May 5, 2010
Cats, Ducks Ready for Series in Eugene
May 7-9, Howe Field, Eugene, Ore.
After taking the series, 2-1, against California, the Cats hit the road for the final time in conference play as they take on the Oregon Ducks in Eugene this weekend. The Cats are currently tied with UCLA for second place in the Pac-10, two games behind league-leading Washington.
Oregon has prevented an Arizona sweep with a win in the last game of the series each of the last two years. With a new coach, Mike White, and a young team, the Ducks have turned into a true contender, maintaining a consistent top-25 ranking since the early portion of the season. The Ducks are on a four-game losing streak, though - their longest of the season. The team has a .960 fielding percentage; worst in the conference.
UO: The No. 22 Ducks (31-13, 7-8 Pac-10) are led by freshman Sam Pappas and her .417 average at the dish. She has hit a team-leading 44 RBI and 11 home runs, and has stolen 10 bases on 12 attempts on the season. Fellow freshman Allie Burger (.389) and senior Blair Williamson (.375) are also hitting above .350. Freshman Jessica Moore (13-8) has struck out 187 batters in 139.2 innings pitched on the season and held the opposition to a team-low .208 batting average. She also has a 1.65 ERA and a 2.90 ERA in conference play. Sophomore Sam Skillingstad (11-5) beat the Wildcats last season in Eugene, and touts a 2.36 overall and 4.57 ERA in Pac-10 games. She has struck out 107 in 86 innings.
Last Time Out (at California)
Brigette Del Ponte knocked in seven runs on two homers to lead third-ranked Arizona to an 8-0 mercy win over No. 13 California in the first of a three-game series Friday.
Third-ranked Arizona took advantage of some late California miscues and won its first extra-inning game of the season, 4-2, in a nine-inning pitchers' duel with the No. 13 Bears Saturday.
Some poor defensive play from the No. 3 Wildcats helped lift No. 13 California to an 8-0 win in six innings Sunday. Arizona committed five errors behind pitcher Sarah Akamine (11-3), the most since booting the same number in an 11-0 loss to Oklahoma on March 18, 2007. Akamine, then a freshman, took her first collegiate loss in five innings that day.
Catch the Action
Go to arizonawildcats.com for live GameTracker stats, sponsored by Tucson Electric Power. Fans can watch all home games on All-Access, and most home games will be broadcast in-stadium on 103.3 FM with David Kelly and former UA softball player Erika Barnes describing the game action.
Two Different Teams
As five errors on Sunday proved, Arizona is a different defensive team when senior Sarah Amakine toes the rubber. Consider these numbers:
· In games that Kenzie Fowler starts, the team is fielding .971 with 21 errors. Fowler has pitched 192.2 total innings this season and has appeared in 36 games, with 31 starts. The freshman has 26 complete games.
· In games that senior Sarah Akamine starts, the team fields at a clip of .959 with 19 errors. Akamine has appeared in 21 games, has started 17, and has 10 complete games. She has pitched 87.1 innings.
Even though Fowler's strikeout numbers outdo Akamine's by a rough margin of 3.75 to 1, when the ball is put in to play, the numbers show that defense is almost twice as likely to make an error with Akamine pitching.
Chambers at the Top
Stacie Chambers is at the top of the Pac-10 charts with a batting average of .450. She has hit 20 RBI and six home runs and touts a .975 slugging percentage. The only Wildcat with a higher league batting average is Karissa Buchanan (.457), but she is not listed because she doesn't make the minimum of plate appearances per game on the Pac-10 lists.
Arizona's normal starting lineup combines for a superlative batting average of .336, with 374 hits in 1,081 at-bats. The group is led by two above .400 this week -- Lauren Schutzler (.419) and Brittany Lastrapes (.400). The figure is two percentage points above the full-squad BA of .333, which isn't bad. A final batting average of that ilk would be up in the top 10 for a season mark in Arizona's history. The 1998 club hit .385 to set the school record.
Karissa Buchanan has the team's longest current hitting streak at three games. She has had a remarkable conference season thus far, batting .457 with 16 hits in 35 at bats. In true slapper style, all 27 of her hits this season have been singles. The surge has allowed her batting average to reach .365, a career-high at the moment.
Walk, Don't Run
Arizona has drawn 246 walks in 48 games, a clip of 5.1 BBs per game. Should the UA keep up its current pace, it may break the all-time mark of 287 set by the 1995 squad right around WCWS time. Stacie Chambers has drawn a team-leading 44 walks, tied for sixth on the top 10 for walks in a single season list. Chambers may contend for the top spot as we near the season's end, with Jenny Dalton holding that mark (64, 1996).
A Tale of Two Seasons
Closing in on the conclusion of conference play, reality is starting to check in. If five years can be any indication, things get tougher from Pac-10 play on out.
Year Overall Conference
2010 .332 .309
2009 .339 .301
2008 .304 .296
2007 .289 .266
2006 .311 .265
Top of the Order
Leadoff batter Brittany Lastrapes is third on the team with 14 home runs. Five of them led off innings. In Arizona's history, no leadoff hitter has more circuit clouts that Lastrapes. Caitlin Lowe had 12 from 2004 to 2007, and Alison McCutcheon had 10 from 1995 to 1998. Brittany has 35 career home runs, No. 15 in UA history. She recently passed Lauren Bauer (32 from 1998 to 2001). Next up is Leneah Manuma with 40 in 2001-02, and a pair at 42 - Lindsey Collins from 1998-2001 and Lovieanne Jung in 2002-03.
Kenzie Fowler in the Circle...The freshman's 29-5 pitching record bodes well for Arizona, and gives her a chance to crack the 30-victory barrier. Arizona pitchers have accomplished it 17 times, last by Taryne Mowatt in the magical NCAA title 2007 year when she did all the pitching and went 42-12 with a lot of the work in the postseason. Mowatt just missed in her senior year in 2008, going 29-15, again pitching a lot with 72 percent of the innings thrown. Fowler's has tossed 67 percent of the action this year, thanks to some strong work by senior Sarah Akamine.