March 21, 2012
THE GAMES Date Time Opponent Location Wednesday, March 21 4:00 p.m. PDT New Mexico State Hillenbrand Stadium 6:00 p.m. PDT New Mexico State Hillenbrand Stadium Friday, March 23 7:00 p.m. PDT No. 5 Arizona State Farrington Stadium Saturday, March 24 7:00 p.m. PDT No. 5 Arizona State Farrington Stadium Sunday, March 25 12:00 p.m. PDT No. 5 Arizona State Farrington StadiumLEADING OFF: - Arizona has had six of its last eight games canceled due to rain. - The Wildcats will begin conference play with ASU, the second time in three years and sixth time since softball joined the Pacific Conference. - Arizona met these two teams three times apiece in 2011, with vastly different results. Arizona swept New Mexico State and was swept by Arizona State. New Mexico State was in the Wildcats' NCAA Region in 2011, where it was eliminated by Texas Tech.
FOLLOW THE CATS Live Audio: The Arizona-Arizona State series will be broadcast on 1290 AM KCUB in Tucson, with Derrick Palmer providing play-by-play. Live Video: Fox Sports Arizona will be livestreaming the Arizona-Arizona State series. All three games can be seen at http://www.foxsportsarizona.com/pages/sundevils_stream Live Stats: Live stats will be provided via GameTracker at arizonawildcats.com. Live Updates: Follow Arizona Softball on Twitter (@UA_Softball) and Facebook (facebook.com/ArizonaAthletics) for game updates. SERIES HISTORY Arizona vs. ASU All-Time: 86-42-1 First Competed: Last Year: 1982 0-3
Arizona vs. New Mexico State All-Time: 47-3 First Competed: Last Year: 1983 3-0
OPPONENTS New Mexico State: The Aggies (18-4) are unranked by both the NFCA and USA Softball. New Mexico State beat 23rd-ranked New Mexico, 8-6 in its only contest of the week. The Aggies are led offensively by Tiare Jennings (.397 avg, six homers, 29 RBI, five doubles, two triples) and in the circle by Karysta Donisthorpe (5-1, 3.78 ERA, 49 strikeouts, .251 BAA). NMSU pitchers have given up 40 home runs on the season. New Mexico State is coached by Kathy Rodolph (10th season, 203-227). Series History: Arizona, 47-3 // First Meeting: 1983 // Last Meeting: May 21, 2011; Arizona 8, New Mexico State 0; Tucson Ariz. (NCAA Regional)
Arizona State: The Sun Devils (28-3) are ranked fifth by the NFCA and sixth by USA Softball. ASU went 3-1 at the Judi Garman Classic last week, with wins over BYU (3-0), Fresno State (4-0) and No. 19 Michigan (1-0) and a loss to No. 10 Louisiana (9-2). Arizona State is led offensively by Katelyn Boyd (.463 avg, 13 home runs, 38 RBI, four doubles, two triples, 1.037 slug%) and Alix Johnson (.509 avg, eight doubles, five home runs, one triple, 21 RBI, .964 slg%) and in the circle by Hillary Bach (13-0, 0.57 ERA, 51 strikeouts, .170 BAA). The defending national chapions are outscoring their opponents 241-49 on the season. The Sun Devils are coached by Clint Myers (seventh season, 352-82). Series History: Arizona, 86-42-1 // First Meeting: 1982 // Last Meeting: April 23, 2011; ASU 8, Arizona 3; Tucson, Ariz.
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 1,290-281-2 (.820). 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 fell to 14th in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll and remained 13th in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25. The Wildcats started the season ranked eighth in both polls (its highest ranking of the season) and finished 2011 ranked 11th in both.
LAST TIME OUT Arizona played just two of its scheduled five games at the Judi Garman Classic; the final two days of the tournament were canceled because of rain. The Wildcats swept its only two games, beating UC Davis 8-0 in six and Iowa 6-1.
Friday, March 16: Cats Defeat UC Davis, Iowa on Day One of Judi Garman Arizona (18-4) run-ruled UC Davis 8-0 in six innings and beat Iowa 6-1 to sweep day one of the Judi Garman Classic.
Arizona 8, UC Davis 0 (Six Innings): Shelby Pendley drove in five runs, including a walk-off home run in the sixth, and Arizona defeated UC Davis, 8-0 in six innings in its Judi Garman Classic opener.
Shelby Babcock tossed a shutout in the circle; it was Arizona's sixth consecutive shutout and ninth in eleven games. Babcock allowed three hits to the Aggies in her first action since tossing a five-inning no-hitter against College of Charleston on March 3rd. Babcock improved to 8-4 with the victory.
UA scored its eight runs on seven hits, three of which came off the bat of Pendley. The shortstop also had a pair of fielding errors, breaking a stretch of 13 consecutive games without an error; Arizona led the nation with a .988 fielding percentage entering the weekend.
Arizona 6, Iowa 1: Arizona took advantage of three Iowa errors, which allowed the Cats to score three unearned runs, and UA downed Iowa 6-1 in the nightcap.
Kenzie Fowler was perfect through three and allowed just three hits and struck out nine Hawkeyes. The fourth inning run scored off a Johnnie Dowling groundout was the first run scored against Fowler in 38 innings and the first run surrendered by a Wildcat pitcher in seven games. Fowler improved to a 8-0 with the win.
Lini Koria hit her fifth home run of the season with a long fly to left-center in the seventh inning. Wilson recorded the other Arizona RBI with a sixth-inning single up the middle. The other four Arizona runs were scored as results of Iowa defensive mishaps.
AGAINST NEW MEXICO STATE Last Year: Arizona swept New Mexico State in three games in 2011, defeating it twice during the regular season in Las Cruces and downing it in NCAA Regional play in Tucson.
March 15, 2011: Cats Take Two from NMSU Brittany Lastrapes went a combined 6-for-8 with two home runs and six RBI while setting the Arizona career record for doubles at Arizona while leading Arizona to two wins at New Mexico State.
The Cats got an easy win in the first game, 7-2, before needing extras to down the Aggies in game two, 7-5 in eight.
May 21, 2011: Cats Advance to Regional Championship Eighth-seeded Arizona shutout New Mexico State as 8-0 to advance to the regional championship game Sunday.
Kenzie Fowler dealt a season-high 15 Ks while getting plenty of run-support in her complete-game shutout. Fowler flirted with danger all night, getting out of bases-loaded jams twice and leaving 12 Aggie runners on base. Fowler gave up eight hits and three walks. The sophomore improved to 25-7 on the year.
For the second-straight day, an Arizona record was rewritten. Last night, Stacie Chambers became the school's all-time home run leader when she blasted her 86th career home run. Today, Brigette Del Ponte doubled for the 22nd time this year, becoming the new leader for doubles in a season.
All-Time: New Mexico State is Arizona's most frequently met non-conference opponent, with the Cats and the Aggies having met 50 times in the programs' history. Arizona has won 47 of the games. Arizona has won 13 games in a row and 38 of the last 39 in the series.
AGAINST ARIZONA STATE Last Year: ASU swept Arizona, handing the Cats their first home sweep in Hillenbrand Stadium history. Arizona had just one healthy pitcher for the series and had to use a trio of position players in the circle. ASU used two seventh-inning, go-ahead grand slams to down the Cats in games one and two.
April 21, 2011: Seventh-Inning Grand Slam Propels Devils over Cats Arizona managed just a single hit off ASU ace Dallas Escobedo and Shelby Babcock was not rewarded for a gem of her own as No. 2 ASU downed No. 7 Arizona, 4-0 on a two-out, seventh-inning grand slam by ASU's Katelyn Boyd.
Arizona and ASU were locked in a 0-0 tie with only three total hits through six innings. In the seventh, however, ASU got a couple of hits and a couple of walks to load the bases for Boyd with two out. Until this point, Babcock had allowed four total hits to the one of the best offenses in the nation (second in batting average - .359 - and fifth in runs scored - 8.05 per game - entering the contest). One bad pitch, however, broke the shutout and gave the Devils the 4-0 win. Boyd took Babcock's 1-0 pitch past the fence in left-center for a grand slam.
The slam came a half-inning after Arizona loaded the bases but couldn't produce any runs in bottom of the sixth.
April 22, 2011: Cats Suffer Seventh Inning Heart Break, Again For the second consecutive game, ASU's seventh inning heroics broke the Wildcats' hearts as the Devils came back from eight down to beat Arizona 13-10.
Thursday, Katelyn Boyd hit a grand slam in the top of the seventh that downed Arizona 4-0. Tonight, down 10-9 in the seventh, Kaylyn Castillo hit a grand slam to give ASU the lead, and eventual win, 13-10. The grand slam capped off an amazing comeback by ASU which included six runs in the top of the seventh to come from three behind.
Arizona had seemingly built an insurmountable lead after two innings when it led 9-1, but ASU chipped away, striking for 12 runs in the last four innings to take the series and a State Farm Territorial Cup point. Arizona continues to lead the series 8.5 to 6.5.
April 23, 2011: Arizona `Pitchers' Can't Stop Sun Devils Arizona kept it close the entire game, getting six hits and three runs off Dallas Escobedo who looked invincible on Thursday and Friday, but a couple of three-run home runs off usual position players fueled the Sun Devils to the win.
The Sun Devils (42-5, 9-3 Pac-10) swept the series, marking the first time the Cats had been swept in conference play since losing three games to Washington in 2010.
Arizona (36-11, 7-5 Pac-10) was without the service of ace Kenzie Fowler all weekend, leaving it with just one pitcher remaining on the roster: Shelby Babcock. The sophomore pitched in each of the 14 innings in games one and two and got some rest Saturday.
WHO'S HOT? Shelby Pendley: Drove in five of Arizona's eight runs in the Wildcats' 8-0, six inning win over UC Davis. Pendley went 3-for-5 and ended the game with a walk-off home run to left field.
Shelby Babcock: Allowed just four base-runners and no runs in Arizona's six inning victory over UC Davis.
Kenzie Fowler: Was perfect through three innings vs. Iowa and allowed only one run on three hits while striking out nine Hawkeyes. The run allowed was her first given up in 38 innings. Lini Koria: Went 2-for-5 in the Judi Garman Classic, including a monster home run against Iowa.
Chelsea Suitos: Drove in a couple of runs while batting .500 (3-for-6) at the Judi Garman Classic. Suitos was also hit by a pitch and stole a base in the tournament.
STARING AT THE STATS: ...Arizona's runs-scored title in 2011 appears to be highly competitive after 22 games. The leader is Brigette Del Ponte with 21, after that it's 18 apiece for Lini Koria and Chelsea Suitos, and 17 each for Shelby Pendley and Karissa Buchanan, and 16 by Hallie Wilson. A year ago two-hole hitter Lauren Schutzler won the team runs crown with 63 in 61 games. That's one a game so any of the aforementioned need to keep getting on base and taking the two left turns after that to challenge that one. It takes 75 runs to hit the UA top 10 chart, most recently joined by Brittany Lastrapes with 79 (No. 8) in 2009. Missing six games (lost to rain) didn't help any UA hitter stockpile numbers before entering league play... Shelby Pendley's nine home runs put her in shape to hit the UA top 20 chart. It takes 17 to get there. Only four freshmen are on the list - Brigette Del Ponte with 21 in 2010 (No. 10, tie), Mackenzie Vandergeest with 20 in 2001 (No. 15, tie), Leneah Manuma with 19 in 2001 (No. 18) and Leah Braatz with 18 in 1994 (No. 19). Two of Pendley's teammates - Lini Koria (2010) and Del Ponte (2011) -- are tied with Jenae Leles (2008) and Lastrapes (2009) at No. 20 with 17 each... Pitchers Kenzie Fowler (1.48) and Shelby Babcock (1.79) have posted solid earned run averages to date, both their best. Fowler threw a 1.53 number in 2010 as a freshman when she had a 38-9 mark as the do-it-all hurler. Babcock was roughed up to the tune of 3.98 in her freshman 17-8 debut a year ago. Their throwing consistency has helped UA to a 1.58 team ERA which is nearly impossible to hold up during Pac-12 play but would be a six-year best if it did...
RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY: Six of Arizona's last eight games have been canceled due to rain. Arizona's series against Baylor was the first away series to be entirely canceled by rain in Arizona history. The 1985 Judi Garman Classic (then named the CSFU Pony Invitationaly) was the last tournament to be partially rained out; the team played three games that year.
MAKING THE PLAYS: Arizona's two errors against UC Davis ended a 13-game error-less stretch for the Wildcat defense. Still, Arizona's fielding percentage is .985 which leads the nation. UA has committed just eight errors; the next lowest figure is 11 (Stony Brook and Albany). The Wildcats' defense has been spotless in 17 of the last 19 games. UA has been above the .980 mark just once in history, the 2001 national title year when UA went 65-4 and committed 34 errors.
GETTING IT DONE: Arizona is 18-4 to start the year. Decent, and typical. In the last five seasons the Cats have opened 20-2 (2011), 21-1 (2010), 18-4 (2009), 17-5 (2008) and 17-5 (2007).
PENDLEY POWER: Slugging freshman shortstop Shelby Pendley hit a home run in the Judi Garman Classic to extend her team lead to nine. If that projected to three times that in a 60-game season she'd have one of Arizona's top 20 single-season home run marks. A couple of other slugging shortstops in UA history were Laura Espinoza with 37 in 1995 to set the UA record, Espinoza with 30 in 1994 and Lovie Jung with 25 in 2003. Kristie Fox had 15 in both 2006 and 2007 and finished with a career total of 48 (No. 11 on UA's chart). It's unfair to compare her to those All-Americans, but she has the power to make a run for it. Pendley is averaging 1.42 RBI per game, the ninth best figure in the country and second best for a freshman.
IN THE CIRCLE: Arizona's pitching staff has been lights out as of late. In the last 105 innings, UA has allowed just 13 earned runs, shaking out to an ERA of 0.87 since Feb. 12. Arizona's only hiccup in that regard was an 11-10 loss to Nebraska on Feb. 10. The 11 runs surrendered to the Cornhuskers came in Kenzie Fowler's first start of the season after receiving minimal work in the weeks leading up to the season due to back injury. Over a third of Arizona's runs allowed on the season came in that game. Fowler has allowed just one run in her last 42 innings pitched, a streak that dates back to Feb. 18, when she allowed four runs to Western Kentucky. In the streak, Fowler has allowed just 14 hits and struck out 45. Babcock, who struggled early in the season with free-passes, has not allowed a run in her last three starts (all complete games) and has walked three total batters. In her last 19 innings pitched, Babcock has allowed zero runs on just five hits while striking out 15.
TURNING TURNSTILES: Through six home dates, Arizona is averaging 2,515 fans per game. If the fans continue to turn the turnstiles at this rate, it would rank second in Hillenbrand Stadium history. Last season, Arizona attracted 77,129 fans, an NCAA record, in 30 dates, shaking out to an average of 2,570 fans per game... a Hillenbrand high.
HOME SWEET HOME: One reason for the attendance is the usual result. Arizona wins 91% of its games at Hillenbrand Stadium (547-57) and is undefeated this season (8-0).