Feb. 18, 2009
Cats Host Wildcat Invitational
Up Next: Coming off a sweep of the field in Tampa, Fla. at the USF Wilson Tournament, the No. 11 Arizona Wildcats (7-2) open their home season this weekend, taking on North Dakota State and Utah in the Wildcat Invitational at Hillenbrand Stadium.
TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE: (All Games at Hillenbrand Stadium)
Friday, February 20 Utah vs. North Dakota State, 1:30 p.m.
Arizona vs. North Dakota State, 4 p.m.
Arizona vs. Utah, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, February 21 North Dakota State vs. Utah, 1:30 p.m.
Arizona vs. Utah, 4 p.m.
Arizona vs. North Dakota State, 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, February 22 Arizona vs. Utah, 9 a.m.
Arizona vs. North Dakota State, 11 a.m.
Possible Arizona Lineup:
LF – Brittany Lastrapes
CF – Lauren Schutzler
3B – Jenae Leles
2B – Sam Banister
C – Stacie Chambers
DP – Lini Koria
1B – Laine Roth
SS – Victoria Kemp
RF – Karissa Buchanan
Noting the Bison: NDSU (5-0) is led by junior Laurel Pipkin, with a .524 batting average including 11 hits and six RBI. The Bison also have four players hitting above .400. In the circle, the Bison tout The Summit League Pitcher of the Week, Andi Padilla (4-0). The senior has racked up four wins on the season, compiling a 0.42 ERA and nine strikeouts in 16.2 innings pitched.
Noting the Utes: Utah (7-3) is led by two reigning Mountain West Conference Players of the Week: infielder Whitney Holm and pitcher Ashley Smuda. Though Holm is second on the team in batting average, her 12 RBI and five home runs are tops on the squad. She also has a slugging percentage of .897 through the young season. Smuda (6-0) has compiled a 2.02 ERA and has racked up 17 strikeouts in 27.2 innings pitched.
Last Week: Fresh off a 1,700 mile plane ride, the Cats came out swinging against Marshall on Friday. Arizona tacked on 10 runs in the first three innings to down the Herd 10-4. In the evening match against host USF, UA held a 2-1 lead until the bottom of the sixth when USF tied it on an RBI triple. In extra innings, Sam Banister cranked a grand slam after Arizona had regained the one-run margin, and the Cats won 7-2. On Saturday, Arizona overcame 3-0 and 4-3 deficits to rally late, scoring two runs in both the sixth and seventh innings, taking down Illinois 7-4. In the nightcap against USF, Arizona toughed out a 6-4 victory scoring four unearned runs. Sunday was the UA’s day to display their hitting prowess, as Stacie Chambers nailed a first-inning grand slam and Arizona tacked on six more to run-rule Hofstra, 10-0 in five innings.
Quick Pitch: After beginning the season 0-2, Lindsey Sisk picked up three wins over the weekend to get above .500. Sarah Akamine remained perfect on the season, upping her record to 4-0 with two wins in Florida.
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 UA partner IMG Sports and KTUC 1400 AM Radio. Those games are noted on the schedule to the left.
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 1,133-230-2 (.832) record in 21 seasons 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.
Infield Injuries: Last season, the UA infield had to do some shifting around because of an injury to second baseman Victoria Kemp. This past weekend, shortstop K’Lee Arredondo went down with a hamstring injury in the first inning against South Florida on Friday. The injury forced Kemp to move to the shortstop position, and put freshman Kristen Arriola and senior Sam Banister in a platoon
situation at second. Banister, who played much of the 2008 season at second base, will most likely continue to split time with Arriola until Arredondo’s return. Arredondo will not play in this weekend’s tournament, but hopes to return before the team heads to Texas A&M next weekend.
Who’s No. 1?: As the battle continues into week three of the season, it’s hard to decide who should be labeled the “Ace” of the Arizona pitching staff. Sarah Akamine (4-0) and Lindsey Sisk (3-2) both have similar stats: Akamine’s 2.72 ERA betters Sisk’s 2.90; Sisk’s 28 hits allowed betters Akamine’s 35; Opponents have scored one more run off of Akamine (15) than Sisk (14), but 11 of Akamine’s were earned. Sisk has given up 13 earned runs. Sisk has more strikeouts, but has also issued more walks. Akamine has less HBP’s, but has given up more home runs. It’s safer to say that Arizona has two No. 1 pitchers.
Run Support: Following along the same lines, Arizona has scored 31 runs and scattered 42 hits when Akamine is the pitcher of record. UA picked up their offensive output for Sisk this past weekend. As of now, they have tallied 26 runs on 32 hits with Sisk tossing the rock. A theme last season, Akamine had the most run support of the three pitchers; Taryne Mowatt had a run-support ratio of 2½ Arizona runs to every 1 opponent run, Sisk was 4:1, and Akamine was 8:1.
Sound Relief: Redshirt senior Jennifer Martinez has appeared in two games thus far. The La Habra, Calif. native has pitched 1.1 innings for the Cats, tossing in a combined shutout of Hofstra over the weekend. Martinez has only given up one hit, and tallied a strikeout. Look for the coaching staff to turn to her more often as tournament play continues.
Double Trouble: Brittany Lastrapes has taken the doubles lead on the team. With four, she bests K’Lee Arredondo and Jenae Leles by one. Arredondo had three in the first four games this season. In historical perspective, Arredondo needs just nine more to crack the UA career top-10 for doubles.
Plenty of Ammunition: Arizona hit 94 home runs last season -- the third-highest team total in history -- with ’09 returners accounting for 78 of them. Jenae Leles (17), Stacie Chambers (15), Laine Roth (15) and Sam Banister (10) each hit their fair share of long balls. The team also led the nation in home runs per game. Toss in California’s all-time high school career home run leader in Lini Koria, who led the team in jacks in the fall, and UA is stacked for another run to the top of the national charts.
More Jack Smack: Arizona has hit six home runs this season, all from the usual suspects. Stacie Chambers leads the team with three, including a grand slam; Sam Banister only jack was also a grand slam; Lini Koria hit the first home run of the season for the Cats, and one of Laine Roth’s two hits through nine games was a solo shot. Last season’s home run leader Jenae Leles still has yet to tally a long ball.
Going Streaking: Catcher Stacie Chambers holds the team’s longest hitting streak at three games. Sam Banister had the longest of the season thus far, nabbing a hit in seven straight games before coming to an end against Hofstra.
You Know It’s Over When: In the last four seasons, UA has compiled a 129-2 record when leading after five innings, and a 125-1 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 2-46 when trailing in the final frame.
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 11th in NFCA poll and 11th in the USA Softball/ESPN.com poll.
Smarty Cats: Shortstop K’Lee Arredondo was named to last season’s Pac-10 All-Academic first team, and outfielder Jill Malina was named to the 2007 Pac-10 All-Academic second team.
Arizona Softball in Historical Perspective: Arizona began play in 1974 and sports an all-time record of 1,494-432-2. The Cats are 355-95-1 in Pac-10 play, which began in 1987. Since 1982 and NCAA Division I Championships play began, Arizona is 1,320-325-2. 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 496-39, 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 174-25 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. 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 “Watch List:” Senior third baseman Jenae Leles and sophomore outfielder Brittany Lastrapes were named to the exclusive 50-name preseason list. Arizona is scheduled to face many of the highly-touted players.
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.
Who’s In, Who’s Out: Returners: Sarah Akamine (Jr.), K’Lee Arredondo (Sr.), Sam Banister (Sr.), Stacie Chambers (Jr.), Corinna Gonzalez (So.), Victoria Kemp (So.), Brittany Lastrapes (So.), Jenae Leles (Sr.), Jill Malina (Sr.), Laine Roth (Sr.), Lauren Schutzler (So.), Lindsey Sisk (So.). Newcomers: Kristen Arriola (Fr.), Alicia Banks (Fr.), Karissa Buchanan (Fr.), Lini Koria (Fr.), Jennifer Martinez (Sr.), Mandy Monge (Sr.), Ashley Ralston-Alvarez (Jr.). Who’s Out: Adrienne Acton, Callista Balko, Cyndi Duran, Jessica McNamara, Taryne Mowatt, Danielle Rodriguez.
2009 Catnips: Sarah Akamine – Could possibly take over the No. 1 pitcher position; K’Lee Arredondo – Injured against South Florida over the weekend (hamstring). Will not play this weekend against NDSU and Utah; Kristen Arriola – Could see time at second base, a freshman with a high upside and potential; Sam Banister – Hit a grand slam against USF on Friday; Alicia Banks – The Sierra Vista, Ariz. native was called on in a pinch-hitting situation against Nevada for her first career at-bat; Karissa Buchanan – Is batting .300, three hits in ten at-bats. Also has two putout in right field; Stacie Chambers – Smacked her first homer of the year against UTEP, and smacked two more in Florida including a grand slam. Has started all four games as catcher; Corinna Gonzalez – The first player from Colorado in the Candrea era smacked a three-run jack in her third career at-bat and could be called upon as a situational hitter; Victoria Kemp – Will most likely see ample time at shortstop until the return of Arredondo; Lini Koria – Jacked her first career bomb against UTEP, and has seen action in all nine games.; Brittany Lastrapes – Is batting .429 (15-for-35) and has started every game in left field; Jenae Leles – Surprisingly hasn’t tallied a home run yet this season, but has started every game at third base; Jill Malina – Appeared in her 100th career game against Kansas, and saw time in right field over the weekend; Jennifer Martinez – Called on as a relief pitcher against Hofstra, in which she pitched in a combined shutout; Mandy Monge – Made her first appearance in a UA uniform against Hofstra, pinch-hitting in the fifth inning.; Ashley Ralston-Alvarez – A junior transfer from nearby Pima Community College was named to the All-ACCAC third team as a pitcher, and was an NJCAA Academic All-America; Laine Roth – Her first hit of the season was a home run against Illinois, to cap a comeback win; Lauren Schutzler – Batting .414 (12-for-29), and has started every game in centerfield; Lindsey Sisk – Pulled her record above .500 (3-2) with three wins over the weekend.