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No. 1 Arizona Softball Returns Home to Host Hillenbrand Invitational
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/01/2006
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POTENTIAL STARTING LINEUP

                                                   Avg.   Note

1.   Caitlin Lowe               CF   .481    Leads team with 1.093 OPS, 12 SB

2.   Autumn Champion  LF    .343    Has team-leading five-game hit streak

3.   Chelsie Mesa             2B   .341    Leads team with .636 SLG%, two 3B

4.   Kristie Fox                  SS    .413    Led team with six RBI last weekend

5.   Jenae Leles                3B   .233    Went 3-for-4 vs. Ohio State

6.   Callista Balko             C     .105    Three-quarters of hits have been XBH

5.   Sam Banister              1B   .283    Leads UA with 15 RBI

7.   Laine Roth                  DP   .349    Four of five RBI came last weekend

9.   Adrienne Acton        RF    .238    Two hits vs. Md. were first multi-hit game of year

 

PITCHING

                                        W-L   ERA    Note        

      Alicia Hollowell      8-0    0.14    120 career victories

      Taryne Mowatt        7-1    0.67    100 K this year

      Leslie Wolfe            0-0    0.00    0 ER in 9.0 IP in ?'05 postseason

 

THIS WEEK: No. 1 Arizona (15-1) returns home to host the Hillenbrand Invitational.  UA will play a round-robin schedule against Sam Houston, Long Beach State, Wichita State and South Florida.

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 3:

9 a.m. (MST)           Long Beach State vs. Wichita State

11 a.m. (MST)        South Florida vs. Wichita State

1 p.m. (MST)          South Florida vs. Sam Houston

3 p.m. (MST)        Arizona vs. Sam Houston (Poster Day)

5 p.m. (MST)        Arizona vs. Long Beach State

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 4

9 a.m. (MST)           South Florida vs. Long Beach State

11 a.m. (MST)        Sam Houston vs. Long Beach State

1 p.m. (MST)          Sam Houston vs. Wichita State

3 p.m. (MST)        Arizona vs. Wichita State (Poster Day)

5 p.m. (MST)        Arizona vs. South Florida

 

SUNDAY, MARCH 5

9 a.m. (MST)           No. 4 vs. No. 5

11 a.m. (MST)        No. 3 vs. Winner of 9 a.m. game

1 p.m. (MST)          No. 1 vs. No. 2

 

NOTING THE OPPONENTS:

 

FRIDAY, MARCH 4

SAM HOUSTON (5-6) ?- The Bearkats opened their season on a four-game winning streak, before dropping six of their next seven contests.  Sam Houston has not played an easy schedule, however, as three of the Bearkats losses have come to Texas and Baylor.  On Wednesday, March 1, SHSU is scheduled to face No. 14 Texas A&M.

 

Lauren Boone leads the team in most offensive categories including, batting average (.414), runs (12), hits (12), doubles (3), walks (12) and stolen bases (3-for-3).  Elizabeth Gibson provides the power for the offense, with her .345 batting average, three home runs and nine RBI. 

 

Shalayne Blythe and Brandi Crnkovic have split most of the innings this year, as they have combined to pitch 53.0 of SHSU’s 65.2 innings.  Among them, they have all but one of the Bearkats’ pitching decisions.

 

LONG BEACH STATE (8-6) ?- The defending Big West champs have an up and down season, with several of their losses coming to No. 10 Oklahoma and No. 13 Washington.  More recently, the 49ers are coming off a 1-4 performance at San Diego State’s tournament last weekend.  Tiffanie Wendell and Michelle Turner lead the 49er offense with 20 of Beach’s 48 RBI and .356 and .311 batting averages, respectively.  Turner doubles up as the 49er’s top pitcher in the circle, with her 1.03 ERA and 5-4 record.

 

Long Beach State is the only team to defeat UCLA, thus far, in 2006.

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 5

WICHITA STATE (8-5) ?- The Shockers are riding a five-game winning streak, and have won eight of their last nine, entering the week.  They are scheduled to play a mid-week contest against Missouri, prior to competing in the Hillenbrand Invitational

 

SOUTH FLORIDA (10-6) ?- The Bulls have played only two games away from home this year, but are ready to take their show on the road, after hosting three tournaments.  USF will play Florida on Wednesday, March 1, prior to competing in the Hillenbrand Invitational.  The Bulls are led by Kattrina Dowd and Krista Holle’s .593 and .373, respective, batting averages.  In the circle, Bree Spencer is .4-0, with a 0.67 ERA and 34 strikeouts to just one walk.

 

SUNDAY, FEB. 19

TO BE DETERMINED

 

LAST WEEK RECAP: The top-ranked Arizona softball team went 4-1 at the Palm Springs Classic.  UA defeated Texas Tech, No. 8 Texas A&M, Maryland and Ohio State, before losing to No. 4 Texas.  The loss to Texas was UA’s first of the year.

 

Senior Autumn Champion returned to the lineup and led the team with her .500 (7-for-14) batting average.  Champion’s classmate Alicia Hollowell moved into sole possession of second place on UA’s all-time victories list, with her 120th career win. 

 

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, Arizona’s all-time strikeout and innings pitched record holder, is just a few games from her next major benchmark.  Hollowell currently has 120 career victories, good for second on UA’s all-time list.  The only former Wildcat with more W’s than Hollowell is current assistant coach Nancy Evans (124).

 

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: Junior center fielder Caitlin Lowe joined 15 other Wildcats when she reached the 200-hit plateau, at the Worth Wildcat Invitational on Feb. 19.  Just 16 games into her junior season, Lowe has 209 hits and could challenge Allison McCutcheon’s (1995-98) 405 career base knocks come spring 2007.

 

Also at the Worth Wildcat, Lowe moved up in the record books in another category.  With 12 stolen bases this year, Lowe has swiped 86 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.

 

Autumn Champion is currently tied for eighth on the all-time stolen bases list, with 57 career SB.  She is currently tied with Julie Standering and is one behind Toni Mascarenas’ 58 swiped bags. 

 

HOLLOWELL NAMED PAC-10 PITCHER OF THE WEEK (2/6-12; 2/13-19): Alicia Hollowell has 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 1,042-204 (.836) record in 20 years in the dugout.  At the time of this release, Candrea’s career winning percentage is the best in NCAA history.  Additionally, 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.

 

WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM: In addition to freshman infielders Laine Roth, Jenae Leles and Sam Banister, and as 2005 NJCAA Player of the Year Chelsie Mesa, UA delved into the rest of the athletic department for additional players.

 

With only 12 rostered players and three weeks to Opening Day, UA brought in senior outfielder Kelly Nelson, freshman outfielder Jill Malina and sophomore infielder Danielle Rodriguez.  Nelson is a four-year letterwinner with UA’s soccer team, Malina was originally slated to be a softball manager, and Rodriguez made the squad in an open tryout.  For more information regarding the three late additions, log on to ArizonaAthletics.com to see their bios.

 

NEWCOMERS CATCH ON QUICKLY: Laine Roth, Jenae Leles, Sam Banister and Chelsie Mesa have started all 16 of UA’s games this season.  The quartet of newbies has combined to hit .301, with seven of UA’s 10 home runs, three of the team’s four triples and 56 percent of Arizona’s RBI.

 

LEADING THE PAC: Arizona’s pitching staff leads the Pac-10 Conference in virtually every major category.  The Wildcat hurlers have the lowest ERA, walks allowed, runs, earned runs and opposing batting average.  They also have the highest number of shutouts, complete games and strikeouts.

 

GOING FOR THREE: Last year, Arizona had a total of five triples in its 57 games, the year before Arizona had only three three-baggers.  In this young season, the Wildcats have four triples, or one in every four games.  Given that the team has averaged 66 games a year over the last decade, UA is on pace for about 16 triples.  The last time an Arizona team had 10 triples was 2000, and school record is 20 three-baggers, which has occurred three times.

 

Autumn Champion’s triple against Texas A&M 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.  Incidentally, Caitlin Lowe, who had four of UA’s five triples in 2005 has not hit one, thus far.

 

HITTING STREAK: When Chelsie Mesa’s team-leading 11-game hitting streak was snapped against Ohio State, Autumn Champion took over with the new team lead.  Champion currently boasts a modest five-game streak.

 

PITCHER/HITTER/LEFT FIELDER: Entering her sophomore season, Taryne Mowatt was expected to mature from her frosh campaign, in which she went 8-1 with a 1.80 ERA.  She has done that and more. 

 

In the circle, Mowatt is 7-1, with three complete-game shutouts, and her numbers have an uncanny resemblance to three-time All-American Alicia Hollowell.

 

Here are a couple of ratios to compare the two hurlers:

                    ERA     K/7 IP     K:BB        Opp. AVG

Mowatt       0.67    13.5        16.7        .115

Hollowell   0.14    14.4        26.3        .083

 

Two weeks ago, in lieu of Autumn Champion in the lineup, Mowatt also became the first UA pitcher since Wendy Allen to pick up a bat.  The sophomore from Corona, Calif., is still looking for her first hit, but has been productive in her eight plate appearances.  Mowatt has laid down two sacrifice bunts, had an RBI groundout and flied out to right to advance a runner from second to third.  Mowatt has moved the runner over in all four of her plate appearances, in which she has had an opportunity to do so.  When not pitching, she has been perfect in 14.0 innings in left field.

 

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. 

 

NOBODY EVER GOT ANYTHING FREE FROM UA: Alicia Hollowell and Taryne Mowatt have combined to strikeout 205 opponent hitters in 103.0 innings pitched this season.  What’s more, they have issued a total of 10 walks to opposing hitters.  That’s one walk per 10.3 innings pitched and 20.5 strikeouts to the walk.  In contrast, UA hitters have walked 38 times.

 

LIVE BY THE HOMER, DIE BY THE HOMER: Arizona’s pitchers have given up a miniscule six runs in 16 games.  Of those half dozen runs, four have come via solo home run.

 

A-RROR PRONE: In the Worth Wildcat Invitational sophomore right fielder Adrienne Acton accomplished the rare feat of having two error-driven inside-the-park “home runs” against Tennessee Tech.  In back-to-back innings, Acton hit two ground balls, which Golden Eagle infielders threw into right field.  In both freak plays, Acton came all 240 feet around the bases to score.

 

Acton’s speed has put the pressure on opposing defenses all year, as she has reached on an error six times this year.  The rest of the Wildcats have combined to reach on an error seven times.

 

FAST STARTS: With two or three All-Americans occupying the first three spots in the batting order, Arizona has made a living scoring runs in the first frame off the ballgame.  The Wildcats have scored 21 runs in the first inning of games this year, the most of any inning.  Arizona’s best start came against No. 6 Texas A&M, when UA tagged All-American Aggie Amanda Scarborough with seven runs, prior to three outs being recorded.

 

THAT’S WHY THEY ARE ALL-AMERICANS: The Wildcats have had some struggles this season when it comes to hitting with runners in scoring position.  UA is batting .268 (41-for-153) with one or more RISP, while hitting .339 (83-for-245 in non-RISP situations.

 

Only a few Wildcats who have thrived in big spots this year, three are All-Americans and the other is UA’s RBI leader.  Veterans Caitlin Lowe (.429, 6-for-14), Autumn Champion (.333, 5-for-15) and Kristie Fox (.300, 6-for-20) are joined by freshman Sam Banister (.333, 8-for-24) as the only Wildcats hitting .300 or better in RISP situations

 

PINCH WHAT? Head coach Mike Candrea has yet to send a pinch hitter to the plate this year.

 

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 16 contests this year, Arizona’s starting pitcher has also been the hurler finishing the game.  There has yet to be a relief pitcher entering the game for Arizona.

 

EXTRA ALMOST EVERY TIME: Arizona has at least one extra-base hit in 14 of its 16 games this season, for a total of 34.  UA’s opponents, on the other hand, have four extra-base knocks.

 

HOW DO YOU DEFINE DOMINATION? For four years, opposing hitters have found themselves completely over-matched against Alicia Hollowell.  This year is no different, as she is yet to allow a run.  Additionally, she has allowed the opposition to reach third base only four times in 51.0 innings.  She has given up only one extra-base hit and has struck out 60 percent of opposing hitters.

 

NOT GOING DOWN QUIETLY, OR QUICKLY: Arizona offense leads the Pac-10 in on-base percentage and has taken advantage of almost every inning and opportunity.  In its 15 victories this season, UA has had at least one runner reach base in 82.8 percent (72-of-87) of its innings.  Arizona’s pitchers, on the other hand, have allowed opponents to reach base in under 40 percent of the innings in the 15 games.

 

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.

 

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