Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
No. 3 Softball Wraps Up Regular Season
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: May 10, 2006
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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THIS WEEK: No. 3 Arizona (40-9, 11-6) completes the regular season with one last homestand this weekend.  The Wildcats will host Oregon (24-24, 4-12) in a Thursday doubleheader, beginning at 6 p.m.  The double dip was scheduled due to a rainout in Eugene on April 2.  UA will then host No. 6 Oregon State (37-10, 9-7) on Friday and Saturday in an effort to cement second place in the final weekend of Pac-10 play.


THURSDAY, MAY 11              vs. OREGON                     6 p.m. (MST)

                                                    vs. OREGON                     8 p.m. (MST)

Team Photo Night ?- The first 800 fans in attendance will receive an Arizona softball team photo, courtesy of Jones Photo

FRIDAY, MAY 12                     vs. OREGON STATE       7 p.m. (MST)

Season Ticket Holder Appreciation Night

SATURDAY, MAY 13              vs. OREGON STATE       1 p.m. (MST)

Senior Day

ON THE AIR: All four games remaining regular season games can be heard on the radio or Internet. Brian Jeffries, The Voice of the Wildcats, will bring all the action live on 1290 AM KCUB in Tucson, or fans that have subscribed to UA’s All Access package can hear the games on their computer.


SELECTION SUNDAY: Arizona and the rest of the softball teams throughout the country will be tuned into ESPNews at 12:30 p.m. (MST) on Sunday to find out their postseason fate.  Brackets and host schools will be announced for the 64 teams and 16 Regional sites that will begin NCAA Tournament play next week.


NOTING THE DUCKS: Oregon has had a tough go in Pac-10 play, as it finds itself at the bottom of the Conference standings, entering the season’s final week.  Just 2-10 on the road this season, the Ducks always have a chance with ace Amy Harris (9-7) in the circle.  Harris boasts a 1.96 ERA, but is the only Oregon hurler to give up an average of less than 2.50 earned runs per seven innings.  At the plate, Suzie Barnes and Beth Boskovich each carry a .313 batting average, with 10 and 20 RBI on the year, respectively.  UO gets most of its pop in the lineup from Breanne Sabol (3 HR, 30 RBI) and Joanna Gail (6 HR, 19 RBI), but the two are hitting .279 and .194, respectively.


NOTING THE BEAVERS: Oregon State, which has lost three of its last four games, has the good fortune of having to play No. 1 UCLA only twice this season due to a rainout last Sunday.  Despite their recent struggles, the Beavers are a potent bunch, hitting .300 as a team and a 1.76 ERA this season.  OSU is led both in the circle and at the bat by Brianne McGowan, who is 23-5 with a 1.32 ERA on the field, while hitting .321 with eight home runs and 24 RBI in the box.  Although Mia Longfellow leads the Beavers with her .351 batting average, the most dangerous OSU hitter of late is Cambria Miranda.  Miranda is hitting .327 with 14 home runs and 30 RBI. 


LAST WEEK RECAP: Arizona racked up four more Pac-10 wins, making it six in a row, in a busy and successful weekend at home.  UA won its games in all sorts of ways: blow out, holding off a late rally and a dramatic come-from-behind victory.


Arizona 10, Arizona State 0 (6 innings) ?- The Wildcats cemented their claim as the best team in the state with a 10-run drubbing of the Sun Devils.  Alicia Hollowell two-hit the Sun Devils, as the Wildcats duplicated their double-digit offensive outburst for the second consecutive game.  Caitlin Lowe, Autumn Champion and Kristie Fox each had two hits, scored at least one run and drove in another in the victory.  Callista Balko put a punctuation mark on the victory with a sixth-inning grand slam to invoke the mercy rule.  


Arizona 5, California 3 ?- Arizona took the season series from Cal with a two-run win on Friday.  After stranding seven runners in the first four innings, UA exploded for three runs in the fourth.  With the top of the lineup coming up, Caitlin Lowe singled, Autumn Champion walked and Kristie Fox was hit by a pitch to load the bases.  Jenae Leles drove in the game’s first run with an RBI groundout and Chelsie Mesa stepped up with a two-run double.  In the sixth, Callista Balko tacked on a two-run double of her own, giving UA a 5-0 lead.  Taryne Mowatt, who had thrown six shutout innings, got a helping hand from Alicia Hollowell to close out the game in the seventh.


Arizona 3, Stanford 2 ?- UA had its second come-from-behind win over Stanford this season on Saturday.  Down 2-1, entering the bottom of the seventh, the Wildcats delivered a killer blow to Stanford with a pair of runs to win in walk-off fashion.  Laine Roth led off with a double, before being lifted for pinch runner Kelly Nelson.  Nelson was moved over to third on an Adrienne Acton sacrifice slap, and came around to score on a Caitlin Lowe sac fly.  With a tie game and two outs, Autumn Champion scratched out her third single of the game.  Then, Kristie Fox brought the 1,741 Wildcat fans to their feet with a game-winning double to centerfield, scoring Champion from first.


Arizona 6, Stanford 1 ?- Callista Balko and Chelsie Mesa each hit a three-run homer to consummate the season sweep of Stanford.  Balko’s homer was her fourth in six games, while Mesa’s was her first since March 24.  Taryne Mowatt earned her 19th victory of the year, tossing a complete game. 


PAC-10 POSSIBILITIES: There is still a glimpse of hope for Arizona to capture its 10th Pac-10 title this season, although the odds are slim.  Should Arizona sweep its four games this weekend and UCLA lose all three of its contests against the Bay Area schools, the two powerhouses would share the Conference title.  Assuming UCLA wins at least one of its games this weekend, the Wildcats would look to solidify their second place standing with a combination of three Arizona wins or Oregon State losses.


USA SOFTBALL NATIONAL COLLEGIATE PLAYER-OF-THE-YEAR FINALISTS:  On Wednesday, Caitlin Lowe and Alicia Hollowell were named to the USA Softball POY list of 10 finalists.  USA Softball cut its initial list of 25 candidates to 10, and will narrow the list down to three finalists before the Women’s College World Series.  Kristie Fox and Autumn Champion had been named to the 50-name pre-season watch list.


ARIZONA HEAD COACH MIKE CANDREA is in his 21st season at Arizona and carries a career 1,067-212 (.834) record in 20 years in the dugout.  He is one of just five coaches to reach the 1,000 Division I victories, and was the fastest to do so (19 years of on-field coaching).  In 2004, Candrea took a year off to coach the USA Olympic softball team to a 9-0 record and a gold medal in Athens in 2004.  Candrea was also 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.  Candrea is also a nine-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year and a member of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame.  He has led Arizona to six national championships and nine Pac-10 titles.


FOX (4/31-5/7, 3/6-12), MOWATT (4/10-16) AND MESA (3/20-26) NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Kristie Fox earned her second Pac-10 Player of the Week honor with her .571 (4-for-7) performance this past weekend with four runs and four RBI.  She slugged 1.143 and had a .667 on-base percentage, aided by five walks and a hit by pitch.  Taryne Mowatt was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for her performance at Arizona State on April 14 and 15.  Mowatt hit .429 (3-for-7) and also registered her first Pac-10 shutout in the circle.  With the honor, she becomes the first student-athlete to win both the player and pitcher of the week awards in the same year.  Chelsie Mesa was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for her performance against No. 10 Louisiana-Lafayette from March 24-26.  Mesa batted .636 (7-11), with five RBI and four runs scored in three games.  She went 4-for-4 on Sunday, missing the cycle by a home run.  Kristie Fox was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week for the week of March 6-12, for her two home runs, seven RBI and .750 batting average.  Fox’s numbers could have been more gaudy, but they were tapered when the opponent elected not to pitch to her.  After six RBI in game one of the series, Fox saw only two strikes in the second game of the series.  One of those strikes went over the left field wall for a home run and the other came in one of her three walks during the game.  In game three, Fox went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and yet another walk.


MOWATT (3/13-19, 3/20-26) AND HOLLOWELL (2/6-12; 2/13-19) NAMED PAC-10 PITCHER OF THE WEEK: Taryne Mowatt was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week for two consecutive weeks from March 13-26.  From March 24-26 against Louisiana-Lafayette, Mowatt became the first pitcher all year to shut out the prolific Ragin’ Cajun offense.  Over the weekend she pitched 16.0 innings and gave up one run.  The week before, Mowatt tossed a no-hitter and a perfect game at the Judi Garman Classic.  In two games, Mowatt struck out 28 of the 37 opposing batters she faced.  Alicia Hollowell has been named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week twice this year.  Following the Kajikawa Classic (2/6-12), USA Softball named her its first National Player of the Week of the year for her performance.  In three starts, Hollowell tossed no-hitters against No. 15 Northwestern and No. 6 Texas A&M, while surrendering one hit in a 2-0 win over Cal State Fullerton.


ALL-AMERICANS CLUTCH IN CONFERENCE: Over the last two years, Arizona has experienced its share of woes plating runners in scoring position, but three hitters continue to give the Wildcats consistent results in clutch situations.  All-Americans Caitlin Lowe, Autumn Champion and Kristie Fox have combined to hit .407 (37-for-91) in RISP situations during 2005 and 2006 Pac-10 play.  Their teammates have compiled a .186 (41-for-220) clip over the same time frame.


GET ?'EM ON, GET ?'EM OVER, NOT GETTING ?'EM IN: The Wildcats have been able to get runners on base during Pac-10 play this season, but have a nasty habit of leaving one another stranded at inning’s end.  In its 17 conference games, UA averages 7.3 runners left on per game, including eight or more stranded in eight of the contests.


LOWE BACK AT THE TOP: Three weeks ago, Caitlin Lowe was fully cleared to participate in games.  The two-time All-American returned to her usual leadoff spot in the batting order and center field on defense.  Prior to suffering an injury to her left hand on March 19, the Tustin, Calif., native had started 147 consecutive games for Arizona on the leadoff position.


A REAL CATALYST: While Caitlin Lowe was recovering from the injury, Arizona went through a number of possible solutions to replace her.  At one point, that included three different leadoff hitters in three consecutive games (Autumn Champion, Kristie Fox and Adrienne Acton).  In the 10 games that Lowe was absent from the starting lineup, Arizona scored an average of 0.6 runs in the first inning and 3.6 per game.  In the games that she has led off, UA averages 1.1 runs in the opening frame and 5.8 per game.


TOP CATS: In every year since 1992, Arizona has been ranked No. 1 in the NFCA poll for at least part of the year.  This season, the Wildcats had top-billing in both the and NFCA polls from Feb. 21 through March 14.


RE-WRITING THE RECORD BOOKS:  Alicia Hollowell is now Arizona’s all-time victories (133), strikeout (1644) and innings pitched (1040) record holder.  She currently stands fourth all-time in NCAA history for strikeouts per seven innings. 


For a complete list of Arizona’s all-time record holders, please see page six of the .pdf version of this release, or pages 33-37 of this year’s media guide.


NO-NO: Alicia Hollowell has 17 career no-hitters, the most recent of which came on April 30 against Washington.  To put that figure in perspective, you can take any other two Wildcat hurlers (Susie Parra, Jennie Finch, Nancy Evans, Becky Lemke or Teresa Cherry, et al), combine their no-hit totals and they still will still fall at least three no-hitters short of Hollowell’s total.  As for UA’s other current pitchers, Taryne Mowatt and Leslie Wolfe have two and one career no-no’s, respectively.


OFFENSIVE HISTORY: With each passing game, outfielders Caitlin Lowe and Autumn Champion are climbing up the UA record books in several offensive categories, including hits, stolen bases and runs scored.  Additionally, both rank in the top six in career batting average at Arizona.


In the coming weeks, Champion has a chance to move up several spots UA’s all-time hits list.  With 288 hits, Champion stands 10th all-time, but is only five hits away from the seventh spot.


In the coming games, Caitlin Lowe could become just the fifth player in Wildcat history to steal 100 bases.  She has 98 in her career and a team-leading 24 swiped bags this season, and has 241 base hits in just under three years at UA. 


Earlier in the season, Champion moved into sole possession of seventh place in career stolen bases. Entering this week, she has swiped 64 career bases.


THESE CATS DIG THE LONG BALL: Last year, the Wildcats hit 33 round-trippers all season (57 games); the team’s lowest output since 1992.  Despite the strength of its schedule and the pitching throughout the Conference, Arizona has 49 homers in as many games. 


HITTING JACKS LEFT AND RIGHT: Kristie Fox’s first-inning home run against Arizona State gave her 11 on the year, the most since Mackenzie Vandergeest’s 14 in 2004.


ENOUGH WITH THE STEROID JOKES: Callista Balko continues to hit balls that land over the outfield fencing, as she has hit four in the last six games.  This year, Balko’s 10 homers are double her 2005 total of five.


GIVE HER ALL THE ICE SHE K-NEEDS : Callista Balko has been behind the plate for all 327.0 innings this year while UA has been in the field.  Balko’s durability behind the plate while catching a pair of strikeout pitchers should put the sophomore from Tucson at the top of the nation’s putout chart.  She currently leads the Pac-10 with 541 putouts on the year, 92 more than California’s Haley Woods who is in second with 449.  Balko’s total already qualifies her for fourth all-time for putouts in a season at Arizona.  At this rate, should Arizona play 66 games (its average over the last 10 years), Balko would have 729 putouts.


IN THE PAC-10, EXPERIENCE COUNTS: When looking at Arizona’s in-conference stats, one factor seems to separate the top of the batting averages from the bottom half: experience.  Players with at least one year’s experience at Arizona carry the top six batting averages for a combined .300 clip.  Six newcomers, on the other hand, are a woeful .120.


SETTING THE TABLE FOR MESA: The Wildcat faithful are hoping that Chelsie Mesa’s performance last weekend is a sign of things to come in postseason play.  Through UA’s first 13 Pac-10 contests, Mesa was hitting .103 (4-for-39) with one extra-base hit and two RBI.  In four games last week, Mesa hit .455 (5-for-11) with three extra-base hits and five RBI.


CHAMPION DOUBLING UP: In 2003, Autumn Champion rapped out a career-high 89 hits... all singles.  In 2004 and 2005 she combined for three extra-base hits.  This season, Champion already has five extra-base hits, including a triple, giving her two more XBH than she had accumulated in three years.


TAKING BALLS AND TAKING NAMES: When Kristie Fox isn’t driving in one of her team-leading 44 RBI on the year, she may be doing a number of things, but one of them is not striking out.  Fox has drawn 25 walks this year, while striking out just 14 times.  The junior from San Diego, Calif., strikes out on average once every 10.4 at-bats.  The rest of the Wildcats strikeout every 3.8 at-bats.


THREE FOR THE MONEY: Caitlin Lowe moved into a four-way tie on Arizona’s all-time triples list, when she had her fourth three-bagger of the year and ninth of her career on March 18 against CSUN.  Among the names Lowe had been tied with when she had eight career triples: UA senior associate athletics director Kathleen “Rocky” LaRose.  Lowe tied her career-high for most triples in a season with four.


MULTI-HIT AND MULTI-RBI GAMES: Every Arizona starter has at least one multi-RBI game and a minimum of four multi-hit games.  Leading the way with 12 multi-RBI games is Kristie Fox.  Chelsie Mesa (11), Laine Roth (9), Callista Balko (9), Jenae Leles (7), Caitlin Lowe (6) and Sam Banister (5)round out the top of the list.  The most prolific performances came in a five-RBI game for Mesa and a six-RBI contest for Fox in the Baylor series.


In the multi-hit game category, Caitlin Lowe leads with 22, despite missing 10 games.  Fellow All-Americans Autumn Champion and Kristie Fox are catching up to her, however, as they both have 16 apiece.  Chelsie Mesa (10) and Laine Roth, Adrienne Acton and Callista Balko (8 apiece) round out the top of the list.  All told, UA batters have combined for 94 multi-hit and 57 multi-RBI games.


TRIPLE THE FUN: Last year, Arizona had a total of five triples in its 57 games, the year before Arizona had only three three-baggers.


Through its first 45 games, Arizona already has 11 triples, or one in every four games or so.  Given that the team has averaged 66 games a year over the last decade, UA is on pace for 16 triples.  The last time an Arizona team had 10 triples was 2000, and the school record (in NCAA play) is 20 three-baggers, which has occurred three times.  The Wildcats are still looking for their first triple in Pac-10 play.


Autumn Champion’s triple against Texas A&M on Feb. 24 was the first of her career.  Prior to the third-inning hit, Champion had played in 185 games and had 578 at-bats before her first career triple.  The slap hitter had 89 hits as a freshman in 2003 ?- all singles.


PERFECTO! Taryne Mowatt’s no-hitter against UNLV and perfect game against Cal State Northridge were both firsts in her career.  Mowatt became the 20th pitcher in Arizona softball history, and 10th since 1991 to no-hit an opponent.  Mowatt’s perfect made her the just the third pitcher in UA history to retire every batter faced.


PINCH WHAT? Taryne Mowatt (vs. UNLV on March 16) and Danielle Rodriguez (vs. UCLA on April 9) are the only two pinch hitters Coach Candrea has sent to the plate this year.


PINCH RUNNERS: Kelly Nelson has appeared as a pinch runner in 33 games for UA.  In doing so, she has scored 12 runs.  Jill Malina and Danielle Rodriguez have appeared as a PR in 12 and 14 games, respectively.  Rodriguez scored the game-winning run in UA’s 2-1, nine-inning victory over Baylor on March 12.


EXTRA ALMOST EVERY TIME: Arizona has at least one extra-base hit in 41 of its 49 games this season for a total of 106.  UA’s opponents, on the other hand, have 31 extra-base knocks.


DEFENSE WINS WHAT? With 26 only defensive hiccups in 1,224 fielding attempts, UA has a .979 fielding percentage, which is second to only Stanford’s .983 percentage in the Pac-10.  Opponents, on the other hand, have committed 55 errors for a .957 fielding clip.  UA is error-free in 28 games this season.


NOT AFRAID OF A CHALLENGE: As always, Arizona is playing one of the most challenging schedules in the nation.  Of UA’s 53 scheduled regular season games, 19 are against teams ranked in the top 10 of the pre-season Today Poll.  In addition, another 11 games are against teams that were ranked 11-25 to begin the year.


EARLY SIGNINGS:  Head coach Mike Candrea announced that UA has received four National Letters of Intent for the 2006-07 academic year from pitcher Amanda Williams of Brentwood, Calif., catcher/third baseman Stacie Chambers of Glendale, Ariz., shortstop/utility K’Lee Arrendondo of Tempe, Ariz., and pitcher/third baseman Sarah Akamine of Escondido, Calif. 


ARIZONA SOFTBALL ATTENDANCE: This year, Arizona is averaging 1,271 fans a game in 18 dates.  The crowd of 2,340 in the April 8 versus UCLA was the 30th largest crowd in Hillenbrand Stadium history and the largest since the U.S. Olympic team visited in 2004. Thursday’s game against Oregon is Team Photo Night.  The first 800 fans in attendance will receive a free team photo, courtesy of Jones Photo