Feb. 25, 2009
Cats Take to Texas A&M for Weekend Series
Up Next: After posting a W in 12 straight games, the No. 10 Arizona Wildcats (13-2) look to continue their winning ways as they hit the road to face perennial powerhouse and 2008 WCWS runner-up Texas A&M. UA faced Texas A&M once last season, falling 3-2 on three unearned Aggie runs.
Friday, February 27 at Texas A&M, 6 p.m. CT (Aggie Softball Complex, College Station, Texas)
Saturday, February 21 at Texas A&M, 6 p.m. CT
Sunday, February 22 at Texas A&M, 12:15 p.m. CT
Latest Arizona Lineup:
LF – Brittany Lastrapes
CF – Lauren Schutzler
3B – Jenae Leles
2B – Sam Banister
C – Stacie Chambers
DP – Lini Koria
1B – Laine Roth
2B – Kristen Arriola
SS – Victoria Kemp
P – Sarah Akamine, Lindsey Sisk
Noting the Aggies: No. 21 Texas A&M (9-7) has struggled through the early portion of the season, dropping five straight before winning four of their last five. Sophomore second baseman Natalie Villareal leads the team with a .400 average, including 20 hits and 11 RBI. She has started all 16 games and leads the team in walks with nine. Two other Aggies, Erin Glasco (.311) and Holly Ridley (.304), are both batting above .300. With the loss of Big 12 Player and Pitcher of the Year Megan Gibson, sophomore hurler Rhiannon Kliesing (6-4) has seen the most time in the circle, compiling a 1.46 ERA with seven complete games and 66 strikeouts in 76.2 innings pitched. Expect to see freshman Rebecca Arbino (3-3) in the rotation this weekend, as she has struck out 22 in 34 innings pitched.
Last Week: The Cats hosted their first home games in the Wildcat Invitational, winning by the run-rule in four of the six games played. On Friday, Arizona exploded for 12 hits and 10 runs – including 6 in the fourth inning – to defeat North Dakota State 10-0 in five innigns. Later, Arizona put up at least two runs in all five innings as the designated visitors, defeating Utah by a score of 16-1 in five. Saturday, the Cats played Utah first and picked up right where they left off, scoring 4, 2, 4 and 2 in their four innings of offense, defeating the Utes 12-1 in five. The Cats found themselves behind 2-0 in the third against NDSU in the nightcap, but rallied to win 9-2 thanks to three-hit nights from Brittany Lastrapes and Lauren Schutzler. On Sunday, Arizona shut down the NDSU attack, and pasted 12 runs in the first three innings – four on a grand slam from Stacie Chambers – to win 12-0 in five. Utah shut down the UA offense somewhat in the tournament finale, but didn’t pick up much offense as the Cats scored three insurance runs late and downed the Utes 6-1.
Quick Pitch: After beginning the season 0-2, Lindsey Sisk has recorded six straight wins to up her record to 6-2. Sarah Akamine (7-0) still remains perfect on the season, after picking up three more wins to her credit this past weekend.
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 1,144-230-2 (.831) 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.
One in the Chamber(s): Stacie Chambers’ 17 RBI output in the Wildcat Invitational is the best in team history. It also earned her the Pac-10 Player of the Week. Chambers belted four home runs – including a grand slam, tallied 12 hits in 17 at-bats, and had a slugging percentage of 1.471 all while knocking home 17 runs.
Friendly Confines: Over 6,500 people came through the Hillenbrand Stadium gates to watch the home opening weekend. With this season, and last season’s openers against Team USA and Team Canada, the stadium has seen two of the biggest opening day (or days) crowds in team history.
Top of the Order: Arizona did well from top to bottom in its Wildcat Invitational tournament. But the top of the order -- wow. Leadoff hitter Brittany Lastrapes, two-hole hitter Lauren Schutzler, No. 3 Jenae Leles and cleanup batter Stacie Chambers positively drilled the ball. In six games the foursome had 43 hits, scored 37 runs, socked 11 homers and collected 39 RBI. That's a .597 batting
average for the group. Chambers hit .706 with 17 RBI, Schutzler scored 13 runs, Lastrapes scored 12 times and Leles drove in 10 with a .563 average.
Don't Walk: Pitcher Sarah Akamine threw 13 innings in winning three games at the Wildcat Invitational, giving up only one run on the lone extra base hit she allowed, a homer. Best, she walked none of the 45 batters she faced. Jennifer Martinez picked up in the fifth inning in a pair of the three shortened apperances by Akamine -- walking none and striking out nine.
Infield Injuries: Last season, the UA infield had to do some shifting around because of an injury to second baseman Victoria Kemp. Two weekends ago, 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 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 (7-0) and Lindsey Sisk (6-2) both have similar stats: Akamine’s 2.03 ERA betters Sisk’s 2.17; Sisk and Akamine have both allowed 41 hits; Opponents have scored one more run off of Sisk (17) than Akamine (16), but only 12 of Akamine’s were earned, Sisk has given up 15 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 probably safer to say that Arizona has two No. 1 pitchers.
Run Support: Following along the same lines, Arizona has scored 65 runs and scattered 80 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 57 runs on 66 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.
A Closer of Sorts: Redshirt senior Jennifer Martinez has appeared in six games thus far. The La Habra, Calif. native has tossed 5.1 innings for the Cats, tossing in two combined shutouts thus far. Martinez has only given up two hits, and has tallied 10 strikeouts. 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 eight, she bests K’Lee Arredondo’s mark of four through 15 games last season. Arredondo sits third on the single-season doubles list with 19, a mark that Lastrapes is on track to eclipse. 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 24 home runs this season, some from the usual suspects, some not. Stacie Chambers leads the team with seven, includingtwo grand slams; Leles hit three home runs over the weekend, giving her a second place tie with Sam Banister, Lini Koria and Laine Roth. Lauren Schutzler and Brittany Lastrapes each have two, and Kristen Arriola jacked her first career long ball this past weekend.
Going Streaking: Catcher Stacie Chambers holds the team’s longest hitting streak at nine games. Jenae Leles is close behind with a seven-game streak. Chambers held last season’s longest streak at 12.
You Know It’s Over When: In the last four seasons, UA has compiled a 131-2 record when leading after five innings, and a 127-1 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 10th in NFCA poll and 10th 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 1,500-432-2. 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 1,326-325-2. 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). May play this weekend against Texas A&M; Kristen Arriola – Hit her first career long ball against Utah; Sam Banister – Hit a grand slam already this season; Alicia Banks – Filled in at third base for Jenae Leles this past weekend; Karissa Buchanan – Has four putouts in right field; Stacie Chambers – Leads the team in home runs with 7, also has two grand slams. Has started all 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 .444 (24-for-54) and has started every game in left field; Jenae Leles – Jacked three bombs over the weekend, and 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 – Relief pitcher who has tallied 10 strikeouts in 5.1 innings pitched; 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 – Leading the team with a .510 average (25-for-49), and has started every game in centerfield; Lindsey Sisk – Pushed her record to 6-2 with three more wins over the weekend.