May 10, 2004
The Wildcats close the regular season with games Friday at UCLA in Los Angeles, and a doubleheader against Washington on Saturday in Seattle. The Bruins (36-9, 9-8) and Huskies (35-15, 9-8) jockey for a potential second-place finish in the Pac-10, while Arizona clinched the league title last weekend.
Cats Win Eighth League Title
Victories over No. 12 Oregon and No. 19 Oregon State (2) clinched Arizona's eighth Pac-10 championship last weekend. The Cats won in 1992, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001 and in 2003. Arizona's lowest finish was in 1991 when it ended up in fourth place en route to its first NCAA championship at the Women's College World Series. The Cats have finished first or second in the standings since that season.
Pac-10 Standings: This week: 1. Arizona 15-2 51-3 at UCLA/Washington (2) 2. Stanford 11-7 41-15 at Oregon/OSU (2) 3. California 10-8 43-11 at OSU/Oregon (2) 4. UCLA 9-8 36-9 UA/ASU (2) Washington 9-8 35-15 ASU/UA (2) 6. Oregon 9-9 37-17 Stanford/Cal (2) 7. Oregon State 4-14 40-23 Cal/Stanford (2) 8. Arizona State 3-14 33-28 at Washington/UCLA (2)
Cats to Host NCAA Regional
The UA has been selected to host one of eight regional sites for the 2004 NCAA Division I Softball Championship May 20-23. Each regional field will feature eight teams playing a double-elimination format. "Host institutions are not guaranteed a bid to the tournament," says the NCAA. Other schools picked as hosts are Baylor, UCLA, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, Nebraska and Stanford. All those teams were ranked in the latest NFCA/USA Softball polls. Some games in Tucson will be televised live by CSTV national cable. Tucson's schedule will be known Sunday, May 16, when at-large, top seeds and regional pairing are announced. Tickets are on sale at the McKale Center Ticket office (621-2287 or 800-452-2287) and online at arizonaatlhetics.com.
Larry Ray (Idaho State '74) is 51-3 in his tenure as acting head coach of the Wildcats, making a strong bid for coach of the year honors. He earned his first league title this year. Including five seasons (four of competition) building a Florida program he has a career record of 220-109. His work with the Arizona program dates to 1986 and he was Candrea's top assistant for 10 years. UA's start of 34-0 to open the year gave Ray the best start in Arizona history. Ray's 51 victories put him at No. 19 on the all-time Pac-10 coaching victories list in just one year. Acting associate head coach Nancy Evans, a former Honda Award winner as a player, has been an assistant at UA since 1999.
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.
Arizona's Alicia Hollowell threw three shutouts and the UA offense used various attacks to beat No. 12 Oregon (5-0) and No. 19 Oregon State (2-0 and 3-0). Hollowell improved to 38-2 and lowered her ERA to 0.67. In Friday's game, Jackie Coburn snapped a personal home run drought (since Feb. 29) by knocking a leadoff shot to start UA's scoring. She had a nice weekend, hitting .444. Samantha Quintero and Caitlin Lowe also had round-trippers in the game. In the first OSU game Crystal Farley and Kristie Fox had RBI singles to pace UA to victory. In Sunday's championship clincher, Quintero had a pair of hits, one to drive in the eventual game-winning run. Autumn Champion had six hits in nine at-bats to boost her average to .472, one percentage point behind Lowe's team-best .473. Hollowell struck out a total of 31 in the three games to boost her school record to 466.
UA has been No. 1 for eight weeks, giving it the top spot in the NFCA poll at least once every year since 1993. 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: 2/3. Feb. 25: 2/2. March 3: 2/2. March 10: 2/2. March 17: 1/1. March 24: 1/1. March 30:1/1. April 7: 1/1. April 14: 1/1. April 21: 1/1. April 28: 1/1. May 5: 1/1. May 12: TBA. UA has been ranked steadily since 1988 by the NFCA.
Players of the Week
Pitcher Alicia Hollowell earned the Pac-10 weekly honor four times this year - Feb. 24, March 2, March 9 and March 23. She also was USA Softball National Player of the Week March 22 after five victories at the Kia Klassic. Outfielder Autumn Champion won league Player of the Week honors Feb. 17, Wendy Allen won Feb. 24, and soph first baseman Shelly Schultz won April 13. Caitlin Lowe earned her first honor May 4. Those are the 90th Pac-10 weekly honors for UA, and ninth for Hollowell in her short career. Caitlin Lowe was named ASA National Player of the Week for April 12-18 after hitting .545 with five runs versus Cal and Stanford.
Player of the Year
Autumn Champion, Caitlin Lowe and Alicia Hollowell were all named among 10 finalists for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award the last week in April. Three finalists will be named May 11.
Wildcat Softball Notes
...Arizona leads all Pac-10 teams with a 310-76 record in league games since the Pac-10 began play in 1987. The Cats also took over the top spot in overall winning percentage and became the first Pac-10 team to win 1,000 games during the history of the league. UA has a mark of 1003-177 to give it an .850 winning percentage since 1987. UCLA is next at .844 (887-163).... ...Arizona reached the 50-victory plateau for the 14th time in school history. The Cats have won 50 or more games for the past 11 seasons. This year's team can't reach the best mark in school history - the 64-3 record put up by the 1998 team (that lost in the World Series title game)... ...Every four-year Arizona player who enrolled since 1988 has been part of at least one Pac-10 Championship club... Senior catcher Mackenzie Vandergeest has three league titles to her credit... ...Vandergeest quietly broke her own school record Sunday - posting putout No. 580. She had 577 a year ago, also while working with NCAA strikeout leader Alicia Hollowell... Vandergeest set the career putouts record on May 2, passing former first baseman Amy Chellevold (1718) and has 1,753 in her career... ...Lead-off hitter Caitlin Lowe and Autumn Champion behind her are making equal bids for the team batting title. Lowe has 78 hits and is hitting .473 while Champion has 76 hits and is at .472... They have a great chance to post single-season Top 10 marks in hitting. Those two figures are currently No. 4 and No. 5, but the going gets tougher in ensuing weeks... Lowe was thrown out attempting to steal for only the second times in 47 tries last week... ...Hollowell needs 19 strikeouts to set a Pac-10 single season record. Michele Grainger of Cal struck out 484 batters in 1993. Hollowell passed Grainger's 458 mark (1991) and took over the No. 2 spot last week... Hollowell struck out 10 or more 26 times... Her 860 career strikeouts are within reach of Susie Parra (874) at No. 3 on UA's career list... ...Senior second baseman Samantha Quintero has hit .450 in the last six games, with two home runs... went 5-for-11 during the week and sparked the Cats against Stanford on Saturday in starting two scoring rallies. She also hit her third home run of the season to give UA its lone run in the loss Sunday... That tally helped UA avoid its first home shutout since Oklahoma State beat the Cats 1-0 Feb. 21, 2003. ...The Cats are 15-3 in ball games decided by two runs or less...