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Cats Tangle with Devils, Head to Bay Area
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 04/28/2009
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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April 28, 2009

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Cats Tangle with Devils, Head to Bay Area

 

Up Next: The No. 7 Arizona Wildcats (37-11, 9-4 Pac-10) travel up the I-10 to face the Arizona State Sun Devils in a "doubleheader" on Wednesday before traveling to the Bay Area to face Cal and Stanford over the weekend. UA will complete the April 11 postponed game against ASU prior to the regularly scheduled 7 p.m. contest. Arizona sits a half-game back of the conference lead behind UCLA.

 

Note: The first game will resume at 5 p.m. with Arizona as the designated home team. The score is tied at 2 in the bottom of the third with no outs, Jenae Leles on first base and a full count to Stacie Chambers. Hillary Bach (ASU) and Sarah Akamine (UA) are the current pitchers of record.

 

Wednesday, April 29     Arizona State, 5 p.m. (Farrington Stadium, Tempe)

                                            at Arizona State, 7 p.m.

                                            KCUB 1290 AM

 

Friday, May 1                    at California, 3 p.m. (Levine-Fricke Field, Berkeley)

                                            FSN TV

 

Saturday, May 2              at Stanford, 1 p.m. (Smith Family Stadium, Palo Alto)

 

Sunday, May 3                 at Stanford, 12 p.m.

 

Noting the Sun Devils: Like their rivals to the South, No. 6 ASU (37-11, 7-6 Pac-10) dropped two of three over the weekend, picking up their only win against Washington. UA owned the first meeting between the teams, coming up with a 10-8 come-from-behind victory. The second game was postponed in the bottom of the third inning because of rain. Brittany Lastrapes and K'Lee Arredondo had hit home runs in the first inning, and the total will be added to the stat sheet once the game has been completed. Senior Kaitlin Cochran leads the Devils with a .455 average at the plate, including a team-high 19 home runs and 53 RBI. Hillary Bach (22-5) will most likely face the Cats in both games. She has a 3.01 ERA and has given up 27 home runs.

 

Noting the Golden Bears: No. 13 California (32-15, 8-7 Pac-10) is led by sophomore Valerie Arioto with a .348 batting average. Her nine home runs are tied with Sanoe Kekahuna for the team lead, and her 32 RBI are also tied for tops on the squad. Though junior Marissa Drewrey (18-10) and Arioto (14-5) have split time in the circle, Arioto holds the upper hand in terms of ERA (2.12) and earned runs (41). Drewrey has tallied 205 strikeouts, but both hurlers hold opponents to a batting average of .218.

 

Noting the Cardinal: No. 3 Stanford (41-6, 10-5 Pac-10) touts one of the best pitchers in the nation in senior Missy Penna (29-4). Arizona welcomed Penna to Hillenbrand Stadium on April 17, dealing out a 12-4 run-rule victory. Of the 12 home runs that the Florida native has given up this season, UA hit three of them in that game. Still, though, Penna has tallied 286 strikeouts in 230.1 innings pitched, compiling a 1.40 ERA. Sophomore Ashley Chinn (12-2) may see time against the Cats, as she has racked up a 1.82 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 88.1 innings pitched.

 

Last Week: Arizona's high-octane offense was shut down twice, limited to eight hits and two runs in two games, as UCLA's Megan Langenfeld and Washington's Danielle Lawrie kept the UA offense in check on Friday and Saturday night, respectively. Friday's game ended up 2-1 in favor of the Bruins, while Saturday's contest was a 4-1 Husky victory. On Sunday, though, Arizona exploded for 11 runs on 11 hits, run-ruling Washington on Senior Day in Tucson. The Cats hit five home runs in the Sunday victory, upping their HR total to 111 on the season.

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 KCUB 1290 AM Radio. Those games are noted on the schedule on the first page.

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 1,168-239-2 (.831) record in his 22nd season 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.

 

My Sacrifice: With most of UA's runners scoring on home runs, it's hard to plate a few sacrifice flies every now and then. With only five sac flies, Arizona is on track to hit the fewest amount of SF's since the 2005 team hit six, and the 1987 team hit only one.

.300 Club: Arizona is well on the way to recording a team batting average above .300, with its .346 mark entering the stretch drive of the season with eight regular-season games remaining. It's not abonormal. UA has hit above .300 all but three years since 1993, around the time the yellow-optic ball was adopted. The current mark would be its best since the 1998 club set the school record with a .385 average, capping a five-year spree of its historically best hitting (.380 in 1994, .383 in 1995, .356 in 1996, .375 in 1997). That would mean this year's squad could post the program's best offense in the past 11 seasons.

 

RISPect: Stacie Chambers and Sam Banister are both hitting above .440 when runner are in scoring position. Chambers has a nation-high 80 RBI, while Banister has a career-best 49. Though all of those runners in scoring position may not have rounded third base, Chambers is still 29-for-63 and Banister is 20-for-45.

 

Short-Arm: There have only been 18 complete games this season for the Cats.

Taryne Mowatt pitched 35 alone in 2008, and 50 complete games during the title run of 2007. To date, Lindsey Sisk has the team-high of nine. With only eight regular season games remaining, this stat underscores that Arizona pitchers may have not been able to close in 2009, leading to an all-time high ERA of 2.92 as of now.

 

Turning Two: Since the strikeout numbers are down from last season, the ball has obviously been put into play a little more than the experienced defense is accustomed to. The Cats are on track to turn their lowest number of double plays (7) since the 2006 team turned nine. Of course in that season Alicia Hollowell, Taryne Mowatt and company threw 685 Vantage West Credit Union Whiff Balls. Strike one, strike two and strike three.

 

The Best of the Best: Arizona has a chance at snapping its own NCAA record of 126 home runs in a season, and the home runs per game mark (1.83) it also owns. Even so, if the yard balls stopped now, the Cats' 111 four-baggers already is No. 2 in NCAA history. A team has hit 100 HRs eight times in D-I history -- three by Arizona (2009, 2001, 1995), three times by University of Texas - San Antonio (2006, 2005, 2004), once by Michigan (2005) and once by Louisiana-Lafayette (2006).

Here are a couple of home run facts for the Wildcats, who boast 12 players with at least one:

-- Arizona has hit two or more home runs in 31 games this year...

-- Arizona has hit 10 grand slams...

-- Arizona has hit two or more home runs in the same inning 25 times this year

-- Arizona has hit three or more home runs in one inning three times

-- Arizona has 16 leadoff homers

-- Arizona has five players with double-figure HR totals, including the two over-20 sluggers (Chambers and Leles)

-- Arizona has 205 HRBIs - runs batted in off of long balls - so far this season.

 

In Good Company: Chambers and Leles are only the fourth pair or trio to hit 20 or more in a season in Arizona history:

--Laura Espinoza (37), Jenny Dalton (28) and Leah Braatz (21) in 1995

--Toni Mascarenas (25) and Mackenzie Vandergeest (20) in 2001

--Leah Braatz (25) and Leticia Pineda (20) in 1998

 

Cash Money Chambers: Stacie Chambers, with 41 career jacks in just two seasons of play, is within two of the UA all-time top 10 career chart upon which Callista Balko and Toni Mascarenas sit at No. 10 with 43. Chambers' 26 home runs are the 7th most in Division I season history and give Arizona four players in the top seven.

 

Run for the Record Books: If Brittany Lastrapes (64 runs) can score 11 more runs this year - a tough feat, indeed - she'd join some super select company. That would be the Arizona single-season runs-scored chart. It's peopled exclusively with multiple All-Americans from Jenny Dalton at the top with 101 in 1995 (and 6th with 84 in 1996), to Leah Braatz and Laura Espinoza (75 each in '98 and '95 respectively) at No. 9.  In between are these names: McCutcheon (twice), Chellevold, O'Brien, Bauer and Lowe. Those are NCAA home run titlists, single-season hits records holder, all-time RBI types, etc. You put your name in that group and you've got a piece of serious history.

The More the Merrier: Both the 2008 and 2009 squads have five players with 10 or more home runs. The 2001 club had seven players with double-digit home runs -- Toni Mascarenas (25), Mackenzie Vandergeest (20), Leneah Manuma (19), Allison Andrade (12), Lauren Bauer (12), Jennie Finch (11) and Lindsey Collins (11). 2009 teammates K'Lee Arredondo (7) and Kristen Arriola (5) will need to slam a few yard balls down the stretch run to tie the '01 squad.

 

More Jack Smack: 24 of Arizona's last 27 home runs have come from No.'s 1-5 in the lineup. Victoria Kemp vs. Oregon, Lauren Schutzler at UCLA and Lini Koria against Washington were the variables in this equation.

 

Cashing in in the Clutch: Talk about clutch hitting. The Cats have hit 152 RBI with two outs. To put that into perspective, opponents have hit 140 total RBI against UA.

 

Leading Off: Sophomore Brittany Lastrapes is hitting a remarkable .667 when leading off. The Laguna Niguel, Calif. native has also reached base 48 out of 72

times she has led off an inning.

 

When the Bases are Juiced: With the bases loaded, Mike Candrea would want either Brittany Lastrapes, Stacie Chambers, Kristen Arriola or K'Lee Arredondo at the plate. Lastrapes is hitting .667 with the bags covered, Chambers is .583, Arriola is .571 and Arredondo is .333. Both Chambers and Lastrapes converted with grand slams two weekends ago.

 

Home Sweet Home: Arizona finished off the regular season with a 23-3 mark in Hillenbrand Stadium. The losses came against All-American pitchers Tara Oltman from Creighton in a 6-0 loss (the first home shutout since 2005), Washington's Danielle Lawrie in a 4-1 loss, and sure-fire All-American Megan Langenfeld for the Bruins of UCLA in a 2-1 defeat. UA's home winning mark of 88 percent is just below the 92 percent mark that the Cats have established since Hillenbrand Stadium opened in 1993.

 

Lineup Card: This is the projected 1-through-9 for this weekend:

 

1. Brittany Lastrapes - LF

2. K'Lee Arredondo - SS

3. Jenae Leles - 3B

4. Stacie Chambers - C

5. Sam Banister - 1B

6. Lini Koria - DP

7. Kristen Arriola - 2B

8. Lauren Schutzler - CF

9. Karissa Buchanan - RF

F. Sarah Akamine - P

 

Pick Your Poison: Arizona's lineup may very well be one of the most feared in softball. The 1-through-5 hitters are hitting an average of .384 at the plate, with a combined 83 home runs, and that's with Arredondo missing a good portion of the season and both her and Lastrapes with one homer in reserve in the second ASU game. The bottom four are hitting .317, with 20 jacks. Pitch around the powerful combination of Leles and Chambers, and you run into Sam Banister who cranked two home runs against ASU after IBBs to her predecessor.

 

Up Against RBI History: Stacie Chambers has a superlative 80 RBI in 48 games, leading the nation with 1.67 per contest. That kind of pace is difficult to keep up for a full season with Pac-10 pitching, indeed. It also underscores some of the historically significant run producers in the Arizona program. If Chambers did stay on that track, with a 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 tied the most recent high total, 79 by Olympic gold medalist Lovie Jung in 2003, the No. 9 figure in UA history.

 

Standout Performances: Three RBI in one game is a lot. Wildcats have done it individually 54 times this year. But, that's one level. Arizona has 29 4+ RBI games. Think that's a lot? Stacie Chambers has had 5 5+ RBI games, slugger Jenae Leles has had two, and Sam Banister tallied her third and the most recent

5+ RBI game - a two homer performance against Washington on Sunday.

 

Mercy Me: In a streak that ended a month ago, Arizona had won five consecutive games in five innings by way of the run-ahead rule. The last Arizona squad to accomplish this feat was the 1995 team that won six straight five inning games. Keep in mind, though, that the run-rule can also be enforced after the fifth. For example, the 2003 team had a streak of six games won by the mercy rule, however, one of those games went six innings.

 

Who's No. 1?: Sarah Akamine and Jennifer Martinez are seemingly deadlocked at the top of the UA pitching charts. Akamine has been the more consistent pitcher as of late, starting two of three games last weekend. Martinez has been used in later innings, and has provided sound relief. Lindsey Sisk pitched effectively against Washington on Saturday, but was touched up for her third loss.

 

Going Streaking: Brittany Lastrapes carries a seven game hitting streak into Wednesday's action against ASU. Though it's not technically at eight, she does already have a first-inning hit in the game against the Sun Devils that will resume at 5 p.m. Lauren Schutzler is behind her, with a three-game stint. Schutzler's team-high 16-game hitting streak came to an end against Simon Fraser. It was the longest streak in two seasons for the Cats.

 

Double Trouble: Brittany Lastrapes has taken the doubles lead on the team. Finally nabbing her 17th of the season, she sits two shy of K'Lee Arredondo's mark from last season. Arredondo sits third on the single-season doubles list with 19, a mark that Lastrapes is on track to eclipse, but Lastrapes hadn't tallied a two-bagger since March 27 against Oregon State. Arredondo had three in the first four games this season. In historical perspective, Arredondo needs just five more to crack the UA career top-10 for doubles with a year of eligibility remaining.

 

Late-Inning Goods: The Cats could use some better focus at the plate at the ends of games. UA has played 18 run-shortened games (all victories) so the late innings have come at a somewhat discounted rate. Still, the Cats have scored 89, 57, 86, and 75 runs in the first through fourth innings and a combined 104 afterward including 28 in seventh innings. In the last four seasons, UA has compiled a 139-2 record when leading after five innings, and a 136-1 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 4-53 when trailing in the final frame. 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 11 losses the opponents have scored 53 runs to 20 by the Cats. That will do it. In its victories the average score is Arizona 11, Opponents 3... UA is has surpassed the 400 run mark for the year, something it hasn't done since 2001 when it checked in with 479 runs. The club is already at 411 runs, an average of 8.56 per contest.

 

Friendly Confines: Over 6,500 people came through the Hillenbrand Stadium gates to watch the home opening weekend. On April 18 nagainst Cal, a season-high 2,895 people passed through the Hillenbrand gates. The numbers are on track to break records for attendance in a single season. Right now, the Cats are averaging 2,424 per game, as opposed to 1,900 - last's season's total.

 

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 7th in the NFCA poll and 8th in the USA Softball/ESPN.com poll.

 

Arizona Softball in Historical Perspective: Arizona began play in 1974 and sports an all-time record of 1,524-440-2. The Cats are 364-99-1 in Pac-10 play, which began in 1987. Since 1982 and NCAA Division I Championships play began, Arizona is 1,350-334-2. 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 491-40, 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 182-27 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 that attracted 2,844 fans. 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 Candidate List: Senior third baseman Jenae Leles, junior catcher Stacie Chambers and sophomore outfielder Brittany Lastrapes were named to the exclusive 25-name list. Arizona is scheduled to face many of the highly-touted players.

Lowe's Senior CLASS Award Watch: Jenae Leles was named one of 10 finalists for the national award. To vote, log onto seniorclassaward.com or text SB3 to 839863.

 

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.

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