Tuesday, Feb. 27 W. Michigan 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28 W. Michigan 6 p.m. Friday, March 2 Baylor 3 p.m. Creighton 5 p.m. Saturday, March 3 Indiana St. 3 p.m. W. Michigan 5 p.m. Sunday, March 4 Oklahoma 1 p.m. Also: Fri.: W. Michigan vs. Indiana St., 9 a.m. Oklahoma vs. Indiana St., 11 a.m. Oklahoma vs. Baylor, 1 p.m. W. Michigan vs. Creighton, 7 p.m. Sat.: Indiana St. vs. Baylor, 9 a.m. Baylor vs. Creighton, 11 a.m. Oklahoma vs. Creighton, 1 p.m. Oklahoma vs. W. Michigan, 7 p.m. Sun.: W. Michigan vs. Baylor, 9 a.m. Indiana vs. Creighton, 11 a.m.
This Week:No. 2 Arizona (20-0) plays host to Western Michigan on Tuesday, Feb. 27 and Wednesday, Feb. 28 at 6 p.m. This will be Broncos' first games of the season. The Wildcats will then host the Hillenbrand Invitational Friday through Sunday, March 2-4 at Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium. Indiana State is 3-1, opening its season last weekend. Baylor (19-4) upset No. 20 Oregon for the second time this season and has won three straight tournaments this year. Creighton (2-3) is participating in its third tourney and will also play Arizona next Tuesday, March 6. Defending Champion Oklahoma (13-2) is No. 3 and is the only other ranked team in the tournament. The Cats fell to the Sooners (1-0) in the semifinal game in the College World Series last season. Arizona is 4-0 this season against ranked teams.
Last Time The Cats PlayedThe Cats hosted the Wildcat Invitational Feb. 23 through Feb. 25. Arizona finished 5-0 winning its fourth tournament of the season. The Cats outscored their opponents 42-2, hitting a team average of .400. Arizona opened the weekend with a victory over Drake (5-0) behind the pitching of freshman Jenny Gladding. It was her fifth shutout of the season, striking out nine batters in seven innings. It was only the second game this season that the Cats did not hit a home run. Senior lead-off hitter Lauren Bauer went 2-3 with two hits and scoring one run. Bauer turned around in the next game against Connecticut (11-3) and hit a homer un, stole two bases and scored three runs. Freshman Leneah Manuma went 3-4 at the plate in the designated hitters position. UConn was only the second team to score more than one run on the Cats this year. On Saturday, junior Pitcher Jennie Finch led the team to a win over McNeese State (13-1) at the plate and on the mound. Finch had 11 strikeouts in four innings, and surrendered her first run of the year a solo home run by the Cowgirls' pitcher. At the plate she hit two home runs in consecutive at bats. The Cats hit five home runs in the game. Against Southern Utah, senior third baseman Toni Mascarenas hit two homers leading Arizona to a 8-0 victory in five innings of play. Freshman Mackenzie Vandergeest hit an inside-the-park homer. On Sunday, the Wildcats beat Florida (5-0) led by the play of Mascarenas and Vandergeest. On the weekend, Bauer hit .625 and went 8-8 in stolen bases, she is 21-21 and leads the team in stole bases this season. Finch finished with a 0.64 ERA, striking out 20 in 11 innings, while walking one.
Pitching FuryThe Wildcat pitching staff of seniors Becky Lemke, Finch, Gladding and Teresa Demeter in 20 games have a combined ERA of 0.47 in 118 innings of play. They have struck out 195 batters, averaging nearly 10 strikeouts a game. Finch and Lemke both have 68 strikeouts and Gladding is not far behind with 58. The Cats have 15 shutouts and have only allowed 47 hits compared to Arizona's 215 hits. Finch is 7-0 with a 0.17 ERA, Lemke is 7-0 with a 1.02 ERA and Gladding is 6-0 with a 0.21 ERA.
Bangin' Them SillyIn 20 games, the Wildcats have hit 50 home runs with their opponents only hitting 3. In 68 games in 2000, the team hit 66. Mascarenas (11) and Manuma (8) and Vandergeest (8) lead the way, but seven other Wildcats have hit homers. The school and NCAA record is 100 by the 1995 Arizona team. The Cats hit 6 home runs against Bowling Green, which is tied for the No. 2 spot in NCAA history. 13 times Arizona has had multiple homers in a game, 5 times they've hit 5 or more and one time more than 5.
NotesArizona has outscored opponents 191-10 this year, which basically works out to a score of 10-0... One reason is that UA has had the bases loaded 40 times and has hit a combined .375 in those situations... The .399 team batting average is extremely lofty but UA's performed well in that category before, with the fifth best mark in NCAA history of .385 in 1998... The club's 50 home runs indicate Arizona is likely to stay in any game it can keep close, and Wildcat pichers have shown that's a possibility. The team earned run average of 0.47 is indicative, as is the average of almost 10 strikeouts per game by UA's threesome of Finch, Gladding and Lemke. The K figure is pretty good considering Arizona has played 10 five-inning games and two games of six innings because of the mercy rule...One "30" club is a good sign Arizona's early season play has shown some All-Americans are capable of having such seasons. Leadoff hitter Bauer leads the team with 34 hits and 34 runs scored, while No. 3 hole hitter Mascarenas has 33 runs batted in. Senior Nicole Giordano and Vandergeest each have 30 hits. The latter is a true freshman who leads the team in batting average (.517) and hit an inside-the-park homer against Southern Utah on Feb. 24, believed to be the only such four-bagger in Hillenbrand Stadium history (9th year). Her shot hit the base of the centerfield fence and bounced back nearly to second base, giving her a chance to break up the throw at the plate for her eighth home run of the year. She has a chance to break the UA's freshman record for home runs... Bauer has 12 or more multiple-hit games, while Vandergeest has 10. Bauer leads the team with the longest active streak, eight games... Vandergeest's ability to run could make her UA's swiftest catcher (once Lindsey Collins graduates) since All-American Jodi Miller Pruitt (1990-93). She plays rightfield most games, but has caught for fellow freshman Gladding in half her starts... Mascarenas has two or more RBI in eight of the Cats' 20 games... Arizona's longest winning streak is 47 from April 5, 1996 to March 23, 1997... Sophomore Lisha Ribellia has taken control of UA's second base position, with all 20 starts. An early starter at shortstop as a freshman in 20 games before juco transfer Allison Andrade took over, Ribellia's defense has helped give UA its .984 fielding percentage... The Cats' 29-0 victory over Bowling Green State on Feb. 16 is believed to be a school record for runs, as is the 17-run fourth inning UA put together... The Pepsi Softball Classic was one of the best opening weekend crowds in school history with a three-day average of 1562... Arizona has a 27-game home winning streak dating to a 4-3 lost to Stanford on April 9, 2000.
National Fastpitch Coaches Association PollArizona is No. 2 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I coaches poll. UCLA is No. 1 and Oklahoma No. 3. All eight Pac-10 school are currently ranked in the top 25 with four in the top 10. Arizona has been in the national rankings every single period since 1990. Ranking are available at www.nfca.org.
The Poll: Preseason: No. 3; Feb. 21 - No. 2.
Typical Arizona Lineup
Lauren Bauer - cf Nicole Giordano - lf Toni Mascarenas - 3b Leneah Manuma - dh/1b Lindsey Collins - c Jennie Finch - 1b/p Mackenzie Vandergeest - rf - or a c batting fifth Allison Andrade - ss Lisha Ribellia - 2b or Erika Hanson/Kim Balkan - rf Becky Lemke - pWhen Jenny Gladding pitches, she normally bats eighth and Ribellia is the defo.
Arizona Head Coach Mike CandreaAfter 15 seasons at Arizona, Candrea carries a record of 826-168. His Division I winning percentage (.831) is No. 2 all-time and No. 1 among active coaches. Candrea was named Pac-10 Co-Coach of the Year, his sixth time. Last season, he won his 800th game, only the eighth NCAA softball coach in history to do so. His players have earned 54 All-America honors and six Academic All-America honors, plus he has coached three players to the Honda Softball Award as national player of the year. He has taken the Wildcats to the College World Series the past 13 years and reached the championship game in eight of the last 11 years.