Feb. 8, 2012
THE GAMES Date Opponent Time Location Thursday, Feb. 9 McNeese State 4:30 p.m. Tempe Sports Complex Friday, Feb. 10 Georgia Tech 2 p.m. Tempe Sports Complex Friday, Feb. 10 Nebraska 4:30 p.m. Tempe Sports Complex Friday, Feb. 11 Syracuse 1:30 p.m. Tempe Sports Complex Friday, Feb. 11 Texas A&M 4 p.m. Tempe Sports Complex Friday, Feb. 12 Cal State Northridge 11 a.m. ASU Farrington Stadium
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Kajikawa Classic All-Time Record:
First Trip: Last Year:
- This marks the sixth consecutive season that the Wildcats will begin their season at the Kajikawa Classic.
- Arizona met both Nebraska and Texas A&M in the 2011 Kajikawa Classic, beating both opponents, 6-1 and 6-3, respectively.
- This will be the first ever meeting between Arizona and Syracuse and the first of two this season. Arizona and Syracuse meet again at the Cathedral City Classic, Feb. 25.
- Arizona's starting lineup will likely include four newcomers (three of whom are freshmen).
- The Wildcats lost 47% of the 2011 team's runs scored, 44% of its hits, 41% of the home runs and 40% of the team's runs batted in.
- 2011 marked the second season since 1987 that Arizona failed to reach the Women's College World Series. The other season, 2004, Larry Ray was the interim head coach while Mike Candrea coached the United States to a gold medal at the Olympics.
- Karissa Buchanan ended 2011 on an eight-game hitting streak.
- Arizona led the conference with 83 doubles in 2011. 23 came off the bat of Brigette Del Ponte, a Wildcat season record.
- Arizona's preseason No. 8 ranking marks the 24th consecutive preseason top-10 ranking.
McNeese State: The Cowgirls (0-0) finished 2011 31-29 and 18-12 in the Southland Conference, good for fourth in the conference. McNeese State welcomes new Head Coach Mike Smith, who led NAIA California Baptist to seven straight conference titles and and 2009 NAIA National Championship. Sophomore Alanna DiVittorio returns her .393 batting average, eight home runs and 30 RBI to lead the team's offense. Series History: Arizona (5-0) // First Meeting: 1995 // Last Meeting: 2/24/2001; Arizona 13, McNeese State 1 (5 innings); Hillenbrand (Arizona Classic)
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets (0-0) are unranked in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Preseason Poll ranked 23rd in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25. Georgia Tech finished 2011 45-12 and 18-2 in the ACC. All-American Kelsi Weseman returns to spearhead an offensive attack that produced 349 runs a season ago. Weseman hit .424 with 21 home runs and an insane .968 slugging percentage. Series History: Arizona (2-0) // First Meeting: 2000 // Last Meeting: 3/6/2004; Arizona 2, Georgia Tech 0; Hillenbrand (Hillenbrand Invitational)
Nebraska: The Cornhuskers (0-0) are ranked 21st/T20th. Nebraska is coming off a 41-14 season (9-9 Big 12, sixth) in which it reached an NCAA Regional Final. Head Coach Rhonda Revelle is in her 20th season at the helm of the program and carries a 729-401 career record. The teams' meet for the second consecutive season at the Kajikawa Classic. Series History: Arizona (13-2) // First Meeting: 1983 // Last Meeting: 2/11/11; Arizona 6, Nebraska 1; Tempe, Ariz. (Kajikawa Classic)
Syracuse: The Orange (0-0) are unranked in both polls. Syracuse returns seven starters from the 2011 Big East Champins, a club that finished 45-13 and 15-5 in the conference. Leigh Ross, now in her sixth year as the team's head coach, is 149-123 in her career. Jenna Caira, a 35-game winner from a year ago, is the team's top returner; her 2011 ERA was 1.51 in 283.1 innings pitched. Series History: N/A // First Meeting: N/A // Last Meeting: N/A
Texas A&M: The Aggies (0-0) are ranked 17th/15th. Texas A&M finished 2011 44-15 (13-5, third) and reached the NCAA Super Regional. Head Coach Jo Evans has a 589-286-2 record in 15 seasons with the Aggies. Former Wildcat Lindsey Sisk is Texas A&M's No. 2 returning pitcher. The two clubs met in last year's Kajikawa Classic as well. Series History: Arizona (25-11) // First Meeting: 1982 // Last Meeting: 2/12/11; Arizona 6, Texas A&M 3; Tempe, Ariz. (Kajikawa Classic)
Cal State Northridge: The Matadors (0-0) are unranked in both polls. CSUN is coming off a 22-31 season and a fifth-place, 10-11 finish in the Big West. Head Coach Tairia Flowers is in her second year with the club. The Cats and the Matadors met last season, with Arizona sweeping the three-game series, outscoring CSUN 34-6. Top returner Jaci Carlsen hit .327 with 22 extra-base hits and stole 19 bases a season ago. Series History: Arizona (24-6) // First Meeting: 1982 // Last Meeting: 3/27/11; Arizona 16, Cal State Northridge 5 (5 innings); Hillenbrand
HEAD COACH Mike Candrea: Arizona head coach Mike Candrea is in his 27th year at the helm of the Arizona softball program with a career record of 1,272-277-2 (.821). 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 twice in the last 24 years (2004, 2011). In 2010, Candrea became the fastest coach in NCAA Division I softball to earn 1,200 wins, and, providing the squad wins 28 games this season, he will be the fastest to 1,300. Under Candrea, Arizona has a spectacular postseason record of 148-43. An even 50 All-Americans with a staggering 90 total citations have played in the program since Candrea took over.
THE RANKINGS: Arizona is ranked eighth in both the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Preseason Poll and the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25. It marks the 24th-straight year that Arizona has been preseason top-10. The Wildcats finished 2011 ranked 11th in both rankings.
LAST TIME OUT: The Wildcats hosted Oklahoma in the NCAA Super Regional May 28 and 29, 2011 with a trip to the Women's College World Series on the line. Oklahoma swept the series 5-2 and 6-0, ending Arizona's season shy of the WCWS for the second time in 24 years.
LAST YEAR AT THE KAJIKAWA CLASSIC: Arizona began the 2011 season at the Kajikawa Classic and brought its preseason No. 1 ranking along with it. The Cats went 5-1 in the six games, beating Indiana 4-0, Nebraska 6-1, Utah 8-3, Texas A&M 6-3 and Cal Poly 14-0 (5). However, Arizona was beat 11-1 in five innings by Oklahoma, a sign of things to come as Arizona would go on to beat up on lesser competition all year, but struggle mightily with top-tier competition. On the season Arizona was 11-17 against ranked opponents and 32-1 against unranked foes. The Wildcats outscored the opposition 339-79 in their 43 wins and were outscored 117-36 in their 18 losses
Chelsea Goodacre: The freshman made an immediate impact with her bat in the fall, hitting .652 in eight fall games. Goodacre led the team with 18 RBI, five home runs, 35 total bases, 15 runs scored, and a slugging percentage of 1.522.
Kenzie Fowler: K-Fowl posted a K/BB ratio of 42/4 in 26 innings pitched in the fall. Fowler, who went 2-0, had an ERA of 1.04 and limited batters to a .115 batting average.
Shelby Babcock: Arguably, Babcock compiled a better fall season than the ace Folwer. Despite less impressive strikeout numbers (20 Ks in 20 IP), Babcock bettered her elder in nearly every category. Babcock went 5-0 and finished with a 0.90 ERA while limiting batters to a .077 average. Fowler scattered as many extra-base hits as Babcock allowed total hits, five, albeit in six fewer innings.
Baillie Kirker: The junior led the team in batting average, hitting in eight of her 12 at-bats, .667. Half of Kirker's hits went for extra bases, two doubles and two homers, helping her to a 1.333 slugging percentage. Kirker's 10 RBI were fourth on the team despite seeing far fewer at-bats.
Brigette Del Ponte: BDP collected 16 RBI while slugging 1.130 in the fall season. Del Ponte, who set the Arizona season record with 23 doubles in 2011, hit four doubles to go along with three home runs.
A FAMILIAR BEGINNING: This year marks the sixth consecutive season (and eighth overall) Arizona has begun its season in Tempe for the Kajikawa Classic. Arizona is 28-7 in the ASU's tournament when starting the season there. Overall, the Wildcats are making their 25th trip to the tournament, formally known by the ASU Invitational, Coca Cola Classic and Fiesta Bowl Classic. The Wildcats carry an overall record of 105-15 in the event.
2011 AT A GLANCE: 2011 marked the first season since 1987 that a Mike Candrea-coached Arizona team did not make the Women's College World Series. The team finished 43-18, the final two losses coming at the hands of Oklahoma in the Tucson Super Regional, eliminating the Wildcats from the postseason. The Wildcats finished the season ranked No. 11 in both polls. Arizona finished with an 11-10 Pac-10 record, good for third in the conference. UA lost three starters and 10 total players from the club. They take with them 47% of the team's runs scored, 44% of its hits, 41% of the home runs and 40% of the team's runs batted in.
ALL AMERICANS: The Wildcats return two 2011 NFCA All-Americans: juniors Kenzie Fowler and Brigette Del Ponte. Fowler and Del Ponte were second teamers while departed senior Brittany Lastrapes was named to the first team. It was Fowler's second nod in as many years and Del Ponte's first. The Wildcats have had 90 All-American citations and 50 individual All-Americans. Lastrapes became the sixth Wildcat in school history to earn the maximum four All-American awards.
ALL-CONFERENCE: Five Wildcats were named All-Pac-12 in 2011, two of whom return. Brigette Del Ponte was named first-team all-conference while Kenzie Fowler received a second-team nod. Departed seniors Brittany Lastrapes, Stacie Chambers and Lauren Schutzler were alson named All-Pac-12. The five selections gave UA 134 in program history. Kristen Arriola and Lini Koria were named to the honorable mention. Shelby Babcock was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team, a list in which Alex Lavine was an honorable mention selection.
AT THE KAJIKAWA: Juniors Brigette Del Ponte and Kenzie Fowler have seen great success in their two trips to the Kajikawa Classic. In 25 at-bats at the Kajikawa Classic, Del Ponte has hit .440 with three home runs (all in 2011), three doubles and 10 RBI. Del Ponte is slugging .920 career in the tournament. Fowler is undefeated in the Kajikawa Classic, going 8-0 and allowing just six earned runs in 49 innings pitched (0.86 ERA).