Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
No. 3 Softball Returns Home for Pac-10 Action
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: May 06, 2006
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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THIS WEEKEND: No. 3 Arizona (37-9, 8-6) continues its season-ending homestand with a Friday night contest versus No. 7 California (40-10, 8-7) and a pair of games against No. 8 Stanford (34-12, 7-8). The Cats beat Arizona State, 10-0, Wednesday night in a six-inning run-rule romp.


FRIDAY, MAY 5                       vs. CALIFORNIA              7 p.m. (MST)

SATURDAY, MAY 6                 vs. STANFORD                7 p.m. (MST)

Kids Night ?- Admission for youth 18 and under is $1

SUNDAY, MAY 7                      vs. STANFORD                1 p.m. (MST)


ON THE AIR: Arizona’s remaining seven regular season games can be heard on the radio or Internet. Brian Jeffries, The Voice of the Wildcats, will bring all the action live on 1290 AM KCUB in Tucson, or fans that have subscribed to UA’s All Access package can hear the games on their computer.


NOTING THE SUN DEVILS: Clint Myers’ troops have had nearly identical Pac-10 results to their in-state counterpart.  Both Arizona and ASU took two out of three in the Bay Area, got swept by UCLA and split a pair of games against one another.  The only difference is that UA swept Washington and dropped a game to Oregon State, while ASU defeated the Beavers and won two of three against Washington.


ASU’s Kaitlin Cochran leads the Pac-10 with her .458 batting average, .817 slugging and .563 on-base percentage, as well as her 52 RBI.  Second baseman Mindy Cowles is tied with Oregon State’s Cambria Miranda for the Conference lead with 14 home runs on the year.  Pitchers Katie Burkhart and Desiree Serrano, who started the two games in Tempe, have combined for 36 of ASU’s 42 victories.  


NOTING THE GOLDEN BEARS: Since splitting a pair of games against the Wildcats on April 21 and 22, Cal dropped a 4-2 contest to Oregon State took two out of three from Oregon.  In their loss to the Ducks, Cal completed a suspended game against the Ducks from earlier in the year.  In the series finale, Cal’s ace Kristina Thorson tossed a no-hitter to take the season series from Oregon.


Cal’s top four hitters’ batting average are in a logjam for top billing with one another that is not dissimilar to the race for second place in the Pac-10 behind UCLA.  Lindsay James, Haley Woods, Morgan Siegel and Alex Sutton all have batting averages of either . 385 or .384.  Woods and Sutton are driving in the lion’s share of the runs with 50 and 35 apiece.  In the circle, Thorson’s 0.87 ERA is good for second best ERA in the Pac-10.  A workhorse, Thorson also leads the Conference with 226.0 innings pitched.


NOTING THE CARDINAL: Stanford is desperate for a Pac-10 win after losing three of its last four games, including two shutout defeats to the Oregon schools last weekend.  The best fielding team in the Pac-10 is led offensively by Maddy Coon (9 HR, 33 RBI) and Catalina Morris (.377 AVG).  The Cardinal pitchers have experienced some struggles during Pac-10 play, with a league-high 4.30 ERA and a .289 opposing batting average.       


LAST WEEK RECAP: Arizona responded to a 8-2 defeat at No. 1 UCLA on Friday by sweeping a doubleheader against No. 15 Washington on Sunday.


UCLA 8, Arizona 2 ?- Leslie Wolfe got the starting nod for just the second time this year.  Although she kept UA within one run of the Bruins for the first four innings, Andrea Duran hit a leadoff home run in the fifth inning, bringing Wolfe’s outing to a close.  Unfortunately for UA, relief pitcher Taryne Mowatt didn’t have much better luck.  After retiring the first two hitters she faced, Emily Zaplatosch hit a home run to give UCLA a 4-1 advantage.  The next inning, two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Andrea Duran, who promptly hit a grand slam to put the game out of reach.  Arizona rallied in the top of the seventh, scoring one run and leaving two runners on base.


Arizona 2, Washington 0 ?- After Saturday’s contest was rained out, the Wildcats and Huskies came together for a Sunday doubleheader.  Alicia Hollowell was more than ready for the 10:30 a.m. start, as she recorded her 17th career no-hitter.  The bad news for Arizona is that it would muster only three hits in the game.  The good news is that two of the three base knocks were solo home runs by Callista Balko.


Arizona 10, Washington 1 ?- Immediately following the no-hitter, Hollowell went right back to the circle to finish what she started.  This time, she had the help of the Wildcat bats, which scored a season-high 10 runs against the Huskies.  Arizona’s offensive onslaught included four runs scored by Caitlin Lowe, including her second home run of the season.  Kristie Fox also tagged her career-high 10th homer of the year.  In addition to the recently awoken Wildcat bats, the UA hitters were aided by three illegal pitches and 13 walks handed out by the Husky pitching staff.


USA SOFTBALL NATIONAL COLLEGIATE PLAYER-OF-THE-YEAR FINALISTS:  Caitlin Lowe and Alicia Hollowell were named to the USA Softball POY list of 25 finalists.  USA Softball cut its initial list of 50 candidates in half, 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 pre-season watch list.


ARIZONA HEAD COACH MIKE CANDREA is in his 21st season at Arizona and carries a career 1,063-212 (.834) 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.


MOWATT (4/10-16), MESA (3/20-26) AND FOX (3/6-12) NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Taryne Mowatt was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for her performance at Arizona State on April 14 and 15.  Mowatt hit .429 (3-for-7) and also registered her first Pac-10 shutout in the circle.  With the honor, she becomes the first student-athlete to win both the player and pitcher of the week awards in the same year.  Chelsie Mesa was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for her performance against No. 10 Louisiana-Lafayette from March 24-26.  Mesa batted .636 (7-11), with five RBI and four runs scored in three games.  She went 4-for-4 on Sunday, missing the cycle by a home run.  Kristie Fox was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week for the week of March 6-12, for her two home runs, seven RBI and .750 batting average.  Fox’s numbers could have been more gaudy, but they were tapered when the opponent elected not to pitch to her.  After six RBI in game one of the series, Fox saw only two strikes in the second game of the series.  One of those strikes went over the left field wall for a home run and the other came in one of her three walks during the game.  In game three, Fox went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and yet another walk.


MOWATT (3/13-19, 3/20-26) AND HOLLOWELL (2/6-12; 2/13-19) NAMED PAC-10 PITCHER OF THE WEEK: Taryne Mowatt was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week for two consecutive weeks from March 13-26.  From March 24-26 against Louisiana-Lafayette, Mowatt became the first pitcher all year to shut out the prolific Ragin’ Cajun offense.  Over the weekend she pitched 16.0 innings and gave up one run.  The week before, Mowatt tossed a no-hitter and a perfect game at the Judi Garman Classic.  In two games, Mowatt struck out 28 of the 37 opposing batters she faced.  Alicia Hollowell has been 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 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.


ALL-AMERICANS CLUTCH IN CONFERENCE: Over the last two years, Arizona has experienced its share of woes plating runners in scoring position, but three hitters continue to give the Wildcats consistent results in clutch situations.  All-Americans Caitlin Lowe, Autumn Champion and Kristie Fox have combined to hit .398 (33-for-83) in RISP situations during 2005 and 2006 Pac-10 play.  Their teammates have compiled a .178 (34-for-191) clip over the same time frame.


GET ?'EM ON, GET ?'EM OVER, NOT GETTING ?'EM IN: The Wildcats have been able to get runners on base during Pac-10 play this season, but have a nasty habit of leaving one another stranded at inning’s end.  In its 13 conference games, UA averages nearly seven and a half runners left on per game, including eight or more stranded in seven of the contests.


LOWE BACK AT THE TOP: Two weeks ago, Caitlin Lowe was fully cleared to participate in games.  The two-time All-American returned to her usual leadoff spot in the batting order and center field on defense.  Prior to suffering an injury to her left hand on March 19, the Tustin, Calif., native had started 147 consecutive games for Arizona on the leadoff position.


A REAL CATALYST: While Caitlin Lowe was recovering from the injury, Arizona went through a number of possible solutions to replace her.  At one point, that included three different leadoff hitters in three consecutive games (Autumn Champion, Kristie Fox and Adrienne Acton).  In the 10 games that Lowe was absent from the starting lineup, Arizona scored an average of 0.6 runs in the first inning and 3.6 per game.  In the games that she has led off, UA averages 1.1 runs in the opening frame and 5.8 per game.


TOP CATS: In every year since 1992, Arizona has been ranked No. 1 in the NFCA poll for at least part of the year.  This season, the Wildcats had top-billing in both the and NFCA polls from Feb. 21 through March 14.


RE-WRITING THE RECORD BOOKS:  Alicia Hollowell is now Arizona’s all-time victories, strikeout and innings pitched record holder.  She currently stands fourth all-time in NCAA history for strikeouts per seven innings. 


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.


NO-NO: Alicia Hollowell has 17 career no-hitters, the most recent of which came on Sunday against Washington.  To put that figure in perspective, you can take any other two Wildcat hurlers (Susie Parra, Jennie Finch, Nancy Evans, Becky Lemke or Teresa Cherry, et al), combine their no-hit totals and they still will still fall at least three no-hitters short of Hollowell’s total.  As for UA’s other current pitchers, Taryne Mowatt and Leslie Wolfe have two and one career no-no’s, respectively.


OFFENSIVE HISTORY: With each passing game, outfielders Caitlin Lowe and Autumn Champion are climbing up the UA record books in several offensive categories, including hits, stolen bases and runs scored.  Additionally, both rank in the top five in career batting average at Arizona.


In Sunday’s 10-1 victory over Washington, Champion scored her 173rd career run, placing her in a tie with Vivian Holm for the 10th spot on the list.  Although she will stand alone in 10th place the next time she crosses the plate, moving any further up on the list is unlikely.  Laura Espinoza’s 202 runs are next in line.


In the March 31 loss to Oregon State, Champion passed current UA assistant coach Nancy Evans, placing her in sole possession of 10th place on UA’s all-time hits list.  She is nine base knocks shy of Espinoza’s 290 hits, and would move quickly up the list from there.  At her current rate of just over one hit per game, Champion could get as high as Leah Braatz’s 297 hits for sixth place.


In the coming games, Caitlin Lowe could become just the fifth player in Wildcat history to steal 100 bases.  She has 96 in her career and a team-leading 22 swiped bags this season. 


Lowe has 233 career hits and could challenge Allison McCutcheon’s (1995-98) 405 career base knocks come spring 2007.


Earlier in the season, Champion moved into sole possession of seventh place in career stolen bases. Entering this week, she has swiped 61 career bases.


THESE CATS DIG THE LONG BALL: Callista Balko’s solo home run against UCLA on April 8 brought UA’s team total to 34 homers in 37 games.  Last year, the Wildcats hit 33 round-trippers all season (57 games); the team’s lowest output since 1992.  With four home runs on Sunday, Arizona has racked up 45 home runs in as many games.


NINE-NINE-TEN: Kristie Fox’s first-inning home run against Washington in the second half of Sunday’s doubleheader gave her 10 this year.  The double-digit output is a first for Fox, who finished with nine dingers in both 2004 and 2005.


ENOUGH WITH THE STEROID JOKES: While Callista Balko’s eight home runs are a new career-high after hitting five last year; they are not a big surprise.  The situations in which she is clubbing the four-baggers, however, are.  Balko’s two home runs in the first half of Sunday’s doubleheader marked the first time a UA hitter has gone yard twice in a game since Kristie Fox did it against North Carolina State on March 13, 2005.  The visiting Stanford team needs no warning of the pop in her bat, after the sophomore from Tucson hit a game-winning homer in Palo Alto on April 21.


GIVE HER ALL THE ICE SHE K-NEEDS : Callista Balko has been behind the plate for all 300.0 innings this year while UA has been in the field.  Balko’s durability behind the plate while catching a pair of strikeout pitchers should put the sophomore from Tucson at the top of the nation’s putout chart.  She currently leads the Pac-10 with 514 putouts on the year, 95 more than California’s Haley Woods who is in second with 419.  Balko’s total already qualifies her for seventh all-time for putouts in a season at Arizona.  At this rate, should Arizona play 66 games (its average over the last 10 years), Balko would have 754 putouts.


CALI ESTA CALIENTE: Although Callista Balko’s .333 in-conference batting average is far from earth-shattering, it certainly significant.  Balko currently leads the Wildcats in Pac-10 batting average with the aforementioned .333 clip, but what makes mark particularly special is that she in Arizona’s 32 non-conference games, she finished dead last among UA’s regular starters with a .197 average.


IN THE PAC-10, EXPERIENCE COUNTS: When looking at Arizona’s in-conference stats, one factor seems to separate the top of the batting averages from the bottom half: experience.  Players with at least one year’s experience at Arizona carry the top six batting averages for a combined . 272 clip.  Six newcomers, on the other hand, are a woeful .097.


GO BIG OR GO HOME: Like the rest of her first-year teammates, Jenae Leles has needed some getting used to with Pac-10 play.  One difference is that every one of Leles four Pac-10 hits have gone for extra-bases (three doubles, one home run).


CHAMPION DOUBLING UP: In 2003, Autumn Champion rapped out a career-high 89 hits... all singles.  In 2004 and 2005 she combined for three extra-base hits.  This season, Champion already has five extra- base hits, including a triple, giving her two more XBH than she had accumulated in three years.


NOBODY EVER GOT ANYTHING FREE FROM UA: The Wildcat pitching staff has combined to strikeout 512 opponent hitters in 300 innings pitched this season.  What’s more, they have issued a total of 47 walks to opposing hitters.  That’s one walk per 6.4 innings pitched and 10.9 strikeouts to the walk.  In contrast, UA hitters have walked 155 times or 3.8 times per seven innings.


TAKING BALLS AND TAKING NAMES: When Kristie Fox isn’t driving in one of her team-leading 40 RBI on the year, she may be doing a number of things, but one of them is not striking out.  Fox has drawn 20 walks this year, while striking out just 12 times.  The junior from San Diego, Calif., strikes out on average once every 11.6 at-bats.  The rest of the Wildcats strikeout every 3.7 at-bats.


THREE FOR THE MONEY: Caitlin Lowe moved into a four-way tie on Arizona’s all-time triples list, when she had her fourth three-bagger of the year and ninth of her career on March 18 against CSUN.  Among the names Lowe had been tied with when she had eight career triples: UA senior associate athletics director Kathleen “Rocky” LaRose.


Lowe tied her career-high for most triples in a season with four.


RBI FOR EVERYONE! Arizona’s offense has seven players who average .5 RBI per game or better.  The list includes all starters but the two set-up slappers, Autumn Champion and Adrienne Acton, as well as Callista Balko.  A year ago, UA’s Kristie Fox led Division I with a 1.12 rate.


Here’s a breakdown of the Wildcats’ RBI per-game:  Fox .89, Mesa, .67, Roth .58, Leles .58, Lowe .58, Banister .54 and Mowatt .50*.


Last year, only two players (Kristie Fox and Jackie Coburn) ended the season with RBI-per-game ratios of better than .5.


*Mowatt’s games played do not include contests in which she pitched but did not hit.  Jill Malina has one RBI in three plate appearances.


MULTI-HIT AND MULTI-RBI GAMES: Every Arizona starter has at least one multi-RBI game and a minimum of three multi-hit games.  Leading the way with 10 multi-RBI games is Kristie Fox.  Chelsie Mesa (9), Laine Roth (9), Jenae Leles (7), Callista Balko (6), Sam Banister (5) and Caitlin Lowe (5) round out the top of the list.  The most prolific performances came in a five-RBI game for Mesa and a six-RBI contest for Fox in the Baylor series.


In the multi-hit game category, Caitlin Lowe leads with 20, despite missing 10 games.  Fellow All-Americans Autumn Champion and Kristie Fox are catching up to her, however, as they both have 14 apiece.  Chelsie Mesa (9) and Laine Roth, Adrienne Acton and Callista Balko (8 apiece) round out the top of the list.  All told, UA batters have combined for 94 multi-hit and 57 multi-RBI games.


TRIPLE THE FUN: Last year, Arizona had a total of five triples in its 57 games, the year before Arizona had only three three-baggers.


Through its first 45 games, Arizona already has 11 triples, or one in every four games or so.  Given that the team has averaged 66 games a year over the last decade, UA is on pace for 16 triples.  The last time an Arizona team had 10 triples was 2000, and the school record (in NCAA play) is 20 three-baggers, which has occurred three times.  The Wildcats are still looking for their first triple in Pac-10 play.


Autumn Champion’s triple against Texas A&M on Feb. 24 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.  The slap hitter had 89 hits as a freshman in 2003 ?- all singles.


PERFECTO! Taryne Mowatt’s no-hitter against UNLV and perfect game against Cal State Northridge were both firsts in her career.  Mowatt became the 20th pitcher in Arizona softball history, and 10th since 1991 to no-hit an opponent.  Mowatt’s perfect made her the just the third pitcher in UA history to retire every batter faced.


PINCH WHAT? Taryne Mowatt (vs. UNLV on March 16) and Danielle Rodriguez (vs. UCLA on April 9) are the only two pinch hitters Coach Candrea has sent to the plate this year.


PINCH RUNNERS: Kelly Nelson has appeared as a pinch runner in 29 games for UA.  In doing so, she has scored 10 runs.  Jill Malina and Danielle Rodriguez have appeared as a PR in 12 and 13 games, respectively.  Rodriguez scored the game-winning run in UA’s 2-1, nine-inning victory over Baylor on March 12.


EXTRA ALMOST EVERY TIME: Arizona has at least one extra-base hit in 37 of its 45 games this season for a total of 97.  UA’s opponents, on the other hand, have 27 extra-base knocks.


DEFENSE WINS WHAT? With 24 only defensive hiccups in 1,046 fielding attempts, UA has a .979 fielding percentage, which is second to only Stanford’s .983 percentage in the Pac-10.  Opponents, on the other hand, have committed 51 errors for a .958 fielding clip.  UA is error-free in 26 games this season, including all three contests last weekend.


NOT AFRAID OF A CHALLENGE: As always, Arizona is playing one of the most challenging schedules in the nation.  Of UA’s 53 scheduled regular season games, 19 are against teams ranked in the top 10 of the pre-season Today Poll.  In addition, another 11 games are against teams that were ranked 11-25 to begin the year.


EARLY SIGNINGS:  Head coach Mike Candrea announced that UA has received four National Letters of Intent for the 2006-07 academic year from pitcher Amanda Williams of Brentwood, Calif., catcher/third baseman Stacie Chambers of Glendale, Ariz., shortstop/utility K’Lee Arrendondo of Tempe, Ariz., and pitcher/third baseman Sarah Akamine of Escondido, Calif. 


ARIZONA SOFTBALL ATTENDANCE: This year, Arizona is averaging 1,244 fans a game in 14 dates.  The crowd of 2,340 in the April 8 versus UCLA was the 30th largest crowd in Hillenbrand Stadium history and the largest since the U.S. Olympic team visited in 2004.  Wednesday’s game against Arizona State is Rivalry Red-Out Night.  The first 500 fans in attendance will receive a free rally towel, courtesy of Pepsi.