April 22, 2009
Cats Finish Up Home Slate
Up Next: The No. 7 Arizona Wildcats (36-9, 8-2 Pac-10), winners of four straight, welcome the No. 2 UCLA Bruins and the No. 3 Washington Huskies to Tucson this weekend. UA still sits atop the Pac-10 charts, with a one-and-a-half-game lead over both Washington and UCLA.
Friday, April 24 vs. UCLA, 7 p.m. (Hillenbrand Stadium)
Saturday, April 25 vs. Washington, 7 p.m.
KCUB 1290 AM
Sunday, April 26 vs. Washington, 12 p.m. (Senior Day)
KCUB 1290 AM
Noting the Bruins: No. 2 UCLA (32-8, 7-4 Pac-10) is riding a six-game winning streak. Their last loss was a 9-2 decision against Arizona on April 4 in Los Angeles. Since dropping the first game of that series, junior Megan Langenfeld (8-0) one-hit the Cats, and picked up four other victories. Her ERA now stands at a team-leading 0.98, and she has only given up 23 hits all season, holding opposing batters to a .097 average in 71.2 innings pitched. Donna Kerr (15-6) saw action against the Cats in the first game, and may see time this weekend as she has struck out 197 in 139.1 innings. Katie Schroeder is still on top of the batting charts for the Bruins, batting .398 with a team-high 12 home runs. Kaila Shull leads the team with 50 RBI, and touts a .377 average at the dish.
Noting the Huskies: No. 3 Washington (34-7, 7-4 Pac-10) touts one of the best pitchers in the nation in junior Danielle Lawrie (25-4). The Langley, British Columbia native has tallied 309 strikeouts in 204 innings pitched, giving up only 77 hits and four home runs. On April 3 in Seattle, Lawrie became the first pitcher to no-hit the Wildcats since Courtney Blades of Southern Mississippi silenced the bats in the 2000 Women’s College World Series. Player of the Year finalist Ashley Charters is hitting a remarkable .463 at the plate tied for a team-high seven home runs. The senior also reaches base more often than not, holding a .528 on-base percentage. Kimi Pohlman (.367) and Ashlyn Watson (.365) are also batting above .350 for the Huskies. Watson leads the team in RBI with 29.
Last Week: Friday: Arizona's hitting - 13 markers in all - overpowered No. 2 Stanford, 12-4 in six innings, Friday night before an aroused crowd of 2,469 at Hillenbrand Stadium. The victory pushed Arizona (34-9) to sole possession of first place in the Pac-10 at 6-2. Stanford dropped to 36-5 and 6-4. UA roughed up Stanford ace pitcher Missy Pena and got a complete-game victory from Sarah Akamine in the game shortened by the run rule. Arizona had three home runs (Leles, Arredondo, Lastrapes) to extend its nation-best total to 99.
Saturday: Two grand slams in the top of the first gave ninth-ranked Arizona a huge lead and punctuated the Wildcats' 11-2 victory over No. 14 California Saturday night at Hillenbrand Stadium to maintain the Pac-10 lead. Meantime, UA pitchers held Cal to five hits in the five-inning game, and just missed a chance at a shutout. Lastrapes, Arredondo and Chambers each hit homers for the Cats. Akamine tossed three innings in the win.
Sunday: A late home run by Sam Banister helped Arizona come back for a 7-5 Pac-10 softball victory over No. 14 California Sunday afternoon at Hillenbrand Stadium. After an intentional walked to Stacie Chambers with one out in the fifth and UA down 5-4, Banister followed with a home run. For Banister it was her 12th of the year. Arizona scored one more in the sixth and held on for the victory. Lastrapes, Chambers and Banister homered for the Cats, brining the home run total to 105 on the season.
Schedule Note: Arizona has rescheduled its postponed game against Arizona State for a 5 p.m. start time on April 29 in Tempe. The game will resume where it left off: bottom of the second, 2-2 tie. UA will remain the designated home team.
Track the Cats: Free GameTracker live stats sponsored by Tucson Electric Power, are provided for all home games and many road games (depending on Internet access) via arizonaathletics.com. Many road opponents provide the service through their web sites as well. All-Access video streaming of home games also is available through UA’s web site. A number of games will be broadcast by KCUB 1290 AM Radio. Those games are noted on the schedule on the first page.
Top of the Line Coaching: Arizona's coaching staff includes three mentors who have taken a combined 27 different teams to the Women's College World Series as head coaches -- Mike Candrea's 19, one by assistant Larry Ray (filling in for Candrea during the 2008 Olympic year) and seven by assistant Teresa Wilson. Thrown in former UA star Amy Hillenbrand (née Chellevold), the volunteer coach and first Wildcat to be named an All-American all four years of her playing days (1992-95), and you add four WCWS as a player and five more as an assistant to Candrea from 1996-2000. That's a whole lot of teaching at the top level of the game. It's as good a staff as exists in collegiate softball, and arguably the best. Candrea's leadership and strategy (notably defense), Ray's short game and outfield teaching, Wilson's pitching expertise and Hillenbrand's bat work and base running fundamentals give Arizona the full complement.
Arizona Head Coach Mike Candrea: Candrea enters his 24th season at the helm of the Arizona softball program. He boasts a 1,167-237-2 (.831) record in his 22nd season in the dugout. In the two seasons away from Tucson, he coached the U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal in Athens, Greece and a silver in Beijing, China. He was named a finalist for USOC Coach of the Year on March 19, 2008, and won the award in 2004. In January, he was inducted into the inaugural Hall Of Fame class at Central Arizona College. Candrea also was 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. He has led Arizona to eight national championships, 10 Pac-10 titles and is one of just five Division I coaches to have won over 1,100 career games.
Assistant Coach Larry Ray: In 2008, Ray assumed the position of interim head coach and took the team to their 20th WCWS appearance in 21 years. Ray has a 265-131 (.669) career record as a head coach, and five NCAA Championships as an assistant. He possesses a powerful combination of head coaching experience and familiarity with Arizona softball. Ray spent five years as Florida’s first head coach, and in 1998 he was named the SEC Coach of the Year after leading the Gators to an SEC Eastern Division title and a trip to the NCAA Regional Championships. He returned to Arizona in 2002, and in 2004 he led the Wildcats to a 55-6 record and a Pacific-10 Championship.
Assistant Coach Teresa Wilson: Wilson joined the staff in October after establishing herself as a nationally recognized mentor at four programs as head coach. She has 15 years of Pac-10 head coaching experience and most recently held the reigns at Texas Tech, after stints at Oregon, Minnesota and Washington. Wilson has led her teams to seven WCWS appearances and took Washington to 10 final top-15 standings in the polls. The Pickering, Mo. native pitched at Missouri, earning All-American honors her senior year after leading the Tigers to an AIAW and two WCWS appearances. She is the first person to both play and coach in the WCWS.
Volunteer Assistant Amy Hillenbrand: Hillenbrand has worked as an elite athlete representative for the ASA board of directors for the last 10 years, and also sat on the board oversight committee. She has also served on the selection committee for the U.S Women's National Team since 2004, and now serves as the athlete representative to the U.S. Olympic Committee for the sport of softball.
On the playing side, Hillenbrand left the college game in 1995 as the NCAA career leader in hits (371) and runs (252), plus finished at UA with a career batting average of .415, the top mark on Arizona's chart until Alison McCutcheon eclipsed her mark in 1998. Hillenbrand's career average is one of only nine Wildcats above .400.
The Best of the Best: Arizona has a chance at snapping its own NCAA record of 126 home runs in a season, and the home runs per game mark (1.83) it also owns. Even so, if the yard balls stopped now, the Cats’ 105 four-baggers already is No. 2 in NCAA history, tied with UTSA's 105 in 2006. A team has hit 100 HRs eight times in D-I history -- three by Arizona (2009, 2001, 1995), three times by UTSA (2006, 2005, 2004), once by Michigan (2005) and once by Louisiana-Lafayette (2006).
Here are a couple of home run facts for the Wildcats, who boast 12 players with at least one:
-- Arizona has hit two or more home runs in 30 games this year...
-- Arizona has hit 10 grand slams...
-- Arizona has hit two or more home runs in the same inning 24 times this year
-- Arizona has hit three or more home runs in one inning twice
-- Arizona has 15 leadoff homers
-- Arizona has five players with double-figure HR totals, including the two over-20 sluggers (Chambers and Leles)
-- Arizona has 197 HRBIs – runs batted in off of long balls – so far this season.
In Good Company: Chambers and Leles are only the fourth pair or trio to hit 20 or more in a season in Arizona history:
--Laura Espinoza (37), Jenny Dalton (28) and Leah Braatz (21) in 1995
--Toni Mascarenas (25) and Mackenzie Vandergeest (20) in 2001
--Leah Braatz (25) and Leticia Pineda (20) in 1998
Cash Money Chambers: Stacie Chambers, with 41 career jacks in just two seasons of play, is within two of the UA all-time top 10 career chart upon which Callista Balko and Toni Mascarenas sit at No. 10 with 43. Chambers' 26 home runs are the 7th most in Division I season history and give Arizona four players in the top seven.
Run for the Record Books: If Brittany Lastrapes (60 runs) can score 15 more runs this year – a tough feat, indeed – she’d join some super select company. That would be the Arizona single-season runs-scored chart. It’s peopled exclusively with multiple All-Americans from Jenny Dalton at the top with 101 in 1995 (and 6th with 84 in 1996), to Leah Braatz and Laura Espinoza (75 each in ’98 and ’95 respectively) at No. 9. In between are these names: McCutcheon (twice), Chellevold, O’Brien, Bauer and Lowe. Those are NCAA home run titlists, single-season hits records holder, all-time RBI types, etc. You put your name in that group and you’ve got a piece of serious history.
The More the Merrier: Both the 2008 and 2009 squads have five players with 10 or more home runs. The 2001 club had seven players with double-digit home runs -- Toni Mascarenas (25), Mackenzie Vandergeest (20), Leneah Manuma (19), Allison Andrade (12), Lauren Bauer (12), Jennie Finch (11) and Lindsey Collins (11). 2009 teammates K’Lee Arredondo (7) and Kristen Arriola (5) will need to slam a few yard balls down the stretch run to tie the ’01 squad.
More Jack Smack: All of Arizona’s nine home runs over the weekend were hit by one through five in the lineup.
1. Brittany Lastrapes (3)
2. K’Lee Arredondo (2)
3. Jenae Leles (1)
4. Stacie Chambers (2)
5. Sam Banister (1)
Banister’s lone home run saved the game for Arizona on Sunday against Cal.
My Sacrifice: With most of UA’s runners scoring on home runs, it’s hard to plate a few sacrifice flies every now and then. With only five sac flies, Arizona is on track to hit the fewest amount of SF’s since the 2005 team hit six, and the 1987 team hit only one.
Cashing in in the Clutch: Talk about clutch hitting. The Cats have hit 149 RBI with two outs. To put that into perspective, opponents have hit 134 total RBI against UA.
Leading Off: Sophomore Brittany Lastrapes is hitting a remarkable .642 when leading off. The Laguna Niguel, Calif. native has also reached base 43 out of 67
times she has led off an inning.
When the Bases are Juiced: With the bases loaded, Mike Candrea would want either Brittany Lastrapes, Stacie Chambers, Kristen Arriola or K’Lee Arredondo at the plate. Lastrapes is hitting .625 with the bags covered, Chambers is .583, Arriola is .571 and Arredondo is .400. Both Chambers and Lastrapes converted with grand slams this past weekend.
Home Sweet Home: Arizona brings a 22-1 home record into this weekend’s competition. The lone loss was against All-American pitcher Tara Oltman and Creighton in a 6-0 loss, the first home shutout since 2005. UA’s home winning
mark of 96 percent is just above the 92 percent mark that the Cats have established since Hillenbrand Stadium opened in 1993.
Top of the Order: One- and two-hole hitters Brittany Lastrapes and K’Lee Arredondo went a combined 0-for-20 last time they faced Washington and UCLA. Since then, Lastrapes has hit 8-for-15 with 10 runs and 10 RBI, and Arredondo has gone 7-for-14 with six runs and four RBI. Each have hit three home runs since, not including a home run for each in the second game against ASU – to be added to the total when the game is resumed.
Lineup Card: This is the projected 1-through-9 for this weekend:
1. Brittany Lastrapes – LF
2. K’Lee Arredondo – SS
3. Jenae Leles – 3B
4. Stacie Chambers – C
5. Sam Banister – 1B
6. Lini Koria – DP
7. Kristen Arriola – 2B
8. Lauren Schutzler – CF
9. Karissa Buchanan – RF
Pick Your Poison: Arizona’s lineup may very well be one of the most feared in softball. The 1-through-5 hitters are hitting an average of .390 at the plate, with a combined 78 home runs, and that’s with Arredondo missing a good portion of the season and both her and Lastrapes with one homer in reserve in the second ASU game. The bottom four are hitting .326, with 19 jacks. Pitch around the powerful combination of Leles and Chambers, and you run into Sam Banister who cranked two home runs against ASU after IBBs to her predecessor.
Up Against RBI History: Stacie Chambers has a superlative 79 RBI in 45 games, leading the nation with 1.76 per contest. That kind of pace is difficult to keep up for a full season with Pac-10 pitching, indeed. It also underscores some of the historically significant run producers in the Arizona program. If Chambers did stay on that track, with a dozen games left in the regular
season, she'd finish at around 99 RBI. That would be the fourth-best total in Arizona single-season history behind the NCAA-record 129 by Laura Espinoza in 1995, 109 by Jenny Dalton in 1996 and 100 by Leah Braatz in 1998. She clearly has tied the most recent high total, 79 by Olympic gold medalist Lovie Jung in 2003, the No. 9 figure in UA history.
Standout Performances: Three RBI in one game is a lot. Wildcats have done it individually 53 times this year. But, that's one level. Arizona has 29 4+ RBI games. Think that’s a lot? Stacie Chambers has had 5 5+ RBI games, her latest: a seven-RBI performance against New Mexico. Sam Banister tallied the most recent 5+ RBI game – a six-RBI output against ASU last weekend.
Mercy Me: In a streak that ended a month ago, Arizona had won five consecutive games in five innings by way of the run-ahead rule. The last Arizona squad to accomplish this feat was the 1995 team that won six straight five inning games. Keep in mind, though, that the run-rule can also be enforced after the fifth. For example, the 2003 team had a streak of six games won by the mercy rule, however, one of those games went six innings.
Who’s No. 1?: Sarah Akamine and Jennifer Martinez are seemingly deadlocked at the top of the UA pitching charts. Akamine has been the more consistent pitcher as of late, starting all three games last weekend. Martinez has been used in later innings, and has provided sound relief.
Going Streaking: Brittany Lastrapes and Sam Banister each have current four-game stints. Lauren Schutzler’s team-high 16-game hitting streak came to an end against Simon Fraser. It was the longest streak in two seasons for the Cats.
Double Trouble: Brittany Lastrapes has taken the doubles lead on the team. Still with 16, she sits three shy of K’Lee Arredondo’s mark from last season. Arredondo sits third on the single-season doubles list with 19, a mark that Lastrapes is on track to eclipse, but Lastrapes hasn’t tallied a two-bagger since March 27 against Oregon State. Arredondo had three in the first four games this season. In historical perspective, Arredondo needs just six more to crack the UA career top-10 for doubles.
Late-Inning Goods: The Cats could use some better focus at the plate at the ends of games. UA has played 17 run-shortened games (all victories) so the late innings have come at a somewhat discounted rate. Still, the Cats have scored 86, 55, 85, and 70 runs in the first through fourth innings and a combined 102 afterward including 28 in seventh innings. In the last four seasons, UA has compiled a 139-2 record when leading after five innings, and a 136-1 mark when ahead after six. Conversely, the Cats were 2-16 when trailing after four innings and one win fewer after five in 2008. UA dropped all 17 decisions when down after six and since 2005, Arizona is 4-51 when trailing in the final frame. If there was one tenet coach Mike Candrea has preached in his quarter-century of excellence at Arizona, it's to finish games.
Simple Reasoning: In Arizona's nine losses the opponents have scored 47 runs to 18 by the Cats. That will do it. In its victories the average score is Arizona 8, Opponents 2... UA is on track to surpass the 400 run mark for the year, something it hasn’t done since 2001 when it checked in with 479 runs. The club is already at 398 runs, an average of 8.84 per contest.
Friendly Confines: Over 6,500 people came through the Hillenbrand Stadium gates to watch the home opening weekend. On Saturday night against Cal, a season-high 2,895 people passed through the Hillenbrand gates. The numbers are on track to break records for attendance in a single season. Right now, the Cats are averaging 2,426 per game, as opposed to 1,900 – last’s season’s total.
The Rankings: Arizona sat at seventh in both the NFCA/USA Today and the USA Softball/ESPN.com preseason rankings. ESPN.com’s Graham Hays picked Arizona at No. 9 in his preseason poll, and the Pac-10 coaches’ poll placed Arizona at No. 4 in the conference. Arizona has been ranked No. 1 in the country for at least part of the year every season since 1991. This week Arizona is ranked 7th in the NFCA poll and 9th in the USA Softball/ESPN.com poll.
Arizona Softball in Historical Perspective: Arizona began play in 1974 and sports an all-time record of 1,523-438-2. The Cats are 363-97-1 in Pac-10 play, which began in 1987. Since 1982 and NCAA Division I Championships play began, Arizona is 1,349-332-2. UA has appeared in 22 NCAA Championships, has won the Women’s College World Series eight times in 20 trips, and has secured 10 Pac-10 titles.
Turnstiles Turning – Again: Through 16 seasons in Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium, Arizona has a record of 491-40, including a home field winning streak of 70 games from May 5, 2000 to April 6, 2002, which is still an NCAA record. In Pac-10 games alone, UA touts a 181-25 record, and has a 51-5 record in NCAA action. Looking at the records, it’s not hard to see what keeps the fans coming back for more. Hillenbrand Stadium’s aggregate attendance mark passed 500,000 last season, helped by the seventh highest attended game in history – a 7-6 Saturday night comeback win against Oregon State on April 26 that attracted 2,844 fans. UA has led the nation in attendance per game the last three seasons and since its opening, Hillenbrand Stadium has been able to call itself the national champion just as many times as the team has. Call (520) 621-CATS or log on to arizonaathletics.com for ticket information.
USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Candidate List: Senior third baseman Jenae Leles, junior catcher Stacie Chambers and sophomore outfielder Brittany Lastrapes were named to the exclusive 25-name list. Arizona is scheduled to face many of the highly-touted players.
Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award Watch: Jenae Leles was named one of 10 finalists for the national award. To vote, log onto seniorclassaward.com or text SB3 to 839863.
Wildcat Signees: The Arizona coaching staff signed three high school seniors to National Letters of Intent during the November early signing period. Brigette DelPonte (C/INF, Sunrise Mountain High School, Peoria, Ariz.) Kenzie Fowler (P, Canyon del Oro High School, Tucson, Ariz.), Baillie Kirker (3B/1B, Crescenta Valley High School, Montrose, Calif.) and Rebecca Tikey (OF, Horizon High School, Scottsdale, Ariz.) are all committed to enroll at the UA next fall.