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Weekly notes 2-28 pre-Hillenbrand
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 02/28/2008
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TUCSON--Fresh off an exhibition?doubleheader split with Olympic entrant Team Canada on Wednesday, the Arizona softball team starts a homestand with its 15-game Hillenbrand Invitational tournament Friday through Sunday at?Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium.

? UP NEXT: No. 8/10 Arizona returns home for its regular-season home opener with the Hillenbrand Invitational.? The tournament includes 15 games, five of those featuring the Wildcats.

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Friday, Feb. 29

9 a.m.? Illinois-Chicago? vs. Virginia Tech

11 a.m. Illinois-Chicago vs. New Mexico? State

1 p.m. Virginia Tech vs. New Mexico State

4 p.m. Arizona vs. South Florida

6 p.m. Arizona vs. Iowa State

8 p.m. South Florida vs. Iowa State

Saturday, March 1

9 a.m. South Florida vs. Illinois-Chicago

11 a.m. South Florida vs. New Mexico State

1 p.m. Virginia Tech vs. Iowa State

4 p.m. Arizona vs. Illinois-Chicago

6 p.m. Arizona vs. Virginia Tech

8 p.m. New Mexico State vs. Iowa State

Sunday, March 2

9 a.m. South Florida, Virginia Tech

11 a.m. Iowa State vs. Illinois-Chicago

1 p.m. New Mexico State vs. Arizona

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NOTING THE OPPONENTS:

South Florida: The Bulls will venture outside of Tampa for the first time this spring, after having hosted three tournaments to the tune of an 8-5 record.? USF has shown that it can both win and lose low-scoring affairs, as evidenced by a pair of 1-0 victories and 1-2 losses in last weekendˇ?s USF Louisville Slugger Tournament.? The bad news for the Bulls is that they are averaging just a hair over three runs per game and have just two players hitting over .270 on the season.? The good news is that their pitchers have a combined 1.04 ERA and have limited opponents to a .119 team batting average.

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Iowa State: The Cyclones come to Tucson having won 11 of their first 12 games and winning those contest by an average score of 7.5-1.4.? However, ISU has yet to face a team from a major conference or a squad that made the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

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Illinois Chicago: The Flames enter the weekend 2-8 with a pair of victories over San Diego.?

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Virginia Tech: The Hokies are slated to play a doubleheader this Wednesday against Radford, and will enter that contest with a 9-4 overall mark.? NFCA All-American Angela Tincher is 6-1 with a 0.30 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 47 innings pitched.? VT has hit only one home run this year and is hitting just .262 as a team but is able to get away with it thanks to an opponent batting average of .160.

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New Mexico State: The Aggies have registered eight wins and eight losses after three weeks of play and have been tested with close losses to Texas A&M, Oregon State and Cal Poly.? NMSU earned quality victories over California, Oklahoma State and UTEP.

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ON THE AIR:

Free Live Stats on GameTracker, powered by Tucson Electric Power, will be provided for all home games and many road games (depending on Internet access.) Many road opponents provide the service through their web sites as well. Check CSTV.com at any time for availability of live stats for many sports nationally.

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Last Week: After losing a 2-1 ballgame to San Diego State in which UA stranded nine runners and wasted a 13-strikeout effort from Taryne Mowatt, the Wildcats bounced back with four consecutive victories at the Palm Springs Classic in Cathedral City, Calif.? Immediately following the defeat to the Aztecs, UA jumped right on No. 10 Baylor as three of the first four Wildcat hitters hit home runs to begin a 12-0, five-inning romp.? Arizona would hit four home runs in all, with the long balls coming off the bats of Brittany Lastrapes, Sam Banister, Jenae Leles and Laine Roth.? The next morning, UA couldnˇ?t buy a run, as it took the Wildcats and Massachusetts 13 innings to break a scoreless tie.? In the 13th, Arizona exploded for four runs thanks to a run-scoring error and a three-run, pinch-hit double from Victoria Kemp.? Although Mowatt allowed a pair of runs in the 13th, she threw 12 shutout innings and struck out 16 Minutewomen in a four-hit effort.? The Wildcats did not have as much trouble with Long Island, whom UA dispatched with a workman-like 4-0 victory.? Freshman pitcher Lindsey Sisk tossed her second shutout in as many days, scattering four hits and allowing no walks for the second straight day.? On Sunday, Arizona punctuated its weekend with a 7-4 victory over No. 6 LSU.? Brittany Lastrapes got things started with a home run to lead off the top of the first ?C the first of four Wildcat home runs in the weekend finale.? Sophomore designated player Stacie Chambers stole the show with two home runs and five RBI to break the game open against a quality non-conference opponent. Tuesday (2-27), UA split an exhibition doubleheader with Olympic entrant Team Canada, winning 8-5 and dropping a 6-4 nightcap. The Cats had four homers but some sporadic defense in the two games, costing the margin in Game 2.

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ARIZONA HEAD COACH MIKE CANDREA ?C is in his 23rd season at the helm of the Arizona softball program.? He boasts a 1,131-228-2 (.832) record in 21 seasons in the dugout.? This year, he is taking an eight-month partial leave of absence beginning in January 2008 to serve as head coach for the U.S. Womenˇ?s National Team.??? Candrea has earned 19 coach-of-the-year honors, including 10 Pac-10 Coach of the Year citations.? Last year, the Pac-10 tabbed Candrea as its coach of the year, and the NFCA named Candrea and his assistants its national staff of the year.? Similar to this season, Candrea took a leave of absence in 2004 to coach the USA Olympic softball team to a 9-0 record and a gold medal in Athens.? Candrea was also awarded the Olympic Shield award, the U.S. Olympic Committeeˇ?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.

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CANDREA NEVER FAR AWAY: Although Coach Candrea will be with the U.S. Womenˇ?s National Team on a grueling 40-city tour throughout the spring, he will be on hand in Tucson periodically to infuse the leadership that has taken the Arizona softball program to the top of the game.? A preliminary schedule indicates that he will be with Arizona for the following time periods:

- Candrea will see UA play for at least one full weekend every month

- Candrea will spend a minimum of six weekdays in Tucson every month from February through April

- Candrea is slated to be in town for approximately 17 Arizona games, including the Palm Springs Classic, Fullertonˇ?s Judi Garman Classic and nine Arizona home games

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INTERIM HEAD COACH LARRY RAY: With head coach Mike Candrea on a partial leave of absence during the 2008 season, 17-year assistant coach Larry Ray has taken the reins of the Arizona softball program.? Ray has a 230-116 (.665) career record as a head coach and five NCAA Championships as an assistant.? Ray possesses a powerful combination of head coaching experience and familiarity with Arizona softball.? Ray spent five years as Floridaˇ?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.

THE REAL DEAL: After sitting out the 2007 season due to a lingering head injury, sophomore designated player/catcher Stacie Chambers has shown in 10 games why she was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year in 2006 and how is tied for second place nationally for 48 career high school home runs. Through her first 30 career collegiate at-bats, she has hit four home runs with seven RBI and a .400 batting average to go along with .867 and .514 respective slugging and on-base percentages.? Over a 185 at-bat season, she is projected to hit 25 home runs. Additionally, Chambers is in the midst of a seven-game hitting streak.

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FAST STARTS: ?Arizona is 4-0 on the year when scoring in the first inning.? Two of those early-scoring frames can be attributed to freshman outfielder Brittany Lastrapes, who already has a pair of leadoff home runs on the year.

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KEEPING IT IN THE YARD: While UAˇ?s bats are clubbing balls out of the yard left and right, its pitchers are doing just the opposite.? After setting a program record for most home runs allowed in a year in 2007 with 39, the Wildcat pitching staff has allowed just two homers on the year and none in the last nine games.

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BUILT FOR POWER, BUT NOT FOR SPEED: Perhaps itˇ?s the Caitlin Lowe effect, or maybe insertion of Stacie Chambers, but for the first time since 2003 the Wildcats are hitting more home runs than they are stealing bases.? Through 10 games, UA has hit 14 homers but has stolen only eight bases.? UA has finished the season with more home runs than stolen bases only five times in program history ?C 1994, ˇ?95, 2001, ˇ?02, ˇ?03.

Year??????? First 10 Games??? Finish

2004?????? 19 HR/26 SB??????? 66 HR/129 SB

2005?????? 7 HR/20 SB?????????? 33 HR/66 SB

2006?????? 7 HR/16 SB?????????? 62 HR/79 SB

2007?????? 9 HR/30 SB?????????? 58 HR/101 SB

2008?????? 14 HR/8 SB?????????????

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SLOW START:??Arizonaˇ?s 0-3 start this year was its worst since Mike Candreaˇ?s 1989 team opened 0-2 in a doubleheader against Oregon in Pac-10 play to open the year. His 1987 team also matched the 0-3 start.

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BUT HOPE REMANS:? UAˇ?s three-game skid was its first since dropping three in a row April 8-14, 2006, against UCLA (twice) and at Arizona State.? Needless to say, less than two months later the Wildcats won the NCAA Championship.

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DEFENDING THE TITLE: ?Arizona has experienced exceptional success in years following a national title.? The Wildcats have appeared in the national title game after every one of their national championships and average 60-7 record in those seven campaigns.?

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LIKE CLOCKWORK: ?Arizona has been ranked No. 1 in the country for at least part of the year every season since 1991.? This year is no different, as the Wildcats have been tabbed the preseason No. 1 team in the country both by the NFCA/USA Today and USA Softball/ESPN.com polls.

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PAC-10 FAVORITES: The Pacific-10 Conference coaches have selected Arizona as the team to beat in 2008.? The Wildcats narrowly beat out Arizona State by a 45 to 44 point margin in the preseason coaches poll.? Please see page 7 of the weekly notes for complete poll results.

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USA SOFTBALL NATIONAL COLLEGIATE PLAYER OF THE YEAR ˇ?WATCH LISTˇ±: ? For the second consecutive year Arizona senior pitcher Taryne Mowatt and senior catcher Callista Balko were named to the exclusive 50-name preseason list.? Arizona is scheduled to face 25 of the highly-touted players.

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REPRESENTING THE OTHER RED, WHITE AND BLUE:

This spring, fans across the country can see former Wildcat greats Jennie Finch, Lovie Jung, Alicia Hollowell and Caitlin Lowe suit up for the U.S. Womenˇ?s National Team as it prepares for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.? The defending gold medalists made up of 18 of the nationˇ?s best players are led by UA head coach Mike Candrea and will play 60 games in over 40 cities in the coming months. Current Wildcats Kˇ?Lee Arredondo, Brittany Lastrapes and Lindsey Sisk played for the U.S. Junior Womenˇ?s National Team this past year, and Lastrapes was named the MVP of the ISF Junior Womenˇ?s World Championships in the Netherlands.

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ARIZONA SOFTBALL ATTENDANCE:

Including the USA Teamˇ?s exhibition games on Feb. 19 and 27 as paying dates, UA already has drawn 4,272 fans.? For the second consecutive year in 2007, the Wildcats led the nation in home game attendance with an average crowd of 1,534 per date and a total of 44,487 fans.? Hillenbrand Stadium nears 500,000 fans in cumulative attendance dating back to 1993.? Entering the season, Hillenbrandˇ?s aggregate attendance figure stands at 466,936.? With 1,845 season ticket holders signed up for what promises to be another exciting year of Wildcat softball, the goal of a half million fans is in sight.

Call (520) 621-CATS or log on to arizonaathletics.com for ticket information.

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ARIZONA SOFTBALL IN PERSPECTIVE: Arizona began play in 1974 and sports an all-time record of 1,442-415-2. NCAA Division I Softball play began in 1982 and Arizona is 1,268-314 since. The Cats are 355-98-1 in Pac-10 play, which began in 1987.? UA has appeared in 21 NCAA Championships, has won the Womenˇ?s College World Series eight times in 19 trips, and has secured 10 Pac-10 titles.

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WILDCAT SIGNEES: The Arizona coaching staff signed three high school seniors to National Letters of Intent during the November early signing period.? Kristen Arriola (INF, Pacifica High School, Garden Grove, Calif.), Perelini Koria (C, San Pedro High School, Gardena, Calif.) and Karissa Buchanan (OF, Sabino High School Tucson, Ariz.) are expected to enroll next fall.

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