March 16, 2010
Cats Head to Judi Garman Classic
March 18-21, 2010 ~ Anderson Family Fields, Fullerton, Calif.
Arizona, holder of a 15-game winning streak, will head to Fullerton, Calif. to take on its toughest task of the non-conference season when they battle five tough opponents in the Judi Garman Classic.
For the first time this season, three weekend opponents (UL, UM, OU) are ranked in both polls. This tournament has perennially been one of the toughest in the country for the Wildcats, and this year is no exception.
UL: The No. 24 Cardinals (15-8) tout Big East Player of the Year Melissa Roth and her .485 team-leading batting average with five home runs and 18 RBI. Fellow senior Kristen Wadwell (6-5) won 40+ games last season, but the Cardinals will be looking for revenge after UA scored 18 runs in the Louisville Regional last season.
UM: Having two-hit Arizona twice in two years, Michigan pitcher Nikki Nemitz (5-3) will look to shut down Arizona's potent offense once again. Junior Jordan Taylor (11-1) leads the team in ERA, though, at 1.03. Offensively for the No. 4 Wolverines (18-4), senior Maggie Viefhaus leads the taem with a .368 average.
OU: Freshman Keilani Ricketts (12-3) brings her 1.57 ERA to Southern California for the No. 11 Sooners (21-3). Leadoff hitter Amber Flores once again leads the team in on-base percentage, but freshman Brianna Turang touts a .440 batting average.
UNM: The Lobos (9-12) are led by senior Katie Gilmore's .426 average at the dish. Senior Shaunte Duarte has chipped in 16 RBI for New Mexico, a team-high. In the circle, freshman Kari Gutierrez (2-2) has a team-low 3.27 ERA with a .287 opponent batting average.
UVA: Senior Sarah Tacke leads the Cavaliers (12-9) with a .471 batting average and 19 RBI. Freshman Melanie Mitchell (8-7) has appeared in 16 games for Virginia and touts a 3.64 ERA, but has 96 strikeouts in 80.2 innings pitched.
Last Time Out
Arizona dealt St. John's a Thursday night defeat, then swept through five games of its own Wildcat Invitational, winning four of them in run-rule fashion. Kenzie Fowler picked up four wins on the weekend, with Sarah Akamine getting the other two.
Catch the Action
Go to arizonawildcats.com for live GameTracker stats, sponsored by Tucson Electric Power. Fans can watch all home games on All-Access, and most home games will be broadcast in-stadium on 103.3 FM with David Kelly and former UA softball player Erika Barnes describing the game action.
Candrea Approaching Milestone Victory
With 1,199 wins to his credit, Arizona's head coach Mike Candrea is one win shy of eclipsing the 1,200 victory mark. Only three NCAA Division I skippers have officially reached that mark.
Right on Track
Arizona has hit 44 home runs in 23 games, a clip of 1.91 per game and two off conference leader Arizona State. The numbers are up from last season, when the team had 41 through the first 23. Of Arizona's 187 total RBI, 97 of them have come off of its 44 homers.
UA is one run shy of eclipsing the 200-run mark and has a per-game mark of 8.65. The 2009 squad scored 7.92 runs per game, and these numbers will more than likely drop come Pac-10 season, but it's a notable number for now. The `09 mark was the highest since the 1998 version of the Wildcats scored 569 runs.
Department of Defense
With 23 games under their belts, the Arizona defense is looking more solid. Their .979 fielding percentage is tops in the conference, and looks like the Wildcat defense of old. UA has only committed three errors in its last eight games, far from the early season mark of seven boots through the first eight games.
What a Week
Even without the services of Lini Koria, Arizona was still able to hit at a clip of .413, tallying 14 home runs and 62 RBI. Senior K'Lee Arredondo finally got on the board with two jacks of her own, while the usual suspects in Brigette Del Ponte, Brittany Lastrapes and Baillie Kirker each chipped in to the HR numbers. The Cats had a team slugging percentage of .787, highlighted by Brittany Lastrapes' 1.211 mark. In fact, four players slugged 1.000 or better last week.
Arizona was a perfect 10-for-10 in stolen bases last week, with Brittany Lastrapes stealing a team-high four bases. UA has only been caught stealing twice during the young season.
While Sarah Akamine's record went to 7-1 with two solid victories over the weekend, K'Lee Arredondo saw her offense skyrocket. Batting from the three-spot in the lineup, The Tempe, Ariz. native had just one RBI in her previous 18 games played before exploding for nine RBI in the Wildcat Invitational. The output was good enough for Pac-10 recognition, as she was awarded with the conference's Player of the Week nod.
Kenzie Fowler was named the NFCA D-I National Player of the Week, as well as the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week, giving Arizona a sweep of the weekly conference awards. She was also the first non-senior to be recognized by the NFCA's weekly honor in 2010.
Arizona has picked up 80 two-out RBI, 43 percent of its total RBI output. The usual suspects are doing the damage; Brigette Del Ponte and Brittany Lastrapes each have 15 to their credit. To put this stat in perspective, opponents have cashed in 30 total RBI. UA did not give up an RBI all weekend.
The Difference a Year Makes
· At this point last season, Arizona had given up 65 runs. This season: 34
· RBI in 2009: 56. This season: 30
· Doubles in `09: 30. This season: 6
· `09 opponent b/avg.: 245. This season: .167
Walk, Don't Run
Arizona has drawn 136 walks just 23 games into the long season. The patient batters have put UA on track to break the all-time walk record of 287, set by the 1995 squad. That same `95 team also set the bar in six other offensive categories.
Top of the Line Coaching
Arizona's coaching staff includes three mentors who have taken a combined 28 different teams to the Women's College World Series as head coaches -- Mike Candrea's 20, one by assistant Larry Ray (filling in for Candrea during the 2009 Olympic year) and seven by assistant Teresa Wilson. 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 arguable the best. Candrea's leadership and strategy (notably defense), Ray's short game, bat work and base-running fundamentals and Wilson's pitching expertise give Arizona the full compliment.