THIS WEEK: No. 1 Arizona (29-3) opens Pac-10 play on the road, as the Wildcats travel to the great Northwest. UA opens conference play against No. 7 Oregon State (25-2) on Friday, before taking on Oregon (15-10) for Saturday and Sunday matinees.
FRIDAY, MARCH 31 @ OREGON STATE 3 p.m. (PST)
SATURDAY, APRIL 1 @ OREGON 1 p.m. (PST)
SUNDAY, APRIL 2 @ OREGON 1 p.m. (PST)
NOTING OREGON STATE: Along with Arizona, the Beavers were one of four teams to share the Pac-10 Championship in 2005. Just like last year, OSU is riding a massive winning streak (25 games this year and 15 games in 2005) as it enters league play.
Head Coach Kirk Walker recently earned his 400th career head coaching victory and returns 2005 All-American and Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year Brianne McGowan. The junior from Reno, Nev., boasts a .417 batting average at the plate with six home runs. In the circle, McGowan holds a 14-1 record to go along with her 1.50 ERA.
NOTING OREGON: The Ducks have struggled with the unenviable problem of a shortage of pitchers this year. The Ducks recently had to miss a non-conference tournament due to a lack of available players in the circle. When UO has hit the field, they have had an up and down year, with a record of 15-10. At the Palm Springs Classic, the Ducks defeated Texas A&M, which handed Arizona one of its three losses on the year.
LAST WEEK RECAP: Arizona wrapped up non-conference play with a sweep over a quality opponent, No. 10 Louisiana-Lafayette, in a three-game series at Hillenbrand Stadium. UA’s Taryne Mowatt collected all three victories in the circle, as she gave up only one run in 16.0 innings pitched. UA senior Leslie Wolfe saw her first action of the year, as she started Sunday’s game and left with a 4-2 lead after three innings. Wolfe, however, did not pitch enough of the game to earn the victory.
Chelsie Mesa, batting in the two-hole for the first time in her Wildcat career, batted .636 (7-for-11) with five RBI in the three games. Mesa’s weekend ended with exclamation point as she went 4-for-4 on Sunday just a home run short of the cycle. Autumn Champion had an equally solid weekend, as she batted .455 (5-for-11), including a 4-for-4 performance in Saturday’s, 10-1, victory.
INJURY BUG BITES CATS: All-Americans Alicia Hollowell and Caitlin Lowe have been sidelined with injuries they suffered against Texas on March 19 at the Judi Garman Classic. Hollowell was struck in the head with a line drive in the sixth inning against Texas on Sunday, March 19. The half inning before, Lowe suffered an injury to her left hand when sliding head first into first base on a groundout. Both players are out indefinitely, according to head coach Mike Candrea. Even the Arizona trainer, Sara Bach, was not immune to injury. Bach suffered a black eye and a sore face after being struck in the face with an errant throw during warm-ups.
Lowe’s absence from the Arizona lineup this past Friday was a first in her career. The junior outfielder from Tustin, Calif., had started 147 straight games since joining the Wildcat family as a freshman two years ago.
TOP CATS: In every year since 1992, Arizona has been ranked No. 1 in the NFCA poll for at least part of the year.
RE-WRITING THE RECORD BOOKS: Alicia Hollowell is now Arizona’s all-time victories, strikeout and innings pitched record holder. Three weeks ago, she became just the fourth pitcher in NCAA history with 1,500 career strikeouts. She currently stands fourth all-time in strikeouts per seven innings.
For a complete list of Arizona’s all-time record holders, please see page six of the .pdf version of this release, or pages 33-37 of this year’s media guide.
OFFENSIVE HISTORY: With each passing game, outfielders Caitlin Lowe and Autumn Champion are climbing up the UA record books in several offensive categories, including hits, stolen bases and runs scored. Additionally, both rank in the top five in career batting average at Arizona.
In Sunday’s victory, Champion climbed into Arizona’s top 10 list of hits in a career with 268. She is currently tied with current UA assistant coach Nancy Evans.
This weekend, with five runs scored Champion could also crack the top 10 for runs in a career. The Tustin, Calif., native has touched home 168 times, thus far.
Lowe has 230 career hits and could challenge Allison McCutcheon’s (1995-98) 405 career base knocks come spring 2007.
Additionally, with 19 stolen bases this year, Lowe has swiped 93 career bases, good for fifth on UA’s all-time list. If she wants top-billing as Arizona’s best-ever base stealer, McCutcheon stands in her way once again with 148 SB.
Earlier in the season, Autumn Champion moved into sole possession of seventh place in career stolen bases. Entering this week she has swiped 60 career bases.
THREE FOR THE MONEY: Caitlin Lowe moved into a four-way tie on Arizona’s all-time triples list, when she had her fourth three-bagger of the year and ninth of her career on March 18 against CSUN. Among the names Lowe had been tied with when she had eight career triples: UA senior associate athletics director Kathleen “Rocky” LaRose.
Lowe tied her career-high for most triples in a season with four.
TRIPLE THE FUN: Last year, Arizona had a total of five triples in its 57 games, the year before Arizona had only three three-baggers.
Through its first 32 games, Arizona already has 11 triples, or one in every three games or so. Given that the team has averaged 66 games a year over the last decade, UA is on pace for just over 22 triples. The last time an Arizona team had 10 triples was 2000, and school record (in NCAA play) is 20 three-baggers, which has occurred three times.
Autumn Champion’s triple against Texas A&M on Feb. 24 was the first of her career. Prior to the third-inning hit, Champion had played in 185 games and had 578 at-bats before her first career triple. The slap hitter had 89 hits as a freshman in 2003 ?- all singles.
HOMER HAPPY: One of UA’s most glaring deficiencies in 2005 was a lack of power. As a team, the Wildcats had the lowest slugging percentage (.399) in the program’s history since 1992 and had the fewest home runs (33) since that year, as well.
This year, however, Arizona has 32 long balls, or one per game. Just one round-tripper away from last year’s total, at this rate, Arizona will double last year’s total.
NEWCOMERS MUSCLE UP: Aside from last minute roster additions Kelly Nelson, Jill Malina and Danielle Rodriguez; UA had brought in four new players this year who have helped to fix last year’s power problem.
Chelsie Mesa, Laine Roth, Jenae Leles and Sam Banister have started all 32 games this year and have had a noticeable impact on the UA offense. The quartet of newbies has 22 of Arizona’s 32 home runs and 55 percent of the team’s RBI. Additionally, the newcomers are slugging .562 as a group.
MESA (3/20-26) AND FOX (3/6-12) NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Chelsie Mesa has been named Pac-10 Player of the Week for her performance against No. 10 Louisiana-Lafayette this past weekend. Mesa batted .636 (7-11), with five RBI and four runs scored in three games. She went 4-for-4 on Sunday, missing the cycle by a home run. Kristie Fox was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week for the week of March 6-12, for her two home runs, seven RBI and .750 batting average. Fox numbers could have been more gaudy, but they were tapered when the opponent elected not to pitch to her. After six RBI in game one of the series, Fox saw only two strikes in the second game of the series. One of those strikes went over the left field wall for a home run and the other came in one of her three walks during the game. In game three, Fox went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and yet another walk.
MOWATT (3/13-19, 3/20-26) AND HOLLOWELL (2/6-12; 2/13-19) NAMED PAC-10 PITCHER OF THE WEEK: Taryne Mowatt was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week for the second consecutive week. Against Louisiana-Lafayette, Mowatt became the first pitcher all year to shut out the prolific Ragin’ Cajun offense. Over the weekend she pitched 16.0 innings and gave up one run. The week before, Mowatt tossed a no-hitter and a perfect game at the Judi Garman Classic. In two games, Mowatt struck out 28 of the 37 opposing batters she faced. Alicia Hollowell has been named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week twice this year. Following the Kajikawa Classic (2/6-12), USA Softball named her its first National Player of the Week of the year for her performance in last week’s games. In three starts, Hollowell tossed no-hitters against No. 15 Northwestern and No. 6 Texas A&M, while surrendering one hit in a 2-0 win over Cal State Fullerton.
ARIZONA HEAD COACH MIKE CANDREA is in his 21st season at Arizona and carries a career 1,056-206 (.837) record in 20 years in the dugout. He is one of just five coaches to reach the 1,000 Division I victories, and was the fastest to do so (19 years of on-field coaching). 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 in 2004. 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. Candrea is also an eight-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year and a member of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He has led Arizona to six national championships and nine Pac-10 titles.
USA SOFTBALL NATIONAL COLLEGIATE PLAYER-OF-THE-YEAR WATCH LIST: Four Arizona players were named to the USA Softball POY pre-season watch list. Alicia Hollowell, Caitlin Lowe, Kristie Fox and Autumn Champion are the quartet of Wildcats featured on the 50-name list, which includes players representing 28 schools from 10 conferences.
AND THEN THERE WERE EIGHT: Okay, here’s the bad news: Arizona returned just eight of its 17 players from 2005. The good news is that half of the Wildcat returnees are All-Americans (Alicia Hollowell, Caitlin Lowe, Kristie Fox and Autumn Champion) and the other half had significant contributions in 2005, as well.
To cope with the lack of returners, UA brought in Chelsie Mesa, Laine Roth, Jenae Leles and Sam Banister (see “Newcomers Muscle Up”), as well as former soccer standout Kelly Nelson, manager Jill Malina and former Tucson High infielder Danielle Rodriguez.
LEADING THE PAC: Arizona leads the nation’s toughest conference in team batting average (.343), pitching ERA (0.58), and fielding percentage (.980). Additionally, UA’s offense is the only Pac-10 team to have scored 200 runs, so far, and it leads the Pac-10 in RBI (178), on-base percentage (.426) triples (11). UA pitchers have the most strikeouts (374), fewest walks (23), hits (74) and runs (18) allowed.
IF WE SCORE, WE WIN: Arizona is 29-0 in games in which it scores one run or more. UA’s only three losses this year have come when the prolific Wildcat offense has been shutout. UA averages 6.25 runs scored per game, while it limits opponents to 0.78 runs in a contest. Additionally, all three of UA’s losses have been, 1-0, affairs.
RBI FOR EVERYONE! Arizona’s offense has six players who average .5 RBI per game or better. The list includes all starters but the two set-up slappers, Autumn Champion and Adrienne Acton, as well as Callista Balko, who is one RBI away (15 in 32 games) from having .5 per game. A year ago, UA’s Kristie Fox led Division I with a 1.12 rate.
Here’s a breakdown of the Wildcats’ RBI per-game: Fox .87, Mesa .87, Roth .81, Leles .75, Banister .63 and Lowe .62.
Last year, only two players (Kristie Fox and Jackie Coburn) ended the season with RBI-per-game ratios of better than .5.
MULTI-HIT AND MULTI-RBI GAMES: Every Arizona starter, including the slappers, has at least one multi-RBI game and a minimum of three multi-hit games. Leading the way with nine multi-RBI games is Laine Roth. Chelsie Mesa has eight, while Kristie Fox and Jenae Leles both have a half dozen multi-RBI games, including a five-RBI game for Mesa and a six-RBI contest for Fox in the Baylor series.
In the multi-hit game category, Caitlin Lowe has a stranglehold over her teammates with 19 games with two or more hits. Kristie Fox (11), Autumn Champion (10), Laine Roth (8) and Chelsie Mesa (8) round out the top of the list. All told, UA batters have combined for 77 multi-hit and 48 multi-RBI games.
Both Champion and Mesa had four-hit games this past weekend against Louisiana-Lafayette. Prior to the series, only Caitlin Lowe had a four-hit game this year.
HITTING STREAK: Caitlin Lowe’s career-high 15-game hit streak was snapped in UA’s March 19 loss to Texas. Chelsie Mesa currently leads Arizona with a modest four-game streak.
WINNING STREAKS: Speaking of streaks, UA’s longest winning streak this year is 15 games, which were its first 15 contests of the year. The Wildcats’ March 16 loss to Texas A&M snapped a nine-game run. Arizona is currently riding a 23-game home winning streak, dating back to May 7, 2005.
PERFECTO! Taryne Mowatt’s no-hitter against UNLV and perfect game against Cal State Northridge were both firsts in her career. Mowatt became the 20th pitcher in Arizona softball history, and 10th since 1991 to no-hit an opponent. Mowatt’s perfect made her the just the third pitcher in UA history to retire every batter faced.
NO-NO: Alicia Hollowell has 16 career no-hitters. To put that figure in perspective, you can take any other two Wildcat hurlers (Susie Parra, Jennie Finch, Nancy Evans, Becky Lemke or Teresa Cherry, et al), combine their no-hit totals and they still will not amount to Hollowell’s total. As for UA’s other current pitchers, Taryne Mowatt and Leslie Wolfe have two and one career no-no’s, respectively.
ACE IN THE HOLE: With opponents fearful of facing three-time All-American Alicia Hollowell, some may feel relieved when they see Taryne Mowatt’s name next to position ?'1’ on the UA lineup card. Given Mowatt’s performance in her 15 starts, they should no such ease.
Here are a couple of ratios to compare the two hurlers:
ERA K/7 IP K:BB Opp. AVG
Mowatt 0.55 12.6 15.3* .111
Hollowell 0.57 13.7 18.9 .103
Mowatt walked two batters intentionally in the March 19 contest against Texas. Without the IBBs, her K:BB is 18.3.
STRIKEOUTS ARE NOW DOUBLE THE FUN: When Taryne Mowatt struck out Longhorn first baseman Jacqueline Williams on Feb. 26, she joined Alicia Hollowell as the first Wildcat pitching duo since 2002 to have 100 strikeouts apiece. In 2002, Jennie Finch and Jenny Gladding both topped the century mark in punch outs. Entering this weekend, Mowatt has 157 strikeouts on the year.
NOBODY EVER GOT ANYTHING FREE FROM UA: The Wildcat pitching staff hascombined to strikeout 374 opponent hitters in 203.2 innings pitched this season. What’s more, they have issued a total of 23 walks to opposing hitters. That’s one walk per 8.9 innings pitched and 16.3 strikeouts to the walk. In contrast, UA hitters have walked 112 times or 3.5 times a game.
TAKING BALLS AND TAKING NAMES: When Kristie Fox isn’t driving in one of her team-leading 28 RBI on the year, she may be doing a number of things, but one of them is not striking out. Fox has drawn 17 walks this year, while striking out just six times. The junior from San Diego, Calif., strikes out on average once every 15.7 at-bats. The rest of the Wildcats, strikeout every 4.5 at-bats.
STEALING WITH ACCURACY: Arizona has stolen 40 bases this year. What’s more, the thieves have been caught only twice in 42 attempts. Although Arizona State leads the Pac-10 with 74 stolen bases, the Sun Devils have been caught 11 times, for a respectable 87 percent success rate. The Wildcats, on the other hand, lead the conference with success in 95 percent of their stolen base attempts.
LIVE BY THE HOMER, DIE BY THE HOMER: Arizona’s pitchers have given up a miniscule 18 runs in 32 games. Of those dozen and a half runs, 11 have come via home run.
AN ANOMALY! This past weekend, when No. 10 Louisiana-Lafayette came to town, the Ragin’ Cajuns brought with them the title of being the most prolific home run hitting team in the country with 66 bombs in 26 games. Arizona’s pitchers did not allow a single home run to the Ragin’ Cajun hitters in the three-game sweep.
ACTION ACTON: Adrienne Acton’s speed has put the pressure on opposing defenses all year, as she has reached on an error seven times this year, including two four-base scoring plays. The rest of the Wildcats have combined to reach on an error 14 times.
GET AHEAD, STAY AHEAD: Arizona has trailed a total of four times all year. In addition to its three losses, the Wildcats were behind for three innings in its second of three games against Baylor.
THAT’S WHY THEY’RE ALL-AMERICANS: Arizona has had its ups and downs with runners in scoring position, but three hitters who have thrived in big spots are UA’s three All-American hitters. Arizona’s top three batters in RISP situations are Caitlin Lowe (.560), Autumn Champion (.444) and Kristie Fox (.405). Clean-up hitter Chelsie Mesa (an NJCAA All-American) is batting .364 in RISP situations.
PINCH WHAT? Taryne Mowatt’s at-bat against UNLV marked the first time Coach Candrea has sent a pinch-hitter to the plate this year.
PINCH RUNNERS: Kelly Nelson has appeared as a pinch runner in 19 games for UA. In doing so, she has scored 10 runs. Jill Malina and Danielle Rodriguez have appeared as a PR in 10 and eight games, respectively. Rodriguez scored the game-winning run in UA’s 2-1, nine-inning victory over Baylor on March 12.
JUST LIKE THE GOOD OL’ DAYS: This season, Arizona’s pitchers have lived by the old philosophy that if you start a game, you had better finish it. In UA’s 32 contests this year, Arizona’s starting pitcher has left the game prior to completing it only twice. The occurrences were Alicia Hollowell’s early exit vs. Texas on March 19 due to an injury and Leslie Wolfe’s this past Sunday.
EXTRA ALMOST EVERY TIME: Arizona has at least one extra-base hit in 28 of its 32 games this season for a total of 77. UA’s opponents, on the other hand, have 13 extra-base knocks.
THE OLD RED, WHITE & BLUE: Caitlin Lowe and Alicia Hollowell return to Arizona after a summer with the USA National Team. With Coach Candrea at the helm, Lowe started 11 of 12 games and hit a combined .357, while scoring six runs and going 4-for-4 on stolen base attempts, during several tournaments. Hollowell did not give up an earned run in 8.2 innings of work, during which time she struck out 12 batters. Kristie Fox was invited to numerous USA Softball tryouts, but declined invitations to play over the summer, as she was recovering from surgery on her throwing arm.
THROWN INTO THE HOT CORNER: Freshman Jenae Leles is the freshman since Jackie Coburn (2002) and Toni Mascarenas (1998) to start regularly at third base. Should Leles get moved to another position, fellow frosh Sam Banister waits in the wings to share the left side of the infield with Kristie Fox.
THE FIRST TWIN KILLING: In UA’s Feb. 12, 9-1, win over New Mexico, the Wildcats turned their first groundball double play since May 14, 2004 against UCLA. That’s 462.2 innings pitched between GDP’s.
The Wildcats turned a 6-4-3 GDP this past weekend, in the first inning of Friday’s victory over Louisiana-Lafayette.
DEFENSE WINS WHAT?:. With 15 only defensive hiccups in 739 fielding attempts, UA has a Pac-10 leading .980 fielding percentage. Opponents, on the other hand, have committed 39 errors for a .951 fielding clip. UA is error-free in 19 games this season.