May 3, 2004
The Wildcats close their regular-season home schedule with games Friday against Oregon (35-14, 9-6), and Saturday and Sunday vs. Oregon State (39-21, 3-12). Oregon plays a doubleheader vs. Portland State at mid-week; the Beavers play at ASU Friday night.
Cats to Host NCAA Regional
The UA has been selected as host to one of eight regional sites for the 2004 NCAA Division I Softball Championship May 20-23. Each regional field will feature eight teams playing a double-elimination format. "Host institutions are not guaranteed a bid to the tournament," says the NCAA. Other schools picked as hosts are Baylor, UCLA, Florida State,Georgia, Michigan, Nebraska and Stanford. All those teams were ranked in the latest NFCA/USA Softball polls. Some games in Tucson will be televised live by CSTV national cable. Tucson's schedule will be known Sunday, May 16, when at-large, top seeds and regional pairing are announced.
Larry Ray (Idaho State '74) is 48-3 in his tenure as acting head coach of the Wildcats, making a strong bid for coach of the year honors. Including five seasons (four of competition) building a Florida program he has a career record of 217-109. His work with the Arizona program dates to 1986 and he was Candrea's top assistant for 10 years. UA's start of 34-0 to open the year gave Ray the best start in Arizona history. Acting associate head coach Nancy Evans, a former Honda Award winner as a player, has been an assistant at UA since 1999.
Arizona's Mike Candrea carries a career record of 982-191 in 18 years at UA, but put it on hold this season while he's on partial leave to be head coach of the U.S. Olympic Team. The eight-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year is a member of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He has led Arizona to six national championships and seven Pac-10 titles. Candrea has led UA to 16 consecutive College World Series.
Arizona played host to ASU, California and Stanford, posting victories in the first three games (3-1, 8-0, 4-0) and losing Sunday's contest to the Cardinal, 2-1. In the latter, Dana Sorensen tossed a two-hitter and UA got its lone run on a seventh-inning home run by Samantha Quintero. Alicia Hollowell gave up a career-high 12 hits to Stanford on Sunday, a day after holding SU to 2 two hits in her 16th shutout of the year. She pitched all four games and struck out 35 to increase her season record to 435. Wendy Allen drove in two runs in the ASU game and another in the first Stanford game to push her RBI total to 1.4 per game, best in the country. Caitlin Lowe and Autumn Champion each had three hits vs. Stanford in the first game to pace UA while Hollowell struck out 11. In Sunday's contest, UA never got untracked at the plate, popping up of flying out 12 times and striking out seven times. Stanford might have made it uglier, stranding 13 runners. Still, the Cats stayed in the lead in conference play. UA needs to win four of its final six games to clinch the title and enter this week's games with a chance to clinch at least a tie for the Pac-10 title by winning all three contests
UA has been No. 1 for seven weeks, giving it the top spot in the NFCA poll at least once every year since 1993. Arizona was ranked No. 2 in the preseason NFCA poll, and No. 3 in the ESPN/USA Softball poll. Feb. 11: 2/3. Feb. 18: 2/3. Feb. 25: 2/2. March 3: 2/2. March 10: 2/2. March 17: 1/1. March 24: 1/1. March 30:1/1. April 7: 1/1. April 14: 1/1. April 21: 1/1. April 28: 1/1. May 5: TBA. UA has been ranked steadily since 1988 by the NFCA.
1. Arizona 12-2 48-3 2. Stanford 10-5 40-13) 3. Washington 8-5 34-12 4. Oregon 9-6 35-14) 5. Oregon 9-6 35-14 6. UCLA 7-6 34-7 7. Oregon State 3-12 39-21 8. Arizona State 1-13 31-27
Players of the Week
Pitcher Alicia Hollowell earned the Pac-10 weekly honor four times this year - Feb. 24, March 2, March 9 and March 22. She also was USA Softball National Player of the Week March 22 after five victories at the Kia Klassic. Outfielder Autumn Champion won league Player of the Week honors Feb. 17, Wendy Allen won Feb. 24, and soph first baseman Shelly Schultz won April 13 after her two hits both beat No. 2 UCLA in successive games. Those are the 89th Pac-10 weekly honors for UA, and ninth for Hollowell in her short career. Caitlin Lowe was named ASA National Player of the Week for April 12-18 after hitting .545 with five runs versus Cal and Stanford.
Player of the Year
Autumn Champion, Caitlin Lowe and Alicia Hollowell were all named among 10 finalists for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award the last week in April. Three finalists will be named May 11.
Wildcat Softball Notes
...Arizona needs two victories to get a 50-win season, the 14th year it would reach the plateau... ...Lead-off hitter Caitlin Lowe took over the batting average lead with seven hits last week in 12 at-bats, a .583 clip that moved her season total to .471... Autumn Champion had five hits and checks in at .461... Lowe also stole three bases in three tries to give her 44 in 45 tries, the fourth highest single season total in UA history. Five more and she'd be tied at No. 2 with Vivian Holm (49-53 in 1987). The record is 67 by Allison McCutcheon in 70 tries in 1998... Lowe's figure rates in the nation's top 3 in per-game steals...Lowe has scored 72 times, two shy of Arizona's single-season top 10... ...Lowe has a remarkable average of .622 leading off an inning - 51 hits in 82 such at bats... She has had two or more hits in 21 games, and so has Champion... ...Senior second baseman Samantha Quintero went 5-for-11 during the week and sparked the Cats against Stanford on Saturday in starting two scoring rallies. She also hit her third home run of the season to give UA its lone run in the loss Sunday... That tally helped UA avoid its first home shutout since Oklahoma State beat the Cats 1-0 Feb. 21, 2003. ...Mackenzie Vandergeest's 14th home run gave her a career total of 59, tied for No. 8 in NCAA history... Vandergeest is No. 2 nationally in the nation's top five in RBI with 1.23 per game (63 total)... Wendy Allen at 1.36 (68 total) is No. 1, though being chased by South Florida's Holly Groves and Georgia's Kim Wendland... Vandergeest has 26 two-out RBI... She has had two or more RBI in 19 games, while Allen has 18 multiple-RBI contests... Allen's 16 doubles are tied for the No. 7 spot in UA's record book. Five more would tie her for the record held by Leah O'Brien (1995) and Lovie Jung (2003)... ...Alicia Hollowell's 435 strikeouts give her the nation's lead at 12.6 per seven innings... She struck of 10 or more 24 times this year including the school-record 20 against Indiana on March 6... Hollowell's 35 victories rate No. 4 on UA's chart and her 75 career victories put her at No. 6.... ...Sophomore first baseman Shelly Schultz missed the last seven games with a sprained ankle... She's expected back possibly this week but at least for post-season play... ...With just one partial season as the head coach, UA's Larry Ray has ascended to No. 20 on the Pac-10's career coaching victories chart with his 48-3 mark... ...Arizona was leading the nation in hitting at .342 entering last week, and emerged with a .341 mark... Arizona has outscored opponents by a 347-59 margin, also among the nation's best in runs... UA has shutout opponents 25 times... ...The 2-1 loss to Stanford gave Arizona a record of 14-3 in ball games decided by two runs of less...