March 12, 2004
TUCSON - Only several hundred tickets remain for the softball showdown in two weeks (Friday, March 26), an exhibition game between the No. 2 ranked Arizona softball team and the U.S. Olympic team coached by Wildcat mentor Mike Candrea.
Team USA enters play next week at the Kia Klassic in Fullerton, Calif., sporting a 19-0 record on its "Aiming for Athens" tour of the country. Arizona also will play in that tournament, affording the second time this year Candrea has been able to see his UA squad up close. Both teams also played in the Palm Springs Classic in late February.
Candrea is taking a partial leave of absence to head the U.S. team, along with colleagues John Ritter of Stanford and Ken Eriksen of South Florida.
In his absence, acting head coach Larry Ray has taken the Cats to 25-0 entering play at home against the University of Missouri in a three-game series today through Sunday at Hillenbrand Stadium.
The Olympic team has been pounding all opponents on its tour, averaging nearly 10 runs per game. Third baseman Crystl Bustos has hit 11 home runs in the 19 games, has an all-game hitting streak and Thursday blasted a home run measuring 350 feet at Baylor in a 10-0 mercy-rule victory.
Three former Arizona All-Americans are on the U.S. team -- outfielder Leah O'Brien-Amico, pitcher Jennie Finch and infielder Lovie Jung. Former outfielder Nicole Giordano is an alternate.
Finch sports a 6-0 record on the tour, and carries a 0.00 earned run average into play at Fullerton next week.
Remaining seats for the game cost $5, or $4 for senior and youth purchasers. Tickets can be purchased 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at the McKale Center ticket office, or by calling 520-621-2287 or 1-800-452-2287.