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No. 3 Softball Travels to Bay Area to Wrap-Up Pac-10 Season
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 05/12/2005
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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This Week

The No. 3 Arizona softball team (37-9, 11-7) heads to the Bay Area, where No. 2 California (44-10, 11-7) and No. 5 Stanford (39-12, 12-6) await to play host for the final games of the regular season. The games will start a day earlier than normal, as UA will take on Cal Thursday at 3 p.m. (PDT/MST). UA will then travel to Stanford, where they will face the Cardinal at 7:30 (PDT/MST) in front of a national television audience on CSTV. UA will wrap up its regular season on Saturday at Stanford with a 1 p.m. (PDT/MST) first pitch.

Last Week

The No. 3 Arizona softball team had a busy weekend, as the Wildcats packed four games into three days along with Senior Day and Mother’s Day, all with television in town. Fortunately for UA, the long weekend meant three Pac-10 wins, including a season-series sweep of Washington.

Last Friday, UCLA completed a season-series sweep of its own over the Cats, with a 6-0 win. To put it bluntly, the Bruins had UA’s number this year, as UCLA scored five or more runs against in the Wildcats in all three games. In Arizona’s 43 games against other opponents, UA pitchers have been touched up for five or more runs just twice. Additionally, the shutout loss was UA’s third in four games.

The Wildcats snapped out of the slump, however, first by completing and winning a 3-0 contest over Washington, before winning 9-1 in five innings over the Huskies. On Sunday, Alicia Hollowell and the Wildcats found themselves in a pitching dual, as the game was scoreless entering the bottom of the fifth inning. With one out, Caitlin Lowe, Autumn Champion, and Kristie Fox had three consecutive singles, catalyzing a three-run inning. Washington would not go quietly, as the Huskies responded with a solo home run in the top of the sixth, prior to the Pac-10’s home run leader Kristen Rivera sent a two-run shot over the leftfield fence to tie the game. In the bottom half of the seventh on Senior Day, UA sent three straight seniors to the plate and they stepped up. Jackie Coburn led the inning off with a single, prior to Jen Martinez’s

walk, Crystal Farley’s fielder’s choice, and a Callista Balko walk. A fourth senior, Allyson Von Liectenstein pinch-ran for Martinez, setting the stage for fourth-year junior Courtney Fossatti to send her home on a walk-off single. Alicia Hollowell started all three games against the Huskies, striking out 40 batters in her 19 innings of work.

Against California: Arizona split its two games against the Golden Bears in Tucson earlier this season. The first game may have been the most exciting of the year. The Wildcats found themselves down 2-0 entering the bottom of the seventh, with only one runner having reached scoring position all night. Golden Bear hurler Kristina Thorson had pitched a gem, walking only one batter and surrendering just two hits. With two runners on and two out, Autumn Champion surprised the defense with a bunt base hit to load the bases. Sophomore shortstop Kristie Fox, who was hitless in the game, sent Thorson’s first pitch offering to left-center field wall to give the Wildcats a much-needed Pac-10 victory. The Wildcats were not so lucky in their other game against Cal, as the Golden Bears lit up UA pitching for six runs to win 6-3. Arizona, down 6-0, gave the Bears a scare with Jackie Coburn’s three-run blast in the sixth, but did not get any closer.

Scouting the Golden Bears: California enters the week in a similar boat to that of the Wildcats, as they are tied for third in the Pac-10 with an 11-7 record. As is true for all Pac-10 contests, the final weekend will not be an easy one for Cal, as they will battle Arizona for a likely second or third place finish in the Pac-10, before facing an Arizona State that is trying to get coach Linda Wells one last NCAA bid.

The 2002 NCAA Champions won both games over Oregon, but lost one to Oregon State last weekend. The Golden Bears have the good fortune of having two 20-game winners in the circle, both with ERAs below 1.30. Kristina Thorson and Kelly Anderson have earned all but one of Cal’s decisions over the course of

This Week

The No. 3 Arizona softball team (37-9, 11-7) heads to the Bay Area, where No. 2 California (44-10, 11-7) and No. 5 Stanford (39-12, 12-6) await to play host for the final games of the regular season. The games will start a day earlier than normal, as UA will take on Cal Thursday at 3 p.m. (PDT/MST). UA will then travel to Stanford, where they will face the Cardinal at 7:30 (PDT/MST) in front of a national television audience on CSTV. UA will wrap up its regular season on Saturday at Stanford with a 1 p.m. (PDT/MST) first pitch.

Last Week

The No. 3 Arizona softball team had a busy weekend, as the Wildcats packed four games into three days along with Senior Day and Mother’s Day, all with television in town. Fortunately for UA, the long weekend meant three Pac-10 wins, including a season-series sweep of Washington.

Last Friday, UCLA completed a season-series sweep of its own over the Cats, with a 6-0 win. To put it bluntly, the Bruins had UA’s number this year, as UCLA scored five or more runs against in the Wildcats in all three games. In Arizona’s 43 games against other opponents, UA pitchers have been touched up for five or more runs just twice. Additionally, the shutout loss was UA’s third in four games.

The Wildcats snapped out of the slump, however, first by completing and winning a 3-0 contest over Washington, before winning 9-1 in five innings over the Huskies. On Sunday, Alicia Hollowell and the Wildcats found themselves in a pitching dual, as the game was scoreless entering the bottom of the fifth inning. With one out, Caitlin Lowe, Autumn Champion, and Kristie Fox had three consecutive singles, catalyzing a three-run inning. Washington would not go quietly, as the Huskies responded with a solo home run in the top of the sixth, prior to the Pac-10’s home run leader Kristen Rivera sent a two-run shot over the leftfield fence to tie the game. In the bottom half of the seventh on Senior Day, UA sent three straight seniors to the plate and they stepped up. Jackie Coburn led the inning off with a single, prior to Jen Martinez’s walk, Crystal Farley’s fielder’s choice, and a Callista Balko walk. A fourth senior, Allyson Von Liectenstein pinch-ran for Martinez, setting the stage for fourth-year junior Courtney Fossatti to send her home on a walk-off single. Alicia Hollowell started all three games against the Huskies, striking out 40 batters in her 19 innings of work.

Against California: Arizona split its two games against the Golden Bears in Tucson earlier this season. The first game may have been the most exciting of the year. The Wildcats found themselves down 2-0 entering the bottom of the seventh, with only one runner having reached scoring position all night. Golden Bear hurler Kristina Thorson had pitched a gem, walking only one batter and surrendering just two hits. With two runners on and two out, Autumn Champion surprised the defense with a bunt base hit to load the bases. Sophomore shortstop Kristie Fox, who was hitless in the game, sent Thorson’s first pitch offering to left-center field wall to give the Wildcats a much-needed Pac-10 victory. The Wildcats were not so lucky in their other game against Cal, as the Golden Bears lit up UA pitching for six runs to win 6-3. Arizona, down 6-0, gave the Bears a scare with Jackie Coburn’s three-run blast in the sixth, but did not get any closer.

Scouting the Golden Bears: California enters the week in a similar boat to that of the Wildcats, as they are tied for third in the Pac-10 with an 11-7 record. As is true for all Pac-10 contests, the final weekend will not be an easy one for Cal, as they will battle Arizona for a likely second or third place finish in the Pac-10, before facing an Arizona State that is trying to get coach Linda Wells one last NCAA bid.

The 2002 NCAA Champions won both games over Oregon, but lost one to Oregon State last weekend. The Golden Bears have the good fortune of having two 20-game winners in the circle, both with ERAs below 1.30. Kristina Thorson and Kelly Anderson have earned all but one of Cal’s decisions over the course of a 44-10 season. Cal is equally potent at the plate, where Haley Woods comes in with 52 RBI on the year, second only to UA’s Kristie Fox in the Pac-10. Although Cal ranks sixth in conference batting average, the Golden Bears touched up Alicia Hollowell and Leslie Fox for seven earned runs in two games.

Against Stanford: Arizona last played Stanford to open Pac-10 play. Things did not look good for the Wildcats at the start, when Catalina Morris led off with a hit up the middle, before scoring on an Alicia Hollowell error from Lauren Lappin’s attempted sacrifice bunt that scored Lapping, as well. UA turned it around both in the game and in Pac-10 play, however, as Caitlin Lowe would score three times in UA’s 4-2 victory. Hollowell settled down in the game, as she scattered five hits over the next six scoreless innings for the complete-game victory.

Scouting the Cardinal: At the plate, Stanford has a solid five hitters batting between .325 and .365. Catalina Morrison and Michelle Smith lead the squad with 13 and 18 home runs, respectively, to go along with their combined 84 RBI. In the circle, Stanford has three pitchers with ERAs under 2.00, with a combined nine shutouts and .214 opponent batting average. Becky McCullough started the only game against Arizona this year, as she leads the team with 17 wins.

The Coach

Head Coach Mike Candrea is in his 20th year with Arizona and carries a career record of 1016-199. 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 member 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 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 May 10, the Cats are No. 3 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. The NFCA/USA Today poll, in which the Cats have been steadily ranked since 1989, will be released on May 11. Arizona was ranked preseason No. 3 in the NFCA poll, behind UCLA and Cal.

ESPN.com/USA Softball: 3 (5/10), 3(5/3), 2(4/26), 3(4/19), 2(4/12), 2(4/5), 2(3/29), 2(3/22), 1(3/15), 1(3/8), 1(3/1), 1(2/22), 1(2/15)

NFCA/USA Today: 2 (5/4), 2(4/27), 4(4/20), 2(4/13), 2(4/6), 2(3/30), 2(3/23), 1(3/16), 1(3/9), 1(3/2), 2(2/23), 2(2/16)

Wildcat Softball Quick Notes:

Start ?'Em Up Right: Caitlin Lowe has reached base to lead off the game in five consecutive contests. From March 27 to April 23, Lowe reached to start off nine of 11 games.

Dominating the Pac: Caitlin Lowe’s .513 batting average leads the Pac-10. Autumn Champion is second at .388, while Kristie Fox is fifth boasting a .369 mark.

Lowe Impact: Caitlin Lowe’s 26 multi-hit games nearly double that of the next Wildcat. Kristie Fox’s 14 and Autumn Champion’s 14 multi-hit games are tied for second.

Speed Demon: Caitlin Lowe’s four triples leave her needing one more to break into UA’s record book to fall into a seven-way tie for eighth place. Should she hit one more three-bagger, Lowe would be tied with, among others, Rocky LaRose, Arizona’s Women’s Senior Administrator. Two triples would place Lowe in a tie for third.

Record Setter?: If the season ended today, Caitlin Lowe’s .513 batting average would place her second on UA’s all-time list. Alison McCutcheon has a benchmark .534 average that she batted in 1997. Last year, current UA junior Autumn Champion brought home the NCAA Batting Title with her .489 average.

Forget Pencil, Use a Sharpie: Caitlin Lowe, Autumn Champion, and Kristie Fox have batted in the first, second, and third positions (in that order) in all 46 of UA’s games, thus far.

Driving the Team to Victory: Kristie Fox leads the team with 16 multi-RBI games and Jackie Coburn is next with nine. Fox is also the only Wildcat with a five-RBI game this year; of which she has three.

If Someone Gets On: Kristie Fox is hitting .427 (44-103) with runners on base, but just .229 (11-53) with no one on. Incidentally, Fox leads the Pac-10 with 63 RBI on the year.

She Likes Runners on Too!: Like Fox, Courtney Fossatti has feasted with runners on base. A .282 hitter this year, Fossatti bats .389 with runners on, but just .190 with the bases empty.

Bases Loaded? Not after She Hits: Kristie Fox is hitting 8-15 (.533) when coming up with the bases loaded. Perhaps her most memorable plate appearance with the bags juiced came against Cal earlier in the season. Down two runs with two out in the seventh, Fox blasted a Kristina Thorson offering over the leftfield wall at Hillenbrand Stadium to give Arizona a walk-off win in grand fashion.

You Don’t Wanna Face Her Either: Jennifer Martinez is three-for-four this year with the bases loaded. Amongst her three hits, a pinch-hit grand slam. Martinez and Fox are the only Wildcats this year to connect for a four-run homer.

Contact Hitter? Jackie Coburn, who now has 50 career home runs (good for 6th on UA’s all-time list), leads the Cats with 25 walks, and has just one more strikeout than base on balls. Kristie Fox is the Cat with more walks than K’s, with 14 and 12, respectively. Ironically, Coburn is third on the team in slugging, while Fox is first.

Stealing Bases: The Cats are 61-for-70 (.871) in stolen bases this year, as compared to Arizona’s opponents, which have stolen 13 of 21 (.619). The top of the order for the Cats (Caitlin Lowe, Autumn Champion and Kristie Fox) has combined to steal 46 bags. The Wildcats lead the conference with 13 Pac-10 stolen bases.

Pinch Hits: Senior Candace Abrams has three of the team’s six pinch hits this season.

Power Drop Off: The Cats have hit just 24 home runs as a team this year, after hitting 58 through 46 games in 2004.

Start the Bus: The Wildcats are 32-0 when leading after four innings. Additionally, UA has yet to lose a game in which they score five runs, but is yet win a game in which opponents score four runs or more.

Sac’ing Up with Small Ball: Through 46 games this year, UA batters have laid down 38 successful sac bunts. In all 61 games last season, the Wildcats moved runners over via the bunt 39 times.

Killing Me Softly: Arizona leads the Pac-10 in batting average (.311 for season, .291 in conference), but ranks fourth in slugging percentage (.384) in conference play.

Almost Perfect: In their first 14 Pac-10 contests, Arizona committed just four errors. In their last four games, the Wildcats have had four defensive miscues. Despite a weekend of bad hops, UA still leads the conference with a .979 fielding percentage.

Still Good 100 Times Over: Alicia Hollowell now stands alone ranking third on the all-time list with 107 career victories. UA legend Jennie Finch is next on Hollowell’s radar with 119 wins. Current assistant coach Nancy Evans is the all-time leader with 124. Hollowell needs 43 wins this year to catch Evans, after having 41 and 40 win seasons the last two years, respectively. Hollowell’s last two 40-win seasons were firsts for any UA pitcher.

The New K Queen: In the Feb. 27 victory over Baylor, Alicia Hollowell became the Wildcats’ all-time leader in strikeouts. Her current K-count stands at 1,271. Hollowell had trailed Jennie Finch, who had 1028 punch-outs in her career.

Waving Good-Bye: Of Alicia Hollowell’s 369 strikeouts on the season, 272 have gone down swinging (82 percent).

More Hollowell History: After pitching the second and third-most innings for any UA pitcher in a season, Hollowell will eclipse the four former Wildcats ahead of her on the career list, should she pitch 287 innings this year (entering the week she had thrown 217). That number is six innings fewer than she threw last year, and 10 fewer than her freshman season.

Conference of Champions: In the last 10 years, eight of the National Champions have come from the Pacific-10 Conference. This week, four of the top 6-ranked teams compete in the Pac-10, while two other ranked teams do as well.

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