Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
UA Softball In Fullerton, Calif., This Weekend
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: March 15, 2004
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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March 15, 2004

TUCSON - Wildcats Take Spring Break in Fullerton

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Wednesday, March 17 Illinois-n 5 p.m. PDT Thursday, March 18 #15 Fresno State 11 a.m. PDT Friday, March 19 #6 Oklahoma 9 a.m. PDT Friday-Sunday, March 20-22 TBA, elimination play

This Week - The Arizona softball team travels to Fullerton, Calif., for the Kia Klassic Thursday through Sunday. The tourney opens with pool play, with UA meeting No. 15 Fresno State, No. 6 Oklahoma and Illinois, which also has received votes in the NFCA polls. Teams are seeded after pool action and begin elimination play Friday evening, with the potential to reach championship rounds Saturday and Sunday. Games will played on the two fields of the Titan Softball Complex on the Cal State Fullerton campus.

UA coach Mike Candrea and Team USA continue their tour of the nation in the tournament, but will not meet Arizona. The Olympians -- including former UA stars Jennie Finch, Lovie Jung and Leah O'Brien-Amico -- play Fullerton, DePaul and Louisiana-Lafayette in pool play.

The tournament involves some 21 games in pool play, then breaks into championship and consolation brackets, with teams seeded in either bracket based on results in the three pool games.

The Coaches - Larry Ray (Idaho State '74) is 28-0 in his tenure as acting head coach of the Wildcats. Including five seasons (four of competition) building a Florida program he has a career record of 197-106. His work with the Arizona program dates to 1986 and he was Candrea's top assistant for 10 years. Acting associate head coach Nancy Evans, a former Honda Award winner as a player, has been an assistant at UA since 1999. UA's 28-game victory streak to open the year is one of the top in school history.

The Coach - Arizona's Mike Candrea carries a career record of 982-191 in 18 years at UA, but puts it on hold this season while he's on partial leave to be head coach of the U.S. Olympic Team. The eight-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year is a member of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He has led Arizona to six national championships and seven Pac-10 titles. Candrea has led UA to 16 consecutive College World Series.

Last Week - The No. 2 Wildcats remained undefeated with a series sweep over a good Missouri club, beating the Tigers 5-0 Friday behind a 14-strikeout no-hitter by Alicia Hollowell, 3-2 in the first game of a doubleheader Sunday and 7-0 in the series finale. Wet grounds pushed the game Saturday to Sunday. Hollowell's no-hitter was her second in consecutive starts, though she did throw an inning of relief the previous week in between. She earned a save for winner Wendy Allen in the 3-2 game with two innings of no-hit ball, then won game three in five innings, relieved by Leslie Wolfe. UM's pitching was good enough to keep UA's power game mostly silent, though Kristie Fox did homer to provide the eventual winning run in the 3-2 victory. Caitlin Lowe had seven hits, five runs and stole four bases in the series, taking over UA's batting lead in the process.

The Rankings - Arizona was ranked No. 2 in the preseason NFCA poll, and No. 3 in the ESPN/USA Softball poll. Feb. 11: 2/3. Feb. 18: 2/3. Feb. 25: 2/2. March 3: 2/2. March 10: 2/2. March 17: TBA. UA has been ranked steadily since 1988 by the NFCA.

Pac-10 Players of the Week - Pitcher Alicia Hollowell earned the honor three times this year -- 2-24, 3-2, and 3-9. Outfielder Autumn Champion won on 2-17 and Wendy Allen on 2-24. Those are the 87th honors for UA, and eighth for Hollowell.

Wildcat Softball Notes

...Hollowell's no-hitter and combined shutout with Leslie Wolfe gave Arizona its third no hitter of the year and 15th shutout. Wolfe threw a five-inning no-hitter against Dayton Feb. 14; Hollowell had no-hitters against Indiana (March 6, perfect game) and Missouri (March 12)... The team earned run average dropped to 0.82 for the year, with Alicia leading the way at 0.57 and Wendy Allen (6-0) coming in at 0.76... Allen and Wolfe are doing a nice job of taking some pressure off Hollowell, who threw 297 innings last year and is at 110 near the midpoint of this season...

...Hollowell struck out 14 against Missouri, her 13th game in double figures - and only sixth highest total this year. She had a school-record 20 strikeouts in the perfect game and 17 against Oklahoma State this year and topped her previous high of 18 (2003 vs. UNLV) and Jennie Finch's record of 19 vs. Oklahoma in 2002... Her season total of 225 K is just two shy of the UA top 10 single-season chart, atop which she sits with her 394 as a freshman and first-team All-American last season... With an average of 14K per 7 innings, she has a great chance to top it...

...The Cats stole 15 bases in 17 tries for the second consecutive weekend vs. Missouri, this time in three games rather than in four. The season total of 83 already is the 11th highest total in UA's 23 seasons of Division I softball, and puts the Cats - at 2.96 steals per game - in reach of the school record of 136 by the 1998 team. Leadoff batter Caitlin Lowe has 30 SBs in 31 attempts, already at No. 9 on the single-season UA chart and within reach of the top spot (67 by Alison McCutcheon in '98. Only former UA All-Americans McCutcheon, Vivian Holm, Lauren Bauer and Amy Chellevold have stolen more bases in full seasons than Lowe has in 28 games...

...Three-hole hitter Wendy Allen continues to lead the team in extra-base hits with 14, highlighted by nine doubles, just seven shy of the Arizona season top 10 chart... She also has a wide team lead with 46 RBI, thanks to Lowe (.530, 44 runs) and Autumn Champion (.526, 29 runs) batting in front of her...

...Speaking of runs, Arizona has a nice edge - 220 to 26 by opponents. That will change as the tough part of the schedule looms, starting with the Kia tournament, but averages out to 10-1 on the scoreboard...

...UA's 28-game winning streak to open the year compares with the best start of 31-0 in 2001 and 1994. UA also opened 30-0 in 1997...The best overall streak is 47 games in 1996-97...

...UA set a school record with seven home runs against Boston University, including two apiece by Mackenzie Vandergeest and Kristie Fox. The onslaught topped three previous games in UA history when the Cats hit six - including earlier this year against Dayton... Two other players have hit two in a game this year - Jackie Coburn and Shelly Schultz (Stanford)... UA has 44 homers this year, led by Coburn with 10. Vandergeest has 53 career homers, passing Jennie Finch into the No. 4 spot on UA's career chart. Only Leah Braatz (85), Laura Espinoza (85) and Jenny Dalton (76) have more round-trippers than Mack... Coburn, a junior, is one yard-ball shy of reaching the No. 10 spot with 40...

...One Arizona record chart has been tough to crack - season hits. Lowe (44) and Champion (41) have potential. Autumn had 89 a year ago and didn't reach it. No. 10 is occupied by Olympic alternate Nicole Giordano with 93 in 1999... Lowe and Champion have two or more hits in 13 different games... Lowe has a 9-game hitting streak, with shortstop Kristie Fox next at 8...

...Platoon outfielder/pinch-hitter Candace Abrams is 5-for-7 as a pinch-hitter this year... She, Crystal Farley and Allyson Von Liechtenstein share the RF role and have hit a combined .355 with 27 runs and 24 RBI batting ninth in the order. Nice platoon...

...UA has trailed in only four games this year - vs. Missouri, Stanford, Georgia and Mississippi - and by two runs at the most...

...All-American junior outfielder Courtney Fossatti will take a medical redshirt season in 2004 while rehabilitating after off-season ankle surgery. She hit .327 as a sophomore...

...Three players have been named to the 'watch list' for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award. Sophomore pitcher Alicia Hollowell, senior catcher Mackenzie Vandergeest and freshman outfielder Caitlin Lowe were among 15 Pac-10 players on the list.

Probable Lineup - Caitlin Lowe-cf, Autumn Champion-lf, Wendy Allen-dh/1b, Mackenzie Vandergeest-c, Shelly Schultz-1b/2b, Jackie Coburn-3b, Kristie Fox-ss, Samantha Quintero-2b, Crystal Farley/Allyson Von Liechtenstein or Candace Abrams-rf, Alicia Hollowell-p. Reserves: Leslie Wolfe (p), Erin Palomarez (ph/1b), Jennifer Martinez (ph/3b), Cortney Nix (pr), Betsy Wilson (pr), Annalyn Hollingsworth (pr).

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