskies proved their ranking in the Kia title game, beating Arizona, 6-1, as the Cats stranded eight runners. UW tagged Lemke with her second loss of the season and broke UA's 34-game winning streak dating to a 1-0 loss to UW at the Arizona Softball Classic in February.
National Fastpitch Coaches Association Poll
Arizona was ranked second in last week's NFCA coaches poll released Wed., March 22. Pac-10 schools occupy the top five spots in the rankings. The poll is available online at www.nfca.org. Arizona has been in the national rankings every single period since 1990.
Pac-10 Preseason Poll
UCLA was picked to finish first in the conference by the coaches in their preseason poll. The Bruins received 47 points, including five first-place votes, while Washington picked up three first-place nods to go with 44 total points. Arizona was projected to finish third and received 38 points. The Cats were followed by Arizona State, Stanford, Oregon State, California and Oregon. Washington (36-3) has the best record entering Pac-10 play followed closely by Arizona (35-2). UCLA is 25-5.
Swinging for the Fences
This Arizona squad has upheld the Wildcat tradition of socking balls out of the yard as seven Cats have hit the long ball this season. Jennie Finch leads the team with 14 home runs, while Lindsey Collins (9) is second on the team. Alison Andrade (6), Toni Mascarenas (3), Chrissy Gil (3), Lauren Bauer (2) and Nicole Giordano (1) have each joined the fun for a team total of 38.
Toni Mascarenas hit four consecutive doubles during the Hillenbrand Classic earlier this month, including three against Indiana. She finished with six doubles in five games and has eight on the season. However, Alison Andrade still leads the team with 11 doubles and Lauren Bauer has seven. The Cats have a team total of 55 doubles, which is on pace to challenge the school season record of 111 set by the 1995 squad.
Notes from Left Field
In 37 games, the Wildcats have 362 hits for a team batting average of .370 and have outscored the opposition, 266-24... Of their 37 games, the Cats have mercy-ruled their opponents 18 times, with 14 of those games ending after five innings... Arizona played its first extra-inning games of the season during its last road trip. The Cats took 10 innings to edge out Fresno State in the second game of their doubleheader, 3-1, then played eight innnings in a 1-0 win over Hawai'i... Junior Nicole Giordano leads the team with a .484 average with a team-high 59 hits and 35 runs scored... Junior Alison Andrade has 36 hits on the season, almost half of which (17) have been for extra bases. Andrade is batting .500 (20-for40) with runners in scoring position... Arizona has a team average of .562 (68-121) with a runner on third and less than two outs...
Armed and Dangerous
Arizona's pitchers have dominated the opposition in recent years and this season is no exception... Junior Becky Lemke and sophomore Jennie Finch have combined to allow just 19 earned runs in 229 innings spanning 37 games...They have combined to pitch four no-hitters on the season (two apiece). The last time a pair of Arizona pitchers threw no-hitters in the same season was when Carrie Dolan and Nancy Evans each threw two during the 1995 season... Finch has an ERA of 0.51, while Lemke has a 0.64 ERA... Lemke struck out a school-record 19 batters in recording her second no-hitter of the season on March 11 against BYU... Lemke has 191 strikeouts on the season to give her 589 for her career. She remains third on the all-time list behind Evans (733)... She is fourth on the UA all-time victories list with a 73-12 record in two-and-a-half seasons... Only two teams have managed more than two runs off either of them. Finch gave up three runs to Notre Dame in the semifinals of the Kia Klassic and Lemke allowed six runs in the championship game loss to Washington... They are allowing a combined average of 0.58 earned runs per game and 3.06 hits (based on seven-inning games), but each of them only averages around six innings pitched per game.
Do Unto Others...
Jennie Finch has managed to do to opposing pitchers what opposing batters have been unable to do to her - get big hits. Finch leads the team with 14 home runs and has 38 RBI... Add that to her pitching totals and she does pretty much everything but sweep the infield between games... She threw two no-hitters within a week of each other (vs. Tennessee Tech on 2/18 and vs. Drake on 2/25) and the latter was her first career perfect game... She also has three one-hitters on the season.
Pac-10 Weekly Honors
Finch was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week for Feb. 23-29 for her performance at the Bama Bash. It was her second honor of the year. She was also named the Player of the Week Feb. 29 after hitting .643 (9-for-14), including 12 RBI, four home runs, and nine runs scored at the Wildcat Invitational... Additionally, Becky Lemke won Pitcher of the Week honors Feb. 15 for her performance at the Fiesta Bowl Classic, where she had a 3-0 decision over then-No. 3 Fresno State.
Arizona Coach Mike Candrea
In his 15th season at Arizona, Candrea carries a record of 766-160 (.826). He is the active and all-time winningest Division I coach by percentage and in the top 10 in victories. Last season, Candrea became the eighth Division I coach in history to win 700 games. His players have earned 49 All-America honors and six Academic All-America honors, plus he has coached three players to the Honda Softball Award as national player of the year. He has taken the Wildcats to the College World Series the past 12 consecutive years and has reached the NCAA Championship game in eight of the last 10 seasons.
Cats Depth Chart p B. Lemke, J. Finch c Lindsey Collins 1b Jennie Finch, Erika Hanson, Leneah Manuma (inj.) 2b Katie Swan ss Allison Andrade, April Richardson, Lisha Ribellia 3b Toni Mascarenas, Lindsey Rice lf Lauren Bauer, Lindsay Robinson cf Chrissy Gil rf Nicole Giordano dp Jennie Finch, Erika Hanson, Teresa Ayoub