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No. 1 Arizona Wildcats Head to Palm Springs
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 02/23/2006
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POTENTIAL STARTING LINEUP

                                             Avg.   Note

1.   Caitlin Lowe           CF   .486    No. 5 at UA with 85 SB.  11-11 in ?'06

2.   Autumn Champion LF    .238    Lone senior in Arizona's batting order

Or  Adrienne Acton      RF    .207    Just two strikeouts in 33 PA this year

3.   Kristie Fox              SS    .452    Hit .692 with 9 RBI in first home tourney of ?'05

4.   Chelsie Mesa           2B   .393    Has an 8-game hitting streak

5.   Sam Banister           1B   .267    Leads UA with 10 RBI

6.   Callista Balko           C    .143    Slugging 1.167 in last two games

7.   Laine Roth              DP  .393    11 hits, but only 1 RBI

8.   Jenae Leles              3B   .222    Leads UA with 2 HBP

9.   Adrienne Acton       RF   .207    See two slot

Or  Taryne Mowatt       LF   .000    Had first collegiate AB last week

PITCHING

                                        W-L  ERA     Note        

      Alicia Hollowell          6-0     0.00    0 R allowed in 39.0 IP this year

      Taryne Mowatt          5-0     0.45    Has 63 K and walked 2 BB

      Leslie Wolfe               0-0     0.00    0 ER in 9.0 IP in ?'05 postseason

 

THIS WEEK: No. 1 Arizona (11-0) goes to the Palm Springs Classic, where it will play five games, including No. 8 Texas A&M (7-2) and No. 4 Texas (10-1).  UA’s Sunday match-up against the Longhorns will be televised on ESPNU.

 

With the Cats moving into the top spot in the polls, Arizona has been ranked No. 1 in every season since 1992.

 

FRIDAY, FEB. 24

3 p.m. (PST)           Texas Tech

8:30 p.m. (PST)      No. 8 Texas A&M

 

SATURDAY, FEB. 25

12:30 p.m. (PST)   Maryland

5:30 p.m. (PST)      Ohio State

 

SUNDAY, FEB. 26

1 p.m. (PST)           No. 4 Texas       ESPNU

 

NOTING THE OPPONENTS:

 

FRIDAY, FEB. 24

TEXAS TECH (3-8) ?- Arizona just faced the Red Raiders last weekend in the Worth Wildcat Invitational.  UA was not a very welcoming guest, defeating Texas Tech, 6-0, and allowing only one hit.  TTU had a tough time throughout the weekend, as it went 1-4 in round-robin play. 

 

N0. 8 TEXAS A&M (7-2) ?- This is the second of at least three meetings between the Wildcats and Aggies this season.  Arizona jumped all over A&M in the Kajikawa Classic, winning, 8-0, in a run-rule shortened game.  Alicia Hollowell no-hit the Aggies, who have  averaged 5.3 runs in games not against Arizona this season.  UA scored seven of its eight runs in the first inning off of All-American Amanda Scarborough, and Sam Banister hit a walk-off home run in the fifth inning to invoke the mercy rule. 

 

SATURDAY, FEB. 18

MARYLAND (3-2) ?- Entering the week, the Terps’ two losses have come at the hands of an undefeated No. xx Louisville team.  Freshman infielder Nikki Smith, who hails from Riverside, Calif., leads the team with her .455 average and has one of UM’s two homers.  Crystal Crews is 3-0 in the circle and boasts a 0.77 ERA.  Crews has held opponent hitters to a .110 batting average and has a  strikeout to walk ratio of six K:BB.

 

OHIO STATE (5-4) ?- The Buckeyes started their season 4-0, before dropping four games.  Most recently, OSU snapped out of its skid by defeating Stetson to give head coach Linda Kalafatis her 300th career victory.  Stacy Hibma and Megan Schwab lead OSU’s offensive attack.  Hibma leads the Buckeyes with her .462 batting average, while Schwab has belted a team-high three home runs. 

 

SUNDAY, FEB. 19

NO. 4 TEXAS (10-1) ?- The lone blemish on Texas’ record this year came against Arizona at the Kajikawa Classic.  Though Arizona won by a small, 1-0, tally, UA had eight hits and seven runners in scoring position to Texas two hits and one RISP.  In that meeting, neither team’s All-American pitcher was in the circle, as Taryne Mowatt and Megan Denney started for their respective teams.  Arizona should expect to face two-time National Player of the Year Cat Osterman.

 

In two of the last three years, Arizona’s first loss of the season has come to Texas.  Last year, the Longhorns defeated UA, 1-0, in the Kia Klassic (UA was 21-0).  In 2003, the Wildcats fell to UT, 2-1 in the Fiesta Bowl Tournament (UA was 10-0).

 

LAST WEEK RECAP: The third-ranked Wildcats opened their home schedule with the Worth Wildcat Invitational.  UA went 5-0 in round-robin play and scored 22 runs to its opponents’ one.  On the weekend, Kristie Fox hit .500 (7-for-14) and cleanup hitter Chelsie Mesa batted .467.  Mesa clubbed her second home run of the year, as she also doubled and tripled en rout to tallying 14 total bases.  Caitlin Lowe went 4-for-4 on stolen base attempts, moving her into fifth place on UA’s career list. 

 

Alicia Hollowell continued her dominance in the circle, tossing complete-game shutouts against all three of her opponents.  Hollowell improved her record to 6-0 on the year and now has 118 career victories.  She will tie Jennie Finch (119) for second place at Arizona with her next win, and is in sight of Nancy Evans’ 124 victories, which is the benchmark win total in the program’s history.

 

RE-WRITING THE RECORD BOOKS: Entering her senior year, Alicia Hollowell was already UA’s career strikeout leader, and she has the top three season strikeout marks for any Wildcat, as well.  In Arizona’s season-opening tournament, the Kajikawa Classic, Hollowell passed Jennie Finch’s career mark for most innings pitched.  Next, the Suisun, Calif., native looks to take over as UA’s all-time wins leader.  Entering the weekend, Hollowell stands in third place with 118 career victories, one behind Finch’s 119 and Nancy Evans’ 124.

 

For a complete list of Arizona’s all-time record holders, please see page six of the .pdf version of this release, or pages 33-37 of this year’s media guide.

 

OFFENSIVE HISTORY: Junior center fielder Caitlin Lowe joined 15 other Wildcats this past weekend when she reached the 200-hit plateau.  Just 11 games into her junior season, Lowe could challenge Allison McCutcheon’s (1995-98) 405 career base knocks come spring 2007.

 

Lowe moved up in the record books in another category last weekend, as she swiped four more bases.  Lowe is fifth on UA’s all-time list with 85 career stolen bases, and she is a perfect 11-for-11 this season.  If she wants top-billing as Arizona’s best-ever base stealer, McCutcheon stands in her way once again with 148 SB.

 

HOLLOWELL NAMED PAC-10 PITCHER OF THE WEEK (2/6-12): For the second consecutive week, Alicia Hollowell was named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week.  Last week, USA Softball named her its first National Player of the Week of the year for her performance in last week’s games.  In three starts, Hollowell tossed no-hitters against No. 15 Northwestern and No. 6 Texas A&M, while surrendering one hit in a 2-0 win over Cal State Fullerton.

 

ARIZONA HEAD COACH MIKE CANDREA is in his 21st season at Arizona and carries a career 1,038-203 (.836) record in 20 years in the dugout.  At the time of this release, Candrea’s career winning percentage is the best in NCAA history.  Additionally, he is one of just five coaches to reach the 1,000 Division I victories, and was the fastest to do so (19 years of on-field coaching).  In 2004, Candrea took a year off to coach the USA Olympic softball team to a 9-0 record and a gold medal in Athens in 2004.  Candrea was also 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.  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.

 

USA SOFTBALL NATIONAL COLLEGIATE PLAYER-OF-THE-YEAR WATCH LIST:  Four Arizona players were named to the USA Softball POY pre-season watch list.  Alicia Hollowell, Caitlin Lowe, Kristie Fox and Autumn Champion are the quartet of Wildcats featured on the 50-name list, which includes players representing 28 schools from 10 conferences.

 

AND THEN THERE WERE EIGHT: Okay, here’s the bad news: Arizona returns just eight of its 17 players from 2005.  The good news is that half of the Wildcat returnees are All-Americans (Alicia Hollowell, Caitlin Lowe, Kristie Fox and Autumn Champion) and the other half had significant contributions in 2005, as well.

 

WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM: In addition to freshman infielders Laine Roth, Jenae Leles and Sam Banister, and as 2005 NJCAA Player of the Year Chelsie Mesa, UA delved into the rest of the athletic department for additional players.

 

With only 12 rostered players and three weeks to Opening Day, UA brought in senior outfielder Kelly Nelson, freshman outfielder Jill Malina and sophomore infielder Danielle Rodriguez.  Nelson is a four-year letterwinner with UA’s soccer team, Malina was originally slated to be a softball manager, and Rodriguez made the squad in an open tryout.  For more information regarding the three late additions, log on to ArizonaAthletics.com to see their bios.

 

INSTANT CONTRIBUTORS: Laine Roth, Jenae Leles, Sam Banister and Chelsie Mesa have started all 11 of UA’s games this season.  The quartet of infielders combined to hit .318, with five of UA’s seven home runs and 25 of the team’s 47 RBI.

 

It's a nice sign for a team that last year had only five home runs by newcomers -- all by then-freshman Callista Balko.  Balko is the only returning player to hit a home run for UA, thus far.

 

HITTING STREAK: Chelsie Mesa currently has an eight game hitting streak.  Kristie Fox and Caitlin Lowe each hold three game streaks.

 

CHANGE IN THE SEASON: For the first time since the 2004 NCAA Regionals there was something missing in Arizona’s lineup: Autumn Champion.  Prior to last weekend, Champion had started 121 of UA’s 124 games in her four years as a Wildcat.  Additionally, the senior from Tustin, Calif., had batted in the two-hole for 65 consecutive games.

 

On Feb. 18 against Texas Tech, Champion played left field, but did not bat.  In UA’s final two games, she did not play at all.

 

PITCHER/HITTER/LEFT FIELDER: Entering her sophomore season, Taryne Mowatt was expected to mature from her frosh campaign, in which she went 8-1 with a 1.80 ERA.  She has done that and more. 

 

In the circle, Mowatt is 5-0, with three complete-game shutouts, and her numbers have an uncanny resemblance to three-time All-American Alicia Hollowell.

 

Here are a couple of ratios to compare the two hurlers:

                    ERA     K/7 IP     K:BB        Opp. AVG

Mowatt       0.45    14.2        31.5        .089

Hollowell   0.00    14.0        39.0        .085

 

In lieu of Champion in the lineup, Mowatt also became the first UA pitcher since Wendy Allen to pick up a bat.  The sophomore from Corona, Calif., is still looking for her first hit, but has been productive in her eight plate appearances.  Mowatt has laid down two sacrifice bunts, had an RBI groundout and flied out to right to advance a runner from second to third.  Mowatt has moved the runner over in all four of her plate appearances, in which she has had an opportunity to do so.  When not pitching, she has been perfect in 14.0 innings in left field.

 

NOBODY EVER GOT ANYTHING FREE FROM UA: Alicia Hollowell and Taryne Mowatt have combined to strikeout 141 opponent hitters in 70.0 innings pitched this season.  What’s more, they have issued a total of four walks to opposing hitters.  That’s one walk per 17.5 innings pitched and 35.3 strikeouts to the walk.  In contrast, UA hitters have walked 38 times.

 

A-RROR PRONE: Sophomore right fielder Adrienne Acton accomplished the rare feat of having two error-driven inside-the-park “home runs” against Tennessee Tech.  In back-to-back innings, Acton hit two ground balls, which Golden Eagle infielders threw into right field.  In both freak plays, Acton came all 240 feet around the bases to score.

 

Acton’s speed has put the pressure on opposing defenses all year, as she has reached on an error five times this year.  The rest of the Wildcats have combined to reach on an error five times.

 

FAST STARTS: With two or three All-Americans occupying the first three spots in the batting order, Arizona has made a living scoring runs in the first frame off the ballgame.  The Wildcats have scored 17 runs in the first inning of games this year.  The only other inning in which Arizona has scored more than 10 runs is the third, in which UA has 16.  Arizona’s best start came against No. 6 Texas A&M, when UA tagged All-American Aggie Amanda Scarborough with seven runs, prior to three outs being recorded.

 

THAT’S WHY THEY ARE ALL-AMERICANS: The Wildcats have had some struggles this season when it comes to hitting with runners in scoring position.  UA is batting .267 (27-for-101) with one or more RISP, while hitting .340 (55-for-162) in non-RISP situations.

 

Two Wildcats who have thrived in big spots are All-Americans Caitlin Lowe and Kristie Fox.  Lowe (5-for-10) and Fox (4-for-12) are UA’s only players hitting above .300 with runners in scoring position.

 

PINCH WHAT? Head coach Mike Candrea has yet to send a pinch hitter to the plate this year.  With Autumn Champion coming off the bench, there’s a chance he could do it some time soon.

 

EXTRA EVERY TIME: Arizona has at least one extra-base hit in each of its 11 games this season, for a total of 25.  UA’s opponents, on the other hand, have one extra-base knock.

 

NO MORE FOX TROTS: All-American Kristie Fox has done many great things at Arizona in her two-plus years as a Wildcat.  In the last 27 games, those accomplish do not include hitting home runs.  Dating back to April 30, 2005, Fox is homerless in 27 games and 78 at-bats.  Keep in mind, however, over that span Fox is hitting .329 (27-for-82) and has drawn 21 walks, while striking out only eight times.

 

HOW DO YOU DEFINE DOMINATION? For four years, opposing hitters have found themselves completely over-matched against Alicia Hollowell.  This year is no different, as she is yet to allow a run.  Additionally, she has allowed the opposition to reach third base only three times in 39.0 innings.  She has not yet given up an extra-base hit and has struck out 59 percent of opposing hitters.

 

WHERE IS SHE TODAY? Freshman Sam Banister has enjoyed varying success this year, depending on where she is in the batting order.  In the three games she has batted in the seventh or eighth positions, she is hitting .571 and slugging 1.429.  In the eight games, she hits in the fifth or sixth slots, the Petaluma, Calif., native is batting .174 and slugging .304.  One clue for when she might be batting higher in the order may be from a source one would not expect ?- the opponent’s name.  UA’s opponents when Banister is seventh or eighth: Northridge, Northwestern and North Carolina State.

 

SNAP OUT OF IT! From UA’s Feb. 10 game against Northwestern until the fourth inning of the Feb. 18 contest against North Carolina State, Callista Balko was in the midst of a hitter’s worst feat ?- a batting slump.  Balko had gone 0-for-21 until doubling to center field against the Wolfpack.  Since the double, she is hitting .600 (3-for-5) and slugging 1.459.

 

THE OLD RED, WHITE & BLUE: Caitlin Lowe and Alicia Hollowell return to Arizona after a summer with the USA National Team.  With Coach Candrea at the helm, Lowe started 11 of 12 games and hit a combined .357, while scoring six runs and going 4-for-4 on stolen base attempts, during several tournaments.  Hollowell did not give up an earned run in 8.2 innings of work, during which time she struck out 12 batters.  Kristie Fox was invited to numerous USA Softball tryouts, but declined invitations to play over the summer, as she was recovering from surgery on her throwing arm.

 

THROWN INTO THE HOT CORNER: Freshman Jenae Leles is the freshman since Jackie Coburn (2002) and Toni Mascarenas (1998) to start regularly at third base.  Should Leles get moved to another position, fellow frosh Sam Banister waits in the wings to share the left side of the infield with Kristie Fox.

 

A LITTLE HELP HERE?: In each of the last three years, Alicia Hollowell has eaten up over 70 percent of UA’s innings pitched.  She should get some help from returning hurlers Leslie Wolfe and Taryne Mowatt.  Wolfe started six of the final 16 games for UA in 2005, after delivering the first pitch in only three of the first 41 contests.  Additionally, a healthy and mature Mowatt should also help out, after winning eight games last season.

 

Thus far, Mowatt has started five of UA’s 11 games and tossed 44 percent of the innings.

 

THE FIRST TWIN KILLING: In UA’s Feb. 12, 9-1, win over New Mexico, the Wildcats turned their first groundball double play since May 14, 2004 against UCLA.  That’s 462.2 innings pitched between GDP’s.

 

DEFENSE WINS WHAT?: When your pitchers strikeout opponents in 59 percent of their plate appearances, a team’s defense has the pressure taken off it a bit.  Nevertheless, when Arizona puts the sticks down to pick up the leather, its defense has had only three errors in its 11 games.  With three defensive blemishes in 249 fielding attempts, UA has a .988 fielding percentage.  Opponents, on the other hand, have committed 15 errors for a .944 fielding percentage.  UA is error-free in eight games this season.

 

NOT AFRAID OF A CHALLENGE: As always, Arizona will play one of the most challenging schedules in the nation.  Of UA’s 50 scheduled regular season games, 17 are against teams ranked in the top 10 of the pre-season ESPN.com/USA Today Poll.  In addition, another 11 games are against teams ranked 11-25.

 

EARLY SIGNINGS:  Head coach Mike Candrea announced that UA has received four National Letters of

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