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Softball Season in Review
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 05/09/2007
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Arizona (54-11, 15-6 Pac-10) won its seventh NCAA Championship in the last 16 years, and made its 18th trip to the Women’s College World Series in the last 19 years.  UA ended the year with a bang, winning 20 of its final 22 contests, all but four of which were against opponents ranked in the Top 25.

 

Arizona’s 20th NCAA Appearance ?- Arizona made its 20th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance (20th overall) since 1987, all under coach Mike Candrea, except in the case of 2004 when Larry Ray acted as head coach.  The Wildcats have qualified for the Women’s College World Series in 18 of the last 19 years, including a run of 16 consecutive trips to the WCWS, which ended in 2004.

 

Arizona has a record of 113-32 (.779) in NCAA Tournament games.  Additionally, after winning five of the six postseason games played at Hillenbrand Stadium, UA is now 50-6 (.893) all-time when NCAA games are played in Tucson.  At the WCWS in Oklahoma City, the Wildcats matched their 5-1 clip from the regional and super regional rounds with a 5-1 clip.  With those numbers the Wildcats improved to 51-23 all-time in WCWS contests..

 

UA on TV: Arizona had 12 of its games televised nationally, half of which came at the WCWS.  UA went 9-3 in those games. During the regular season, ESPNU televised Arizona’s 1-0 loss to Texas, UA’s first defeat of the year, and FSN carried the Arizona-Stanford game on April 21 in Palo Alto via tape delay, a 4-1 UA victory.  In the postseason, Arizona’s Tucson Regional-clinching 4-2 victory over Auburn was televised live on ESPN2, while all three super regional games against LSU were picked up by ESPN2 or ESPNU.  Finally at the WCWS, all six of UA’s games were televised on either ESPN or ESPN2.

 

In 2005, Arizona had 15 of its games televised live on one of ESPN’s family of networks.

 

USA SOFTBALL NATIONAL COLLEGIATE PLAYER-OF-THE-YEAR FINALISTS:  Alicia Hollowell was chosen as one of the three finalists for USA Softball Player of the Year.  Caitlin Lowe had been included on the list of 10 finalists, and was one of just three non-pitchers to be so honored.  Finally, Kristie Fox and Autumn Champion were named to the 50-name pre-season watch list.

Alicia Hollowell in her 4th All-America season (AP Photo)

 

ALL-WCWS: Four Arizona players were named to the All-WCWS Team, including Alicia Hollowell’s Most Outstanding Player performance.  Taryne Mowatt led the Wildcats with a .389 (7-for-18) average in Oklahoma City and had three of UA’s five extra-base hits.  Autumn Champion drove home a 2006 WCWS high and near-record seven runs in six games to go along with her .381 (8-for-21) clip.  Caitlin Lowe matched the fellow Foothill High alum Champion by reaching base via hit in eight of 21 at-bats, while stealing four bases in as many attempts and scoring a WCWS record eight runs.  Hollowell, meanwhile, threw every pitch of UA’s 43.0 innings in the field, striking out a WCWS record 64 batters and hurling a record six complete games.  In six games Hollowell registered four shutouts and allowed only two earned runs, good for a 0.33 ERA at softball’s biggest stage.

 

ALL-AMERICANS: Arizona had three players named to the NFCA All-America team and one named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America team.  Caitlin Lowe earned her third first team All-America honor in as many years, while fellow junior Kristie Fox got a first team nod for the second consecutive year.  Senior Alicia Hollowell became the first pitcher in Arizona history to be cited as an All-American for all four years, and is just the fourth Wildcat to do so (Amy Chellevold, Leah Braatz and Lauren Bauer).  Autumn Champion, who was alarmingly left off the NFCA All-America squad, garnered second team Academic All-America honors.

 

ALL-PAC-10 TEAM: Kristie Fox, Caitlin Lowe, Alicia Hollowell and Autumn Champion were all named to the All-Pac-10 Team.  Fox, Lowe and Hollowell earned first team nods, while Champion garnered second team honors.  Both Lowe and Hollowell have been named to the first team every year since they arrived, while Fox is a first-teamer for the second time, and Champion has a pair of first and second team citations.  Sophomores Taryne Mowatt and Callista Balko received honorable mentions.

 

ARIZONA HEAD COACH MIKE CANDREA wrapped up his 21st season at Arizona, and in doing so carries a career 1,081-214 (.835) record in 20 years in the dugout.  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). 

 

Candrea by the Numbers

Mike Candrea and Caitlin Lowe

Overall record:                1081-214

Pac-10 games:                  325-87

NCAA games:                   110-28

NCAA Super Regionals:  4-1

WCWS games:                   50-23

Olympic Gold:                  1

All-Americans:                 73

 

SECOND IN THE CONFERENCE, FIRST IN THE COUNTRY: In claiming the national title, UA repeated its own history in terms of winning six national championships in years that Arizona finished second in the Pac-10 one year removed from sitting atop the Conference of Champions.  Other occurrences include the 1993 and 1996 titles.  Additionally in 1991, UA finished fourth in the Pac-10 standings.

 

TOP CATS: In every year since 1992, Arizona has been ranked No. 1 in the NFCA poll for at least part of the regular season.  This year, the Wildcats had top-billing in both the ESPN.com and NFCA polls from Feb. 21 through March 14.  After sitting in the second or third position since the middle of March, the Wildcats regained the top spot entering the postseason.

 

ALL AROUND SOLID PERFORMANCE: Arizona finished the year in the top 10 nationally in the following categories that are typically essential for success: Team batting average (.311, ninth), team ERA (1.10, fourth) and team fielding percentage (.977, sixth).

 

OTHER TOP PERFORMERS: Individually, a number of Wildcats ended the year ranked nationally near the top of a few statistical categories including: Victories (Alicia Hollowell, 32, fifth), RBI/G (Kristie Fox, 1.02, 12th), batting average (Caitlin Lowe, .425, 18th, Autumn Champion, .408, 34th), runs/game (Caitlin Lowe, .93, 14th; Autumn Champion, .9, 20th), ERA (Alicia Hollowell, 0.89, eighth; Taryne Mowatt, 1.28, 28th) and strikeouts per seven innings (Alicia Hollowell, 11.7, fifth; Taryne Mowatt, 10.7, ninth).

 

HOT AT THE RIGHT TIME: Arizona had a 14-game winning streak snapped in Game 2 of the super regional.  The Wildcats hope to end the year with a six-game winning streak: one victory from last plus five in OKC for a national championship.  The Wildcats started the year 15-0, before falling to Cat Osterman and the Texas Longhorns 1-0 in the Palm Springs Classic.

 

1,700-K CLUB: In UA’s super-regional clinching victory over LSU, Alicia Hollowell joined Cat Osterman and Courtney Blades as the only pitchers in Div. I history to record 1,700 strikeouts in a career.  She finished her career with 1,768.

 

300-HITS: Also in the final game of the super regional, Autumn Champion joined five other Wildcat greats as a member of the 300-hit club.  Champion, who led the 2006 Wildcats with 82 hits, ended her illustrious career with 314 base knocks, which is good for sixth on UA’s all-time list.

 

RE-WRITING THE RECORD BOOKS:  Alicia Hollowell is now Arizona’s all-time victories (144), strikeouts (1,768) and innings pitched (1122.0) record holder.

 

Hollowell’s rank in Arizona and NCAA Div. I history

 

Category

Arizona

NCAA

Wins

1

3

Strikeouts

1

3

Strikeouts/7 IP

1

4

Innings

1

7

 

2006 NO-HITTERS: Alicia Hollowell threw four no-hitters in 2006, including two to start the season against Northwestern and Texas A&M (Feb. 10 and 11).  She would later toss a no-no against Long Beach State on March 3, and ruin Washington’s Senior Day on April 30 by blanking the Huskies.  In her four years, Hollowell has compiled 17 no-hitters.  To put that figure in perspective, you can take any other two Wildcat hurlers (Susie Parra, Jennie Finch, Nancy Evans, Becky Lemke or Teresa Cherry, et al), combine their no-hit totals and they still will still fall at least three no-hitters short of Hollowell’s total. 

 

Taryne Mowatt, UA’s only pitcher returning for the 2007 campaign, tossed the first two no-hitters of her career on March 16 against UNLV, two days before throwing a perfect game versus Cal State Northridge on March 18.

 

FOX (4/31-5/7, 3/6-12), MOWATT (4/10-16) AND MESA (3/20-26) NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Kristie Fox earned her second Pac-10 Player of the Week honor with her .571 (4-for-7) performance from May 5-7 with four runs and four RBI.  She slugged 1.143 and had a .667 on-base percentage, aided by five walks and a hit by pitch.  Taryne Mowatt was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for her performance at Arizona State on April 14 and 15.  Mowatt hit .429 (3-for-7) and also registered her first Pac-10 shutout in the circle.  With the honor, she became the first student-athlete to win both the player and pitcher of the week awards in the same year.  Chelsie Mesa was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for her performance against No. 10 Louisiana-Lafayette from March 24-26.  Mesa batted .636 (7-11), with five RBI and four runs scored in three games.  She went 4-for-4 on Sunday, missing the cycle by a home run.  Kristie Fox was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week for the week of March 6-12, for her two home runs, seven RBI and .750 batting average.  Fox’s numbers could have been more gaudy, but they were tapered when the opponent elected not to pitch to her.  After six RBI in game one of the series, Fox saw only two strikes in the second game of the series.  One of those strikes went over the left field wall for a home run and the other came in one of her three walks during the game.  In game three, Fox went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and yet another walk.

 

MOWATT (3/13-19, 3/20-26) AND HOLLOWELL (2/6-12; 2/13-19) NAMED PAC-10 PITCHER OF THE WEEK: Taryne Mowatt was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week for two consecutive weeks from March 13-26.  From March 24-26 against Louisiana-Lafayette, Mowatt became the first pitcher all year to shut out the prolific Ragin’ Cajun offense.  Over the weekend she pitched 16.0 innings and gave up one run.  The week before, Mowatt tossed a no-hitter and a perfect game at the Judi Garman Classic.  In two games, Mowatt struck out 28 of the 37 opposing batters she faced.  Alicia Hollowell has been named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week twice this year.  Following the Kajikawa Classic (2/6-12), USA Softball named her its first National Player of the Week of the year for her performance.  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.

Taryne Mowatt earned All-WCWS honors.

 

SHARING THE CIRCLE: This year, Alicia Hollowell had something she has lacked in the previous three years at Arizona: a fellow ace wearing cardinal and navy.  Taryne Mowatt has proven herself as Arizona’s 1A option in the circle, and has accomplished a number of ?'firsts’ for someone who’s a ?'second’ option.

-          Mowatt is Arizona’s first 20-game winner not named Alicia Hollowell since 2002.

-          Mowatt’s complete game victory on May 20 over Auburn was the first postseason contest that Alicia Hollowell has watched entirely from the bench since toeing the rubber in 2003.

-          Mowatt and Hollowell make up the only same-year pitching duo to occupy spots on UA’s top-10 list for strikeouts in a season.

 

LOWE BACK AT THE TOP: On the week of April 21, Caitlin Lowe was fully cleared to participate in games.  The two-time All-American returned to her usual leadoff spot in the batting order and center field on defense.  Prior to suffering an injury to her left hand on March 19, the Tustin, Calif., native had started 147 consecutive games for Arizona in the leadoff position. In her absence, Arizona went 6-4, UA was 48-7 with Lowe in the starting lineup.

 

A REAL CATALYST: While Caitlin Lowe was recovering from the injury, Arizona went through a number of possible solutions to replace her.  At one point, that included three different leadoff hitters in three consecutive games (Autumn Champion, Kristie Fox and Adrienne Acton).  In the 10 games that Lowe was absent from the starting lineup, Arizona scored an average of 0.6 runs in the first inning and 3.6 per game.  In the games that she has led off, UA averages 1.0 runs in the opening frame and 5.7 per game.

 

DRIVE HOME SAFELY: There were two indicators for when a game is as good as over when Arizona was on the field.  The Wildcats went 40-0 when scoring four or more runs in 2006, and had only one loss when leading at anytime in a game (at Arizona State, 4/14).  UA is 28-2 when scoring in the first inning and 37-1 when entering the seventh inning.

 

WAIT, I THOUGHT ARIZONA HAD 54 WINS: Arizona has only 37 victories when leading after six innings, because nearly a third of its games don’t last that long.  Arizona is 16-0 in run-rule games this year, including mercies of WCWS participants Northwestern, Arizona State and Oregon State, super regional teams South Florida and LSU and NCAA Tournament participants Texas A&M, Louisiana-Lafayette and Baylor .  Conversely, Arizona has been run-ruled only one time in the last three years, a 9-1 defeat at UCLA in April 2005.

 

50 WINS: The 2005 season was UA’s first year without 50 wins since 1993.  It’s not that either squad was particularly bad, the 2005 team reached the WCWS and played the fewest games for an Arizona team since 1987, and the 1993 squad ended up winning Arizona’s second national title.

 

PROMISE RING: Signing a National Letter of Intent with Mike Candrea and The University of Arizona has its benefits for a high school softball prospect.  One of which is the guarantee for a national championship.  Since 1991, last year’s 2005 senior class (Crystal Farley, Alyson VonLiechtenstein, Jackie Coburn and Courtney Fossatti) was the first and only group of four-year players to leave UA without a national championship.

 

With this year’s title, UA is now ensured that every class through the 2009 seniors, with the exception of the aforementioned 2005 group, would have won a NCAA Championship during its time in Tucson.

 

THESE CATS DIG THE LONG BALL: Last year, the Wildcats hit 33 round-trippers all season (57 games); the team’s lowest output since 1992.  In 2006 despite the strength of its schedule and the pitching throughout the Pac-10, Arizona has 62 homers in 65 games.

 

Kristie Fox's 66 RBI led UA
DOING THE FOX TROT 15 TIMES OVER: Kristie Fox led Arizona with 15 home runs on the season, the last of which came in the form of the second of her two towering blasts to center field in UA’s super regional-clinching win over LSU.

 

IF RBI PUT FOOD ON THE TABLE, THEN SHE CAN GO FOR SECONDS: Kristie Fox set a new career high with 66 RBI on the season, two more than her nation-leading 64 ribbies in 2005.

 

GIVE HER ALL THE ICE SHE K-NEEDS : Callista Balko was been behind the plate for all 434.0 innings (roughly 1,637 batters) this year while UA has been in the field.  Although the NCAA does not maintain a record for putouts in a season, Balko’s Arizona-record 690 putouts would likely find its way to the top of the NCAA’s list, as well.

 

Additionally, Balko had only two passed balls in 65 games behind the dish this year, after having four in 33 contests in 2005.  She has also saved pitchers from giving up wild pitches.  In 2005 UA pitchers hurled 26 WP (one every 15 innings)... this year, they had had only 15 (one every 28.9 innings).

 

Callista Balko

IRON WOMEN AT OTHER POSITIONS: While Balko receives, and deserves, all the praise for toughing out an entire season behind the plate, the Wildcats had several other mainstays at other positions throughout the year.  Kristie Fox played every inning at shortstop for the second consecutive year, while her new partner on the left side of the infield Jenae Leles saw every pitch of 2006 from the hot corner.  Chelsie Mesa played all but two innings at second base, and Adrienne Acton was in either right or centerfield for all 65 games.

 

JUST NEEDED A LITTLE EXPERIENCE: In the first half of Pac-10 play, the Arizona offense (newcomers and veterans combined) compiled a team batting average of .212, while averaging 2.4 runs per game.  In the second half, in which Arizona went 10-1, the Wildcats hit .319, while putting up 5.6 runs per game.

 

CAN I GET SOME SUPPORT? Taryne Mowatt’s five losses on the year did not necessarily come due to inefficient pitching, but a lack of run support.  In the five games she’s been dealt the ?'L,’ the Wildcats scored a total of six runs.

 

IF YOU’RE GOING TO LOSE, IT MAY AS WELL BE TO THE BEST: Another note on Mowatt’s losses ?- Her six career defeats have come to Michigan in 2005, and UCLA, Texas (2), Oregon State and LSU in 2006.  Although losses are never easy to swallow, when five of the half dozen are against WCWS teams, it makes things a bit easier.

 

OUCH! Jenae Leles’ nine hit-by-pitches led Arizona and were the most for any Wildcat since Leneah Manuma’s 16’s HBP in 2002.

 

Academic All-American Autumn Champion
CHAMPION DOUBLING UP: In 2003, Autumn Champion rapped out a career-high 89 hits... all singles.  In 2004 and 2005 she combined for three extra-base hits.  This season, Champion had five extra-base hits, including a triple, giving her two more XBH than she had accumulated in three years.

 

DOUBLING UP IN SOMETHING ELSE TOO: Putting the last two notes together, Autumn Champion has six HBPs this year, matching her career total from the past three years combined.

 

THREE FOR THE MONEY: Caitlin Lowe moved into a four-way tie on Arizona’s all-time triples list, when she had her fourth three-bagger of the year and ninth of her career on March 18 against CSUN.  Among the names Lowe had been tied with when she had eight career triples: UA senior associate athletics director Kathleen “Rocky” LaRose.  Lowe tied her career-high for most triples in a season with four.

 

MULTI-HIT AND MULTI-RBI GAMES: Every Arizona starter hadat least one multi-RBI game and a minimum of five multi-hit games.  Kristie Fox led the way with 18 multi-RBI games.  Chelsie Mesa (13), Callista Balko (13) Laine Roth (9), Jenae Leles (9), Caitlin Lowe (6) and Sam Banister (6) round out the top of the list.  The most prolific performances were Fox’s eight RBI game vs. LSU, a five-RBI game for Mesa and a six-RBI contest for Fox in the Baylor series.  Incidentally, two of Autumn Champion’s four multi -RBI games came in the last three games of the season.

 

In the multi-hit game category, Caitlin Lowe led with 27, despite missing 10 games.  Fellow All-Americans Autumn Champion and Kristie Fox nearly caught up to her, however, as they have 23 and 21, respectively.  Chelsie Mesa (14), Callista Balko (13), Laine Roth (12) and Adrienne Acton (9) are the top seven Wildcats in the category.  All told, UA batters combined for 78 multi-RBI games and 139 multi-hit games.

 

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