Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Softball Squad Readies for Tourney
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: September 30, 2004
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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The University of Arizona softball team returns to action under its noted head coach in playing host to a six-team, 15-game exhibition fall tournament Friday through Sunday, Oct. 15-17, at Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium on campus. The Wildcats will play five games.


(Complete schedule below)


One of the opponents, Pima Community College, will play host to five of the games on its campus field early on Friday and Sunday. All Arizona games will be played at Hillenbrand.


The Wildcats finished the year 55-6 in 2004 with an abrupt end to the season in NCAA Region 1 play in Tucson, falling 3-2 to Oklahoma and 5-0 to Louisiana-Lafayette, snapping a streak of visits to the Women’s College World Series at 16 years.


Head coach Mike Candrea, who took a year away from most of his UA duties to lead the U.S. Olympic softball team to a gold medal in Athens, Greece, last summer, returns to action for the first time in a game situation as UA’s mentor. He and assistant coaches Larry Ray and Nancy Evans have been working with the team in fall drills for three weeks. The October tournament will close off-season team drills.


UA returns two-time first-team All-Americans in junior pitcher Alicia Hollowell and junior outfielder Autumn Champion, plus last year’s freshman phenom, centerfielder Caitlin Lowe, who also earned first-team All-America honors. Junior outfielder Courtney Fossatti, a 2003 second-team All-American who missed 2004 while redshirting with an ankle injury, also will be back this season along with slugging third baseman Jackie Coburn and 2004 regulars Kristie Fox (ss), Shelly Schultz (inf), Crystal Farley, Allyson Von Liechtenstein (of) and Candace Abrams (of/ph). Junior pitcher Leslie Wolfe, who earned a 5-2 record last year, plus reserve letterwinners Betsy Wilson, Jennifer Martinez and Cortney Nix also will be back to contend for bigger roles in 2005.


Candrea and staff bring in three freshman scholarship recruits for 2005 ?-  catcher/infielder Callista Balko of Tucson Canyon del Oro High School, infielder/outfielder Adrienne Acton of Marana, Ariz., High School and pitcher/infielder Taryne Mowatt of Corona, Calif., Santiago High School.


Champion will miss fall tournament play while continuing rehabilitation for a knee injury that forced her out of the lineup during the Cats' first-round NCAA victory over Centenary last May.


Candrea's Olympic sabbattical took him around the world and back and forth across the country for more than a year, capped by the team's third Olympic gold medal in as many tries. Former UA outfielder Leah O'Brien-Amica joined several other players including former UCLA star pitcher Lisa Fernandez among those winning their third gold. Former Wildcat pitcher Jennie Finch and former infielder Lovie Jung brought home their first gold medals as part of the 2004 club.


"I'm very glad to be back working with the 2005 Arizona team," Candrea said. "It was an incredible experience to work closely with Team USA in its long preparation and in the Games, but I'm eager to get on with it at Hillenbrand Stadium. We'll have a good team that will be ready to play," he said.


Assistants Ray and Evans led UA to a remarkable year in Candrea's absence, including securing the school's eighth Pacific-10 Conference Championship at 17-3. The Cats won at least 50 games for the 11th consecutive season and made their 18th consecutive NCAA appearance. The Cats opened the year 34-0, a school record, and used Lowe's and Champion's speed at the top of the lineup to steal 129 bases, the second-highest total in UA history.



Arizona Fall Tournament Schedule 




Hillenbrand Stadium

Time -

at Pima College






Oct. 15 



2 p.m.

CAC vs. Pima


2:30 p.m.

AWC vs. Arizona






4 p.m.

UNM vs. Pima


6 p.m.

Hum Babe Cats vs. AWC




11 a.m.

AWC vs. Pima



Oct. 16 

1 p.m.

CAC vs. Hum Babe Cats




3 p.m.

Hum Babe Cats vs. UNM




5 p.m.

UNM vs. Arizona




7 p.m.

Pima vs. Arizona






10 a.m.


Oct. 17 




UNM vs. Hum Babe Cats


1 p.m.





3 p.m.

Hum Babe Cats vs. Arizona




5 p.m.

CAC vs. Arizona




Exhibition play. Home team listed second.