May 7, 2009
Cats Finish Regular Season in Oregon
Up Next: After going 2-2 over the week – with one game rained out – the No. 6 Arizona Wildcats (39-13, 11-6 Pac-10) take to the Pacific Northwest as they finish out their regular season against the Oregon schools. UA sits in fourth in the current Pac-10 standings, two-and-a-half games behind conference leader UCLA.
Thursday, May 7 at Oregon, 4 p.m. (Howe Field, Eugene)
Friday, May 8 at Oregon State, 3 p.m. (Softball Complex, Corvallis)
Saturday, May 9 at Oregon State, 12 p.m.
Noting the Ducks: Oregon (15-32, 2-16 Pac-10) is led by junior Neena Bryant with a .327 average at the dish, including a team-high 26 RBI. She has also shown her speed around the base paths, stealing 27 bases in 28 attempts. Sophomore Monique Fuiava leads the club with eight home runs and seven doubles. In the circle, freshman Sam Skillingstad (11-14) touts the team-high 2.35 ERA, tossing 15 complete games and four shutouts. Brittany Rumfelt (2-9) saw action against the Cats earlier in the season.
Noting the Beavers: Sophomore Audrey Roderfeld leads the squad, batting .314 with 13 home runs and 36 RBI – all team-highs. Paige Lowe, Ashley Sanchez and Stefanie Ewing are all also batting over .280 and have all collected more than 38 hits. Freshman Paige Hall (14-11) and junior Kelly Dyer (10-17) have split time, giving the OSU pitching staff a combined 3.42 ERA. Dyer is the strikeout artist for the team, taking down 108 batters on strikes in 168.2 innings. Both hurlers have pitched four shutouts on the season.
Last Week: Arizona completed a three-game sweep of the defending national champions from Arizona State, closing the series out in dominating fashion with a 10-6 victory. In the Bay Area, UA’s Friday game against Cal was rained out, and the Cats blew a sixth-inning three-run lead on Saturday as they fell to the Cardinal 4-3. Arizona committed two errors in the inning, handing Stanford three unearned runs. Missy Penna dominated the UA lineup, holding the potent Cats offense to one hit – a Jenae Leles home run – in a 2-1 victory for the Cardinal to close out the weekend.
Wednesday: Victoria Kemp's towering fourth-inning home run broke a 2-2 tie, and Sarah Akamine held No. 6 Arizona State to two hits after the fact to post a 3-2 victory for No. 7 Arizona in the first game of a doubleheader Wednesday evening at Farrington Stadium. In the second game, Arizona's hot bats did the damage once again as they plated eight runs off of three home runs in a 10-6 win over the No. 6 Sun Devils in the second game Wednesday evening. Jenae Leles, Victoria Kemp and Brittany Lastrapes homered for UA.
Saturday: Arizona committed two errors in a four-run sixth for Stanford, blowing a 3-0 lead and handing the No. 3 Cardinal a 4-3 victory in front of 603 in attendance at Smith Family Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Jennifer Martinez was credited with the loss. A Jenae Leles RBI single and Victoria Kemp’s two-run homer had built the three-run lead for the Cats. But Stanford scored an earned run and three unearned runs in the sixth to take the lead it would maintain.
Sunday: Stanford's Missy Penna held Arizona's nation-leading offense to one hit in her final appearance on home turf, and the Cardinal's two early runs held up as they defeated the No. 7 Wildcats 2-1 on Sunday afternoon. Jenae Leles had the only hit of the game for UA: a solo home run in the fourth to cut a 2-0 deficit in half. With the home run, Arizona is now seven shy of tying the NCAA record of 126, set by the 2001 Wildcat 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 1,170-241-2 (.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.
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.
Runs and More Runs: Arizona has scored 428 runs, the most since the home-run (126) juggernaut team of 2001 cross the plate 479 times. It's a pace (8.23 rpg) that could challenge the 500 level, achieved four times in UA history, notably by the 1995 powerhouse team (66-6) that scored 629 runs in 72 games (8.74 rpg). Some of it has to do with how many games are left to play, but no matter what the 2009 team will go down as a prolific scoring squad. Individually, leadoff hitter Brittany Lastrapes 67 runs are well within the reach of the Arizona single-season chart, probably the toughest category to get your name on other than single-season hits. No. 9 on the runs chart are home run queen Laura Espinoza who crossed the plate 75 times in 1995 and slugger Leah Braatz, who scored 75 times in 1998. Brittany actually has a chance to hit that aforementioned hits list, too. She has 81 and need 13 more to tie Alison McCutcheon who had 94 in 1996. Reaching either one of those categories at Arizona puts your name alongside only multiple All-Americans. The season hits chart has seven players who were named All-America a combined 24 times; the season runs chart has eight players who were named All-America 28 times.
Driving Them In: If you score lots of runs, you're driving them in, too. Arizona has 401 RBI, the sixth-most in its history and most since the 1998 club drove in 506.
Did you Know?: Arizona has scored 96 runs in first innings this year. Next best is the third inning 87, when often those same players that hit in the first inning are up again ... the Cats have hit 28 first-inning home runs, one reason for the high scoring in that frame ... Arizona has been donked by pitches 41 times, the second-most in school history behind the 43 by the 2002 club when Leneah Manuma got nipped 16 times. Last year it was 34 HBPs, which this year's team passed into the No. 2 spot ... The short game is part of Arizona's attack, but the long ball has kept base runners more station-to-station than usual. This year's team has 27 stolen bases (34 attempts), the lowest SB total since the 2002 team swiped 34 in 41 tries....
Leadoff Jacks: Brittany Lastrapes has blown away the Arizona home run record for a leadoff batter with 17, well ahead of the 12 notched by four-time All-American Lauren Bauer in the 2001 NCAA title year. Like Bauer, Lastrapes is helping the club amass a monstrous total. Bauer's team set the NCAA record with 126; this year's team is challenging that mark ... Lastrapes' 55 RBI also is the second-most ever by an Arizona leadoff batter, trailing Alison McCutcheon's 63 RBI during her .534, NCAA-record 132-hit year in 1997. Brittany recently passed leadoff hitter Amy Chellevold's 48 RBI in 1995.
.300 Club: Arizona is well on the way to recording a team batting average above .300, with its .337 mark entering the stretch drive of the season with eight regular-season games remaining. It's not abonormal. UA has hit above .300 all but three years since 1993, around the time the yellow-optic ball was adopted. The current mark would be its best since the 1998 club set the school record with a .385 average, capping a five-year spree of its historically best hitting (.380 in 1994, .383 in 1995, .356 in 1996, .375 in 1997). That would mean this year's squad could post the program's best offense in the past 11 seasons.
RISPect: Stacie Chambers and Sam Banister are both hitting above .435 when runner are in scoring position. Chambers has a nation-high 80 RBI, while Banister has a career-best 49. Though all of those runners in scoring position may not have rounded third base, Chambers is still 29-for-64 and Banister is 20-for-46.
Short-Arm: There have only been 19 complete games this season for the Cats.
Taryne Mowatt pitched 35 alone in 2008, and 50 complete games during the title run of 2007. To date, Lindsey Sisk has the team-high of nine. With only eight regular season games remaining, this stat underscores that Arizona pitchers may have not been able to close in 2009, leading to an all-time high ERA of 2.93 as of now.
Turning Two: Since the strikeout numbers are down from last season, the ball has obviously been put into play a little more than the experienced defense is accustomed to. The Cats are on track to turn their lowest number of double plays (9) since the 2006 team turned the same number. Of course in that season Alicia Hollowell, Taryne Mowatt and company threw 685 Vantage West Credit Union Whiff Balls. Strike one, strike two and strike three.
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’ 119 four-baggers already is No. 2 in NCAA history. A team has hit 100 HRs eight times in D-I history -- three by Arizona (2009, 2001, 1995), three times by University of Texas – San Antonio (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 33 games this year...
-- Arizona has hit 10 grand slams...
-- Arizona has hit two or more home runs in the same inning 26 times this year
-- Arizona has hit three or more home runs in one inning three times
-- Arizona has 18 leadoff homers
-- Arizona has five players with double-figure HR totals, including the two over-20 sluggers (Chambers and Leles)
-- Arizona has 219 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 (67 runs) can score eight 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 (9), Victoria Kemp (6) and Kristen Arriola (5) will need to slam a few yard balls down the stretch run to tie the ’01 squad.
Cashing in in the Clutch: Talk about clutch hitting. The Cats have hit 158 RBI with two outs. To put that into perspective, opponents have hit 152 total RBI against UA.
Leading Off: Sophomore Brittany Lastrapes is hitting a remarkable .649 when leading off. The Laguna Niguel, Calif. native has also reached base 50 out of 77
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 Karissa Buchanan at the plate. Lastrapes is hitting .667 with the bags covered, Chambers is .583, Arriola is .500 and Buchanan is .333. Both Chambers and Lastrapes converted with the most recent Arizona grand slams.
Home Sweet Home: Arizona finished off the regular season with a 23-3 mark in Hillenbrand Stadium. The losses came against All-American pitchers Tara Oltman from Creighton in a 6-0 loss (the first home shutout since 2005), Washington’s Danielle Lawrie in a 4-1 loss, and sure-fire All-American Megan Langenfeld for the Bruins of UCLA in a 2-1 defeat. UA’s home winning mark of 88 percent is just below the 92 percent mark that the Cats have established since Hillenbrand Stadium opened in 1993.
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. Victoria Kemp – 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 .367 at the plate, with a combined 88 home runs, and that’s with Arredondo missing a good portion of the season. The bottom four are hitting .323, with 21 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.
Standout Performances: Three RBI in one game is a lot. Wildcats have done it individually 56 times this year. But, that's one level. Arizona has 30 4+ RBI games. Think that’s a lot? Stacie Chambers has had 5 5+ RBI games, slugger Jenae Leles has had two, and Sam Banister tallied her third and the most recent 5+ RBI game – a two homer performance against Washington on Senior Day.
Mercy Me: In a streak that ended over 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.
Going Streaking: All but one of Arizona’s hitters were silenced on Sunday. Jenae Leles has a current streak of three games. 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. After nabbing her 18th of the season, she sits only one 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. In historical perspective, Arredondo needs just five more to crack the UA career top-10 for doubles with a year of eligibility remaining.
Late-Inning Goods: The Cats could use some better focus at the plate at the ends of games. UA has played 18 run-shortened games (all victories) so the late innings have come at a somewhat discounted rate. Still, the Cats have scored 96, 57, 87, and 82 runs in the first through fourth innings and a combined 106 afterward including 28 in seventh innings. In the last four seasons, UA has compiled a 139-3 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 4-55 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 13 losses the opponents have scored 59 runs to 24 by the Cats. That will do it. In its victories the average score is Arizona 11, Opponents 3... UA is has surpassed 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 411 runs, an average of 8.56 per contest.
Friendly Confines: Over 6,500 people came through the Hillenbrand Stadium gates to watch the home opening weekend. On April 18 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 2,424 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 6th in the NFCA poll and 7th in the USA Softball/ESPN.com poll.
Arizona Softball in Historical Perspective: Arizona began play in 1974 and sports an all-time record of 1,526-442-2. The Cats are 366-101-1 in Pac-10 play, which began in 1987. Since 1982 and NCAA Division I Championships play began, Arizona is 1,352-336-2. 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 182-27 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: Junior Stacie Chambers was selected as one of 10 finalists for the National Player of the Year. Senior third baseman Jenae Leles, Chambers and sophomore outfielder Brittany Lastrapes were named to the exclusive 25-name list earlier in the season. 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.