TUCSON, Ariz. ?- The No. 3-ranked Arizona softball team opened the year with a pair of victories in its Pepsi Arizona Classic, beating Tulsa 3-0 behind a one-hitter by Alicia Hollowell, and following that with a 4-2 win over Kansas.
UA coach Mike Candrea, absent from Hillenbrand Stadium during the 2004 season while coaching the U.S. National team to a gold medal in the Athens Olympics, said succinctly, "It's a start."
WIldcat centerfielder Caitlin Lowe, among the nation's leaders in hitting in 2004 as a true freshman, knocked out five hits and stole three bases in the two games, while Kristie Fox was three-for-three in the Kansas game, but those were more than half of UA's 15 hits in the pair of contests.
Hollowell struck out 15 batters and threw no-hit ball for five and two-thirds innings before Golden Hurricane shortstop Stacey Walkingstick singled for Tulsa's first hit with one out in the sixth. Hollowell had not allowed a base runner walking Katie Torres in the fifth.
Arizona will be back in action on Saturday at 4 p.m. against Northwestern and at 6 p.m. against Oklahoma State. The Cats will finish play at the Pepsi Classic on Sunday at 2 p.m. versus New Mexico State. However, all games Friday after the opener were pushed back from announced starting times due to the length of the first contest.
Oklahoma State and Northwestern won a pair of games Friday to open the tourney. The Cowgirls beat NMSU 7-1 and Kansas by a score of 3-2. Northwestern beat NMSU in Game 2, 5-2, then whipped.Tulsa in the nightcap, 13-1.
Against Tulsa, the Cats scored a pair of runs in the top of the second. Freshman Adrienne Acton, pinch running for freshman catcher Callista Balko, scored on a Tulsa error and senior first baseman Crystal Farley scored on a slap single by junior Autumn Champion. The Cats' other run came in the sixth inning, when Balko singled to short and advanced on a sacrifice by Farley. Senior Candace Abrams had a pinch-hit RBI single to center, scoring Balko.
In Game 5 versus Kansas, Arizona did most of its scoring in the bottom of the first, when Lowe and Champion had back-to-back singles and stolen bases. Fox singled to right off Kansas pitcher Serena Settlemier, scoring Lowe and Champion. Fox scored on a sacrifice by senior Jackie Coburn to give Arizona a three-run advantage.
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Friday, Feb. 4
9:00 Oklahoma St. 7, New Mexico St. 1
11:00 Northwestern 5, New Mexico St. 2
1:00 Oklahoma St. 3, Kansas 2
3:00 Arizona 3, Tulsa 0
5:00 Arizona 4, Kansas 3
7:00 Northwestern 13, Tulsa 1
Saturday, Feb. 5
9:00 Kansas vs. New Mexico St.
11:00 Kansas vs. Northwestern
1:00 Tulsa vs. New Mexico St.
4:00 Arizona vs. Northwestern
6:00 Arizona vs. Oklahoma St.
8:00 Tulsa vs. Oklahoma St.
Sunday, Feb. 6
10:00 Northwestern vs. Oklahoma St.
12:00 Kansas vs. Tulsa
2:00 Arizona vs. New Mexico St.