The second-ranked Arizona softball team (45-7 overall, 8-4 Pac-10) completes the last half of its eight-game road trip in Oregon this weekend against No. 13 Oregon State (33-13-1, 3-7) on Friday at 2 p.m. and No. 18 Oregon (30-18 overall, 4-6 Pac-10) on Saturday and Sunday, both 1 p.m. games. The Cats swept both schools earlier in the season in Tucson.
About Oregon State: The Beavers have won seven of their last eight entering this weekend, including a pair of non-conference wins over Portland State and two wins against California. Jenni Jodoin and Shelly Prochaska are each hitting above .350 in the month of April. OSU is led by pitcher Tarrah Beyster, who is batting .438 on the year She also leads the Beavers with a school-record 39 RBI.
About the Ducks: Oregon has a seven-game winning streak, which includes a pair of wins over Stanford and a 3-2 win over Cal. The Ducks had a doubleheader with OSU canceled last week due to rain and haven't seen Pac-10 action in two weeks. Triawn Custer leads the team with a .385 batting average and Jill Robinson has a team-high 12 home runs.
Winning Streak Snapped: Arizona's 38-game winning streak over in-state rival Arizona State was broken last Friday when the Cats lost to the Sun Devils, 3-1, behind a three-run home run in the fourth inning by Jamie Hlebechuk. The UA was limited to one run on four hits by ASU pitcher Kirsten Voak, who struck out seven Cats. UA's Lindsey Collins ended the shutout with a one-out solo home-run in the top of the seventh. The Cats rebounded on Saturday to defeat ASU, 3-0, behind a three-hit, 10-strikeout performance from Becky Lemke. The win on Saturday broke a scoring drought in which the Cats scored just one run over 21 innings and it ended a three-game losing streak - Arizona's longest of the season.
National Fastpitch Coaches Association Poll
Arizona has held the No. 2 spot in the NFCA coaches poll throughout the season. Pac-10 schools occupy the top four spots in the rankings and all eight teams are ranked. Washington is No. 1 followed by Arizona, UCLA and ASU. California is No. 9, followed by Stanford at No. 12, No. 13 Oregon State and No. 18 Oregon. The poll is available online at www.nfca.org. Arizona has been in the national rankings every single period since 1990.
Arizona in the Pac-10
Arizona has been beaten up in Pac-10 play this season. With all eight softball teams in the rankings, conference games have been more difficult than normal. The Cats are batting just .285 in Pac-10 games, compared to a .344 team batting average overall. Jennie Finch and Katie Swan are the only Cats who have been more productive in Pac-10 play than overall. Finch leads the team with a .412 (14-for-34) average in conference action and is batting .370 overall. Swan is hitting .395 (15-for-38) in the Pac-10 and .354 overall. The team has hit just five home runs in Pac-10 play compared to seven by conference opponents.
Swinging for the Fences
This Arizona squad has upheld the Wildcat tradition of socking balls out of the yard as seven Cats have hit the long ball this season. Jennie Finch leads the team with 14 home runs, while Lindsey Collins (12) is second on the team. Alison Andrade (6), Chrissy Gil (5), Toni Mascarenas (4), Lauren Bauer (2) Nicole Giordano (1) and Katie Swan (1) have each joined the fun for a team total of 45. The Cats have hit just five homers in 12 conference games.
Notes from Left Field
Before the loss to ASU on Friday night, Arizona's losses had all been day games. The Cats are 18-1 in night games... Arizona is 3-1 on the season in extra-inning affairs, 1-1 in Pac-10 games... In 52 games, the Wildcats have 475 hits for a team batting average of .344. The team is averaging 9.13 hits per game and has been held to less than five hits just six times this season. The Cats have been held to four hits in each of the last four consecutive games... The UA has outscored its opponents 326-55 on the season for an average score of 6.3-1.1. Opponents have scored three or more runs just six times this season and in five of the last eight games... On the other hand, the Cats have been shutout just three times on the season. They have yet to score a run in three losses to Washington... Junior Nicole Giordano leads the team with a .452 average and a team-high 80 hits and 42 runs scored... Toni Mascarenas and Allison Andrade lead the team with 13 doubles apiece, while Lindsey Collins has 12. The Cats have hit 79 doubles this season, which is better than the 72 they hit last season and good for fifth in the record books... Nearly half of Andrade's hits (46) have been for extra bases (19)... Arizona is 2-3 on the road in Pac-10 play and 6-1 at home. The Cats will play six of their remaining nine conference games on the road.
Armed and Dangerous
Arizona's pitchers have dominated the opposition in recent years and this season is no exception... Junior Becky Lemke and sophomore Jennie Finch have combined to allow just 47 earned runs in 331 innings spanning 52 games...They have combined to pitch four no-hitters on the season (two apiece). The last time a pair of Arizona pitchers threw no-hitters in the same season was when Carrie Dolan and Nancy Evans each threw two during the 1995 season... Finch has an ERA of 0.74, while Lemke has a 1.19 ERA... Finch's ERA against the Pac-10 is 1.81 while Lemke has a 2.66 ERA in conference play. Lemke struck out a school-record 19 batters in recording her second no-hitter of the season on March 11 against BYU... She has 250 strikeouts on the season to give her 648 for her career. She remains third on the all-time list behind Evans (733)... They have a combined 412 strikeouts (including two by Teresa Ayoub). The single-season team record is 451... Lemke is fourth on the UA all-time victories list with a 78-15 record in over two-and-a-half seasons... Do Unto Others...
Jennie Finch has managed to do to opposing pitchers what opposing batters have been unable to do to her - get big hits. Finch leads the team with 14 home runs and has 45 RBI, but she has yet to homer in Pac-10 play... She threw two no-hitters within a week of each other (vs. Tennessee Tech on 2/18 and vs. Drake on 2/25) and the latter was her first career perfect game... She also has three one-hitters on the season.
Pac-10 Weekly Honors
Finch was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week for Feb. 23-29 for her performance at the Bama Bash. It was her second honor of the year. She was also named the Player of the Week Feb. 29 after hitting .643 (9-for-14), including 12 RBI, four home runs, and nine runs scored at the Wildcat Invitational... Additionally, Becky Lemke won Pitcher of the Week honors Feb. 15 for her performance at the Fiesta Bowl Classic, where she had a 3-0 decision over then-No. 3 Fresno State.
Arizona Coach Mike Candrea
In his 15th season at Arizona, Candrea carries a record of 766-160 (.826). He is the active and all-time winningest Division I coach by percentage and in the top 10 in victories. Last season, Candrea became the eighth Division I coach in history to win 700 games. His players have earned 49 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 12 consecutive years and has reached the NCAA Championship game in eight of the last 10 seasons.
Fri., April 28 at Oregon State 2 p.m. Sat., April 29 at Oregon 1 p.m. Sun., April 30 at Oregon 1 p.m.
Cats Depth Chart p B. Lemke, J. Finch c Lindsey Collins 1b Jennie Finch, Erika Hanson, Leneah Manuma (inj.) 2b Katie Swan ss Allison Andrade, April Richardson, Lisha Ribellia 3b Toni Mascarenas, Lindsey Rice lf Lauren Bauer, Lindsay Robinson cf Chrissy Gil rf Nicole Giordano dp Jennie Finch, Erika Hanson, Teresa Ayoub