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No. 5 Softball Readies for Judi Garman Classic
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/14/2007
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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The fifth-ranked Arizona softball team travels to Fullerton, Calif., for the Judi Garman Classic.  Arizona is part of a 16-team field, broken up into four pools of four teams apiece.  Among the teams scheduled to appear in this year’s tournament are No. 4 Arizona State, No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 7 Michigan, No. 8 Texas, No. 13 Washington, No. 16 Louisiana-Lafayette and four additional teams  that received votes in this week’s poll.

 

Wednesday through Friday, teams will play three games in pool play and then will be seeded into one of two eight-team brackets ?- the championship or consolation bracket ?- which will be played out on Saturday and Sunday.  For additional information regarding the Judi Garman Classic, including complete pool play and bracket schedules, log on to www.fullertontitans.com.

 

ARIZONA SOFTBALL THIS WEEKEND

March 15 vs. North Carolina State ?- 11:15 a.m.

March 15 vs. Oklahoma ?- 8:30 p.m.

March 16 vs. Pacific ?- 4 p.m.

March 17 ?- Bracket Play to Be Announced

March 18 ?- Bracket Play to Be Announced

 

NOTING THE OPPONENTS: Arizona’s bracket includes a sixth-ranked Oklahoma team with only one loss on the year, a North Carolina State squad that has been ranked in four of the six polls USA Softball has released this year and Pacific.

 

NORTH CAROLINA STATE (18-8) enters the weekend with a 4-3 record against ranked opponents, including a pair of victories over Florida and an ACC series victory over Florida State.  The Wolfpack are led by 2006 ACC Coach of the Year Lisa Navas, who is in her fourth year at the helm of the NC State program.  Offensively, the Pack average just under four runs per game and have four players (Allison Presnell, Abbie Sims, Heather Gelbard and Jen Chamberlin) with four or more home runs in 2007.  In the circle, Sims (10-3, 1.72 ERA) and Shaina Ervin (6-5. 1.86 ERA) have split the majority of the pitching duties this year and account for all but two of NC State’s 26 decisions.

 

Last year, Arizona defeated NC State 6-0 in the Worth Wildcat Invitational in an absolutely dominant pitching effort by Alicia Hollowell.  Arizona’s four-time All-American struck out 17 of the 23 batters she faced, limiting the Pack offense to one hit and no walks in seven innings of work.   Caitlin Lowe, who had a pair of runs and stolen bases in the contest, was one of three UA players with two hits.  Callista Balko had two extra-base hits, including a two-run homer.

 

OKLAHOMA (28-1) is a bit of a surprise to some teams ?- or at least the Big 12 coaches, who voted the Sooners to finish fourth in the 10 team league at the outset of the season.  OU opened the year on a 23-game winning streak, before suffering its first loss in a no-hitter against Tulsa on March 7.  The Sooners enter the week with a 3-0 record against ranked opponents and a .357 team batting average.  OU features four players (Susan Ogden, .491; Norrelle Dickson, .457; Mariee Mena, .424; Samantha Ricketts. .407) with batting averages above .400.  Ricketts leads OU with eight home runs and 41 RBI the year, while Dickson has an equally impressive 36 runs scored and 21 stolen bases in 23 attempts.  In the circle, Lauren Eckermann (15-0, 1.03) has posted the most victories, while D.J. Mathis (7-1, 1.81 ERA) has started two of OU’s three games against ranked opponents.

 

The Wildcats and Sooners last met in the 2005 Tucson Super Regional, as UA swept the series to earn a ticket to the Women’s College World Series. 

 

PACIFIC (14-7) returns to the mainland after having played six games in four days at the Hawai’i Spring Fling.  The Tiger offense averages over six runs per game and has been shut out only once this season.  Gina Carbonatto leads the team in hitting with a .471 batting average, while Jennifer Curtier’s four home runs, 22 RBI and seven stolen bases are also team highs.  Pacific, which is led by head coach Brian Kolze, has a new hitting coach this year: Mikel Candrea, son of Arizona head coach Mike Candrea.

 

RECAPPING THE LAST WEEK: Arizona opened the week by concluding a homestand with a doubleheader sweep of Creighton on Tuesday before traveling to Waco, Texas for a three-game set against then-No. 14 Baylor.  Arizona won the series-opener, 3-0, behind a stellar performance by Taryne Mowatt.  The pitcher spun 15 strikeouts and surrendered just one hit to a Lady Bear offense that had not been shutout in 61 games ?- a stretch that spanned over 2006 Big 12 play, last year’s NCAA Tournament and the first 26 games of 2007.  Mowatt contributed to the offensive effort with a sacrifice fly and a solo home run.

 

On both Saturday and Sunday, Arizona lost a pair of heart-breaking affairs by the same 3-2 score.  After falling behind 1-0 early in the game on Saturday, UA battled back to take a one-run lead in the third inning.  However, a two-out RBI single for Baylor in the fifth inning and a two-out solo homer in the sixth was UA’s undoing, snapping a seven-game win streak.  On Sunday, the Wildcats jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning but would not score again.  Baylor chipped away with nine singles and three stolen bases that resulted in three one-run innings, capped off by a walk-off single in the seventh to take the series.

 

LAST YEAR AT THE JUDI GARMAN CLASSIC: Arizona had its share of ups and downs at the 2006 Judi Garman Classic.  Some of the positives included Taryne Mowatt’s first career no-hitter and an encore performance in which she spun a perfect game.  However, sandwiched between Mowatt’s stellar pitching outings was a three-hit effort by Alicia Hollowell that was ruined by a solo home run in UA’s 1-0 loss to Texas A&M.  Having finished second in its pool, Arizona faced a sixth-ranked Alabama team that would join UA as a WCWS participant.  The Wildcats defeated the Crimson Tide 2-0 behind an Alicia Hollowell two-hitter and a balanced offensive effort catalyzed by Caitlin Lowe’s reaching base in all four plate appearances, one stolen base, one run scored and an RBI.  In the tournament’s semifinal against another future WCWS squad, No. 4 Texas.  A pair of four-time All-Americans ?- UA’s Hollowell and UT’s Cat Osterman ?- engaged in a pitching duel that saw no hits for either team until the sixth inning.  Through 5.2 innings pitched, Hollowell did not give up a hit, but had to leave the game after she was struck in the face with a line drive.  Mowatt relieved her, giving up only two hits in three innings of work, but would draw the loss in a 1-0, nine inning contest.

 

ARIZONA HEAD COACH MIKE CANDREA ?- is in his 22nd season at the helm of the Arizona softball program.  He boasts a 1,098-219 (.834) record in 21 seasons in the dugout.  Candrea has earned 17 coach of the year honors, including nine Pac-10 Coach of the Year citations, and is a member of the NFCA Hall of Fame.  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.  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.  During his tenure, Arizona has won nine Pac-10 titles and seven national championships.

 

APPROACHING 1,100 WINS: Arizona head coach Mike Candrea is two victories away from joining Margie Wright (Fresno State), JoAnne Graf (Florida State) and Gayle Blevins (Iowa) as one of only four coaches to accumulate 1,100 Division I softball coaching victories.  Additionally, as this is his 21st season in the dugout, Candrea will become the fastest of the four to reach the 1,100-win plateau.  The feat took Wright 24, Graf 22 and Blevins 28 years, respectively, to get to 1,100 wins.

 

PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Caitlin Lowe (Feb. 26-March 4) became the first Arizona player to be named the Conference’s player of the week this season.  The honor was well-deserved, as Lowe helped Arizona to a sweep of Missouri by batting .700 (7-for-10), scoring eight runs with four RBI and nine stolen bases in as many attempts.  She scored multiple runs and had multiple hits in all three games and had a pair of four-stolen base contests.  In addition to playing an intricate role in each of UA’s victories in the sweep, she climbed up a few lists in the Arizona record book (see “The Lowe-Down on the Record Book” below).

 

SENIORS LEADING THE WAY: In eight of the last nine games, Arizona has started seniors in the first, second and third spots in the batting order.  Caitlin Lowe did not start in Arizona’s 3-2 loss at Baylor on Sunday, March 11 due to food poisoning.  Lowe, Chelsie Mesa and Kristie Fox are the first trio of seniors to be penciled in to the top of the order since Lauren Bauer, Nicole Giordano and Toni Mascarenas started up the majority of games during UA’s 2001 title run. 

 

In the nine games since the lineup change went into effect, the seniors’ combined numbers in relation to the other six spots in the batting order speak for themselves.

 

 

Avg.

Runs

RBI

SB

Seniors

.393

26

24

14

Non-seniors

.234

21

19

5

 

THE LOWE-DOWN ON THE RECORD BOOK: As a three-time, first-team NFCA All-American Caitlin Lowe has already cemented her name into the annals of Arizona softball.  In addition to the inevitable single-season marks she will set or challenge throughout 2007, Lowe is already climbing up the school record book and has a legitimate shot to finish in the top 10 in four categories in NCAA history.  This weekend, Lowe is within striking distance of moving up the charts in hits, runs scored and stolen bases.

 

Lowe in top 10 Arizona history

Category                                   Ariz. Rank

Batting Avg.           .461              2

Hits                       295               8

Runs                     211               t-8

Stolen Bases          130               3

Triples                   10                 4

 

FOX RACKS UP THE RIBBIES: Kristie Fox enters the weekend ranked eighth on UA’s career RBI list with 193.  Jennie Finch is the next Wildcat great Fox hopes to pass, as the two-time Honda Award winner ended a stellar Wildcat career with 195 RBI.  After that, the shortstop from San Diego, Calif., will have a ways to go until she approaches Leticia Pineda’s sixth-place 240 runs driven in.

 

Fox leads Arizona with 26 RBI, 10 more than Chelsie Mesa’s 16 ribbies that are good for second on the team.  A two-time All-American, Fox also leads the Wildcats in total bases (46) and extra-base hits (10).

 

STEALING THE SHOW: Entering the week, Arizona is tied for the Pac-10 team lead with 50 stolen bases.  If Arizona keeps up the pace and plays 60 games, which it has done nine of the last 10 years, the Wildcats are on track to swipe 136 bases, which would tie the school record.

 

Individually, Caitlin Lowe leads the conference with 23 stolen bases ?- six more than ASU’s Kaitlin Cochran, who stands second in the league.  Chelsie Mesa ranks eighth with nine stolen bases, which are two more than she stole in all of 2006.

 

HITTING STREAKS: Chelsie Mesa enters the weekend with a league-leading 19-game hitting streak.  This is the most consecutive games a Wildcat has hit in since Autumn Champion had a base knock in 25 straight games in 2003.  Adrienne Acton is in the midst of a seven-game hitting streak, which is tied for her career-long.

 

The following is a list of the longest hitting streaks in the Pac-10 over the last two years.

 

Player

School

Year

Streak in games

Chelsie Mesa

ARIZ

2007

19 (current)

Anna Beardman

STAN

2006

17

Marnie Koziol

WASH

2007

15 (current)

Caitlin Lowe

ARIZ

2006

15

Marnie Koziol

WASH

2006

14

Mia Longfellow

OSU

2006

13

Jennifer Salling

ORE

2007

13

 

 

GETTING ON THE BOARD: Historically, when Arizona loses it can be attributed a lack of offensive support.  However, Arizona has scored in every game this year even in its five losses.

 

SO CLOSE: Four of Arizona’s five losses have come by one run, the other came in extra-innings by two.  Additionally, the opponents’ game-winning run came via home run in four of UA’s five L’s.

 

KEEP IT IN THE PARK: If Arizona pitchers have one Achilles heel it is the home run.  This season, if it seems that opponents are hitting more out of the park than ever before it’s because they are.  The following is a list of opponent home runs per game for Arizona since the advent of the optic yellow softball.

 

Year

HR/G

HR

2007

.73

16

2006

.43

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