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No. 5 Softball to Host Lobos for Three
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/21/2007
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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The fifth-ranked Arizona softball team returns home to Hillenbrand Stadium to wrap up non-conference play with a three-game set against New Mexico this weekend.

 

ARIZONA SOFTBALL THIS WEEKEND

Friday, March 23 vs. New Mexico ?- 7 p.m.

Saturday, March 24 vs. New Mexico ?- 7 p.m.

Sunday, March 25 vs. New Mexico -- noon

 

RECAPPING THE JUDI GARMAN: Arizona battled through a weekend of four ranked opponents in six games and finished as a finalist in the 16-team field of Fullerton’s Judi Garman Classic.  The Wildcats opened the weekend with a 2-0 victory over NC State, led by a three-hit, 11-strikeout pitching performance by Taryne Mowatt and Callista Balko’s 2-for-3 day at the plate with a home run.  The Wildcats suffered their first of two losses to No. 6 Oklahoma in a 6-2 defeat, before bouncing back with an 11-0 thrashing of Pacific in coach Mike Candrea’s 1,100th career victory.  Next, backed by a two-run single by Jenae Leles and Mowatt’s third win of the weekend, UA opened bracket play with a solid 2-1 victory over No. 7 Michigan.  In the semifinal round, Mowatt limited No. 16 Louisiana-Lafayette to two hits while fanning 14 Ragin’ Cajuns, but the story of the game was Sarah Akamine.  The freshman from Escondido, Calif., became the first player in UA history to hit two grand slams in a single game.  The two dingers were the first in Akamine’s career.  UA wrapped up the weekend with an 11-0 loss to the Sooners in the title game.

 

ARIZONA HEAD COACH MIKE CANDREA ?- is in his 22nd season at the helm of the Arizona softball program.  He boasts a 1,102-221 (.833) record in 21 seasons in the dugout.  Candrea is one of four Division I softball head coaches to have won 1,110 games and was the fastest to do so.  He has earned 17 coach of the year honors, including nine Pac-10 Coach of the Year citations, and is a member of the NFCA Hall of Fame.  In 2004, Candrea took a year off to coach the USA 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, marking the first time in history the award was given to an Olympic coach.  During his tenure, Arizona has won nine Pac-10 titles and seven national championships.

 

1,100 WINS FOR CANDREA: Last Friday in Fullerton’s Judi Garman Classic, Arizona head coach Mike Candrea won his 1,110th career game in an 11-0 rout of Pacific.  Incidentally, Candrea’s son Mikel was on hand as Pacific’s hitting coach.

 

With the win, Candrea joins Margie Wright (Fresno State), JoAnne Graf (Florida State) and Gayle Blevins (Iowa) as one of only four coaches to accumulate 1,100 Division I softball coaching victories.  Additionally, as this is his 21st season in the dugout, Candrea is now the fastest of the four to reach the 1,100-win plateau.  The feat took Wright 24, Graf 22 and Blevins 28 years, respectively, to get to 1,100 wins.

 

Wright and Graf’s teams were both competing in the Judi Garman Classic.  Here’s what they had to say about their colleague’s milestone victory:

 

Fresno State head coach Margie Wright:  “I don’t think people realize what a difficult feat this is.  It’s very difficult for anyone to get to 1,000 wins and it only gets tougher to get anything beyond that.  I’m happy for him and he deserves all the recognition he gets for his achievements.”

 

Florida State head coach JoAnne Graf:  “Mike is one of the best coaches in the country and achieving 1100 wins is a credit to his ability and his knowledge of softball.  I think he one of the classiest individuals there is and I congratulate him on his achievement.”

 

NOTING THE LOBOS: New Mexico enters the weekend with a 7-10 overall record and is coming off a series victory over Utah Valley State.  The Lobos began the year at the Kajikawa Classic, but then went 18 days without a game before resuming play at Georgia Tech’s Buzz Classic in Woodstock, Ga.  After going 1-4 and 1-3 at those two tournaments, respectively, UNM went 3-2 before losing to host Kansas in the Jayhawk Classic title game.  That brought the Lobos to this past weekend and their three-game set against Utah Valley State.

 

The Lobos feature three players Amy Ray (2 HR, 10 RBI), Katie Gilmore (3 HR, 10 RBI) and Analise Rubalcava (2 HR, 13 RBI) with multiple home runs and double-digit RBI totals on the year.  In the circle, Kelly Ninemire (4-5, 2.82 ERA) has thrown the lion’s share of the innings, while Tori Rogers (3-2, 4.64 ERA) and Caley Peterson (0-3, 6.09 ERA) have also seen action.

 

PAC-10 PITCHER OF THE WEEK: Arizona pitcher Taryne Mowatt (March 13-19) was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week for her stellar work in the circle at the Judi Garman Classic.  Mowatt went 4-1 on the weekend, leading Arizona to a runner-up finish in the 16-team tournament.  She opened the weekend with a shutout of NC State 2-0 in the opener.  After a loss to No. 6 Oklahoma, Mowatt bounced back with four shutout innings and a victory over Pacific.  She then guided the Wildcats to a 2-1 victory over a seventh-ranked Michigan team that hit .348 in the tournament.  The next day, she trumped that performance with a 14-strikeout, two-hit shutout of No. 16 Louisiana-Lafayette to put the Wildcats in the title game.

 

PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Caitlin Lowe (Feb. 26-March 4) became the first Arizona player to be named the Conference’s player of the week this season.  The honor was well-deserved, as Lowe helped Arizona to a sweep of Missouri by batting .700 (7-for-10), scoring eight runs with four RBI and nine stolen bases in as many attempts.  She scored multiple runs and had multiple hits in all three games and had a pair of four-stolen base contests.  In addition to playing an intricate role in each of UA’s victories in the sweep, she climbed up a few lists in the Arizona record book (see “The Lowe-Down on the Record Book” below).

 

SENIORS LEADING THE WAY: In 14 of the last 15 games, Arizona has started seniors in the first, second and third spots in the batting order.  Caitlin Lowe did not start in Arizona’s 3-2 loss at Baylor on Sunday, March 11 due to food poisoning.  Lowe, Chelsie Mesa and Kristie Fox are the first trio of seniors to be penciled in to the top of the order since Lauren Bauer, Nicole Giordano and Toni Mascarenas started up the majority of games during UA’s 2001 title run. 

 

In the 14 games since the lineup change went into effect, the seniors’ combined numbers in relation to the other six spots in the batting order speak for themselves.

 

 

Avg.

Runs

RBI

SB

Seniors

.377

43

29

19

Non-seniors

.247

30

40

6

 

THE LOWE-DOWN ON THE RECORD BOOK: As a three-time, first-team NFCA All-American Caitlin Lowe has already cemented her name into the annals of Arizona softball.  In addition to the inevitable single-season marks she will set or challenge throughout 2007, Lowe is already climbing up the school record book and has a legitimate shot to finish in the top 10 in four categories in NCAA history. 

 

Lowe in top 10 Arizona history

Category

 

Ariz. Rank

NCAA Rank

Batting Avg.

.463

2

5

Hits

306

7

32

Runs

218

8

t-17

Stolen Bases

133

t-2

t-18

Triples

10

4

 

 

FOX RACKS UP THE RIBBIES: Kristie Fox enters the weekend ranked seventh on UA’s career RBI list with 196, having passed Jennie Finch’s 195 ribbies last weekend.  The Wildcat infielder has a ways to go until she approaches Leticia Pineda’s sixth-place 240 runs driven in. 

 

Fox leads Arizona with 29 RBI, 11 more than Jenae Leles’ 18 ribbies that are good for second on the team.  A two-time All-American, Fox also leads the Wildcats in total bases (55) and extra-base hits (14).

 

HITTING STREAKS: In Arizona’s victory over Michigan, Chelsie Mesa’s Pac-10 leading 22-game hitting streak came to an end.  The senior infielder batted .444 (32-for-72) with 10 extra-base hits, 15 RBI and eight stolen bases over the duration of the streak that lasted from Feb. 10 through March 16.  The streak was the longest for an Arizona player since Autumn Champion had a base knock in 25 straight games in 2003.  Adrienne Acton’s career-long 11-game streak was snapped the very next game against Louisiana-Lafayette.

 

The following is a list of the longest hitting streaks in the Pac-10 over the last two years.

 

Player

School

Year

Streak in games

Chelsie Mesa

ARIZ

2007

22

Anna Beardman

STAN

2006

17

Marnie Koziol

WASH

2007

15

Caitlin Lowe

ARIZ

2006

15

Marnie Koziol

WASH

2006

14

Mia Longfellow

OSU

2006

13

Jennifer Salling

ORE

2007

13

 

LET’S GET IT OVER WITH: No one wants to talk about it, but Arizona’s 11-0 loss to Oklahoma has its historical implications; namely, that Arizona never loses that way.  The last time Arizona gave up double-digit runs and lost was a 15-3 defeat to Cal State Fullerton on March 22, 2003.  The Wildcats had played 240 games before suffering a similar defeat.  Arizona had played 110 games and run-ruled 22 opponents since losing a 9-1 run-rule game to UCLA on April 16, 2005.

 

The good news for Arizona is that after the loss to CSF, the Wildcats won 13 of their next 14 games.

 

 

SLAMMIN’ IT HOME: Sarah Akamine’s grand slam in the third inning of UA’s 9-0 win over Louisiana-Lafayette last Sunday was a first... her first career home run and Arizona’s first grand slam since Kristie Fox’s four-run shot in the 2006 Tucson Super Regional against LSU.  However, it was the grand slam Akamine hit in the seventh inning ?- her second of the game ?- that raised eyebrows.  The freshman’s pair of grand slams in a single game marks the first time in program history that any player has achieved the feat and her eight RBI are good for fourth in a single game.

 

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