Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
UA Hosts Hillenbrand Invitational
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: February 13, 2013
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Feb. 13, 2013

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Home team listed in bold // Game times will change based on the length of the 

previous game. Games will not begin before scheduled time. Friday, Feb. 15 9:00 a.m. Southern Utah vs. Nebraska 11:00 a.m. Southern Utah vs. Utah State 1:00 p.m. Purdue vs. Utah State 4:00 p.m. ARIZONA vs. Nebraska 6:00 p.m. ARIZONA vs. Drake 8:00 p.m. Purdue vs. Drake Saturday, Feb. 16 9:00 a.m. Nebraska vs. Utah State 11:00 a.m. Drake vs. Utah State 1:00 p.m. Drake vs. Nebraska 4:00 p.m. ARIZONA vs. Southern Utah 6:00 p.m. ARIZONA vs. Purdue 8:00 p.m. Southern Utah vs. Purdue Sunday, Feb. 18 9:00 a.m. Southern Utah vs. Drake 11:00 a.m. Nebraska vs. Purdue 1:00 p.m. ARIZONA vs. Utah State


Live Video: Arizona's games against Nebraska and Utah State will available online for free via a live stream through Use the following link to find the live stream link to the two games:

Live Audio: An online audio stream of the games will be available at

Live Stats: Find Gametracker links for all games at

Live Updates: Twitter: @UA_Softball ( & Facebook: Arizona Athletics (


THIS WEEK: Arizona returns home to host the Hillenbrand Invitational, a three-day, 15-game event that takes place at Hillenbrand Stadium Friday, Feb. 15 through Sunday, Feb. 17. The Wildcats welcome in Nebraska (5-0), Drake (4-1), Southern Utah (1-4), Purdue (2-3) and Utah State (0-5) to the desert. 2013 marks the 17th Hillenbrand Invitational. The Wildcats hold a 79-3 record in the 16 previous tournaments. Arizona will try to shake off a 3-2 record at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz., to open the season. The Wildcats were victorious over Northwestern, Cal Poly and San Diego State but fell to Bradley and 14th-ranked Florida.


SERIES HISTORY: Arizona is 79-3 in 16 years at the Hillenbrand Invitational. Arizona hosted the Hillenbrand Invitational in the stadium's second season in 1994 and every year until 2005 and again in 2006, 2008, 2009 and every year since 2011. Arizona's last loss in the Hillenbrand Invitational came in 2009 when it lost to Creighton, 6-0. 



Nebraska: The Cornhuskers (5-0) finished the Hotel Encanto Invitational in Las Cruces, N.M., with a perfect record including three victories over Illinois-Chicago and a win apiece over New Mexico State and New Mexico. Twins Tatum and Taylor Edwards lead the way with three home runs apeice and Taylor has registered 15 RBI in just five games. The Huskers possess a team batting average .397, led by Kylee Muir `s .636 clip. In the circle, NU has a 1.81 team ERA, led by Emily Lockman's 1.75 figure.

Series History: Arizona 13-3 // First Meeting: 1983 // Last Meeting: 2/10/2012; Nebraska 11, Arizona 10; Tempe, Ariz. (Kajikawa Classic)

Drake: The Bulldogs' (4-1) only loss at the UNI-Dome Tournament came to the then-top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide 8-2. Drake defeated North Dakota State, Illinois, Wisconsin-Green Bay and UNI in the tournament. The Bulldogs are led offensively by Laura Brewer, whose .556 batting average and five RBI. Drake is making its second trip to the Hillenbrand Invitational in three seasons. 

Series History: 6-0 // First Meeting: 2000 // Last Meeting: 2/19/2011; Arizona 5, Drake 3; Tucson (Hillenbrand Invitational)

Southern Utah: The Thunderbirds (1-4) opened the season at the Red Desert Classic with losses to Tennessee, Utah Valley, Arkansas and Seattle before defeating Utah State. SUU has a team .231 batting average led by Kelsey Bryant's .556 figure. The Thunderbirds have a team ERA of 8.04. In 15 innings pitched, Danielle Axe holds a 3.00 ERA. Southern Utah is returning to the Hillenbrand Invitational for the second straight season.

Series History: Arizona 9-0 // First Meeting: 1988 // Last Meeting: 2/19/2012; Arizona 8, Southern Utah 0 (5 innings); Tucson (Hillenbrand Invitational)

Purdue: The Boilermakers (2-3) opened the season with wins over Hampton and Tulsa and losses to LSU, North Carolina and Tulsa at the LSU Tiger Classic. Purdue has a team 1.18 ERA and stolen 10 bases on the season. Lexy Moore leads the Boilermakers in the circle with a 0.48 ERA in 14.2 innings pitched; Purdue has four pitchers, all with an ERA under three. Ashley Burkhardt spearheads the offensive attack with a .400 batting average and three RBI.

Series History: Arizona 2-0 // First Meeting: 2009 // Last Meeting: 2/12/2010; Arizona 10, Purdue 0 (5 innings); Tempe, Ariz. (Kajikawa Classic)

Utah State: The Aggies (0-5) fell to Tennessee, Colorado State, Loyola Marymount, Southern Utah and South Dakota at the Red Desert Classic in Saint George, Utah. USU has a .145 team batting average and 4.97 ERA. Kassandra Uchida hit .500 in five games started and walked four times to post a .643 OBP. Noelle Johnson struck out 13 batters in 13 innings pitched and put up a 3.23 ERA in three appearances.

Series History: Arizona 13-8 // First Meeting: 1983 // Last Meeting: 3/4/2011; Arizona 11, Utah State 3 (6 innings); Tucson (Wildcat Invitational)


HEAD COACH Mike Candrea: Arizona head coach Mike Candrea is in his 28th year at the helm of the Arizona softball program with a career record of 1,313-298-2 (.815). A winner of eight national championships (1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2006, 2007), Arizona has made 22 trips to the Women's College World Series under his guidance, missing just thrice in the last 25 years (2004, 2011, 2012). In 2012, Candrea became the sport's fastest ever, and second all-time, to reach 1,300 wins. Under Candrea, Arizona has a spectacular postseason record of 151-45. An even 50 All-Americans with a staggering 90 total citations have played in the program since Candrea took over.


THE RANKINGS: Arizona fell to number 16 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll and 19 in the Softball Collegiate Top 25. The Wildcats were ranked preseason No. 13 by the NFCA and 14 by USA Softball.


RECENT RESULTS: The Wildcats downed Northwestern, Cal Poly and San Diego State at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz., but fell to Bradley and Florida to post a 3-2 record at the season-opening event. Lauren Young and Estela Piñon hit .400 in their first weekend as Wildcats. 


LAST YEAR AT THE HILLENBRAND INVITATIONAL: Arizona cruised through five games at the Hillenbrand Invitational in 2012. UA posted wins over Alabama Birmingham (7-0), North Dakota (14-2; 5 innings), Western Kentucky (6-4) and two wins over Southern Utah (9-1; 5 innings // 8-0; 5 innings). Shelby Babcock posted a 2.10 ERA in 10 innings pitched while striking out 13 batters and going 2-0. Chelsea Suitos hit .357 and scored seven runs in five starts.



Brigette Del Ponte: The senior hit two home runs in the Kajikawa Classic, including a walkoff solo blast against San Diego State. Del Ponte batted .375 with seven RBI and a couple of doubles while slugging .875 in the five games. The Peoria, Ariz., native had a stolen base and played excellent defense at her new position, shortstop.

Chelsea Suitos: The redshirt sophomore posted an on-base percentage of .526 to lead the team while spending the last three games of the weekend as Arizona's leadoff hitter. Suitos batted .357 with two RBI and stole four bases in four attempts.

Alex Lavine: The centerfielder had just three hits in 2012 (3-for-24) and had five in the first weekend of the season in 2013. Lavine batted .357 with a double and stole a bag in the Kajikawa Classic. The junior's biggest impact was defensively, however. Lavine played centerfield for the first time in her career and made seven putouts while covering a lot of ground in center.

Lauren Young: LY led the team in batting average in her first action as a Wildcat. The freshman batted .400 in 15 at-bats while notching an RBI in the process. Young scored two runs and walked once, giving her an OBP of .438.

Darcy Taylor:  The freshman made her first two collegiate at-bats count. With two on and no one out, Taylor earned a pinch-hit appearance against Cal Poly in the sixth inning. The Jenks, Okla., native responded by lacing a double over the centerfielder's head to bring in two runs. The pinch-hit double earned Taylor a start in the next game where she tied the game with an RBI single in the second inning.


HOME SWEET HOME: Arizona will play its first home games of the season this weekend in the friendly confines of Hillenbrand Stadium. Since its opening in 1993, Arizona has put up a 563-61 record on the field. That's a .902 winning percentage at home in the last 20 years. Hillenbrand has led the nation in attendance nine times since 1994 and set the NCAA record in attendance in 2011 when 77,129 fans turned the turnstiles. UA has averaged over 2,000 fans per game for each of the last four seasons, including last year when it brought in 2,328 per game.


BANDITS: As a team, the Wildcats stole eight bases in the season opening weekend, led by Chelsea Suitos' four successful swipes. Alex Lavine, Kelsey Rodriguez and Hallie Wilson all posted one each. The eight thefts put Arizona on pace for 90 total stolen bases and Suitos on pace for 45 herself. The pace would put Suitos sixth all-time in stolen bases in a season and the team total would be the most since the 2007 club stole 101 bases.


FRESH FACES: Seven players made their Arizona debuts in Tempe: Lauren Young, Estela Piñon and Kelsey Rodriguez made their Wildcat debuts. The seven players combined for a .262 batting average with eight RBI, a home run and three doubles. An eighth newcomer is expected to make her debut this weekend; Nancy Bowling hopes to return from a concussion which kept her out of the Kajikawa Classic.


FAMILY TIES: In 27 years, head coach Courtney Rodriguez are the first pair of sisters to ever be on the same Wildcat team. UCLA transfer Kellie Fox is the sister of former Wildcat shortstop and two-time national champion Kristie Fox (04-07).


BDP: Kristie Fox's 230 RBI  in eighth place. Del Ponte is ninth with 364 assists.


NEARING THE CENTURY MARK: Kenzie Fowler has 79 career victories, eighth most in program history. With 21 wins in 2013, Fowler would become the eighth pitcher in Wildcat history to reach the 100-win milestone (Alicia Hollowell - 134, Jennie Finch - 119, Carrie Dolan - 103, Becky Lemke - 103, Susie Parra - 101 and Taryne Mowatt - 100). Fowler is also on pace to become the fourth pitcher in school history to strike out one thousand batters. Her quest to 100 wins and 1,000 strikeouts will be hampered, though, by her recovery from back surgery, which will keep her out of the first month, or so, of the season. 


BEARING DOWN: Estela Piñon has not allowed a hit this season with two outs. The opposition is 0-for-15 against the junior during the final out of an inning. Piñon is allowing batters that leadoff an inning to hit .375 against her, but bears down the remainder of the inning, allowing opponents to hit just .154 with runners on base.


A DIVERSE GROUP: The Wildcats' roster is full of multi-talented players that can play multiple positions. Hallie Wilson, who played centerfield last season, has already played first base and right field in 2013, making her a bona fide factotum. No Wildcat played a position she played in 2012 at the Kajikawa Classic.


UP NEXT: Arizona travels to the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, Feb. 21-23 in Palm Springs, Calif. to take on Oklahoma, Long Beach State, Ohio State, Loyola Marymount and LSU.