Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Cats Remain Undefeated, Head to Palm Springs
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: February 16, 2004
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Feb. 16, 2004

TUCSON - Cats At Palm Springs Classic

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Friday, Feb. 20	        Penn State-n	       10:30 a.m.
Friday, Feb. 20	        Georgia-n	       12:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 21	Alabama-n	       10:30 a.m.
Saturday, Feb. 21	CS-Fullerton-n	        3 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 22	        Boston College-n	9 a.m.

This Week - The No. 2-ranked Arizona softball team heads to California to compete in the Palm Springs Classic tournament. Oregon State is host for the tournament, featuring day-long action on multiple fields at the Big League Dreams Sports Complex in nearby Cathedral City. The Cats work to extend their season-opening 11-game winning streak and will play five games, including a date with No. 13 Cal State Fullerton on Saturday.

The Coach - Arizona's Mike Candrea carries a career record of 982-191 in 18 years at UA, but put it on hold this season while he's on partial leave to be head coach of the U.S. Olympic Team. The eight-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year is a member of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He has led Arizona to six national championships and seven Pac-10 titles. Candrea has led UA to 16 consecutive College World Series. He's in contact with his team and staff every week, and in Tucson frequently, but is focusing on the Olympic Team.

The U.S. Team will play a number of teams in exhibition games at the Palm Springs Classic, so Candrea should get a chance to watch his Wildcats up close this weekend. He might like what he sees.

The Coaches - Larry Ray (Idaho State '74) is 11-0 in his early tenure as acting head coach of the Wildcats. Including five seasons (four of competition) building a Florida program he has a career record of 180-106. His work with the Arizona program dates to 1986 and he was Candrea's top assistant for 10 years. Acting associate head coach Nancy Evans, a former Honda Award winner as a player, has been an assistant at UA since 1999.

Last Week - UA dominated its competition at the Fiesta Bowl Tournament, with an 8-1 victory over Texas A&M, 5-0 over Texas State, 19-0 over Dayton, 7-0 over Texas, 8-2 over Nevada and 10-1 over Western Michigan. Alicia Hollowell earned three victories and did not allow an earned run - nor has she in seven victories this year. Sophomore Leslie Wolfe pitched her first career no-hitter, against Dayton. Senior Wendy Allen struck out 11 in her shutout over Texas State. The Cats banged out 71 hits in the six games, led by Autumn Champion's 15 hits for a .750 average during the weekend. She scored nine runs. Meantime, leadoff hitter Caitlin Lowe hit .500 (11-for-22) with 10 runs scored. Jackie Coburn knocked three home runs to give her five for the year, including a grand slam against Dayton.

The Rankings - Arizona was ranked No. 2 in the preseason NFCA poll, and No. 3 in the ESPN/USA Softball poll. Feb. 11: 2/3. Feb. 18: TBA. UA has been ranked steadily since 1988 in the NFCA poll.

USA Softball Player of Year 'Watch List' - Three players have been named to the 'watch list' for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award, won in its inaugural season last year by Texas' Cat Osterman. Sophomore pitcher Alicia Hollowell, senior catcher Mackenzie Vandergeest and freshman outfielder Caitlin Lowe were among 15 Pac-10 players on the list, which will be trimmed to 25 on April 6, to 10 on April 28 and to three finalists on May 11.

Wildcat Softball Notes

Nice Start...Arizona has one-upped its season-opening winning streak over its 2003 season start, when it went 10-0 to open the year before falling to No. 12 Texas at the Fiesta Bowl. This year the Cats took care of Texas, 7-0 in the same tournament... UT is without its ace pitcher, Cat Osterman, who's taking a redshirt year as a member of the USA Olympic squad...

Hits Splurge...The hitting festival in Phoenix boosted UA's team batting average to .392, with a team slugging percentage of .645 led by Jackie Coburn's 1.040 mark...

Goin' Yard...The Cats banged out 12 homers in the Fiesta Bowl, to give them 20 in 11 games. Coburn leads the way with five, but eight other players have hit homers including four by Shelly Schultz... UA had two pinch-hit homers in one inning vs. Dayton, by Candace Abrams and Cortney Nix - and Caitlin Lowe also hit one that inning... That makes two or more home runs in the same inning six times this year -- against UNLV (Coburn and Caitlin Lowe), New Mexico (Mackenzie Vandergeest and Schultz), New Mexico (Coburn and Samantha Quintero), Dayton (Wendy Allen and Coburn), and Texas (Schultz and Coburn)... Nix' home run against Dayton was a leadoff shot, and Schultz and Abrams also have leadoff homers this year...

One-Sided...After outscoring the competition 57-4 in Phoenix last weekend, the Cats have posted an overall margin of 99-7 in their 11 games... That's an average of nine runs per game by the Cats...

Stop at Five...UA has five mercy-rule victories...

KKKKs... ...Alicia Hollowell has 87 strikeouts in 42.1 innings pitched this year and 481 in 55 career games, the No. 5 total in UA history. She could end up No. 4 by season's end, with her coach, Nancy Evans (733), ahead of her in that spot... Her career won-loss record: 47-5... She's allowed only three runs, all unearned, this year for a perfect 0.00 ERA... Hollowell has pitched three one-hitters -- twice against New Mexico and once against Texas

Ribbies...Shelly Schultz drove in 10 runs in the six Phoenix games, as did Wendy Allen. Allen leads the club with 19 RBI, while Schultz and Coburn have 15 apiece... Schultz tripled against Texas and leads the club with seven extra-base hits to six by Coburn...

More Ribbies...Mackenzie Vandergeest's 193 career RBI put her in the No. 7 spot on UA's chart, trailing Olympian Jennie Finch (195) in the No. 6 spot...

Thievery...The Cats have stolen 31 bases in 32 attempts, led by Caitlin Lowe and Autumn Champion with nine each in nine attempts. The duo at the top of the batting order have a combined 39 hits, are batting .514 and .625, respectively, and have scored 33 runs... The Cats' stolen base total already is as many as the 2002 Wildcats had in 67 games, and potentially would give UA a new season high if it continued the pace. The record is 136 by the 1998 Cats...

Hot at the Top...The 1-2-3 hitters in UA's lineup are each hitting over .500, with No. 3 hitter Wendy Allen checking in right on the mark. The next three in the batting order have knocked in 43 runs in the near-dozen games...

No-No...Leslie Wolfe's no-hitter against Dayton on Valentine's Day was UA's first since Hollowell blanked Minnesota on Feb. 15 a year ago... Wolfe and Wendy Allen each have won two games in the circle this year and hopefully can develop into viable options during Pac-10 play... Hollowell, though, appears to have her 'A' game going...

Boots ...UA is doing a nice job on defense -- a coach's primary concern. The Cats have only six errors in 257 chances for a .977 mark. Too, opponents have done a decent job of keeping games clean, with 16 errors... Of all the national statistical titles UA has won in recent years (the NCAA awards plaques for national leaders in various statistical categories every season), the ones that are most cherished by Mike Candrea (and Larry Ray) are the ones that show the Cats don't kick the ball around. Good defense and pitching in a tight game are the ultimate weapons...

Just Watching...All-American junior outfielder Courtney Fossatti will take a medical redshirt season in 2004 while rehabilitating after off-season ankle surgery. She hit .327 as a sophomore, batting in the No. 2 spot in the lineup...

Probable Lineup - Caitlin Lowe-cf, Autumn Champion-lf, Wendy Allen-dh/1b, Mackenzie Vandergeest-c, Shelly Schultz-1b/2b, Jackie Coburn-3b, Kristie Fox-ss, Samantha Quintero-2b, Crystal Farley/Candace Abrams-rf, Alicia Hollowell-p. Reserves: Leslie Wolfe-p, Allyson Von Liechtenstein-ph/of, Erin Palomarez-ph/1b, Cortney Nix-pr, Jennifer Martinez-ph/inf, Betsy Wilson-pr/ph, Annalyn Hollingsworth-ph/pr.

On Deck: After the Palm Springs Classic, Arizona will play host to the Worth Wildcat Invitational at Hillenbrand Stadium Feb. 27-29. UA will face Boston University, Stanford, Oklahoma State and South Florida, plus one additional game.