Jan. 21, 2003
The Arizona Wildcats open the 2003 softball season with an exhibition doubleheader against Phoenix College on Friday at 3 p.m. The Wildcats then face a number of former Cats in the Alumni Game on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Arizona ended the 2002 season with a 55-12 record and 15-6 in the Pac-10. The team had a .291 batting average. The Cats hit 93 home runs and had 342 RBIs. Lovieanne Jung led the team in five categories, including batting average (.364), at-bats (206), runs (64), hits (75) and walks (44). The Wildcats lost in the championship game in the College World Series to California, 6-0. Arizona has an 89-24 overall record in NCAA Tournament games and a 43-18 record in NCAA College World Series games.
Arizona's Mike Candrea carries a career record of 926-184 (.834), accomplished in 17 years with the Wildcats. The 2002 Pac-10 co-Coach of the Year has led UA to six national titles and six Pacific-10 Conference championships. Last season he became only the third Division I coach in history to win 900 games. During his tenure Wildcat student-athletes have won the Honda Softball Award fives times (Susie Parra-1994, Jenny Dalton-1996, Nancy Evans-1998, Jennie Finch-2001-2002). Candrea's Arizona teams have played in 16 consecutive NCAA Tournaments and 15 consecutive College World Series. Last season Candrea's team made it to the College World Series Championship game before losing to California 6-0. Candrea is joined by assistant coaches Nancy Evans and Larry Ray.
Arizona returns eight letterwinners in seniors Lovieanne Jung and Lisha Ribellia, junior Mackenzie Vandergeest, sophomores Courtney Fossatti, Allyson Von Liechtenstein, Candace Abrams, Jackie Coburn and Crystal Farley. Candrea adds five freshman and three junior transfers.
Returning With Honors Senior Shortstop Lovieanne Jung - 1st-team All-Pac-10, Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year Junior Catcher Mackenzie Vandergeest- All-Region 2 Team, 2nd-team All-Pacific-10. Sophomore Third baseman Jackie Coburn- WCWS All-Tournament, Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 honors Sophomore Left fielder Courtney Fossatti- All-Region 2 Team
UA's home field, Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium, has been a friendly place for the Cats to play. UA carries a record of 310-18 in the ballpark. The Cats had an average attendance of 1,755 and drew in a total of 49,140 in 2002. Arizona set an attendance record of 3,161 fans on April 9, 2002 against UCLA. Arizona had a three-season 70-game home winning streak snapped by UCLA on April 7, 2002.
Most of Hillenbrand Stadium's reserved seating has been sold out on a season-ticket basis, and fans are purchasing outfield general admission seating as season tickets. About 400 more seats have been recently added to general admission seating. Contact the McKale Center Ticket Office for more information at 621-2287 or 1-800-452-2287.
Arizona Softball Media Day
The Wildcat softball team and staff will be available for annual Media Day activities at 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23.
In the 2003 coaches' poll, the Wildcats were picked to finish second in the Pac-10. UCLA finished first in the conference last season and was selected to finish first in 2003. Arizona finished second in the Pac-10 last season with an overall record of 55-12 and 15-6 in the conference.
The start of the 2003 season starts with the Lead-Off Luncheon on Thursday, Jan. 23 at noon. Head Coach Mike Candrea will introduce the players and discuss the upcoming season.