Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Arizona Softball to Host Oklahoma in Super Regional
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: May 27, 2005
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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TUCSON, Ariz. ?- The third-seeded Arizona softball team (42-10) will host an NCAA Super Regional at Hillenbrand Stadium against 14th-seeded Oklahoma (50-15) Friday, May 27 and Saturday, May 28. 






Friday, May 27


4:30 p.m.


Saturday, May 28


2 p.m.


Saturday, May 28


6 p.m.



This year, the NCAA switched to the baseball-style championships, in which four teams competed at 16 regional sites.  The 16 regional winners were then paired off to eight sites, where the teams are set to play a three-game series against another regional winner.  The eight Super Regional winners will then head to Oklahoma City, Okla., for the Women’s College World Series.  In the past, eight sites hosted eight teams each, with each regional winner advancing straight to the WCWS.


Arizona earned the No. 3 overall seed in the tournament after its climb to the top of the league standings with the strong finish. The Pac-10 title was split four-ways among Oregon State, California, Stanford and Arizona ?- all at 13-8. Had OSU, Cal, or Stanford won on the final day, they would have won the championship outright. Arizona lost at California Thursday, May 16, before beating Stanford twice.


With five of the eight Pac-10 teams advancing to a Super Regional, UA is one of three Pac-10 schools to host this round (Stanford and UCLA are the others).


When the brackets came out, the NCAA announced only the top 16 seeds, six of which went to Pac-10 teams. The seeds are California (2), Arizona (3), Stanford (6), UCLA (7), Oregon State (8) and Washington (16).  Of those half dozen, only Oregon State did not make it out of the Regional round.


Other Super Regional sites and pairings around the country are as follows (host is in bold):


Michigan vs. Washington

Ann Arbor, Mich.

Northwestern vs. Depaul


Texas A&M vs. Alabama

College Station, Texas

Bethune Cookman vs. Texas

Austin, Texas

Tennesee vs. Stanford

Stanford, Calif.

UCLA vs. Georgia

Los Angeles, Calif.

Baylor vs. California

Waco, Texas



How They Got To Tucson ?-


Arizona (42-10, 13-8) defeated Lehigh 12-0 in five innings, before beating Oklahoma State twice, 3-0 and 2-1 (8 innings), to win the Tucson Regional.


Oklahoma (50-15, 12-6) defeated Wichita State, 2-0, Louisiana-Lafayette, 6-3, and Oregon, 2-1, to win the Norman Regional.


Field of 64 ?- The NCAA expanded the field from 48 to 64 teams in 2003, following the continued growth of college softball as a championship sport.  The Pac-10 qualified all eight of its teams for the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in six years, five are still alive in the final 16.


Arizona’s NCAA Appearance ?- Arizona appears in its 19th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance (19th overall) since 1987, all under coach Mike Candrea, except in the case of last year when Larry Ray acted as head coach.  Last year, Arizona had its streak of 16 consecutive trips to the Women’s College World Series snapped when the Wildcats lost to Louisiana-Lafayette. 


Arizona has a record of 100-28 (.781) in NCAA games.  This will be UA’s first including a 52-8 mark (.867) in NCAA Regional play.  With the new playoff format, this is the first Super Regional that Arizona, or any school for that matter, is competing in.  UA is 44-4 postseason games played in Tucson.


Arizona vs. Oklahoma ?- The Wildcats and Sooners faced off in Fullerton, Calif., on March 19 at the Kia Klassic.  At the time, UA was ranked No. 1 and Oklahoma was No. 8.  The Wildcats took the game, 4-0, scoring all four runs in the first inning.  Despite scoring only four runs, Arizona lit up OU pitching for 15 hits, as Caitlin Lowe and Shelly Schultz each had three hits.  Last weekend’s hero, Jackie Coburn, clubbed a three-run shot to drive in the majority of UA’s runs.  In the circle, Alicia Hollowell threw a complete game four-hit shutout.


All-time, the Sooners have taken two of three from the Wildcats, making them one of just two teams to have a winning record against UA in the postseason (Fresno State is the other). The Cats lost to OU, 3-2, in the 2004 Tucson Regional.  In that game, the Sooners scored in the top of the first and never looked back.  Ace pitcher Alicia Hollowell went the distance, surrendering three runs on eight hits for her third loss of the season.  This is how players from this year’s team fared at the plate: Caitlin Lowe, 0-for-4; Allyson Von Liechtenstein, 1-for-4; Jackie Coburn, 0-for-3; Kristie Fox, 0-for-2; Shelly Schultz, 0-for-2; and Crystal Farley 2-for-3.  


In their other two meetings, Arizona beat OU, 5-4, in its second of four victories in Oklahoma City en route to the 2001 national championship.  In 2000, OU ended Arizona’s season with a 1-0 defeat of the Wildcats at the WCWS.


Arizona vs. Entire NCAA Field ?- Prior to the Regional, Arizona was 24-10 against teams selected to appear in the NCAA Tournament, including its 13-8 record against Pac-10 teams in the field.  The Cats beat all Pac-10 teams, with the exception of UCLA.  Games against non-Pac-10 teams included wins over Northwestern, Kansas, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Miami (Ohio), Florida State, Oklahoma, Fresno State, and two victories over Louisiana-Lafayette.  The two losses came to fourth-seeded Texas and top-seeded Michigan. 


Cats in the Polls ?- Arizona has been in the top four all year in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll and the Softball poll. The latter poll made its debut in 2003. In the NFCA poll, Arizona has been ranked steadily since 1988. Here’s how Arizona has fared in the polls this year (dates are Wednesdays in season): Softball: 3 (5/10), 3(5/3), 2(4/26), 3(4/19), 2(4/12), 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: 3 (5/10), 2 (5/4), 2(4/27), 4(4/20), 2(4/13), 2(4/6), 2(3/30), 2(3/23), 1(3/16), 1(3/9), 1(3/2), 2(2/23), 2(2/16)


Cats vs. Ranked Opponents ?- Arizona played to a 17-9 record against teams ranked in the poll this year, with only one loss to a non-ranked opponent.


UA on TV: ESPN will visit Old Pueblo for its third weekend in Tucson this season.  Prior to this weekend, Arizona played nine games on national television in 2005, for a record of 5-4.  Eight of the games were televised on ESPN’s family of networks and one was on CSTV.  Of the eight ESPN games, UA dropped three contests to UCLA (two in Los Angeles, one in Tucson), defeated Oregon twice in Tucson, lost to Oregon State once in Tucson, and defeated Washington twice in Tucson.  Arizona defeated Stanford in Palo Alto for the CSTV game.  UA’s game against Washington in Seattle was scheduled to be televised on Fox Sports Net via tape delay, but the game was suspended due to rain.


Arizona Head Coach

Mike Candrea (Arizona State ’78) is in his 20th year with Arizona and carries a career record of 1024-201 (.836). 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 nine Pac-10 titles.


Arizona Assistant Coaches

Larry Ray (Idaho State ?'74) served as acting assistant head coach in 2004, while Candrea coached the U.S. Olympic Team.  He carries an overall record of 224-112, as a head coach including five years at the helm 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. First-year Volunteer Assistant Mackenzie Vandergeest, a May 2005 graduate of UA, was invited to participate at the USA Softball National Team Selection Camp from June 13-17, at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.  


Players of the Week

Pitcher Alicia Hollowell earned Pac-10 weekly honors twice this year ?- Feb. 15 and March 1.  Player of the Year candidate Caitlin Lowe brought home Pac-10 honors March 29, while senior Jackie Coburn got conference recognition March 29.  Kristie Fox was named USA Softball Player of the Week for her efforts in the first week of the season on Feb. 7.  Amongst the teams Fox knocked around, Oklahoma State. 


Arizona Notes


Where’s the Jewelry? Since 1988 (Mike Candrea’s third year), every four-year player for Arizona has left UA with at least one championship ring.  Should this year’s squad fail to win a championship, seniors Crystal Farley, Allyson Von Liechtenstein, Jackie Coburn, and fourth-year junior Courtney Fossatti would leave without a ring.  To put in perspective the duration of the streak, the last time a four-year player left Old Pueblo without hardware was the year next year’s freshman class was born. Fifth-year senior Candace Abrams was on the 2001 national championship team as a redshirt.  Also, senior Jen Martinez is in her second year with UA after attending Pima CC.


Leading Off: Caitlin Lowe led off 15 of 21 Pac-10 games this year by reaching base.  In the last 30 total games, Lowe reached base 22 times to start things up.


Lowe Impact: Caitlin Lowe’s 29 multi-hit games nearly double that of the next Wildcat.  Kristie Fox’s 17 and Autumn Champion’s 14 multi-hit games are tied for second.


Speed Demon: Caitlin Lowe’s four triples leave her needing one more to break into UA’s record book to fall into a seven-way tie for eighth place.  Should she hit one more three-bagger, Lowe would be tied with, among others, Rocky LaRose, Arizona’s Senior Associate Athletics Director.  Two more triples would place Lowe in a tie for third.


Record Setter?: If the season ended today, Caitlin Lowe’s .520 batting average would place her second on UA’s all-time list.  Alison McCutcheon has a benchmark .534 average that she amassed in 1997.  Last year, current UA junior Autumn Champion brought home the NCAA batting title with her .489 average.


For Lowe to eclipse McCutcheon’s (.5344) batting average, she would have to finish with one of the following, or better:




















Forget Pencil, Use a Sharpie: Caitlin Lowe, Autumn Champion, and Kristie Fox have batted in the first, second, and third positions (in that order) in all 52 of UA’s games, thus far.


Driving the Team to Victory: Kristie Fox leads the team with 16 multi-RBI games and Jackie Coburn is next with 10.  Fox is also the only Wildcat with a five-RBI game this year; of which she has three.


Learn to Love the Glove: After failing to have a fielding percentage above .965 in her first three seasons, Jackie Coburn has turned it around. Coming off a 12-error junior year, in which she had the worst fielding percentage of regular Wildcat starters, Coburn has committed just two errors in 228 chances. 


Taking after the Senior Leader: Arizona’s .978 fielding percentage is good for third-best in school history.  The 2001 national champs have the best fielding percentage in school history with a .981 mark.


Waiting to Turn Two: Through 52 games of solid fielding, UA is still waiting to roll up a double play via a ground ball.  The Wildcats have grounded into two twin-killings this season.


Solid All Around: Arizona ranked first in hitting and fielding, and second in pitching among Pac-10 teams for all games in 2005.


CAT-alysts: Caitlin Lowe and Autumn Champion have generated a 1-2 punch unlike any other in the nation.  The pair of outfielders have a combined on-base percentage of .986, and have either scored or driven in 48 percent of UA’s total runs on the year.  They have combined to steal 40 bases.


If Someone Gets on Base: Hitting behind Caitlin Lowe and Autumn Champion has its advantages for a hitter looking for RBI.  Kristie Fox’s nation-leading (at time of release) 64 RBI can be attributed both to Lowe and Champion’s abilityto get on base, as well as Fox’s capability of capitalizing.


Fox is hitting .431 (47-for-109) with runners on base, but drops to .250 (14-for-56) with the bases empty.


Bases Loaded? Not after She Hits: Fox has been equally dominant with the bases loaded, hitting 8-for-15 (.533) with the bases juiced. 


They Like them Loaded, Too: Jen Martinez is hitting .600 (3-for-5), while Caitlin Lowe has come through three of seven times for UA with the bases loaded this year, but no other Wildcat is hitting above .200 with three runners on base.


Is the Dead Ball Era Ending?: Entering the postseason, Arizona had 25 home runs through 49 games, the lowest team total since the NCAA switched from the softer, white ball to a harder, yellow ball in 1993.


In their three Regional games, the Wildcats clubbed five home runs.


Killing Me Softly: Despite having the best team batting average of all Pac-10 teams, UA ranks fifth in the conference in slugging.


Switching to Small Ball: Arizona’s 49 sacrifices are 10 more than last year’s 39, but to put the figure in perspective, UA has moved over one of every 12.2 runners to reach base this season.  In 2004, the Wildcats squared around once for every 19.9 runners on the base paths.


To Run or Not to Run, the Pac-10 is the Question: In 21 Pac-10 games, Arizona stole 13 bases (.6/g), but in non-conference contests the Wildcats swiped 51 bags in 31 games (1.7/g).


Clutch with Two: Despite some struggles as a team with two outs this year, Autumn Champion and Callista Balko have seen the majority of their RBI come while having to keep an inning alive.  Seven of Champion’s eight ribbies have come with two out, while 13 of Balko’s 19 runs driven in have come with two down.


DP ?- Designated Pinch Runner: Although Adrienne Acton has started 10 of the last 13 games.  She has made her mark as a pinch runner this year.  Despite having just six hits on the year, Acton has scored 14 runs and is five-for-seven (.714) in stolen bases.


Pinch Hits: Candace Abrams has three of UA’s six pinch hits this year.  Abrams has not had much success when coming up with two outs, however, as she is hitting .056 (1-18) with two down.


Contact Hitter? Jackie Coburn, who now has 51 career home runs (good for sixth on UA’s all-time list), leads the Cats with 28 walks, and has the same number of strikeouts as she does bases on balls.  Kristie Fox is the Cat with more walks than K’s, with 14 and 12, respectively. Ironically, Coburn is third on the team in slugging, while Fox is first.


Stealing Bases: The Cats are 64-for-75 (.853) in stolen bases this year, as compared to Arizona’s opponents, which have stolen 13 of 22 (.591).  The top of the order for the Cats (Caitlin Lowe, Autumn Champion and Kristie Fox) has combined to steal 48 bags. 


Start the Bus: The Wildcats are 36-0 when leading after four innings.  Additionally, UA has yet to lose a game in which they score five runs, but has yet to win a game in which opponents score four runs or more.


Still Good 100 Times Over: Alicia Hollowell now ranks third on the UA all-time list with 110 career victories.  UA legend Jennie Finch is next on Hollowell’s radar with 119 wins.  Current assistant coach Nancy Evans is the all-time leader with 124. 


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 1,302.  Hollowell had trailed Jennie Finch, who had 1028 punch-outs in her career. 


Waving Good-Bye: Of Alicia Hollowell’s 400 strikeouts on the season, 301 have gone down swinging (75 percent).


More Hollowell History: After pitching the second and third-most innings for any UA pitcher in a season, Hollowell will eclipse the four former Wildcats ahead of her on the career list, should she pitch 287 innings this year, which is six innings fewer than she threw last year, and 10 fewer than her freshman season.  Entering this weekend’s Super Regional, she has thrown 237.1 innings. 


Conference of Champions: In the last 10 years, eight national champions have come from the Pacific-10 Conference.  Five of the top eight seeds in the NCAA Tournament come from the Pac-10.




26 Caitlin Lowe


Center fielder

Currently boasts a 12-game hit streak ... Tucson Regional (May 20-22): Led the team with six hits in the three Regional games ... Lowe had three singles and a home run, while scoring four runs in four innings in a 12-0 win over Lehigh ... Smacked her fifth home run of the year to give UA a 1-0 lead in Regional Championship game win over Oklahoma State ... Reached base to lead off a game 20 of the final 27 regular season games ... Failed to reach base in just five of 52 regular season games on the year ... Went 5-for-7 (.714) with three runs scored and two RBI with a home run at Stanford in the final two games of the regular season ... In Arizona’s final three regular season games, Lowe either scored or drove in all four of the team’s runs ... Enters postseason with a nine-game hit streak and 28 multi-hit games ... Went 3-for-3 with three runs scored and two RBI in an April 23 win over Arizona State ... Hit .650 (7-20) over the course of a modest seven-game hit streak from April 8-23 ...Had four consecutive multi-hit games March 25-April 2 ... Opened Pac-10 play by going 3-for-3 with three runs scored in an April 1 win over Stanford ... Named Pac-10 Player of the Week for Mar. 22-30 when she hit .572 with an inside-the-park grand slam in two wins over No. 11 Louisiana-Lafayette Hit .680 (17-25) in a six game stretch in March ... Went 4-for-5 with four runs, three RBI, and her first home run of the season, an inside-the-park job scored over North Carolina State ... Went 3-for-4 with a stolen base, a run, and an RBI in a win over UNLV ... Had the first 4-for-4 game of anyone on the team in a victory over Louisiana Tech ...  Led team with .583 batting average at Baylor’s Compass Bank Invitational ... Accumulated a .583 on-base percentage and .545 batting average to lead team to three wins in Worth Wildcat Invitational ... Opened the year with eight hits and six stolen bases in UA’s five games of the Pepsi Arizona Classic, including three in a win over Kansas.


00 Autumn Champion


Left fielder