March 2, 2012
TUCSON - Fans attending the Arizona-College of Charleston softball game on Saturday, beginning at 4:30 p.m. MST, will witness a special night at Hillenbrand Stadium afterward. Following the Cats and the Cougars' matchup, Wildcat Alumni will take on the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team.
The Wounded Warriors, a team of amputee vets, will be making its second trip to Hillenbrand stadium in as many years. The Wounded Warriors played an intra-squad match on March 11, 2011, following a Wildcat game with Baylor. That was the Wounded Warriors' first event and have since travelled the country and played many exhibitions the past year.
Senior Associate Athletic Director Rocky LaRose and Dave Herr Cardillo from the UA Disability Resource Center coordinated with David Van Sleet, who organized the Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team, to set up the game. Local businessman Jim Click has been very supportive of the event, as well.
"It is a tremendous opportunity for our players and fans to watch these young men playing a game that they truly enjoy," said Head Coach Mike Candrea. "It is an opportunity for our fans to thank these young men for their sacrifices in protecting our freedom. It is also a very powerful statement for our athletes to watch the positive mindset of these young men perform our sport with disabilities that they have chosen to not let affect their passion and love for sport and life. It will be truly a very inspirational opportunity for all that attend."
The Wounded Warriors will share the field with some of the biggest names in the history of the sport: former UA stars. The program's alumni have built a tradition second to none around the country. Eight NCAA Championship banners hang on the outfield fence of Hillenbrand Stadium to show the accomplishments of Wildcats past.
A fall scrimmage scheduled between current Wildcats and alumni fell through due to scheduling conflicts; it was then that Candrea decided to combine alumni weekend with the Wounded Warriors game.
Twenty-nine Wildcat Alumni have committed to play in the game, including eight former All-Americans. The alumni who will be in attendance include: Candace Abrams, Marci Aguilar, Chrissy Alexander-Gill, K'Lee Arredondo, Callista Balko, Erika Balko, Lauren Baure, Jackie Coburn, Teresa Demeter, Jane Dougall, Cyndi Duran, Laura Espinosa, Brandi Foster (Shriver), Alicia Hollowell, Stacy Iveson, Brittany Lastrapes, Caitlin Lowe, Jill Malina, Jen Martinez, Jennifer Martinez, Chelsie Mesa, Crystal Morales (Farley), Ashley Ralston-Alvarez, Danielle Rodriguez, Katie Swan-Milo, Mackenzie Vandergeest, Felicity Willis and Leslie Wolfe.
"It is always fun to get together as alumni and come back to play at Hillenbrand Stadium," said Hollowell, a four-time All-American and the team's Director of Operations. "This game will be especially special because we get to play against the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team. To be able to be on the field with alumni that helped create the rich tradition here at Arizona, and with a group of individuals that put their lives on the line for us to have the freedoms we have."
Arizona Softball takes on College of Charleston in a three game series this weekend. In addition to the Saturday 4:00 p.m. MST matchup, the Cats and the Cougars will meet Friday (6:00 p.m.) and Sunday (1:00 p.m.).