March 3, 2009
Cats Host Eight Games in Five Days
Up Next: After dropping two out of three in College Station, Texas, the No. 13/11 Wildcats look to get back to their winning ways as they host UTEP for Wednesday doubleheader before welcoming Minnesota, Creighton and St. Joseph’s in the Hillenbrand Invitational over the weekend.
ALL GAMES AT HILLENBRAND STADIUM
Wednesday, March 4 vs. UTEP, 4 p.m.
vs. UTEP, 6 p.m.
Hillenbrand Invitational Full Tournament Schedule
Friday, March 6 Creighton (H) vs. St. Joseph’s (A), 11 a.m.
Creighton (A) vs. St. Joseph’s (H), 1:30 p.m.
Arizona (H) vs. Minnesota (A), 4 p.m.
Arizona (A) vs. Minnesota (H), 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 7 St. Joseph’s (H) vs. Minnesota (A), 11 a.m.
St. Joseph’s (A) vs. Minnesota (H), 1:30 p.m.
Arizona (H) vs. Creighton (A), 4 p.m.
Arizona (A) vs. Creighton (H), 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 8 Minnesota (H) vs. Creighton (A), 9:30 a.m.
Arizona (H) vs. St. Joseph’s, 12 p.m.
Arizona (A) vs. St. Joseph’s, 2:30 p.m.
Latest Arizona Lineup:
LF – Brittany Lastrapes
CF – Lauren Schutzler
3B – Jenae Leles
C – Stacie Chambers
SS – K’Lee Arredondo
DP – Lini Koria
1B – Laine Roth
2B – Victoria Kemp
RF – Karissa Buchanan
Noting the Miners: Arizona defeated UTEP (11-9) 8-5 at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe earlier this season. Home runs from Stacie Chambers and Lini Koria were two of 11 hits scattered off of Kelly Curran (4-3). Look for her and Stacie Townsend (7-5) to see action in the circle in both games. Chelsea Troupe (.419) and Camilla Carrera (.407) are both hitting above .400.
Noting the Gophers: Expect the ball to stay inside the park, as Minnesota (10-11) has surprisingly hit only one home run this season. Senior Colleen Conway is leading the way with a .301 average for the Golden Gophers. Her 22 hits and five stolen bases are tops on the team. Senior pitcher Briana Hassett (10-6) has racked up a 2.02 ERA, striking out 156 in 107 innings pitched.
Noting the Bluejays: Creighton (5-5) surprised Arizona last year, taking a 2-1 victory in the Hillenbrand Invitational finale. Junior Renae Sinkler is batting .400 with a team-leading 12 hits and 11 RBI. Last year’s ace, Tara Oltman (4-4) has thrown 43.1 inning this year, striking out 43 and touting a 1.78 ERA.
Noting the Hawks: St. Joseph’s (4-3) is led by freshman Monica Aguilar, who touts a .455 average and eight RBI at the dish. Freshman Erin Gallagher (1-2) and senior Dani Gonzales (3-1) should both see time this weekend in the circle.
Last Week: The Cats played a three-game series against Texas A&M in College Station. On Friday, the Cats jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third and a 5-2 lead late before A&M tied the game in the sixth to send it to extras. National player of the week Holly Ridley then belted a solo shot off the top of the wall in right field to give the Aggies a 6-5 victory in nine innings. Saturday was a much different story for the Wildcats. A&M jumped out to a 2-0 lead before Arizona tied it in the next half. The Cats put up two more, then exploded for a five-run sixth to down the Aggies 9-4. Sunday, the Cats had the Aggies on the ropes, up by three in the seventh and poised for a series win. With two outs, no one on base and two strikes, A&M pulled the rally of all rallies and tied the game on three unearned runs. The Aggies won it in the next inning on a bases loaded walk, taking the series in dramatic fashion.
Quick Pitch: After beginning the season 0-2, Lindsey Sisk has recorded seven straight wins to up her record to 7-2. Sarah Akamine (7-2) suffered her first two losses of the season this past weekend. Oddly enough, she relieved Sisk in Friday’s game and on Sunday – though Sisk issued the game-winning walk – Akamine was credited with the loss because the runner that she had let on crossed home.
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 1,145-232-2 (.830) 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.
Up Against RBI History: Stacie Chambers has a superlative 33 RBI in 18 games, 1.8 per contest. That kind of pace is difficult to keep up for a full season, indeed. It also underscores some of the historically significant run producers in the Arizona program. If Chambers did stay on that track, with about three dozen games left in the regular season, she'd finish at around 99 RBI. That would be the fourth-best total in Arizona single-season history behind the NCAA-record 129 by Laura Espinoza in 1995, 109 by Jenny Dalton in 1996 and 100 by Leah Braatz in 1998. She clearly has a shot at the most recent high total, 79 by eventual Olympic gold medalist Lovie Jung in 2003, the No. 9 figure in UA history. Reaching the top 10 chart will take 78 -- the number of RBI Braatz had in 1997.
Yard Ball Notes: Arizona has 29 home runs, 13 of those with no runners aboard. One reason for the solo-weighted jacks is that UA has seven leadoff homers to start innings. The club has three grand slams -- by Sam Banister at South Florida, Stacie Chambers against Hofstra in Tampa, and by Chambers against North Dakota State in Tucson. UA had five home runs in three games at College Station against A&M to close February, but only netted seven RBI on the bombs. Arizona has 56 HRBIs – runs batted in off of long balls – so far this season.
Late-Inning Goods: The Cats could use some better focus at the plate at the ends of games. UA has played five run-shortened games (all victories) so the late innings have come at a somewhat discounted rate. Still, the Cats have scored 23, 25, 26, and 25 runs in the first through fourth innings and a combined 41 afterward including on 10 in seventh innings. Last week at A&M, UA was blanked in the seventh inning of an eight-inning game it lost in the opener, did not score in the seventh in its 9-4 victory, and scored twice to go ahead in the seventh of the finale, which it lost in eight innings after the Aggies put up three to knot the score in the bottom of the seventh. Of course, that points at a need for UA's pitchers to bear down at the end, too. If there was one tenet coach Mike Candrea has preached in his quarter-century of excellence at Arizona, it's to finish games.
Simple Reasoning: In Arizona's four losses the opponents have scored 19 runs to 11 by the Cats. That will do it. In its victories the average score is Arizona 9, Opponents 2... UA is on pace to score well over 300 runs for the year, something it's done every year since 1992 except for the 2005 campaign when it checked in with 261. The club is almost halfway there already at 140 runs, an average of 7.8 per contest.
Friendly Confines: Over 6,500 people came through the Hillenbrand Stadium gates to watch the home opening weekend. With this season, and last season’s openers against Team USA and Team Canada, the stadium has seen two of the biggest opening day (or days) crowds in team history. With eight games on tap this week and the ever-improving weather, look for more and more people to pass through the Hillenbrand front doors.
Going Streaking: Catcher Stacie Chambers holds the team’s longest hitting streak at 12 games. This matches her career-high, set last season. It was also the longest streak for any Wildcat in 2008. Lauren Schutzler is close behind, with a nine-game streak, and Brittany Lastrapes has seven to her credit.
Some Last Home Game Notes
One in the Chamber(s): Stacie Chambers’ 17 RBI output in the Wildcat Invitational is the best in team history. It also earned her the Pac-10 Player of the Week. Chambers belted four home runs – including a grand slam, tallied 12 hits in 17 at-bats, and had a slugging percentage of 1.471 all while knocking home 17 runs.
Top of the Order: Arizona did well from top to bottom in its Wildcat Invitational tournament. But the top of the order -- wow. Leadoff hitter Brittany Lastrapes, two-hole hitter Lauren Schutzler, No. 3 Jenae Leles and cleanup batter Stacie Chambers positively drilled the ball. In six games the foursome had 43 hits, scored 37 runs, socked 11 homers and collected 39 RBI. That's a .597 batting
average for the group. Chambers hit .706 with 17 RBI, Schutzler scored 13 runs, Lastrapes scored 12 times and Leles drove in 10 with a .563 average.
Don't Walk: In the last home games, pitcher Sarah Akamine threw 13 innings in winning three games at the Wildcat Invitational, giving up only one run on the lone extra base hit she allowed, a homer. Best, she walked none of the 45 batters she faced. Jennifer Martinez picked up in the fifth inning in a pair of the three shortened appearances by Akamine -- walking none and striking out nine.
Who’s No. 1?: As the battle continues into week four of the season, it’s hard to decide who should be labeled the “Ace” of the Arizona pitching staff. Sarah Akamine (7-2) and Lindsey Sisk (7-2) both have similar stats: Akamine’s 2.35 ERA betters Sisk’s 2.40; Sisk has allowed 53 hits to Akamine’s 57; Opponents have scored two more runs off of Akamine (25) than Sisk (23), but only 18 of Akamine’s were earned, Sisk has given up 20 earned runs; Sisk has more strikeouts, but has also issued more walks; Akamine has less HBP’s, but has given up more home runs. It’s probably safer to say that Arizona has two No. 1 pitchers.
Run Support: Following along the same lines, Arizona has scored 74 runs and scattered 99 hits when Akamine is the pitcher of record. UA picked up their offensive output for Sisk this past weekend. As of now, they have tallied 66 runs on 76 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.
A Closer of Sorts: Redshirt senior Jennifer Martinez has appeared in six games thus far. The La Habra, Calif. native has tossed 5.1 innings for the Cats, tossing in two combined shutouts thus far. Martinez has only given up two hits, and has tallied 10 strikeouts. Look for the coaching staff to turn to her more often as tournament play continues.
Double Trouble: Brittany Lastrapes has taken the doubles lead on the team. With nine, she bests K’Lee Arredondo’s mark of five through 18 games last season. Arredondo sits third on the single-season doubles list with 19, a mark that Lastrapes is on track to eclipse. Arredondo had three in the first four games this season. In historical perspective, Arredondo needs just eight 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: Arizona has hit 29 home runs this season, some from the usual suspects, some not. Stacie Chambers leads the team and the Pac-10 conference with nine, including two grand slams; Sam Banister and Lini Koria have four; Brittany Lastrapes, Jenae Leles and Laine Roth have three; Lauren Schutzler has belted two home runs already, and Kristen Arriola jacked her first career long ball two weeks ago.
You Know It’s Over When: In the last four seasons, UA has compiled a 131-2 record when leading after five innings, and a 127-1 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 13th in NFCA poll and 11th in the USA Softball/ESPN.com poll.
Smarty Cats: Shortstop K’Lee Arredondo was named to last season’s Pac-10 All-Academic first team, and outfielder Jill Malina was named to the 2007 Pac-10 All-Academic second team.
Arizona Softball in Historical Perspective: Arizona began play in 1974 and sports an all-time record of 1,501-434-2. 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 1,327-327-2. 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 – Tallied yet another double over the weekend against Texas A&M, now needs just eight to break the UA all-time top 10; Kristen Arriola – Hit her first career long ball against Utah, two weekends ago; Sam Banister – Went 5-for-5 Friday against A&M; Alicia Banks – Filled in at third base for Jenae Leles two weekends ago; Karissa Buchanan – Hitting .273 with four putouts in right field; Stacie Chambers – Leads the team in home runs with 9, also has two grand slams. Has started all games as catcher; 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 – Returned to second base with a healthy Arredondo at short; Lini Koria – Jacked her first career bomb against UTEP, and has seen action in all 18 games.; Brittany Lastrapes – Is batting .463 (31-for-67) and has started every game in left field; Jenae Leles – Has hit three bombs so far, and has started every game at third base; Jill Malina – Appeared in her 100th career game against Kansas, may see right field this weekend; Jennifer Martinez – Relief pitcher who has tallied 10 strikeouts in 5.1 innings pitched; Mandy Monge – Made her first appearance in a UA uniform against Hofstra, pinch-hitting in the fifth inning.; 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 – Her first hit of the season was a home run against Illinois, to cap a comeback win; Lauren Schutzler – Leading the team with a .475 average (29-for-61), and has started every game in centerfield; Lindsey Sisk – Pushed her record to 7-2 with a win over the weekend.