Fri., May 5 #1 Washington 6 p.m. Sat., May 6 #3 UCLA 6 p.m. Sun., May 7 #3 UCLA 1 p.m.This Week: The second-ranked Arizona softball team (47-7 overall, 10-4 Pac-10) returns home for the first time in a month to face top-ranked Washington (50-5, 12-2) on Fri., May 5 at 6 p.m. and No. 3 UCLA (35-8-1, 10-4) on Sat., May 6 at 6 p.m. and Sun., May 7 at 1 p.m. The Wildcats have suffered four losses to the Huskies this season, two of which were Pac-10 games last month in Seattle. The UA defeated UCLA, 6-4, in their only meeting of the season. The Wildcats and Bruins are tied for second place in the Pac-10 standings, two games behind Washington.
Special Ceremonies: This weekend's games will feature a couple of special ceremonies. First, Arizona will retire the jersey number of Jenny Dalton prior to Saturday's game. Dalton, a three-time first-team All-America second baseman for the Cats from 1993 to 1996, was the winner of the 1996 Honda Softball Award as National Player of the Year after leading UA to its fourth NCAA Championship. Sunday will be Senior Day as the Wildcats say goodbye to their three seniors, Lindsay Robinson, Katie Swan and Chrissy Gil.
About Washington: The Huskies have a current three-game winning streak since dropping a 1-0 loss to UCLA on April 22, and have won 13 of their last 14 games. UW last weekend set a school mark with its quickest start to 50 wins. Jamie Graves was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week for her two wins last weekend against Cal and Stanford in which she allowed one run in 14 innings and struck out 13 batters. She is joined by Jennifer Spediacci and the two have a combined 0.62 ERA. In addition, the Huskies have the top home run hitter in the league in Jenny Topping (19 homers).
About UCLA: The Bruins completed a season sweep of Cal last weekend, but are just 4-3 since losing to the UA on April 14, including a split with Washington. UCLA is led by Natasha Watley who is batting .407 and has stolen 22 bases on the season. Pitcher Amanda Freed was named the NFCA National Player of the Week after UCLA's split with UW two weeks ago. She pitched 12 of a possible 13 innings and led the team with a .429 batting average. The Bruins are 7-1 in Pac-10 road games this season. Their only loss was a 3-1 decision at Washington.
UA Sweeps Oregon After Rain-Out: After its game with Oregon State was rained out last Friday, the UA completed a season sweep of Oregon with a pair of shutouts. Jennie Finch allowed only three hits in the 2-0 victory on Sunday. Toni Mascarenas drove in Lauren Bauer for the first run in the third, while Allison Andrade singled up the middle to drive in Chrissy Gil for the insurance run in the seventh. Becky Lemke fanned 12 batters and threw her fourth one-hitter of the season on Saturday, while Andrade's seventh homer of the year provided the game's only run. The UA's game against Oregon State will not be made up unless it has a bearing on the Pac-10 Champion.
Arizona vs. California on Fox Sports: The Wildcats will conclude the regular season with a doubleheader against California on Sat., May 13 that will be televised live by Fox Sports at 1 p.m. MST.
National Fastpitch Coaches Association Poll
Arizona has not budged from the No. 2 spot in the NFCA coaches poll all season. Pac-10 schools occupy the top three spots in the rankings and all eight teams are ranked. Washington is No. 1 followed by Arizona and UCLA. ASU is fourth, California is No. 9, followed by Stanford at No. 10, No. 12 Oregon State and No. 16 Oregon. The poll is available online at www.nfca.org. Arizona has been in the national rankings every single period since 1990.
Arizona in the Pac-10
With all eight softball teams in the rankings, conference games have been more difficult than normal. The Cats are batting just .270 in Pac-10 games, compared to a .338 team batting average overall. Jennie Finch and Katie Swan have been more productive in Pac-10 play than overall. Finch leads the team with a .389 (14-for-36) average in conference action and is batting .365 overall. Swan is hitting .364 (16-for-44) in the Pac-10 and .347 overall.
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 (12) is second on the team. Alison Andrade (7), Chrissy Gil (5), Toni Mascarenas (4), Lauren Bauer (2) Nicole Giordano (1) and Katie Swan (1) have each joined the fun for a team total of 46. The Cats have hit just six homers in 14 conference games. Cats in the National Rankings Four Wildcats are listed among the national statistical leaders in six categories:
Batting 9. Nicole Giordano .445 Home Runs 17. Jennie Finch 0.26 avg/game RBI 23. Lindsey Collins 0.93 avg/game ERA 10. Jennie Finch 0.70 Strikeouts per 7 inn. 7. Becky Lemke 9.4 Victories 9. Becky Lemke 25Arizona also leads the nation in team batting average (.338) and fielding percentage (.979). The Wildcats are fifth in team ERA (0.95) and ninth in average scoring with 6.09 runs per game. The UA also has the fourth-best winning pct. (.870) in the nation.
By fanning 12 Oregon batters last weekend, Becky Lemke set a new single-season school strikeout mark. She has recorded 262 strikeouts on the season, which surpasses Susie Parra's 256 K's in 1993. Nancy Evans came close to the record in 1998 with 255 strikeouts. Lemke now has 660 career strikeouts - good for third place on the school charts behind Evans with 733. Parra tops the list with 874 career K's. Lemke also struck out a school-record 19 batters in a no-hitter against BYU on March 11.
Notes from Left Field
Nicole Giordano leads the Pac-10 with 81 hits on the season and has 252 career hits, which places her eighth among the UA's all-time hits leaders... Lauren Bauer leads the league with 29 stolen bases in 31 attempts. She is in fourth place on the school charts with 86 career stolen bases... Arizona can boast the longest winning streak of the season in the Pac-10. The Cats won 34 consecutive games from Feb. 6 through March 19... The Cats are 3-1 on the season in extra-inning affairs, 1-1 in Pac-10 games... In 54 games, the Wildcats have 483 hits for a team batting average of .338. The team is averaging 8.94 hits per game and has been held to less than five hits just seven times this season... The UA has outscored its opponents 329-55 on the season for an average score of 6.1-1.0. Opponents have scored three or more runs just six times this season and in five of the last ten games... Toni Mascarenas leads the team with 14 doubles, while Alison Andrade has 13. Five Cats have ten or more doubles and the team has 80 doubles on the season... Arizona is 4-3 on the road in Pac-10 play and 6-1 at home.
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 47 earned runs in 347 innings spanning 54 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 0.70, while Lemke has a 1.14 ERA... Finch's ERA against the Pac-10 is 1.47, while Lemke has a 2.33 ERA in conference play. They have a combined 434 strikeouts (including two by Teresa Ayoub). They are fast approaching the single-season team record of 451... Lemke is fourth on the UA all-time victories list with a 79-15 record in almost three seasons.
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 45 RBI, but she has yet to homer in Pac-10 play... 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
Jennie 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.