April 8, 2009
Cats Host Duel in the Desert
Up Next: After dropping two of three over the weekend, the No. 10 Arizona Wildcats (32-9, 4-2 Pac-10) will look to rebound when they host the No. 5 Arizona State Sun Devils for a two-game set this weekend at Hillenbrand Stadium. Both games will be broadcasted locally via the airwaves, courtesy of IMG Sports. David Kelly and Erika Hanson will have the game call.
Friday, April 10 vs. Arizona State, 7 p.m. (Hillenbrand Stadium)
KTUC 1400 AM
Saturday, April 11 vs. Arizona State, 7 p.m.
KCUB 1290 AM
Noting the Sun Devils: No. 5 Arizona State (34-7, 4-2 Pac-10) is once again led by one of the best sluggers in the nation, senior Kaitlin Cochran. The Yorba Linda, Calif. native is hitting .458 at the plate, and her .637 on-base percentage leads the nation. She leads the team with 17 home runs, good for third in the nation, and has drawn 41 walks, among the nation’s best. As a team, the Devils are batting .343, behind Arizona’s national-leading average of .350. Much like their rivals to the south, ASU’s offense has bailed out their defense. The Sun Devil pitching staff has a 2.93 ERA, led by freshman hurler Hillary Bach (19-2) with a 2.31 ERA. The Oklahoman has tossed 133.1 innings, giving up 122 hits, 44 earned runs and 98 strikeouts. Both junior Megan Elliott (9-4) and sophomore Megan Ellsworth (6-1) could see time this weekend.
ASU This Week: Arizona State defeated UNLV twice during a doubleheader on Tuesday night. In the first game, ASU tied an NCAA record with 10 home runs hit in a 20-10 victory over the Rebels. The Devils won the second game by a score of 15-2, blasting five more long balls.
Last Week: Arizona headed on the toughest Pac-10 road trip of the season, flying from Tucson to Seattle to Los Angeles in a span of two days.
Seattle was the first stop for the Wildcats. On Friday, the Wildcats were greeted by a pregame shower, but not enough to halt game action. All-American pitcher Danielle Lawrie did, however, halt the Arizona bats, no-hitting the Wildcats for the first time since Southern Mississippi’s Courtney Blades tossed a no-no in the 2000 Women’s College World Series. Washington scored two unearned runs early, then exploded for four in the sixth. Lawrie faced the minimum number of batters in the game, issuing only one walk to Victoria Kemp. Jennifer Martinez held her own in tossing a complete game, but didn’t receive the offensive support she had hoped for.
Fresh off a 954 mile plane ride into Southern California, the Wildcat bats awakened against UCLA on Saturday. After giving up two runs in the first, Arizona exploded for nine unanswered runs on 11 hits in a 9-2 victory. Lauren Schutzler gave UA the lead in the second with a three-run jack, then Sam Banister knocked in two with a fifth-inning single. Stacie Chambers led off the seventh with a home run, then consecutive doubles from the freshman duo of Kristen Arriola and Karissa Buchanan plated two more. Schutzler capped the scoring with an RBI groundout. Sarah Akamine (14-4) picked up the win.
Sunday was much like Friday for Arizona. The bats once again fell dormant, minus a first-inning Jenae Leles home run – which turned out to be the only hit of the game for UA. The Cats jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second thanks to an unearned run from Lini Koria, but UCLA tied the game in their half with a two-out single. An two-out RBI single the next inning gave the Bruins the lead, and Megan Langenfeld no-hit the Wildcats the rest of the way as UCLA won 3-2. Jennifer Martinez (7-3) was charged with the loss, giving up 3 two-out runs.
Track the Cats: Free GameTracker live stats sponsored by Tucson Electric Power, are provided for all home games and many road games (depending on Internet access) via arizonaathletics.com. Many road opponents provide the service through their web sites as well. All-Access video streaming of home games also is available through UA’s web site. A number of games will be broadcast by UA partner IMG Sports and KCUB 1290 AM Radio. Those games are noted on the schedule on the first page.
Top of the Line Coaching: Arizona's coaching staff includes three mentors who have taken a combined 27 different teams to the Women's College World Series as head coaches -- Mike Candrea's 19, one by assistant Larry Ray (filling in for Candrea during the 2008 Olympic year) and seven by assistant Teresa Wilson. Thrown in former UA star Amy Hillenbrand (née Chellevold), the volunteer coach and first Wildcat to be named an All-American all four years of her playing days (1992-95), and you add four WCWS as a player and five more as an assistant to Candrea from 1996-2000. That's a whole lot of teaching at the top level of the game. It's as good a staff as exists in collegiate softball, and arguably the best. Candrea's leadership and strategy (notably defense), Ray's short game and outfield teaching, Wilson's pitching expertise and Hillenbrand's bat work and base running fundamentals give Arizona the full complement.
Arizona Head Coach Mike Candrea: Candrea enters his 24th season at the helm of the Arizona softball program. He boasts a 1,163-237-2 (.831) record in his 22nd season in the dugout. In the two seasons away from Tucson, he coached the U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal in Athens, Greece and a silver in Beijing, China. He was named a finalist for USOC Coach of the Year on March 19, 2008, and won the award in 2004. In January, he was inducted into the inaugural Hall Of Fame class at Central Arizona College. Candrea also was 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. He has led Arizona to eight national championships, 10 Pac-10 titles and is one of just five Division I coaches to have won over 1,100 career games.
Assistant Coach Larry Ray: In 2008, Ray assumed the position of interim head coach and took the team to their 20th WCWS appearance in 21 years. Ray has a 265-131 (.669) career record as a head coach, and five NCAA Championships as an assistant. He possesses a powerful combination of head coaching experience and familiarity with Arizona softball. Ray spent five years as Florida’s first head coach, and in 1998 he was named the SEC Coach of the Year after leading the Gators to an SEC Eastern Division title and a trip to the NCAA Regional Championships. He returned to Arizona in 2002, and in 2004 he led the Wildcats to a 55-6 record and a Pacific-10 Championship.
Assistant Coach Teresa Wilson: Wilson joined the staff in October after establishing herself as a nationally recognized mentor at four programs as head coach. She has 15 years of Pac-10 head coaching experience and most recently held the reigns at Texas Tech, after stints at Oregon, Minnesota and Washington. Wilson has led her teams to seven WCWS appearances and took Washington to 10 final top-15 standings in the polls. The Pickering, Mo. native pitched at Missouri, earning All-American honors her senior year after leading the Tigers to an AIAW and two WCWS appearances. She is the first person to both play and coach in the WCWS.
Volunteer Assistant Amy Hillenbrand: Hillenbrand has worked as an elite athlete representative for the ASA board of directors for the last 10 years, and also sat on the board oversight committee. She has also served on the selection committee for the U.S Women's National Team since 2004, and now serves as the athlete representative to the U.S. Olympic Committee for the sport of softball.
On the playing side, Hillenbrand left the college game in 1995 as the NCAA career leader in hits (371) and runs (252), plus finished at UA with a career batting average of .415, the top mark on Arizona's chart until Alison McCutcheon eclipsed her mark in 1998. Hillenbrand's career average is one of only nine Wildcats above .400.
Top of the Order Troubles: One- and two-hole hitters Brittany Lastrapes and K’Lee Arredondo went a combined 0-for-20 this past weekend. Though their troubles may have been magnified in a 1-2 outing for UA, Lastrapes was coming off a .727 weekend at the dish, and Arredondo was coming off a 9 RBI weekend.
Lineup Card: With K’Lee Arredondo’s return two weeks ago, this is the projected 1-through-9 for this weekend:
1. Brittany Lastrapes – LF
2. K’Lee Arredondo – SS
3. Jenae Leles – 3B
4. Stacie Chambers – C
5. Sam Banister – 1B
6. Lini Koria – DP
7. Laine Roth – 1B
8. Victoria Kemp – 2B
9. Lauren Schutzler – CF
Pick Your Poison: Arizona’s lineup may very well be one of the most feared in softball. The 1-through-4 hitters are hitting an average of .406 at the plate, with a combined 55 home runs, and that’s with Arredondo having only played in 21 games. The bottom five are hitting .320, with 30 jacks, and if you want to pitch around the big bats of Banister and Koria, you reach an All-American who is known to heat up at this time of the season, Roth.
Up Against RBI History: Stacie Chambers has a superlative 72 RBI in 41 games, leading the nation with 1.76 per contest. That kind of pace is difficult to keep up for a full season with Pac-10 pitching, indeed. It also underscores some of the historically significant run producers in the Arizona program. If Chambers did stay on that track, with about two dozen games left in the regular
season, she'd finish at around 99 RBI. That would be the fourth-best total in Arizona single-season history behind the NCAA-record 129 by Laura Espinoza in 1995, 109 by Jenny Dalton in 1996 and 100 by Leah Braatz in 1998. She clearly has a shot at the most recent high total, 79 by eventual Olympic gold medalist Lovie Jung in 2003, the No. 9 figure in UA history. Reaching the top 10 chart will take 78 -- the number of RBI Braatz had in 1997.
Standout Performances: Three RBI in one game is a lot. Wildcats have done it individually 47 times this year. But, that's one level. Arizona has 25 4+ RBI games. Think that’s a lot? Stacie Chambers has had 5 5+ RBI games, her latest: a seven-RBI performance against New Mexico four weekends ago.
Mercy Me: In a streak that ended a month ago, Arizona had won five consecutive games in five innings by way of the run-ahead rule. The last Arizona squad to accomplish this feat was the 1995 team that won six straight five inning games. Keep in mind, though, that the run-rule can also be enforced after the fifth. For example, the 2003 team had a streak of six games won by the mercy rule, however, one of those games went six innings.
Yard Ball Notes: Arizona has 91 home runs, 28 of those with no runners aboard. One reason for the solo-weighted jacks is that UA has 15 leadoff homers to start innings. The club has eight grand slams: Stacie Chambers has three, while Sam Banister, Lini Koria, Kristen Arriola, K’Lee Arredondo and Brittany Lastrapes have one each. UA hit an astounding 31 home runs a month ago, and added 11 more two weekends ago. Arizona has 174 HRBIs – runs batted in off of long balls – so far this season.
More Jack Smack: Some of Arizona’s bombs have come from the usual suspects, some not. Stacie Chambers leads the team and the nation with 23, including three grand slams; Jenae Leles upped her total to 18 last week; Freshman Lini Koria has 10 jacks along with sophomore Brittany Lastrapes; Sam Banister has nine to her name; Kristen Arriola belted her fifth against NMSU; Lauren Schutzler has belted four home runs along with Laine Roth’s four early-season blasts; Victoria Kemp slammed her third homer of the season against Oregon; Alicia Banks nabbed a pinch-hit homer against UTEP.
Going Streaking: Not much in this column, thanks to Washington’s Danielle Lawrie. Jenae Leles tallied the only hit of the Sunday game against UCLA, and rides a simple two-game streak into this weekend. Lauren Schutzler’s team-high 16-game hitting streak came to an end against Simon Fraser. It was the longest streak in two seasons for the Cats.
Who’s No. 1?: As Pac-10 play continues, Sarah Akamine has taken over the ERA lead on the team. Her 2.38 ERA betters both Jennifer Martinez’s and Lindsey Sisk’s. Martinez has still tallied more strikeouts than Akamine and Sisk and though her record is better, she seemed to struggle against Washington and UCLA. In 25 of the games that Martinez has appeared in, she has finished 17 of them.
Double Trouble: Brittany Lastrapes has taken the doubles lead on the team. With 16, she sits three shy of K’Lee Arredondo’s mark from last season. Arredondo sits third on the single-season doubles list with 19, a mark that Lastrapes is on track to eclipse. Arredondo had three in the first four games this season. In historical perspective, Arredondo needs just eight more to crack the UA career top-10 for doubles.
Late-Inning Goods: The Cats could use some better focus at the plate at the ends of games. UA has played 15 run-shortened games (all victories) so the late innings have come at a somewhat discounted rate. Still, the Cats have scored 72, 51, 73, and 66 runs in the first through fourth innings and a combined 91 afterward including 28 in seventh innings. In the last four seasons, UA has compiled a 137-2 record when leading after five innings, and a 134-1 mark when ahead after six. Conversely, the Cats were 2-16 when trailing after four innings and one win fewer after five in 2008. UA dropped all 17 decisions when down after six and since 2005, Arizona is 4-51 when trailing in the final frame. If there was one tenet coach Mike Candrea has preached in his quarter-century of excellence at Arizona, it's to finish games.
Simple Reasoning: In Arizona's seven losses the opponents have scored 47 runs to 18 by the Cats. That will do it. In its victories the average score is Arizona 8, Opponents 2... UA has surpassed the 300 run mark for the year, something it's done every year since 1992 except for the 2005 campaign when it checked in with 261. The club is already at 358 runs, an average of 8.73 per contest.
National Leaders: On the left side of the page you will find a list of where Arizona is ranked in national statistics. Though Pac-10 season looms, Arizona’s offensive prowess can be seen in the numbers. Stacie Chambers, Jenae Leles and Brittany Lastrapes account for much of Arizona’s offensive firepower. In years past, this list probably would have included an Arizona pitcher or two…
Friendly Confines: Over 6,500 people came through the Hillenbrand Stadium gates to watch the home opening weekend. With three dates this past week, 6,964 people passed through the Hillenbrand gates. The numbers are on track to break records for attendance in a single season. Right now, the Cats are averaging 2,312 per game, as opposed to 1,900 – last’s season’s total.
The Rankings: Arizona sat at seventh in both the NFCA/USA Today and the USA Softball/ESPN.com preseason rankings. ESPN.com’s Graham Hays picked Arizona at No. 9 in his preseason poll, and the Pac-10 coaches’ poll placed Arizona at No. 4 in the conference. Arizona has been ranked No. 1 in the country for at least part of the year every season since 1991. This week Arizona is ranked 10th in the NFCA poll and 13th in the USA Softball/ESPN.com poll.
Smarty Cats: Shortstop K’Lee Arredondo was named to last season’s Pac-10 All-Academic first team, and outfielder Jill Malina was named to the 2007 Pac-10 All-Academic second team.
Arizona Softball in Historical Perspective: Arizona began play in 1974 and sports an all-time record of 1,519-438-2. The Cats are 359-97-1 in Pac-10 play, which began in 1987. Since 1982 and NCAA Division I Championships play began, Arizona is 1,345-332-2. UA has appeared in 22 NCAA Championships, has won the Women’s College World Series eight times in 20 trips, and has secured 10 Pac-10 titles.
Turnstiles Turning – Again: Through 16 seasons in Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium, Arizona has a record of 496-39, including a home field winning streak of 70 games from May 5, 2000 to April 6, 2002, which is still an NCAA record. In Pac-10 games alone, UA touts a 174-25 record, and has a 51-5 record in NCAA action. Looking at the records, it’s not hard to see what keeps the fans coming back for more. Hillenbrand Stadium’s aggregate attendance mark passed 500,000 last season, helped by the seventh highest attended game in history – a 7-6 Saturday night comeback win against Oregon State on April 26. UA has led the nation in attendance per game the last three seasons and since its opening, Hillenbrand Stadium has been able to call itself the national champion just as many times as the team has. Call (520) 621-CATS or log on to arizonaathletics.com for ticket information.
USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Candidate List: Senior third baseman Jenae Leles, junior catcher Stacie Chambers and sophomore outfielder Brittany Lastrapes were named to the exclusive 25-name list. Arizona is scheduled to face many of the highly-touted players.
Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award Watch: Jenae Leles was named one of 10 finalists for the national award. To vote, log onto seniorclassaward.com or text SB3 to 839863.
Wildcat Signees: The Arizona coaching staff signed three high school seniors to National Letters of Intent during the November early signing period. Brigette DelPonte (C/INF, Sunrise Mountain High School, Peoria, Ariz.) Kenzie Fowler (P, Canyon del Oro High School, Tucson, Ariz.), Baillie Kirker (3B/1B, Crescenta Valley High School, Montrose, Calif.) and Rebecca Tikey (OF, Horizon High School, Scottsdale, Ariz.) are all committed to enroll at the UA next fall.