The No. 2 Arizona softball team will travel to Tempe to take on No. 20 Arizona State at 7 p.m. PST on Wednesday, April 6, at ASU’s Farrington Stadium. The Cats will head back home to Tucson for a weekend matchup with Oregon and No. 12 Oregon State from April 8-10. Friday’s game against OSU will start at 7:30 p.m. PST and will be televised on ESPNU. Saturday’s 6 p.m. game against Oregon will air on ESPN2, and Sunday’s 1 p.m. re-match with the Ducks will show on ESPNU.
The second-ranked Wildcats opened their Pac-10 season with a pair of wins and one loss to No. 3 Cal. Arizona got its first conference win last Friday against No. 6 Stanford, 4-2. After allowing a first-inning, four-base error to give Stanford its only two runs of the night, Arizona came back with a run in the first and another in the third to tie it up. In the fifth, the Cats loaded the bases and scored a pair of runs on two fielder’s choices and a Cardinal error to go up, 4-2. Saturday’s win over No. 3 Cal was a close one, in which Arizona trailed by two until the bottom of the seventh with two out. Arizona loaded the bases and Kristie Fox came through with a clutch, walk-off grand slam to give the Cats the 4-2 win. But on Sunday, the Bears came back and handed Arizona its first Pac-10 loss, 6-3. Alicia Hollowell pitched the first 4.1 innings and gave up a season-high eight hits and five runs before Leslie Wolfe relieved her for the rest of the game. Arizona’s batters were hitless until the fifth inning and scoreless until the sixth, when Jackie Coburn hit her sixth homer of the year, a three-run shot to right.
Head Coach Mike Candrea is in his 20th year with Arizona and carries a career record of 1010-194. Candrea returned to Arizona after taking a year off to coach the U.S. Olympic softball team to a 9-0 record and a gold medal in Athens. Candrea was also awarded the Olympic Shield award, the U.S. Olympic Committee’s most prestigious award, in January. Candrea’s award, given for outstanding service to the USOC and the Olympic movement, marked the first time in history that 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 seven Pac-10 titles.
Larry Ray (Idaho State ?'74) took over as head coach for Mike acting assistant head coach this season, and carries an overall record of 224-112, including five years as head coach of Florida. Associate head coach Nancy Evans is a former Honda Award winner as a player at Arizona. Evans has been an assistant at UA since 1999.
As of April 5, the Cats are No. 2 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll.The NFCA/USA Today poll, in which the Cats have been steadily ranked since 1989, will be released on April 6. Arizona was ranked preseason No. 3 in the NFCA poll, behind UCLA and Cal.
ESPN.com/USA Softball: 2(4/5), 2(3/29), 2(3/22), 1(3/15), 1(3/8), 1(3/1), 1(2/22), 1(2/15)
NFCA/USA Today: 2(3/30), 2(3/23), 1(3/16), 1(3/9), 1(3/2), 2(2/23), 2(2/16)
Wildcat Softball Quick Notes:
... Alicia Hollowell got another two wins and one loss last weekend, but her ERA jumped up 23 points from last week, to 0.72. She allowed 22 hits over the weekend and six earned runs. In her previous 18 appearances she had allowed just nine earned runs. On the up-side, Hollowell’s win over Cal on Saturday marked her 100th career victory...
...For the first time this season Kristie Fox’s batting average dropped below .400 (.392). She had two hits in 10 at-bats last weekend, but fortunately for Arizona, one of those hits was a timely walk-off grand slam off Cal pitcher Kristina Thorson...
...Caitlin Lowe started the weekend with a hot bat, going five-for-seven in the first two games and scoring four runs. In Sunday’s loss to Cal, Lowe went hitless, striking out three times in four at-bats...
... Despite cooling off on Sunday, Lowe still leads Arizona’s hitters with a .514 average. She also has the most hits, runs, stolen bases, and is tied with Autumn Champion , Taryne Mowatt and Allyson Von Liechtenstein for best fielding percentage with a 1.000 mark. Her perfect fielding carries over from last year’s flawless season percentage...
... Autumn Champion had at least one hit in all of the Wildcats’ Pac-10 games last weekend. She is third in batting average with a .370 mark, and also third in hits (34) and runs (25)...
... Arizona’s loss to Cal on Sunday snapped a four-game win streak over the Bears. It also snapped the Cats’ 12-game home win streak...
... The Cats came close to being no-hit Sunday against Cal pitcher Kelly Anderson, which would have marked the first time since the 2000 College World Series against Southern Mississippi...
Role Change: Lowe’s on-base percentage actually drops when she is leading off an inning. Lowe has reached base 24 of the 49 times when she has led off an inning (.490), but increases to an on-base percentage of .588 (40-68) when toeing the box any other time in the frame.
Senior Crystal Farley, on the other hand, has a .429 on-base percentage (9-21) when leading off an inning. When the lefty comes up later in an inning, her OBP drops to .348 (24-69).
Lowe Impact: Caitlin Lowe’s 18 multi-hit games are double that of any other Wildcat. Kristie Fox and Autumn Champion both have nine multi-hit games.
Seasons are Changing: Autumn Champion’s nine-game hitting streak is the longest current of any UA hitter. In those nine games, Champion is hitting .471 (16-34). In the previous 22 games, Champion hit .310 (18-58).
Clutching Up: In seven of the Wildcat’s last 14 wins, senior Jackie Coburn has been responsible for either the run or RBI that pushed the contest Arizona’s way.
Stealing Bases: The Cats are 49-for-54 (.907) in stolen bases this year, as compared to Arizona’s opponents, which have stolen eight of 14 (.571). The top of the order for the Cats (Caitlin Lowe, Autumn Champion and Kristie Fox) has combined to steal 37 bags.
Slowing Down: After stealing 15 bases in their first four games of the year, the Wildcats have swiped just six in their last nine games. Incidentally, in 10 games against ranked opponents this year, Arizona has stolen eight bags (0.8 SB/G). In 20 games against non-ranked opponents, UA has stolen 41 bases (2.1 SB/G). Of Arizona’s final 18 games, all but three will be played against ranked opponents.
Two-Out Drop Off: UA’s Pac-10-leading team batting average of .313 drops to just .272 when a Wildcat comes up with two down.
If Someone Gets On: Kristie Fox holds a .464 (32-69) batting average with runners on base, but drops to .242 (8-33) with the bases empty.
Pinch Hits: Senior Candace Abrams has three of the team’s four pinch hits this season.
Power Drop Off: The Cats have hit just 19 home runs as a team this year, after hitting 47 through 31 games in 2004.
If You’re Not Leading Off, Forget It: Opposing hitters have an on-base percentage of .221 (31-140) against Alicia Hollowell, but drop to .119 (46-385) when coming up any other time in the frame.
Two Wrongs Make a Right: Arizona committed two errors in back-to-back games for the first time this year in victories over No. 8 Oklahoma and No. 24 Fresno State. UA has committed multiple defensive miscues in just five of 31 games thus far. Opponents have committed more than one error in 12 games, including five of the last seven.
A Marksman behind the Dish: Freshman catcher Callista Balko has thrown out four of the eight runners who have attempted to steal a base this year. In conference play, Balko has thrown out three of four runners. Additionally, the frosh has had just one passed ball.
Nothing was Free: Alicia Hollowell had walked just two batters in her last 65.2 innings pitched before handing out a career-high seven free passes in the next five innings (March 27 at Louisiana-Lafayette). In her 65 inning stretch, she struck out 109 batters. In that time, UA’s hitters drew 49 walks.
For the entire season, Hollowell’s 271 strikeouts against 26 walks is a figure that stands up both against former Wildcats, as well as current opponents. Hollowell’s 10.4 K:BB ratio is significantly higher than the ratios posted by Nancy Evans and Jennie Finch in their combined three National Player of the Year seasons. Evans had 6.4 strikeouts to the walk in 1998, while Finch had 4.5 and 6.2 in 2001 and 2002, respectively.
In comparison to her teammates, Jackie Coburn and Autumn Champion have drawn a combined 27 base-on-balls, despite having 319 fewer at-bats than Hollowell has thrown in her 25 appearances.
Still Good 100 Times Over: Alicia Hollowell currently ranks sixth on Arizona’s all-time list with 100 victories. Current Assistant Coach Nancy Evans is the all-time leader with 124. Hollowell needs 43 wins this year to catch Evans, after having 41 and 40 win seasons the last two years, respectively. Hollowell’s last two 40-win seasons were firsts for any UA pitcher.
Hollowell needs one win to tie Susie Parra’s 101 and three victories to catch Becky Lemke’s 103.
The New K Queen: In the Feb. 27 victory over Baylor, Alicia Hollowell became the Wildcats’ all-time leader in strikeouts. Her current K-count stands at 1,173. Hollowell had trailed Jennie Finch, who had 1028 punch-outs in her career.
More Hollowell History: After pitching the second and third-most innings for any UA pitcher in a season, Hollowell will eclipse the six former Wildcats ahead of her on the career list, should she pitch 287 innings this year. That number is six innings less than she threw last year, and 10 less than her freshman season.
Not a Bad No. 2: Although she has not generated the same excitement as Hollowell, Taryne Mowatt has a 0.86 ERA.
Conference of Champions: In the last ten years, eight of the National Champions have come from the Pacific-10 Conference. This week, three of the top-10-ranked teams compete in the Pac-10, while four other ranked teams do as well.
This Week’s Opponents:
Oregon: The Ducks rebounded from a one-run loss to Washington by sweeping UCLA. The 22-10 squad has seven players with 10 or more RBI, but no one with more than Beth Boskovich’s 14. Additionally, the Ducks don’t steal too many bases, but they are effective when they do, swiping 42 of 46. Oregon’s pitching is much like its offensive attack, in that it is very balanced. Amy Harris leads the team with 11 wins and a 1.04 ERA, but Alicia Cook and Lindsey Kontra combine for 10 more wins. Cook and Kontra both have ERAs under 2.00.
Oregon State: The Beavers are the only Pac-10 team without a loss in conference after the first weekend of play. OSU is currently riding an 18-game winning streak, led by Miranda Cambria’s .390 average and Adrienne Alo’s 10 home runs and 24 RBI. In the circle, the Pac-10’s pitcher of the week for March 15-21 Rose McGowan leads the Beavers.