Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Top-Ranked Softball Faces Eastern Michigan at Home
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: March 04, 2005
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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This Week
The No. 1 Arizona softball team will come back to Tucson for a pair of home games against Eastern Michigan on Friday, March 4 at 6 p.m. and Saturday, March 5 at 1 p.m. at Hillenbrand Stadium. Eastern Michigan will open its season on March 2 at Arizona State before heading south to take on Pima CC and Arizona. Coverage
Subscribers to All-Access, Arizona's premium multimedia service, can listen to Friday's audio webcast of the game against Eastern Michigan with Brian Jeffries calling the action. Free, live statistics will also be available.

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Last Week
Arizona traveled to Waco, Texas to participate in the 2005 Compass Bank Invitational, hosted by Baylor. The Cats were slated to take on Sam Houston State, Birmingham Southern, Louisiana Tech and No. 11 Baylor. Once again, Arizona’s schedule suffered a bit because of rainy weather, but the Cats managed to play all four scheduled games with only one delay. On Friday versus Sam Houston State, junior pitcher Alicia Hollowell tossed her first no-hitter of the weekend over seven innings. The Cats won the game, 1-0, thanks to a left-field RBI single by Kristie Fox to drive in Caitlin Lowe. In Friday’s matchup with Birmingham Southern, Leslie Wolfe got the start for the Cats and was relieved by Taryne Mowatt, who pitcher four innings in relief for the 8-3 win. Offensively, Lowe and senior Crystal Farley combined for five hits and four RBI. In Saturday’s only game, the Cats shut out Louisiana Tech, 7-0, in Hollowell’s second no-hitter of the weekend and her third this season. On offense, Arizona took the lead in the first inning with hits by Lowe, Autumn Champion, Callista Balko and Jen Martinez. In the fifth inning, senior Jackie Coburn hit her second homer of the season to put the Cats up, 7-0. Arizona waited until Sunday to play No. 11 Baylor because of rain on Saturday. The Cats were nearly upset by the Bears, but held on for a 1-0 victory to stay undefeated. Arizona’s lone run came in the first inning, when Champion singled and Balko doubled to score Champion from first. Hollowell got her third win of the weekend with a 3-hit, 15-K performance.

The Coach
Head Coach Mike Candrea is in his 20th year with Arizona and carries a career record of 995-191. Candrea returned to Arizona after taking a year off to coach the U.S. Olympic softball team to a 9-0 record and a gold medal in Athens. Candrea was also awarded the Olympic Shield award, the U.S. Olympic Committee’s most prestigious award, in January. Candrea’s award, given for outstanding service to the USOC and the Olympic movement, marked the first time in history that the award was given to an olympic coach. Candrea is also an eight-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year and a menber of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He has led Arizona to six national championships and seven Pac-10 titles.

The Coaches
Larry Ray (Idaho State ?'74) took over as head coach for Mike Candrea in 2004 and led the Wildcats to a 55-6 record and another Pac-10 title. He set the all-time Arizona record for the best start with a 34-0 mark through March 20 last season. Ray is acting assistant head coach this season, and carries an overall record of 224-112, including five years as head coach of Florida. Associate head coach Nancy Evans is a former Honda Award winner as a player at Arizona. Evans has been an assistant at UA since 1999.

The Rankings
As of March 1, the Cats are No. 1 in the Softball poll.The NFCA/USA Today poll, in which the Cats have been steadily ranked since 1989, will be released on March 2. Arizona was ranked preseason No. 3 in the NFCA poll, behind UCLA and Cal. Softball: 1(3/1), 1(2/22), 1(2/15)NFCA/USA Today: 2(2/23), 2(2/16)

Wildcat Softball Quick Notes
... Alicia Hollowell officially took over the title of Arizona’s all-time career strikeouts leader on Sunday, when she struck out 15 Baylor Bears to put her career total at 1,029, eclipsing Jennie Finch’s previous mark of 1,028...

... Hollowell’s back-to-back no-hitters against Sam Houston State and Birmingham Southern marked the first time an Arizona pitcher has accomplished the feat since Nancy Evans in 1995. It’s only the third time it’s happened in Arizona history...

... Hollowell allowed just 3 hits in 21 innings of work last weekend, improving to 8-0 on the season and lowering her ERA to 0.34...

...With four wins under her belt, freshman pitcher Taryne Mowatt has the exact same ERA as Hollowell (0.34), with 30 strikeouts and 12 hits allowed in 20.1 innings of work...

... Arizona’s three pitchers combine for a lethal 0.55 ERA, while the Cats’ offense has touched up opposing pitchers enough to drive their combined ERAs to 4.11...

... Freshman catcher Callista Balko stepped up her offense this weekend, gathering at least one hit in each of the Cats’ four games. She jumped to the fifth spot on the batting average list with a .256 mark. She also leads the team in putouts with 156 behind the plate and just one error...

... In her senior campaign, Crystal Farley is second on the team in batting average with a .433 mark, including 13 hits, seven runs and 53 putouts at first...

... Sophomore Caitlin Lowe still reigns at the top of the batting average list, with a .500 mark. She’s 22-for-44 at the plate, with 13 runs, a double, a triple, and a perfect 10-for-10 stolen base mark...

... Kristie Fox’s offense tapered off a bit last weekend, but her numbers are still impressive, with a .432 average and a team-leading 20 RBI. The next closest player in the RBI category is senior Jackie Coburn, with 10...