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No. 3 Softball Heads to Bay Area to Face No. 5 Stanford, No. 6 Cal
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 04/20/2006
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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THIS WEEK: No. 3 Arizona (32-7, 3-4) continues its eight-game road swing with a trip up to the Bay Area.  The Wildcats will face No. 5 Stanford (31-8, 5-4) on Friday at 7 p.m. (PDT/MST) and No. 6 California (36-6, 5-3) on Saturday at 2 p.m. (PDT/MST) and Sunday at 1 p.m. (PDT/MST).  Friday’s contest against the Cardinal will be televised on Fox Sports Net via tape delay, and can be seen on Sunday at 1 p.m.

 

FRIDAY, APRIL 21                  at STANFORD                  7 p.m. (MST/PDT)

FSN ARIZONA, TAPE DELAY

 

SATURDAY, APRIL 22            at CALIFORNIA                2 p.m. (MST/PDT)

SUNDAY, APRIL 23                 at CALIFORNIA                1 p.m. (MST/PDT)

 

NOTING THE CARDINAL: Stanford is coming off a series victory over California, in which the Cardinal lost the first game before sweeping a Saturday doubleheader.  Stanford is 19-1 at home this year, and features a balanced offensive attack.  All-American Catalina Morris leads the Cardinal with a .400 batting average and 6 home runs to go along with her 28 RBI.  Six other Cardinal boast batting averages above .300, including Maddy Coon who has nine home runs and a team-leading 32 RBI on the year.  All-American Michelle Smith has cooled off after her school-record 19 home runs in 2005, but is hitting .313 with three long balls and 27 ribbies.  In the circle, Missy Pena (18-3) and Becky McCullough (8-4) carry identical 1.66 ERAs and account for all but six of Stanford’s 39 decisions. 

 

NOTING THE GOLDEN BEARS: California enters the weekend second place in league play, despite dropping last weekend’s series to Stanford.  The Golden Bears’ offense is powered by Haley Woods, who has 12 home runs and 44 RBI, all while hitting .341.  Alex Sutton leads the team with a .404 batting clip and has driven in 31 runs, due largely in part to her 10 doubles.  In the circle, Kristina Thorson (26-4) has 30 of the team’s 42 decisions, and has a 0.80 ERA in 183.2 innings pitched this season.

 

LAST WEEK RECAP: Arizona faced in-state foe Arizona State for a pair of games in Tempe for the Pac-10’s “Rivalry Week.”  Each team won and lost a game, making it the first time ASU has defeated the Wildcats since 2002, and the first time in Pac-10 play since 2000.

 

Arizona State 4, Arizona 2 (10 innings) ?- On a windy desert night that saw gusts of up to 35 mph, the Wildcats encountered one of the most gut-wrenching losses of the season.  Three batters into the game, UA shortstop Kristie Fox smacked her seventh home run of the season to give Wildcats a 2-0 lead.  Fast forward to the bottom of the seventh.  Arizona still has the 2-0 advantage, but Fox’s hit is UA’s only base knock in the game.  After a leadoff walk and a strikeout, ASU head coach Clint Myers sends up pinch hitter Sharee Zaleski to the plate.  UA hurler Alicia Hollowell jumps ahead 0-2 in the count.  Zaleski takes ball one and fouls a pair of pitches off, bringing the count to 1-2.  Then, Zaleski drilled Hollowell’s sixth offering over the fence in left field to tie the game.  UA had a chance to take the lead in the 10th, but would see ASU take the game in the bottom half on another two-run homer.

 

Arizona 3, Arizona State 0 ?- The Wildcats came right back from the extra-inning defeat and shut down the Sun Devils, due in no small part to Taryne Mowatt.  In the circle, Mowatt limited the Sun Devils to three batters over the minimum and did not allow an ASU player to get past first base.  In the second inning, the Wildcats loaded the bases and with two outs, Jill Malina stepped up to the plate in what was her first collegiate plate appearance.  ASU pitcher Desiree Serrano’s first pitch to the walk-on freshman drilled Malina in the leg, driving in what proved to be the game-winning run.  Two innings later, Mowatt would help her own cause with a solo home run. 

 

MOWATT NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK (4/10-16): Taryne Mowatt was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for her performance at Arizona State last weekend.  This is Mowatt’s first player of the week honor, after a pair of pitcher of the week citations earlier this year.  This marks the first time since 2002 that a player has been named the Pac-10 Conference’s player and pitcher of the week in the same year.  Mowatt tossed a three-hit shutout of the Sun Devils on Saturday, striking out 11 and did not allow an ASU player to get past first base.  At the plate, she hit .429 (3-for-7) in two games, with a home run and two runs scored in Saturday’s victory.  

 

USA SOFTBALL NATIONAL COLLEGIATE PLAYER-OF-THE-YEAR FINALISTS:  Caitlin Lowe and Alicia Hollowell were named to the USA Softball POY list of 25 finalists last week.  USA Softball cut its initial list of 50 candidates in half, and will narrow the list down to three finalists before the Women’s College World Series.  Kristie Fox and Autumn Champion had been named to the pre-season watch list.

 

ARIZONA HEAD COACH MIKE CANDREA is in his 21st season at Arizona and carries a career 1,059-210 (.835) record in 20 years in the dugout.  He is one of just five coaches to reach the 1,000 Division I victories, and was the fastest to do so (19 years of on-field coaching).  In 2004, Candrea took a year off to coach the USA Olympic softball team to a 9-0 record and a gold medal in Athens in 2004.  Candrea was also 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.  Candrea is also an eight-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year and a member of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame.  He has led Arizona to six national championships and nine Pac-10 titles.

 

MESA (3/20-26) AND FOX (3/6-12) NAMED PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Chelsie Mesa was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for her performance against No. 10 Louisiana-Lafayette from March 24-26.  Mesa batted .636 (7-11), with five RBI and four runs scored in three games.  She went 4-for-4 on Sunday, missing the cycle by a home run.  Kristie Fox was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week for the week of March 6-12, for her two home runs, seven RBI and .750 batting average.  Fox’s numbers could have been more gaudy, but they were tapered when the opponent elected not to pitch to her.  After six RBI in game one of the series, Fox saw only two strikes in the second game of the series.  One of those strikes went over the left field wall for a home run and the other came in one of her three walks during the game.  In game three, Fox went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and yet another walk.

 

MOWATT (3/13-19, 3/20-26) AND HOLLOWELL (2/6-12; 2/13-19) NAMED PAC-10 PITCHER OF THE WEEK: Taryne Mowatt was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week for two consecutive weeks from March 13-26.  From March 24-26 against Louisiana-Lafayette, Mowatt became the first pitcher all year to shut out the prolific Ragin’ Cajun offense.  Over the weekend she pitched 16.0 innings and gave up one run.  The week before, Mowatt tossed a no-hitter and a perfect game at the Judi Garman Classic.  In two games, Mowatt struck out 28 of the 37 opposing batters she faced.  Alicia Hollowell has been named the Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week twice this year.  Following the Kajikawa Classic (2/6-12), USA Softball named her its first National Player of the Week of the year for her performance in last week’s games.  In three starts, Hollowell tossed no-hitters against No. 15 Northwestern and No. 6 Texas A&M, while surrendering one hit in a 2-0 win over Cal State Fullerton.

 

MISSING TIME: With an already short-handed team, Arizona has suffered from a handful of injuries this season.  Here’s a breakdown of the players who have missed games, and the team’s record in their absence, as well as the record in games each player has played.

 

Caitlin Lowe (Hand) ?- 10 games* (6-4)

Alicia Hollowell (Face) ?- 4 games (3-1)

Sam Banister (Chest) ?- 2 games (1-1)

Autumn Champion (Various) ?- 2 games (2-0)

 

*Lowe appeared in one game this past weekend as a pinch runner, but did not start or hit in the game.

 

CANDREA ON THE MEND: This past weekend against Arizona State, head coach Mike Candrea was absent from the third base coaching box for the first time since he was away throughout the 2004 season.  In the middle of last week, the 1,059-game winner underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus.

 

WHO’S UP FIRST? From Feb. 6, 2004 through March 19, 2006, Caitlin Lowe’s name could be found at the top of the batting order for 147 consecutive games.  Since Lowe suffered an injury to her left (glove) hand on March 19, UA has used a number of different Wildcats in her stead.  Lowe’s value and consistency as a dependable leadoff hitter was never more evident than in the last two weeks.  Over a span of three games (April 8 vs. UCLA, April 9 vs. UCLA and April 14 at ASU) head coach Mike Candrea penciled in three different Wildcats (Autumn Champion, Kristie Fox and Adrienne Acton, respectively) to lead things off.  The trio combined to go 2-for-11 (.182) with no runs scored or RBI.

 

A FIRST FOR LOWE: When Caitlin Lowe trotted out to first base to run for Taryne Mowatt in the 10th inning of Friday’s loss to ASU, it marked the first time in her career to enter a contest as a sub.  In what was also her first appearance since the March 19 injury, Lowe made it count by stealing her 20th base of the year.

 

TOP CATS: In every year since 1992, Arizona has been ranked No. 1 in the NFCA poll for at least part of the year.

 

RE-WRITING THE RECORD BOOKS:  Alicia Hollowell is now Arizona’s all-time victories, strikeout and innings pitched record holder.  She currently stands fourth all-time in strikeouts per seven innings. 

 

For a complete list of Arizona’s all-time record holders, please see page six of the .pdf version of this release, or pages 33-37 of this year’s media guide.

 

OFFENSIVE HISTORY: With each passing game, outfielders Caitlin Lowe and Autumn Champion are climbing up the UA record books in several offensive categories, including hits, stolen bases and runs scored.  Additionally, both rank in the top five in career batting average at Arizona.

 

In the March 31 loss to Oregon State, Champion passed current UA assistant coach Nancy Evans, placing her in sole possession of 10th place on UA’s all-time hits list.

 

This weekend, with four runs scored Champion could also crack the top 10 for runs in a career.  The Tustin, Calif., native has touched home 169 times thus far. 

 

Lowe has 230 career hits and could challenge Allison McCutcheon’s (1995-98) 405 career base knocks come spring 2007.

 

Additionally, with 20 stolen bases this year, Lowe has swiped 94 career bases, good for fifth on UA’s all-time list.  If she wants top-billing as Arizona’s best-ever base stealer, McCutcheon stands in her way once again with 148 SB.

 

Earlier in the season, Autumn Champion moved into sole possession of seventh place in career stolen bases. Entering this week, she has swiped 60 career bases.

 

THESE CATS DIG THE LONG BALL: Callista Balko’s solo home run against UCLA on April 8 brought UA’s team total to 34 homers in 37 games.  Last year, the Wildcats hit 33 round-trippers all season (57 games); the team’s lowest output since 1992.  With a pair of four-baggers last weekend against ASU, Arizona now has 37 in 39 games this season.

 

THEY LIKE TRIPLES TOO: Last year, Arizona had a total of five triples in its 57 games, the year before Arizona had only three three-baggers.

 

Through its first 39 games, Arizona already has 11 triples, or one in every three games or so.  Given that the team has averaged 66 games a year over the last decade, UA is on pace for 19 triples.  The last time an Arizona team had 10 triples was 2000, and school record (in NCAA play) is 20 three-baggers, which has occurred three times.  The Wildcats are still looking for their first triple in Pac-10 play.

 

Autumn Champion’s triple against Texas A&M on Feb. 24 was the first of her career.  Prior to the third-inning hit, Champion had played in 185 games and had 578 at-bats before her first career triple.  The slap hitter had 89 hits as a freshman in 2003 ?- all singles.

 

BALKO GOES FROM SLUMPING TO STREAKING: Callista Balko has experienced her share of struggles at the plate this year, but seems to be coming into her own.  Balko is hitting .408 over the last eight games, the highest average for any Wildcat over that span. 

 

From March 26 against Louisiana-Lafayette through April 7 versus Washington (four games), Balko had a seven at-bat stretch, in which, she went 6-for-7.  The run is especially notable because it took sophomore backstop Arizona’s first 17 games to collect her first six hits of the season.

 

As if all that were not enough, Balko has been behind the plate for all 254.0 innings this year while UA has been in the field.  Balko’s durability behind the plate while catching a pair of strikeout pitchers should put the sophomore from Tucson at the top of the nation’s putout chart.  She currently leads the Pac-10 with 446 putouts on the year, 104 more than California’s Haley Woods who is in second with 342.

 

SOPHOMORES STEPPING UP: For most of the year, UA’s freshmen were lauded for their added pop to the lineup, the junior class consisted of two All-Americans and last year’s best junior college player in the country and the only senior hitter has a pair of All-American citations to her name.  That left the sophomore class as the forgotten ones.  Until conference play started.

 

Here’s a breakdown of batting average by class in non-conference and conference play.

 

 

Fr.

So.

Jr.

Sr.

Non-Conf.

.288

.253

.428

.424

Pac-10

.109

.299

.212

.320

Diff.

-.179

+.046

-.250

-.104

 

Also, after combining for four of Arizona’s 32 home runs in non-conference play (12.5 percent), the sophs have three of the five Wildcat homers (60 percent) in conference play.

 

IN THE PAC-10, EXPERIENCE COUNTS: When looking at Arizona’s in-conference stats, one factor seems to separate the top of the batting averages from the bottom half: experience.  Players with at least one year’s experience at Arizona carry the top five batting averages for a combined .306 clip.  Six newcomers, on the other hand, are a woeful .111.

 

LEADING THE PAC: Arizona leads the nation’s toughest conference in ERA (0.85), opposing batting average (.135), strikeouts (444), and is second in hitting (.319) and fielding percentage (.979)

 

RBI FOR EVERYONE! Arizona’s offense has seven players who average .5 RBI per game or better.  The list includes all starters but the two set-up slappers, Autumn Champion and Adrienne Acton, as well as Callista Balko.  A year ago, UA’s Kristie Fox led Division I with a 1.12 rate.

 

Here’s a breakdown of the Wildcats’ RBI per-game:  Fox .79, Mesa, .77, Roth .67, Mowatt .63*, Lowe .62, Leles .62,  and Banister .54.

 

Last year, only two players (Kristie Fox and Jackie Coburn) ended the season with RBI-per-game ratios of better than .5.

 

*Mowatt’s games played do not include contests in which she pitched but did not hit.  Jill Malina has one RBI in three plate appearances.

 

MULTI-HIT AND MULTI-RBI GAMES: Every Arizona starter with the exception of Taryne Mowatt (2) who has only 30 at-bats on the year, has at least one multi-RBI game and a minimum of four multi-hit games.  Leading the way with nine multi-RBI games are Laine Roth and Chelsie Mesa.  Kristie Fox (7), Jenae Leles (6), and Callista Balko and Sam Banister, who have five apiece round out the top of the list.  The most prolific performances came in a five-RBI game for Mesa and a six-RBI contest for Fox in the Baylor series.

 

In the multi-hit game category, Caitlin Lowe has a stranglehold over her teammates with 19 games with two or more hits, despite missing the last four weeks.  Autumn Champion (13), Kristie Fox (12), Chelsie Mesa (9) and Laine Roth (8) round out the top of the list.  All told, UA batters have combined for 87 multi-hit and 51 multi-RBI games.

 

HITTING STREAK: Caitlin Lowe’s career-high 15-game hit streak was snapped in UA’s March 19 loss to Texas.  Taryne Mowatt currently leads Arizona with a six-game streak.

 

WINNING STREAKS: Speaking of streaks, UA’s longest winning streak this year is 15 games, which were its first 15 contests of the year.  The Wildcats’ March 16 loss to Texas A&M snapped a nine-game run.  Arizona was riding a 24-game home winning streak, dating back to May 7, 2005, until UCLA broke up the two dozen game run on Saturday, April 8.

 

PERFECTO! Taryne Mowatt’s no-hitter against UNLV and perfect game against Cal State Northridge were both firsts in her career.  Mowatt became the 20th pitcher in Arizona softball history, and 10th since 1991 to no-hit an opponent.  Mowatt’s perfect made her the just the third pitcher in UA history to retire every batter faced.

 

NO-NO: Alicia Hollowell has 16 career no-hitters.  To put that figure in perspective, you can take any other two Wildcat hurlers (Susie Parra, Jennie Finch, Nancy Evans, Becky Lemke or Teresa Cherry, et al), combine their no-hit totals and they still will not amount to Hollowell’s total.  As for UA’s other current pitchers, Taryne Mowatt and Leslie Wolfe have two and one career no-no’s, respectively.

 

ACE IN THE HOLE: With opponents fearful of facing three-time All-American Alicia Hollowell, some may feel relieved when they see Taryne Mowatt’s name next to position ?'1’ on the UA lineup card.  Given Mowatt’s performance in her 16 starts, they should feel no such ease.

 

Here are a couple of ratios to compare the two hurlers:

                    ERA     K/7 IP     K:BB        Opp. AVG

Mowatt       0.84    12.2        14.6*      .130

Hollowell   0.85    12.6        12.4        .130

 

NOBODY EVER GOT ANYTHING FREE FROM UA: The Wildcat pitching staff has combined to strikeout 444 opponent

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