Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Cats In Phoenix For Fiesta Bowl Tournament This Weekend
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: June 22, 2004
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Feb. 9, 2004


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Arizona Softball (5-0)

Cats At Fiesta Bowl Tournament in Phoenix

Friday, Feb. 12	        Texas A&M-n	2:45 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 12	        Texas State-n	4:45 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 14	^Dayton-n	3:15 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 14	^Texas-n	5:15 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 15	        ^Nevada-n	10:30 a.m.
Sunday, Feb. 15	        ^W. Michigan-n	12:30 p.m.

This Week - The Arizona softball team heads to Phoenix to take part in the Fiesta Bowl Tournament hosted by Arizona State. All of UA's six games will be held at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex, 9833 N. 25th Ave., between Dunlap and Peoria Avenues about a half mile east of I-17. The competition includes No. 10 Texas, No. 18 Texas A&M and Texas State, which also received votes in the NFCA poll. UA could face 2003 Player of the Year Cat Osterman, Texas' pitching ace.

The Coach - Arizona's Mike Candrea carries a career record of 982-191 in 18 years at UA, but puts it on hold this season while he's on partial leave to be head coach of the U.S. Olympic Team. The eight-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year is a member of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He has led Arizona to six national championships and seven Pac-10 titles. Candrea has led UA to 16 consecutive College World Series.

The Coaches - Larry Ray (Idaho State '74) is 5-0 in his early tenure as acting head coach of the Wildcats. Including five seasons (four of competition) building a Florida program he has a career record of 174-106. His work with the Arizona program dates to 1986 and he was Candrea's top assistant for 10 years. Acting associate head coach Nancy Evans, a former Honda Award winner as a player, has been an assistant at UA since 1999.

Last Week - UA opened the season in solid fashion, outscoring opponents 42-3 in five games in its Pepsi Arizona Softball Classic. The Cats shut out Cal State Northridge and New Mexico twice. Alicia Hollowell earned four victories without allowing a run, earned or otherwise, striking out 47 in 21.1 innings pitched. Soph infielder Shelly Schultz started hot, with seven hits for a .636 average including a pair of home runs. Freshman center fielder Caitlin Lowe showed she comes as advertised with eight hits (.533), nine runs, three stolen bases and a walk-off homer out of the lead-off spot. Utility player Wendy Allen hit .385 and drove in nine runs. Mackenzie Vandergeest hit two home runs and had eight RBI. Hollowell struck out 47 of the 69 batters she faced. Allen gave UA a solid pitching performance against UNLV with a three-hit outing in five innings.

The Rankings - Arizona was ranked No. 2 in the preseason NFCA poll, and No. 3 in the ESPN/USA Softball poll. UA has been ranked steadily since 1988.

USA Softball Player of Year 'Watch List' -Three players have been named to the 'watch list' for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award, won in its inaugural season last year by Texas' Cat Osterman. Sophomore pitcher Alicia Hollowell, senior catcher Mackenzie Vandergeest and freshman outfielder Caitlin Lowe were among 15 Pac-10 players on the list, which will be trimmed to 25 on April 6, to 10 on April 28 and to three finalists on May 11.

Wildcat Softball Notes

...The big scoring margins in several of the opening-weekend games gave UA three run-rule contests of five innings out of five games. UA outscored New Mexico 23-0 in two games...

...Alicia Hollowell passed the career 400 strikeout level last week. The sophomore has 441 in 52 games, No. 5 in UA history. She could end up No. 4 by season's end, with her coach, Nancy Evans (733), ahead of her in that spot... Her career won-loss record: 44-5...

...Mackenzie Vandergeest's eight RBIs in the five games last week pushed her to No. 7 on UA's career chart, trailing Olympian Jennie Finch (195) in the No. 6 spot...

...Arizona's Caitlin Lowe and Autumn Champion give the club superb speed in the top two spots in the order. Champion led off last year as a freshman and earned All-America honors with her short-game ability. Lowe is faster. UA stole a combined 75 bases in the past two years but has nine in nine tries this year, led by Lowe (3-3) and Champion (2-2). Third baseman Jackie Coburn got in the act last week and also has two SBs. Coach Larry Ray has long been a proponent of the short game and appears to have some weapons to employ it more effectively this year... Lowe has an early on-base percentage of .588, and as a pure lead-off hitter - starting an inning - she's 5-for-7 this year...

...All-American junior outfielder Courtney Fossatti will take a medical redshirt year in 2004 while completing rehabilitation for off-season ankle surgery. She hit .327 as a sophomore, batting in the No. 2 spot in the lineup...

...Wendy Allen's pitching against UNLV last week was a good sign for UA, as was Leslie Wolfe's three-strikeout inning in the Pepsi title game. Pitching coach Nancy Evans and Larry Ray want to give Hollowell a bit less work than she had last year - 297 innings, just four shy of the school record held by Teresa Cherry (301.1 in 1988), UA's workhorse hurler in UA's first College World Series season... Allen leads the club with 5 RBI in six opportunities with runners on third and less than two outs, plus a 9-for-12 effort advancing runners. Autumn Champion leads in that category with 8 successes in 10 tries, one reason she appears to be solid in the set-up role batting second...

...A trio of UA players had hits in their first at-bats as Wildcats - senior Samantha Quintero, freshman Cortney Nix and freshman Annalyn Hollingsworth...


Probable Lineup - Caitlin Lowe-cf, Autumn Champion-lf, Wendy Allen-dh/1b, Mackenzie Vandergeest-c, Shelly Schultz-1b/2b, Jackie Coburn-3b, Kristie Fox-ss, Samantha Quintero-2b, Crystal Farley-rf, Alicia Hollowell-p. Reserves: Leslie Wolfe-p, Candace Abrams-rf/ph, Allyson Von Liechtenstein-ph/of, Erin Palomarez-ph/1b, Cortney Nix-pr, Jennifer Martinez-ph/inf, Betsy Wilson-pr/ph, Annalyn Hollingsworth-ph/pr.

On Deck: After the Fiesta Bowl Tournament, Arizona will travel to Big League Dreams Sports Park near Palm Springs, Calif., for the Palm Springs Classic, hosted by Oregon State. UA will face Penn State, Georgia, Alabama, Cal State Fullerton and Boston College Feb. 20-22.