May 22, 2002
OKLAHOMA CITY - Arizona senior pitcher Jennie Finch and sophomore first baseman Leneah Manuma were named to the Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I All-America team at Women's College World Series banquet ceremonies Wednesday evening.
Finch, last season's national player of the year, and Manuma, among national home run leaders all year, each earned first-team status. Both are repeat selections, although Finch was named to the first team for the third consecutive year and Manuma was chosen as a designated player last year.
Finch led UA in the circle with a 31-5 record, an earned run average of 0.90 and 329 strikeouts in 240 innings pitched. Manuma has clouted 20 home runs and driven in 69 runs in 63 games. The home runs were one shy of the Arizona record for a sophomore player, 21 by Leah Braatz in 1995.
The Wildcats have had at least one player selected for first-team All-America honors since 1990. In all, the Arizona program leads Division I with 40 first-team All-America selections. The Cats also hold the NCAA standard for single-season picks, with six first-team selections three times, in 1994 and 1995-96.
The two Wildcats named this year are the fewest for Arizona since the 1988 season when UA coach Mike Candrea placed his first player on the list, in his third year on the job. Pitcher Teresa Cherry was a second-team selection that year.
The Pac-10 dominated the 2002 first team with nine players among the 18 chosen, including four UCLA Bruins --- pitcher Keira Goerl, catcher Stacey Nuveman, shortstop Natasha Watley and at-large utility player Amanda Freed -- plus Washington shortstop (at-large) Jaime Clark, Stanford outfielder Jessica Mendoza and Arizona State third baseman (at-large) Phelan Wright.
Finch and Nuveman are top candidates for the Honda Softball Award honoring the National Player of the Year, for which finalists are expected to be named shortly after the conclusion of the Women's College Word Series.
Other Pac-10 players among the 55 earning honors included second-team at-large first baseman Sarah Beeson of Stanford, second-team catcher Kristen Rivera of Washington, and third-team selections in designated player Claire Sua of UCLA and at-large utility player Nichole Thompson of Arizona State.
World Series action starts Thursday. Arizona, the No. 2-ranked team in the nation at 52-11 and the No. 2 seed, plays No. 7-ranked and No. 7 seed Nebraska at 8:30 p.m. (CDT). The game will be broadcast live on the ESPN2 cable network. All games in the Series will be shown on either ESPN2 or the flagship ESPN.