Wednesday, Feb. 9 (exhib.) Pima Community College (2) 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 11 * Georgia 11 a.m. * # 18 South Carolina 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12 * Texas A&M 11 a.m. * Tennessee-Chatanooga 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 13 * # 3 Fresno State 10 a.m. * Nevada-Las Vegas 12 p.m. (*Fiesta Bowl Classic, Phoenix, Ariz., Rose Mofford Sports Complex)
Fourth-ranked Arizona (2-1) will play host to Pima Community College in an exhibition doubleheader at Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium on Wednesday, Feb. 9 at 3 p.m. Then, the Cats will travel to Phoenix to take part in the Fiesta Bowl Classic Softball Tournament Friday, Feb. 11 through Sunday, Feb. 13.
Fiesta Bowl Classic Softball Tournament
The tournament will feature an 18-team field, including eight of the top-25 teams in the country playing in a round-robin format. In addition to Arizona, the ranked participating teams include No. 3 Fresno State, ninth-ranked host Arizona State, No. 11 Oregon State, No. 13 Nebraska, No. 16 Massachusetts, No. 18 South Carolina and No. 21 Stanford.
Arizona opened its season last weekend by playing host to the Pepsi Arizona Softball Classic. The Cats won two out of three games in the tournament, with a pair of wins over fifth-ranked Southern Mississippi (9-1 and 10-2) and a 1-0 loss to No. 2 Washington. Becky Lemke pitched a five-inning no-hitter while the UA batters smacked 11 hits in their season opening victory over Southern Mississippi on Friday. Washington relied on a two-out solo home run by Kim DePaul in the top of the sixth to hand the Cats their first defeat on Saturday. The Huskies managed only three hits off Lemke, while Arizona had six hits off winner Jennifer Spediacci. Junior college transfer Allison Andrade's first career home run paced the Cats in their second victory on Sunday. Andrade's grand slam helped Jennie Finch record her first win of the season after allowing just three hits, with one strikeout and one walk in her first appearance.
Swinging for the Fences
Arizona's tradition of socking balls out of the yard held true over the opening weekend as three different Cats contributed with the long ball. Jennie Finch hit a solo home run in the fourth inning of the opening victory over So. Miss. and Lindsey Collins added a two-run homer in the fifth to spark a seven-run inning for the Cats. As mentioned above, Allison Andrade smacked her first collegiate homer in the final game of the tournament with a grand slam in the bottom of the first inning.
National Fastpitch Coaches Association Poll
Arizona was ranked fourth in the preseason NFCA coaches poll released Wednesday, Jan. 26. The poll is available online at www.nfca.org The first weekly rankings will be released Feb. 23 and every week thereafter through the season. Arizona has been in the national rankings every single period since 1990.
Notes Out of Left Field
Junior Nicole Giordano leads the team with an .857 batting average through three games with six hits, three runs scored and two RBI... Freshman Lisha Ribellia (Moses Lake, Wash.) was the surprise of opening weekend for the Cats. She started the final game of the tournament and set a school single-game record with a pair of triples in consecutive at-bats in the third and fifth innings. She also scored the final mercy-rule run in the fifth... Becky Lemke's five-inning no-hitter of So. Miss. on Friday was the first of her career. Arizona's last no-hitter was thrown by Jennie Finch against Southwest Texas on 5-21-99.
2000 Team Nucleus
The 2000 Cats maintain their speed, defensive power and solid hitting ability from last year with the return of all starters. Three juniors were third-team All-Americans -- pitcher Becky Lemke and first team All- Pac-10 outfielders Lauren Bauer and Nicole Giordano. Junior third baseman Toni Mascarenas was named second team All-Pac-10 along with Lemke. Three Cats were honorable mention all-league picks -- senior outfielder Lindsay Robinson, sophomore pitcher Jennie Finch and senior outfielder Chrissy Gil. Other returning letterwinners include junior pitcher Teresa Ayoub, senior second baseman Katie Swan, junior first baseman Erika Hanson and catcher Lindsey Collins. Freshmen Lisha Ribellia (IF), Leneah Manuma (1B) and Lindsey Rice (OF) join junior transfers Allison Andrade (IF) and April Richardson (IF) to round out the squad.
Arizona softball season tickets are available through the McKale Center Ticket Office (520-621-2287) at varying prices for seat locations, with discounts for children and seniors. Single-game tickets will be sold at McKale and at the stadium box office on game days.
Arizona Coach Mike Candrea
In his 15th season at Arizona, Candrea carries a record of 749-160 (.824). He is the active and all-time winningest Division I coach by percentage and in the top 10 in victories. Last season, Candrea became the eighth Division I coach in history to win 700 games. His players have earned 49 All-America honors and six Academic All-America honors, plus he has coached three players to the Honda Softball Award as national player of the year. He has taken the Wildcats to the College World Series the past 12 consecutive years and has reached the NCAA Championship game in eight of the last 10 seasons.
Cats Depth Chart p B. Lemke, J. Finch c Lindsey Collins 1b Jennie Finch, Erika Hanson, Leneah Manuma (inj.) 2b Katie Swan ss Allison Andrade, April Richardson, Lisha Ribellia 3b Toni Mascarenas, Lindsey Rice lf Lauren Bauer, Lindsay Robinson cf Chrissy Gil rf Nicole Giordano dp Jennie Finch, Erika Hanson, Teresa Ayoub