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Cats Host Wednesday DH, Head to UW
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 04/06/2010
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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April 6, 2010

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 Cats Host Wednesday DH, Head to UW

 April 7, 2010 ~ Hillenbrand Stadium, Tucson, Ariz.

April 9-11 ~ Husky Softball Stadium, Seattle, Wash.

The Games

After winning its first weekend series of conference play, 2-1, over in-state rival ASU, the Cats will host a non-conference doubleheader with UTEP on Wednesday before heading to Seattle to face arguably their biggest test of the season in the top-ranked Washington Huskies.

Opponent

UTEP is well into Conference-USA play, but touts a 6-7 record away from El Paso, Texas. Arizona has played the Miners three times last season, taking all three matchups.

Danielle Lawrie no-hit the Wildcats last season in Washington, and are currently tied for first in the Pac-10 rankings. The matchup with Arizona could have conference champion implications down the line.

Team Notes

UTEP: The Miners (26-12, 8-4 C-USA) are led at the dish by junior Camilla Carrera with a .388 average and a team-leading 33 RBI. Senior Stacie Townsend has nine home runs and a .731 slugging percentage, though, and can also get it done in the circle. The Orlando, Fla. native Townsend (22-7) touts a 1.70 ERA with 249 strikeouts in 169 innings pitched.

UW: The No. 1 Huskies (30-3, 2-1 Pac-10) are led by reigning USA Softball Player of the Year Danielle Lawrie (20-1). The senior has racked up 223 strikeouts in 141.1 innings tossed, compiling a .94 ERA. The Langly, British Coumbia native can also swing the stick, hitting .337 with a team-leading 11 home runs. Otherwise offensively, sophomore Niki Williams has a team-high .398 average at the plate with 39 hits, one behind classmate Kimi Pohlman, whose 40 safeties leads the team.

Last Time Out

UA handed the Sun Devils two losses to take the State Farm Territorial Cup points for softball.

Arizona used the long ball to jump all over in-state rival ASU early and then cruised to a 12-6 victory Thursday.

Seventh-ranked Arizona State lit up the scoreboard early and never looked back in run-ruling the Arizona Wildcats for the first time in team history, 11-1 in five innings, Friday evening.

Freshman Kenzie Fowler hit her first career grand slam and pitched a three-hitter as Arizona took the State Farm Territorial Cup Series finale from Arizona State, 14-2 in five innings, Saturday.

Catch the Action

Go to arizonawildcats.com for live GameTracker stats, sponsored by Tucson Electric Power. Fans can watch all home games on All-Access, and most home games will be broadcast in-stadium on 103.3 FM with David Kelly and former UA softball player Erika Barnes describing the game action.

A Tale of Two Seasons: Now that non-conference play is complete, reality checks in. If five years can be any indication, things get tougher from here on out. Here's a look at UA's team batting average for overall games vs. its conference games only mark:

Year    Overall Conference

2010    .339     ???

2009    .339    .301

2008    .304    .296

2007    .289    .266

2006    .311    .265

Freebies

Stacie Chambers is just seven bases on balls shy of reaching the Arizona single-season top 10 chart. She has 31 while former slugger Leticia Pineda is No. 10 on the list with 38. Assuming the current rate of about one per game, Chambers should reach the top 4 in the category. Jenny Dalton walked 64 times in 1996 and 59 times in 1995; Lovie Jung was issued 55 walks in 2003; and Leah Braatz had 53 free passes in 1998 to populate the top four spots. Braatz had 45 walked in 1997 for No. 5.  The Cats as a team have passed 200 walks 12 times. The 2010 team has 186 and the school record is 287 in 1995.

KFC

Kenzie Fowler in the circle...The freshman's 20-2 pitching record bodes well for Arizona, and gives her a chance, albeit a tough one with 21 regular-season games remaining, to crack the 30-victory barrier.  Arizona pitchers have accomplished it 17 times, last by Taryne Mowatt in the magical NCAA title 2007 year when she did all the pitching and went 42-12 with a lot of the work in the postseason. Mowatt just missed in her senior year in 2008, going 29-15, again pitching a lot with 72 percent of the innings thrown. Fowler's tossed 62 percent of the action this year, thanks to some strong work by senior Sarah Akamine who's won a career-best 10 games (against one defeat). Another game and Akamine reaches her career high in single-season innings pitched.

Miscues

The Cats broke a string of four games of errorless ball with a trio in the first two games at Tempe last weekend, Still, after opening the year with 19 errors through the first 27 games the Cats have trimmed that pace in half over the last eight games (3E). The team has a .974 fielding average and could finish with one of its better fielding seasons with continued improvement.

Top of the Order

Leadoff batter Brittany Lastrapes leads the team (tied with Brigette Del Ponte) with 11 home runs. Four of them led off innings. In Arizona's history, no leadoff hitter has more circuit clouts than Lastrapes. Caitline Lowe had 12 from 2004 to 2007, and Alison McCutcheon had 10 from 1995 to 1998. Brittany has 35 career home runs, No. 15 in UA history. She recently passed Lauren Bauer (32 from 1998 to 2001). Next up is Leneah Manuma with 40 in 2001-02, and a pair at 41 -- Lindsey Collins from 1998-2001 and Lovieanne Jung in 2002-03.

Brigette Brings Them In

Brigette Del Ponte has 50 RBI through 34 games played, a torrid pace for a freshman even at Arizona where some historical years show up on RBI charts. Here's how she stacks up against the Wildcat career RBI leaders' freshman seasons (full season totals):

Player    RBI Freshman Year

Leah Braatz 75 1994

Toni Mascarenas 73 1998

M. Vandergeest 61 2001

Brigette Del Ponte 50 2010

Stacie Chambers    49 2008

Laura Espinoza 44 1992

Alison McCutcheon 40    1995

Kristie Fox 37 2004

Jenae Leles 36 2006

Jennie Finch 34 1999

Jenny Dalton 30 1992

Leticia Pineda 19 1995

In a few weeks, Stacie Chambers will displace one of those. She had a team-leading 49 RBI in her first year in 2008 (after missing 2007 with injury). She has 181 career RBI entering the UTEP/Wash. series, just three shy of the No. 10 spot held by Alison McCutcheon with 184 from 1995-98.

Hot Start

30-4 is a pretty nice record. For Arizona it's nothing new. In the last five years the Cats have won 30 games by April 8 (2005), April 1 (2006), April 14 (2007), April 26 (2008) and March 28 (2009).

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