Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
No. 1 Softball Heads to Waco for Compass Bank Invitational
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: February 23, 2005
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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This Week

The top-ranked Arizona softball team will travel to Waco, Texas, for the 2005 Compass Bank Invitational, hosted by Baylor. The Cats will start tournament play on Friday, Feb. 25, against Sam Houston State at 11:45 a.m. and Birmingham Southern at 2 p.m. Arizona plays against Louisiana Tech and Baylor on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.. UA will play again on Sunday, depending on the outcome of Friday’s and Saturday’s games.

Last Week

Arizona hosted the 2005 Worth Wildcat Invitational, and for the second week in a row, rainy weather cancelled several games. The Cats got in one game on Friday, Feb. 18, against Marshall. Junior pitcher Alicia Hollowell threw her second no-hitter of the season against the Thundering Herd in a 7-0 victory for the Cats. Offensively, sophomore shortstop Kristie Fox led the way with a two-run homer in the first inning, her fourth of the year. Sophomore Caitlin Lowe went three-for-four in the game, with two RBI and a run. All of Saturday’s games were cancelled because of rain, but the Cats got in two games against Hawai’i on Sunday. In the first game against the Rainbow Wahine, freshman pitcher Taryne Mowatt threw the first five and 1/3 innings of Arizona’s 4-0 shutout victory before Hollowell relieved her for the rest of the game. Mowatt allowed three hits and fanned eight, putting her season strikeout total at 20. Freshman catcher Callista Balko led the Cats’ offense with a three-run homer in the third inning, the first of her career. In game two of the Hawai’i doubleheader, it took Arizona eight innings to eek out a 2-1 win. Hollowell struck out 17 and gave up four hits for her fifth win this season. The winning run came on an eighth-inning sacrifice fly by Fox to score Lowe and give Arizona its ninth win this year.

The Coach

Head Coach Mike Candrea is in his 20th year with Arizona and carries a career record of 991-191. Candrea returned to Arizona after taking a year off to coach the U.S. Olympic softball team to a 9-0 record and a gold medal in Athens. Candrea was also awarded the Olympic Shield award, the U.S. Olympic Committee’s most prestigious award, in January. Candrea’s award, given for outstanding service to the USOC and the Olympic movement, marked the first time in history that the award was given to an olympic coach. Candrea is also an eight-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year and a menber of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He has led Arizona to six national championships and seven Pac-10 titles.

The Coaches

Larry Ray (Idaho State ?'74) took over as head coach for Mike Candrea in 2004 and led the Wildcats to a 55-6 record and another Pac-10 title. He set the all-time Arizona record for the best start with a 34-0 mark through March 20 last season. Ray is acting assistant head coach this season, and carries an overall record of 224-112, including five years as head coach of Florida. Associate head coach Nancy Evans is a former Honda Award winner as a player at Arizona. Evans has been an assistant at UA since 1999.

The Rankings

As of Feb. 22, the Cats are No. 1 in the Softball poll.The NFCA/USA Today poll, in which the Cats have been steadily ranked since 1989, will be released on Feb. 23. Arizona was ranked preseason No. 3 in the NFCA poll, behind UCLA and Cal. Softball: 1(2/22), 1(2/15)

NFCA/USA Today: 2(2/16)

Wildcat Softball Quick Notes

...Sophomore Kristie Fox is still the Cats’ offensive leader, sporting a .542 batting average with 13 hits, 12 runs, 16 RBI and four each of homers and stolen bases...

...Sophomore All-American Caitlin Lowe is second on the team in batting average behind Fox with a .469 mark. Hitting in the leadoff spot again this year, Lowe is 15-for-32 at the plate, with eight runs and eight stolen bases...

...Senior Crystal Farley has kept it up offensively, hitting .450 with nine hits in 20 at-bats. She also has a perfect fielding percentage at first base and is second in putouts with 39...

...Junior All-American pitcher Alicia Hollowell got her fourth and fifth wins of the season Friday against Marshall and Sunday against Hawai’i in extra innings. She threw her second no-hitter of the season against Marshall, putting her career no-hitters at six. That effort followed her Feb. 13th perfect game against Tennessee-Chattanooga in Tempe at the Kajikawa tournament. In Sunday’s win over the Rainbow Wahine, Hollowell fanned 17 and allowed four hits over eight innings, pushing her season K total to 81...

...With 20 stolen bases so far this season, the Cats are on pace with last year’s speedy squad, which stole 129 bases...

...Hollowell needs just 46 more strikeouts to move into the top spot on Arizona’s career strikeouts list. She would vacate Jennie Finch, who holds the current record with 1,028....

...Though Arizona’s team batting average is .293, behind last year’s .338 mark, UA’s hitters have touched up opposing pitchers enough to send them away with a 5.50 ERA, as opposed to Arizona’s cumulative ERA of 0.74...