Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Arizona Softball Regional Guide
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: May 19, 2006
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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For the 13th time in the last 15 years, the Arizona softball team will host an NCAA Regional in Tucson.  Fresh off of a 10-game winning streak, the Wildcats earned the second overall seed, and will begin regional play on Thursday, May 18 against Marist, beginning at 6:30 p.m. (MST) at Hillenbrand Stadium.







4 p.m.

1 - Auburn vs. Ohio State



6:30 p.m.

2  - Arizona vs. Marist



1:30 p.m.

3 ?- Winner 1 vs. Winner 2



4 p.m.

4 ?- Loser 1 vs. Loser 2



6:30 p.m.

5 ?- Winner 4 vs. Loser 3



3 p.m.

6 ?- Winner 3 vs. Winner 5



5 p.m.

7 ?- Winner 6 vs. Loser 6

 (if necessary; each has loss)



How They Got to the Regional ?-


Arizona (44-9, 15-6, Pac-10) enters the postseason with an at-large bid, after finishing 0.5 games back of Pac-10 champ UCLA.  Arizona comes into the regional as possibly the hottest team in the country; winners of their last 10 games, eight of which were against opponents seeded 14th or better.


Marist (33-11, 12-4, MAAC) is the only team in the Tucson Regional to enter as an automatic qualifier.  The Red Foxes won the MAAC tournament, but played only one team that was selected to the NCAA Tournament.  At the plate, Chrystine McHugh started all 44 games for Marist, hitting .421 with a team-high 15 home runs.  Jessica Green boasts a .319 batting average, while her 44 RBI are 16 more than her closest teammate in the category.  Despite their nickname the Red Foxes tend to move station to station, stealing only nine bases on 14 attempts during the season.  Additionally, their fielding has been a bit suspect, as evident in a .954 team fielding percentage with 64 errors on the year.  In the circle, Megan Rigos (22-5, 1.03 ERA) is the staff workhorse, as she appeared in all but nine games, starting 25 of them.  Rigos hurled eight shutouts on the year, while striking out 171 opponents in 192.2 innings of work.


Ohio State (38-21, 11-7 Big Ten) is a formidable opponent, if not a streaky one.  The Buckeyes, who made a second-round exit from the Big Ten Tournament at the hands of fourth-seeded Northwestern, enjoyed stretches of seven and 12-game winning strings over the course of the year.  As for facing ranked opponents, Ohio State is 5-4 against opponents ranked at the date of the contest, and 8-10 versus NCAA qualifiers.  The Buckeyes are led at the plate by Brittany Vanderlink’s .351 batting average, but missed Vanderlink for eight starts and 16 games earlier in the yaer.  Although no Buckeye has more than 32 RBI, a quartet of them (Megan Schwab, Jamee Jarez, Billie Carder and Courtney Pruner) have at least 30.  Unlike the previously mentioned Red Foxes, OSU will run an opponent to death.  The Buckeyes’ 76 stolen bases in 96 attempts are nearly double the 39 bags opponents have swiped against them.  In the circle, Kim Reeder and Juarez have identical 16-10 records, with 1.79 and 2.61 ERAs, respectively.  Defensively, OSU has 75 errors and a .956 fielding clip.  For more information on the Buckeyes, log on to


Auburn (34-20, 15-15, SEC) enters the regional after having dropped its last three games and six of its last eight.  After a 20-4 start, back-to-back series against then-second ranked Tennessee and No. 11 Georgia caused the Tigers to lose four of six against the SEC powerhouses.  Things did not get any easier for the Tigers, who won only one out of three against freshly-announced regional host Florida, and after a pair of non-conference wins they went 1-2 against another regional host, LSU.  All told, the Tigers went 5-10 against opponents ranked in the Top 25 at the time, and 8-12 against teams in the NCAA Tournament.  Auburn went through a bit of lineup shuffling throughout the year, as only five players started more than 40 of the team’s 54 games. One of those who did, Kristina McCain has a team-leading .369 batting average.  Sara Ghezzi (7 HR, 32 RBI), Tatiana Fernandez (7 HR, 35 RBI) and Ashley Griffin (8 HR, 22 RBI) provide the pop to a lineup that averaged 4.2 runs per game.  For more information on the Tigers, log on to


Arizona’s 20th NCAA Appearance ?- Arizona appears in its 20th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance (20th overall) since 1987, all under coach Mike Candrea, except in the case of 2004 when Larry Ray acted as head coach.  The Wildcats have qualified for the Women’s College World Series in 17 of the last 18 years, including a run of 16 consecutive trips to the WCWS, which ended in 2004.


Arizona has a record of 103-30 (.785) in all NCAA Tournament games.  In regional contests, Arizona is 55-8 (.873), with a 45-5 (.900) clip when playing the games in the friendly confines of Tucson.


For a more detailed look at Arizona’s national championship finishes see pages 52-54 of this year’s media guide.


For game-by-game results of Arizona’s NCAA Tournament history, see page 32 of this year’s media guide.


Arizona vs. the NCAA Tournament Field ?- Arizona is 30-9 against this year’s opponents included in the 64-team field.  Additionally, the Wildcats racked up a 24-9 record against squads ranked No. 18 or better at the time of the game. 


Arizona vs. the Tucson Regional Opponents ?- The Wildcats faced only Ohio State during the regular season.  UA took the game 5-1 at the Palm Springs Classic on Feb. 25.  The victory improved UA’s record to 15-0; the last game in the Wildcats’ season-high winning streak.


Arizona last played Auburn on Feb. 1, 2003 in UA’s third game since Jennie Finch’s 2002 departure.  The Wildcats won the match-up 6-0 with then-freshman and current senior Alicia Hollowell in the circle.


Below is the box score from the aforementioned Arizona-Ohio State game:



2006 Arizona Wildcats

Ohio State vs #1 Arizona

Feb 25, 2006 at Palm Springs, Calif. (Big League Dreams)


Ohio State 1 (6-7)


Player                             AB   R      H     BI

Koyano 2b                     2      0      1      0

Schwab lf                      3      0      0      0

Baker rf                          3      0      0      0

Pruner dh/p                  3      1      1      1

Hibma c                         2      0      0      0

 Hill pr                             0      0      0      0

Juarez 3b                       3      0      0      0

Douglas 1b                    3      0      0      0

Carder ss                       2      0      0      0

Lancaster cf                 1      0      0      0

 Vanderink ph               1      0      0      0

Reeder p/dh                 0      0      0      0

Totals......                       23   1      2      1


Arizona 5 (15-0)


Player                             AB   R      H     BI

Caitlin Lowe cf             4      0      2      0

Autumn Champion lf  4      0      1      0

Chelsie Mesa 2b          4      0      0      0

Kristie Fox ss                2      0      0      0

 Jill Malina pr                  0      1      0      0

Jenae Leles 3b             4      2      3      0

Callista Balko c             3      0      0      0

 D. Rodriguez pr           0      0      0      0

Sam Banister 1b           4      1      2      3

Laine Roth dh               2      1      1      0

 Kelly Nelson pr            0      0      0      0

Adrienne Acton rf       3      0      1      0

Alicia Hollowell p         0      0      0      0

Totals......                       30   5      10   3


Score by Innings                          R      H     E


Ohio State..........   000 100 0 -   1     2     2

Arizona.............     010 112 X -   5     10   0



E - Koyano(4); Pruner(1). LOB - Ohio State 3; Arizona 12. 2B - Leles(2). HR -

Pruner(4); Banister(3). HBP - Fox. SB - Lowe(12). CS - Hill(1).


Ohio State             IP     H     R      ER    BB   SO

Reeder  L,2-3        4.1  8      3      1      2      3     

Pruner                    1.2  2      2      2      2      3     


Arizona                  IP     H     R      ER    BB   SO

Hollowell  W,8-0   7.0  2      1      1      2      18


WP - Hollowell(1). HBP - by Pruner (Fox). PB - Hibma 2(2).


Strikeouts - Koyano; Schwab 3; Baker 2; Pruner 2; Hibma; Juarez 3; Douglas 3; Carder

2; Lancaster; Champion 2; Mesa; Balko 2; Banister. Walks - Koyano; Hibma; Fox;

Balko; Roth 2.


Umpires - HP: Debbie Lauderback  1B: Jeri McGwire  3B: Fred Barkley 

Start: 5:32 pm   Time: 2:06   Attendance: 400


Game notes:






UA on TV: Although Arizona did not get the same 15-game coverage of national television that it had in 2005, the Wildcats graced television sets for two games this year.  ESPNU televised Arizona’s 1-0 loss to Texas, its first defeat of the year.  FSN carried the Arizona-Stanford game on April 21 in Palo Alto via tape delay, a 4-1 UA victory.


USA SOFTBALL NATIONAL COLLEGIATE PLAYER-OF-THE-YEAR FINALISTS:  Two weeks ago, Caitlin Lowe and Alicia Hollowell were named to the USA Softball POY list of 10 finalists.  USA Softball cut its initial list of 25 candidates to 10, and will narrow the list down to three finalists before the Women’s College World Series.  Kristie Fox and Autumn Champion had been named to the 50-name pre-season watch list.


ARIZONA HEAD COACH MIKE CANDREA is in his 21st season at Arizona and carries a career 1,071-212 (.835) 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 a nine-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.