Feb. 11, 2009
Cats Head to the Sunshine State
Up Next: The No. 12 Arizona Wildcats take to the skies and Tampa, Fla. for the Wilson Tournament hosted by The University of South Florida. UA (2-2) will take on Marshall, host USF, Illinois and '08 Regional opponent Hofstra.
(All Games at USF Softball Field)
Friday, February 13 vs. Marshall, 10:30 p.m.
vs. USF, 3 p.m.
Saturday, February 14 vs. Illinois, 9 a.m.
vs. USF, 2 p.m.
Sunday, February 8 vs. Hofstra, 9 a.m.
Possible Arizona Lineup:
LF - Brittany Lastrapes
SS - K'Lee Arredondo
3B - Jenae Leles
DP - Lini Koria
C - Stacie Chambers
1B - Sam Banister
2B - Victoria Kemp
CF - Lauren Schutzler
RF - Karissa Buchanan
Noting the Thundering Herd: Marshall (3-1) is led by junior outfielder Caitlyn Jackson, who is batting .583 with seven base hits in the first four games. Kelly Neilson and Melanie Stoehr are also batting above .455. Three pitchers have seen time for Marshall, but senior Autumn Mitchell (1-0) has a team-low 1.40 ERA with 11 strikeouts in 10 IP.
Noting the Bulls: Senior Britta Giddens leads USF (4-1) with a .438 batting average in 16 AB through five games. She is one of three Bulls to tally a home run so far this season. Junior Alison Savarese has likewise picked up 10 hits and five RBI. In the circle, three Bulls have seen action, but freshman Candace Howell (1-1) has pitched in two games thus far, compiling a 2.62 ERA in 8 IP.
Noting the Illini: Illinois (3-1) has four players batting above .400, and sophomore Danielle Zymkowitz leads them all with a .692 average. The Illini have hit only one home run this season and have scored 17 runs through four games. Freshman hurler Monica Perry (2-0) should see the circle, as she has struck out 22 in 20 IP and compiled a 3.50 ERA.
Noting the Pride: Arizona saw Hofstra in last season's NCAA Regional, and defeated them twice by a combined score of 15-0. The Pride's young team has yet to see action this year, but returns many starters from last year's squad. Michelle DePasquale led the team with a .363 average, tallying 58 hits and 23 RBI. Senior Kayleigh Lotti should carry most of the load on her shoulders in the circle, as she went 23-6 with 241 strikeouts last season.
Last Week: On Friday, Arizona opened their season against Kansas, but couldn't quite figure out Tucson native Valerie George in the Jayhawk circle. The Sabino grad held UA to four hits, and Lindsey Sisk was touched up for five earned runs as the Cats fell 5-1. Later, Lini Koria and Stacie Chambers each hit home runs as Arizona defeated UTEP 8-5 in a come-from-behind victory. Sarah Akamine got the W. Saturday was much of the same for the Cats, as Arizona couldn't hold a one-run lead and fell to Northwestern, 3-1. Sisk was again charged with the loss. The bats finally got going in the second game, as UA scattered eight hits and scored five runs early, winning 7-2 and keeping Akamine's record perfect. Sunday's game was rained out.
Track the Cats: Free GameTracker live stats sponsored by Tucson Electric Power, are provided for all home games and many road games (depending on Internet access) via arizonaathletics.com. Many road opponents provide the service through their web sites as well. All-Access video streaming of home games also is available through UA's web site. A number of games will be broadcast by UA partner IMG Sports and KTUC 1400 AM Radio. Those games are noted on the schedule to the left.
Top of the Line Coaching: Arizona's coaching staff includes three mentors who have taken a combined 27 different teams to the Women's College World Series as head coaches -- Mike Candrea's 19, one by assistant Larry Ray (filling in for Candrea during the 2008 Olympic year) and seven by assistant Teresa Wilson. Thrown in former UA star Amy Hillenbrand (née Chellevold), the volunteer coach and first Wildcat to be named an All-American all four years of her playing days (1992-95), and you add four WCWS as a player and five more as an assistant to Candrea from 1996-2000. That's a whole lot of teaching at the top level of the game. It's as good a staff as exists in collegiate softball, and arguably the best. Candrea's leadership and strategy (notably defense), Ray's short game and outfield teaching, Wilson's pitching expertise and Hillenbrand's bat work and base running fundamentals give Arizona the full complement.
Arizona Head Coach Mike Candrea: Candrea enters his 24th season at the helm of the Arizona softball program. He boasts a 1,133-230-2 (.832) record in 21 seasons in the dugout. In the two seasons away from Tucson, he coached the U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal in Athens, Greece and a silver in Beijing, China. He was named a finalist for USOC Coach of the Year on March 19, 2008, and won the award in 2004. In January, he was inducted into the inaugural Hall Of Fame class at Central Arizona College. Candrea also was awarded the Olympic Shield award, the U.S. Olympic Committee'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.
Assistant Coach Larry Ray: In 2008, Ray assumed the position of interim head coach and took the team to their 20th WCWS appearance in 21 years. Ray has a 265-131 (.669) career record as a head coach, and five NCAA Championships as an assistant. He possesses a powerful combination of head coaching experience and familiarity with Arizona softball. Ray spent five years as Florida'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.
Assistant Coach Teresa Wilson: Wilson joined the staff in October after establishing herself as a nationally recognized mentor at four programs as head coach. She has 15 years of Pac-10 head coaching experience and most recently held the reigns at Texas Tech, after stints at Oregon, Minnesota and Washington. Wilson has led her teams to seven WCWS appearances and took Washington to 10 final top-15 standings in the polls. The Pickering, Mo. native pitched at Missouri, earning All-American honors her senior year after leading the Tigers to an AIAW and two WCWS appearances. She is the first person to both play and coach in the WCWS.
Volunteer Assistant Amy Hillenbrand: Hillenbrand has worked as an elite athlete representative for the ASA board of directors for the last 10 years, and also sat on the board oversight committee. She has also served on the selection committee for the U.S Women's National Team since 2004, and now serves as the athlete representative to the U.S. Olympic Committee for the sport of softball.
On the playing side, Hillenbrand left the college game in 1995 as the NCAA career leader in hits (371) and runs (252), plus finished at UA with a career batting average of .415, the top mark on Arizona's chart until Alison McCutcheon eclipsed her mark in 1998. Hillenbrand's career average is one of only nine Wildcats above .400.
Who's No. 1?: Sarah Akamine has certainly staked her claim to the lead role in the circle. The junior from Escondido, Calif. had less runs, earned runs, walks, a lower opponent batting average and more strikeouts than sophomore Lindsey Sisk. Akamine's 4.30 ERA betters Sisk's 5.84. Sisk has given up less hits, home runs and doubles. Akamine relieved Sisk in Arizona's game against Kansas.
Run Support: Following along the same lines, Arizona has score 15 runs and scattered 19 hits when Akamine has stepped in the circle. Conversely, UA has only tallied two runs on eight hits with Sisk tossing the rock. A theme last season, Akamine had the most run support of the three pitchers; Taryne Mowatt had a run-support ratio of 2½ Arizona runs to every 1 opponent run, Sisk was 4:1, and Akamine was 8:1.
Double Trouble: K'Lee Arredondo is at it again. After tallying the third highest single-season double total in Arizona history, the Tempe native has three in her first four games. To put that in historical perspective, Arredondo needs just nine more to crack the UA career top-10 for doubles.
Plenty of Ammunition: Arizona hit 94 home runs last season -- the third-highest team total in history -- with '09 returners accounting for 78 of them. Jenae Leles (17), Stacie Chambers (15), Laine Roth (15) and Sam Banister (10) each hit their fair share of long balls. The team also led the nation in home runs per game. Toss in California's all-time high school career home run leader in Lini Koria, who led the team in jacks in the fall, and UA is stacked for another run to the top of the national charts.
More Jack Smack: Both of Arizona's home runs so far this season came in the game against UTEP. As expected, Lini Koria belted her first career home run in the tournament. The opposite field, solo shot cleared the right field fence. Stacie Chambers accounted for the other, with a seventh-inning bomb to right centerfield. What was not expected, two of UA's '08 home run queens - Jenae Leles and Laine Roth - have yet to even register a hit through four games.
You Know It's Over When: In the last four seasons, UA has compiled a 127-2 record when leading after five innings, and a 122-1 mark when ahead after six. Conversely, the Cats were 2-16 when trailing after four innings and one win fewer after five in 2008. UA dropped all 17 decisions when down after six and since 2005, Arizona is 2-46 when trailing in the final frame.
The Rankings: Arizona sat at seventh in both the NFCA/USA Today and the USA Softball/ESPN.com preseason rankings. ESPN.com's Graham Hays picked Arizona at No. 9 in his preseason poll, and the Pac-10 coaches' poll placed Arizona at No. 4 in the conference. Arizona has been ranked No. 1 in the country for at least part of the year every season since 1991. This week Arizona is ranked 12th in NFCA poll and 10th in the USA Softball/ESPN.com poll.
Arizona Softball in Historical Perspective: Arizona began play in 1974 and sports an all-time record of 1,489-432-2. The Cats are 355-95-1 in Pac-10 play, which began in 1987. Since 1982 and NCAA Division I Championships play began, Arizona is 1,315-325-2. UA has appeared in 22 NCAA Championships, has won the Women's College World Series eight times in 20 trips, and has secured 10 Pac-10 titles.
Turnstiles Turning - Again: Through 16 seasons in Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium, Arizona has a record of 496-39, including a home field winning streak of 70 games from May 5, 2000 to April 6, 2002, which is still an NCAA record. In Pac-10 games alone, UA touts a 174-25 record, and has a 51-5 record in NCAA action. Looking at the records, it's not hard to see what keeps the fans coming back for more. Hillenbrand Stadium's aggregate attendance mark passed 500,000 last season, helped by the seventh highest attended game in history - a 7-6 Saturday night comeback win against Oregon State on April 26. UA has led the nation in attendance per game the last three seasons and since its opening, Hillenbrand Stadium has been able to call itself the national champion just as many times as the team has. Call (520) 621-CATS or log on to arizonaathletics.com for ticket information.
USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year "Watch List:" Senior third baseman Jenae Leles and sophomore outfielder Brittany Lastrapes were named to the exclusive 50-name preseason list. Arizona is scheduled to face many of the highly-touted players.
Wildcat Signees: The Arizona coaching staff signed three high school seniors to National Letters of Intent during the November early signing period. Brigette DelPonte (C/INF, Sunrise Mountain High School, Peoria, Ariz.) Kenzie Fowler (P, Canyon del Oro High School, Tucson, Ariz.), Baillie Kirker (3B/1B, Crescenta Valley High School, Montrose, Calif.) and Rebecca Tikey (OF, Horizon High School, Scottsdale, Ariz.) are all committed to enroll at the UA next fall.
Who's In, Who's Out: Returners: Sarah Akamine (Jr.), K'Lee Arredondo (Sr.), Sam Banister (Sr.), Stacie Chambers (Jr.), Corinna Gonzalez (So.), Victoria Kemp (So.), Brittany Lastrapes (So.), Jenae Leles (Sr.), Jill Malina (Sr.), Laine Roth (Sr.), Lauren Schutzler (So.), Lindsey Sisk (So.). Newcomers: Kristen Arriola (Fr.), Alicia Banks (Fr.), Karissa Buchanan (Fr.), Lini Koria (Fr.), Jennifer Martinez (Sr.), Mandy Monge (Sr.), Ashley Ralston-Alvarez (Jr.). Who's Out: Adrienne Acton, Callista Balko, Cyndi Duran, Jessica McNamara, Taryne Mowatt, Danielle Rodriguez.
2009 Catnips: Sarah Akamine - Could possibly take over the No. 1 pitcher position; K'Lee Arredondo - Arizona's sure-handed shortstop led the team in doubles last season (19), and leads the team this season (3).Kristen Arriola - Could see time at second base, a freshman with a high upside and potential; Sam Banister - Has three hits in four games, with a .250 batting average; Alicia Banks - The Sierra Vista, Ariz. native was called on in a pinch-hitting situation against Nevada for her first career at-bat; Karissa Buchanan - Is batting .333, one hit in three at-bats. Also has one putout in right field; Stacie Chambers - Smacked her first homer of the year against UTEP, is batting .385 (5-for-13) and has started all four games; Corinna Gonzalez - The first player from Colorado in the Candrea era smacked a three-run jack in her third career at-bat and could be called upon as a situational hitter; Victoria Kemp - Has started at second base in two games, turning a double play against Northwestern; Lini Koria - Jacked her first career bomb against UTEP, and has seen action in all four games.; Brittany Lastrapes - Is batting .400 (6-for-15) and has started every game in left field; Jenae Leles - Surprisingly hasn't tallied a hit yet this season, but has started every game at third base; Jill Malina - Appeared in her 100th career game against Kansas, and saw time in right field over the weekend; Jennifer Martinez - Redshirt senior who has plenty of experience, but has a chance to earn her stripes in cardinal and navy. Will most likely be called on as a relief pitcher; Mandy Monge - This senior transfer is the first player from Massachusetts in the Candrea era, and could see time behind the plate in '09; Ashley Ralston-Alvarez - A junior transfer from nearby Pima Community College was named to the All-ACCAC third team as a pitcher, and was an NJCAA Academic All-America; Laine Roth - Also has not tallied a hit yet, but has made two starts at first base; Lauren Schutzler - Leading the team in batting average at .600 (6-for-10), and has started every game in centerfield; Lindsey Sisk - When pitching in two games this season, has only received two runs worth of support.