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No. 2 Arizona Softball Wraps-Up Non-Conference Play vs. No. 10 Louisiana-Lafayette
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/24/2006
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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FRIDAY, MARCH 24               vs. LOUISIANA-LAF.        7 p.m. (MST) College Night (Free with CatCard)

SATURDAY, MARCH 25        vs. LOUISIANA-LAF.        7 p.m. (MST) Girl Scouts Night

SUNDAY, MARCH 26              vs. LOUISIANA-LAF.        Noon (MST)

 

ON THE AIR : Saturday's game can be heard live on the radio on 1290 AM or over the Internet by subscribing to All Access at www.arizonaathletics.com. Brian Jeffries will provide play-by-play.  Additionally, All-Access subscribers will have an opportunity to watch all three games this weekend via live streaming on the internet.

 

NOTING LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE: The Ragin’ Cajuns were undefeated until last weekend’s Judi Garman Classic.  ULL finished third in their pool, defeating Michigan before losing to Texas and Washington.  In consolation bracket play, ULL lost to Arizona State and defeated UNLV.

 

Danyele Gomez leads the ULL offense with her .475 batting average and 15 home runs.  Lacey Bertucci boasts a .422 average, has 13 long balls and leads the team with 38 RBI.

 

In the circle, Ashley Kirchberg (10-0) and Krystal Lewallen (13-2) have started all 26 of ULL’s games.  The two hurlers have 1.18 and 1.26 ERAs, respectively, and have combined to strike out 180 opposing hitters.

 

LAST WEEK RECAP: The top-ranked Arizona softball team played five games at Cal State Fullerton’s Judi Garman Classic, placing second in their pool and reaching a championship semifinal.  Arizona’s two pool play victories featured a no-hitter (UNLV) and a perfect game (Cal State Northridge) from Taryne Mowatt.  In those two games, Mowatt struck out 28 of the 37 batters she faced, and only one reached base.  UA’s pool play loss came in a, 1-0, decision to No. 18 Texas A&M.  Alicia Hollowell surrendered only three hits in seven innings, but one was a solo home run.  Arizona’s batters mustered only five hits against Megan Gibson.

 

In bracket play, UA defeated No. 6 Alabama, 2-0, as Alicia Hollowell tossed her tenth shutout of the year.  UA scored its two runs by playing a little small ball.  In the fifth inning, Caitlin Lowe reached on a fielder’s choice, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on an Autumn Champion bloop single.  In the seventh, the Wildcats tacked on an insurance run.  Sam Banister led off with a single and was pinch run for by Kelly Nelson.  Nelson was advanced to third with a pair of sacrifice bunts, and scored when Caitlin Lowe drove her in with an infield single.

 

The Wildcats hit .280 as a team over the five games, with three home runs, two triples, two doubles and six stolen bases.  UA’s pitchers limited opposing hitters to a .063 batting averages and two runs over 34.2 innings pitched. 

 

INJURY BUG BITES CATS: All-Americans Alicia Hollowell and Caitlin Lowe have been sidelined with injuries they suffered at the Judi Garman Classic last weekend.  Hollowell was struck in the head with a line drive in the sixth inning against Texas on Sunday, March 19.  The half inning before, Lowe suffered an injury to her left hand when sliding head first into first base on a groundout.  Both players are out indefinitely, according to head coach Mike Candrea.  Even the Arizona trainer, Sara Bach, was not immune to injury.  Bach suffered a black eye and a sore face after being struck in the face with an errant throw during warm-ups.

 

TOP CATS: In every year since 1992, Arizona has been ranked No. 1 in the NFCA poll for at least part of the year.

 

RE-WRITING THE RECORD BOOKS: As mentioned earlier Alicia Hollowell is now Arizona’s all-time victories, strikeout and innings pitched record holder.  Two weeks ago, she became just the fourth pitcher in NCAA history with 1,500 career strikeouts.  She currently stands fourth all-time in 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.

 

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 five in career batting average at Arizona.

 

Lowe has 230 career hits and could challenge Allison McCutcheon’s (1995-98) 405 career base knocks come spring 2007.  Champion has 263 career base hits, five away from cracking UA’s top 10.

 

Additionally, with 19 stolen bases this year, Lowe has swiped 93 career bases, good for fifth on UA’s all-time list.  If she wants top-billing as Arizona’s best-ever base stealer, McCutcheon stands in her way once again with 148 SB.

 

Three weeks ago, Autumn Champion moved into sole possession of seventh place in career stolen bases. Entering this week she has swiped 60 career bases.

 

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 this past weekend.  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.

 

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 29 games, Arizona already has nine triples, or one in every three games or so.  Given that the team has averaged 66 games a year over the last decade, UA is on pace for just over 20 triples.  The last time an Arizona team had 10 triples was 2000, and school record (in NCAA play) is 20 three-baggers, which has occurred three times.

 

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.

 

FOX NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK (3/6-12): 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 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.

 

The honor is the first of Fox’s career.  She was named USA Softball Player of the Week for her season-opening performance the week of Feb. 1-7, 2005.  The Pac-10 did not name any players of the week until Feb. 8-14.

 

MOWATT (3/13-19) AND HOLLOWELL NAMED PAC-10 PITCHER OF THE WEEK (2/6-12; 2/13-19): Taryne Mowatt was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week for her no-hit and perfect game performances 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 last week’s games.  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.

 

ARIZONA HEAD COACH MIKE CANDREA is in his 21st season at Arizona and carries a career 1,053-206 (.836) 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 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 nine Pac-10 titles.

 

USA SOFTBALL NATIONAL COLLEGIATE PLAYER-OF-THE-YEAR WATCH LIST:  Four Arizona players were named to the USA Softball POY pre-season watch list.  Alicia Hollowell, Caitlin Lowe, Kristie Fox and Autumn Champion are the quartet of Wildcats featured on the 50-name list, which includes players representing 28 schools from 10 conferences.

 

AND THEN THERE WERE EIGHT: Okay, here’s the bad news: Arizona returned just eight of its 17 players from 2005.  The good news is that half of the Wildcat returnees are All-Americans (Alicia Hollowell, Caitlin Lowe, Kristie Fox and Autumn Champion) and the other half had significant contributions in 2005, as well.

 

WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM: In addition to freshman infielders Laine Roth, Jenae Leles and Sam Banister, and as 2005 NJCAA Player of the Year Chelsie Mesa, UA delved into the rest of the athletic department for additional players.

 

With only 12 rostered players and three weeks to Opening Day, UA brought in senior outfielder Kelly Nelson, freshman outfielder Jill Malina and sophomore infielder Danielle Rodriguez.  Nelson is a four-year letterwinner with UA’s soccer team, Malina was originally slated to be a softball manager, and Rodriguez made the squad in an open tryout.  For more information regarding the three late additions, log on to ArizonaAthletics.com to see their bios.

 

NEWCOMERS CATCH FIRE: Laine Roth, Jenae Leles, Sam Banister and Chelsie Mesa have started all 29 of UA’s games this season.  The quartet of newbies has combined to hit .300, with 19 of UA’s 28 home runs, four of the team’s nine triples and 53 percent of Arizona’s RBI.  The newcomers also have all four of Arizona’s grand slams this year, including two in Arizona’s last homestand.

 

LEADING THE PAC: Arizona’s pitching continues to lead the Pac-10 Conference ERA, opposing batting average, strikeouts, hits allowed and walks allowed.  The Wildcat defense’s .981 fielding percentage is also the conference benchmark.  Behind the plate, Callista Balko has held opponents to a league-leading eight stolen bases, while throwing out five; the best caught stealing percentage in the conference.  Balko also has a stranglehold on most putouts, with 345.  Cal’s Haley Woods is second in that category with 197.  The Wildcat offense has the highest on-base percentage, .424., in the Conference of Champions.

 

Caitlin Lowe is tied with Kaitlin Cochran for the conference lead in batting average at .490.  In the circle, Alicia Hollowell and Taryne Mowatt are tied for second behind Anjelica Selden for lowest ERA.  Beh 

 

IF WE SCORE, WE WIN: Arizona is 26-0 in games in which it scores one run or more.  UA’s only three losses this year have come when the prolific Wildcat offense has been shutout.  UA averages 6.2 runs scored per game, while it limits opponents to 0.5 runs in a contest.  Additionally, all three of UA’s losses have been, 1-0, affairs.

 

RBI FOR EVERYONE! Arizona’s offense has seven players who average .5 RBI per game or better.  The list includes all starters but the two set-up slappers, Autumn Champion in the No. 2 hole and Adrienne Acton in the No. 9 slot in the batting order. A year ago, UA’s Kristie Fox led Division I with a 1.12 rate.

 

Here’s a breakdown of the Wildcats’ RBI per-game:

(In order of last game’s batting order)

Lowe .62

Champion .28

Fox .86

Mesa .79

Leles .69

Banister .62

Balko .52

Acton .17

 

Last year, only two players (Kristie Fox and Jackie Coburn) ended the season with RBI-per-game ratios of better than .5. 

 

BALANCE THROUGHOUT THE ORDER: While Arizona does not have any particular leader jumping off the charts in any category, there is considerable parity in run-producing categories.  Arizona has seven players with 15 or more RBI, but no one with more than 25.  The Wildcats have four players with 20 or more runs scored, but no one with 30.

 

MULTI-HIT AND MULTI-RBI GAMES: Every Arizona starter, including the slappers, has at least one multi-RBI game and a minimum of three multi-hit games.  Leading the way with eight multi-RBI games is Laine Roth.  Chelsie Mesa and Kristie Fox both have a half dozen multi-RBI games, including 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 has a stranglehold over her teammates with 19 games with two or more hits.  Kristie Fox (9), Autumn Champion (7), Laine Roth (6) and Chelsie Mesa (6) round out the top of the list.  All told, UA batters have combined for 60 multi-hit and 37 multi-RBI games.

 

HITTING STREAK: Caitlin Lowe’s career-high 15-game hit streak was snapped in UA’s March 19 loss to Texas.  Due to UA’s offense managing only one hit in the los to Texas, Chelsie Mesa’s one-game “streak” is the longest current mark for any Wildcat.

 

WINNING STREAKS: Speaking of streaks, UA’s longest winning streak this year is 15 games, which were its first 15 contests of the year.  The Wildcats’ March 16 loss to Texas A&M snapped a nine-game run.  Arizona is currently riding a 20-game home winning streak, dating back to May 7, 2005.

 

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.

 

PITCHER/HITTER/LEFT FIELDER: Taryne Moawtt got her first career hit when she hit for herself in the fifth inning against UNLV.  The base knock was a bases-loaded, two-RBI single through the right side.

 

During the Worth Wildcat Invitational, in lieu of Autumn Champion in the lineup, Mowatt also became the first UA pitcher since Wendy Allen to pick up a bat.  The sophomore from Corona, Calif., is still looking for her first hit, but has been productive in her eight plate appearances.  Mowatt has laid down two sacrifice bunts, had an RBI groundout and flied out to right to advance a runner from second to third.  Mowatt has moved the runner over in all four of her plate appearances, in which she has had an opportunity to do so.  When not pitching, she has been perfect in 14.0 innings in left field.

 

ACE IN THE HOLD: With opponents fearful of facing three-time All-American Alicia Hollowell, some may feel relieved when they see Taryne Mowatt’s name next to position ?'1’ on the UA lineup card.  Given Mowatt’s performance in her 13 starts, they should no such ease.

 

Here are a couple of ratios to compare the two hurlers:

                    ERA     K/7 IP     K:BB        Opp. AVG

Mowatt       0.57    12.8        15.7*      .101

Hollowell   0.57    13.7        18.9        .103

 

Mowatt walked two batters intentionally in the March 19 contest against Texas.  Without the IBBs, her K:BB is 19.6.

 

STRIKEOUTS ARE NOW DOUBLE THE FUN: When Taryne Mowatt struck out Longhorn first baseman Jacqueline Williams on Feb. 26, she joined Alicia Hollowell as the first Wildcat pitching duo since 2002 to have 100 strikeouts apiece.  In 2002, Jennie Finch and Jenny Gladding both topped the century mark in punch outs.  Entering this weekend, Mowatt has 157 strikeouts on the year.

 

NOBODY EVER GOT ANYTHING FREE FROM UA: Alicia Hollowell and Taryne Mowatt have combined to strikeout 346 opponent hitters in 184.2 innings pitched this season.  What’s more, they have issued a total of 20 walks to opposing hitters.  That’s one walk per 9.2 innings pitched and 17.3 strikeouts to the walk.  In contrast, UA hitters have walked 103 times.

 

LIVE BY THE HOMER, DIE BY THE HOMER: Arizona’s pitchers have given up a miniscule 15 runs in 29 games.  Of those 15 runs, 11 have come via home run.

 

ACTION ACTON: Adrienne Acton’s speed has put the pressure on opposing defenses all year, as she has reached on an error six times this year, including two four-base scoring plays.  The rest of the Wildcats have combined to reach on an error 11 times.

 

GET AHEAD, STAY AHEAD: Arizona has trailed a total of four times all year.  In addition to its three losses, the Wildcats were behind for three innings in its second of three games against Baylor.

 

THAT’S WHY THEY’RE ALL-AMERICANS: Arizona has had its ups and downs with runners in scoring position, but three hitters who have thrived in big spots are UA’s three All-American hitters.  Arizona’s top three batters in RISP situations are Caitlin Lowe (.560), Autumn Champion (.485) and Kristie Fox (.378).  Clean-up hitter Chelsie Mesa (an NJCAA All-American) is batting .341 in RISP situations and is the only other UA player batting above .300 with runners on second and or third.

 

SO THAT’S HOW HE FILLS OUT THE LINEUP CARD: Not to beat a dead horse, but the way a batter performs with runners in scoring position can decide where she bats in the batting order.  The lineup card that UA head coach Mike Candrea wrote out for the last six games followed his players’ performances in RISP situations almost to a T.

 

Beginning with Caitlin Lowe all the way through the end of the order with Adrienne Acton , the batting order read the same as the RISP average leaders. (See “That’s why they’re All-Americans” for first four averages) 5. Jenae Leles (.290), 6. Laine Roth (.276) 7. Sam Banister (.278) 8. Callista Balko (.227) 9. Adrienne Acton (.227).

 

PINCH WHAT? Taryne Mowatt’s at-bat against UNLV marked the first time Coach Candrea has sent a pinch-hitter to the plate this year.

 

PINCH RUNNERS: Kelly Nelson has appeared as a pinch runner in 19 games for UA.  In doing so, she has scored 10 runs.  Jill Malina and Danielle Rodriguez have appeared as a PR in nine and seven games, respectively.  Rodriguez scored the game-winning run in UA’s 2-1, nine-inning victory over Baylor on March 12.

 

JUST LIKE THE GOOD OL’ DAYS: This season, Arizona’s pitchers have lived by the old philosophy that if you start a game, you had better finish it.  In UA’s 29 contests this year, Arizona’s starting pitcher has left the game prior to completing it only once.  The occurrence was Alicia Hollowell’s early exit vs. Texas on March 19 due to an injury.

 

EXTRA ALMOST EVERY TIME: Arizona has at least one extra-base hit in 25 of its 29 games this season for a total of 68.  UA’s opponents, on the other hand, have 12 extra-base knocks.

 

NOT GOING DOWN QUIETLY, OR QUICKLY: Arizona offense leads the Pac-10 in on-base percentage and has taken advantage of almost every inning and opportunity.  In its 20 victories this season, UA has had at least one runner reach base in 84.6 percent (126-of-149) of its innings.  Arizona’s pitchers, on the other hand, have allowed opponents to reach base in 39.8 percent (65-of-163) of the innings in the score of games.

 

THE OLD RED, WHITE & BLUE: Caitlin Lowe and Alicia Hollowell return to Arizona after a summer with the USA National Team.  With Coach Candrea at the helm, Lowe started 11 of 12 games and hit a combined .357, while scoring six runs and going 4-for-4 on stolen base attempts, during several tournaments.  Hollowell did not give up an earned run in 8.2 innings of work, during which time she struck out 12 batters.  Kristie Fox was invited to numerous USA Softball tryouts, but declined invitations to play over the summer, as she was recovering from surgery on her throwing arm.

 

THROWN INTO THE HOT CORNER: Freshman Jenae Leles is the freshman since Jackie Coburn (2002) and Toni Mascarenas (1998) to start regularly at third base.  Should Leles get moved to another position, fellow frosh Sam Banister waits in the wings to share the left side of the infield with Kristie Fox.

 

THE FIRST TWIN KILLING: In UA’s Feb. 12, 9-1, win over New Mexico, the Wildcats turned their first groundball double play since May 14, 2004 against UCLA.  That’s 462.2 innings pitched between GDP’s.

 

DEFENSE WINS WHAT?: When your pitchers strikeout opponents in 53 percent of their plate appearances, a team’s defense has the pressure taken off it a bit.  Nevertheless, when Arizona puts the sticks down to pick up the leather, its defense has had only 13 errors in its 29 games.  With a baker’s dozen worth of defensive blemishes in 667 fielding attempts, UA has a Pac-10 leading .981 fielding percentage.  Opponents, on the other hand, have committed 35 errors for a .952 fielding clip.  UA is error-free in 17 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 ESPN.com/USA 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. 

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