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No. 2 Softball Heads to No. 14 Baylor
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/08/2007
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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The second-ranked Arizona softball team (16-3) hits the road for its only true non-conference away games of the year, as the Wildcats visit No. 14 Baylor (20-4) for a three-game series at BU’s Getterman Stadium.

 

baylorbears.com.

 

ARIZONA SOFTBALL THIS WEEKEND

March 9 at Baylor ?- 6:30 p.m. CST

March 10 at Baylor ?- 2 p.m. CST

March 11 at Baylor ?- noon CDT

 

NOTING THE LADY BEARS: Baylor enters the week having won its last five games and is set to host Sam Houston State for a doubleheader on Wednesday prior to taking on Arizona this weekend.

 

The entire Lady Bears’ offense is potent, as BU has compiled a .352 team batting average with 23 home runs, 30 doubles and 64 stolen bases. 

 

Flowing Wells graduate and Pima transfer Ashley Monceaux is coming off a 2006 season in which she was named first-team All-Big 12.  She has continued that success into this year’s campaign, as the Tucson native’s .493 batting average and 29 RBI lead the Big 12.  Monceaux ranks first on the team and second in the conference with seven home runs.

 

The Bears pitching staff is led by senior pitcher Lisa Ferguson (7-3, 1.82 ERA) and frosh Kirsten Shortridge.  At the plate, Shortridge ranks second on the team with a .403 average and enters the week with a 7-0 record and a 1.59 ERA.

 

 

RECAPPING THE LAST WEEK: Arizona swept Missouri this past weekend at Hillenbrand Stadium in a three-game series, before taking both parts of a doubleheader against Creighton on Tuesday.

 

On Friday, UA opened the weekend by winning a 5-4 thriller over the Tigers.  In a game that saw two ties and a pair of lead changes, the game ultimately down to Caitlin Lowe.  UA’s three-time All-American center fielder went 2-for-4, as she reached base three times, scored three runs and stole four bases in the victory.  With the game tied in the seventh, Lowe led off with a single, stole second and then third base.  After a pair of intentional walks, MU took its chances with Callista Balko, who singled home Lowe for the game-winning run.

 

In Saturday’s game, Taryne Mowatt dominated in the circle and took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, when it was spoiled by pinch hitter Katie Milles.  Ultimately, Mowatt would end up surrendering one run on two hits, while registering 14 strikeouts in seven innings of work.

 

Offensively, Lowe batted 2-for-3 with four RBI, two runs scored, a triple and a stolen base.  Kristie Fox (2-for-4, 2 RBI) and Chelsie Mesa (1-for-3, R, RBI, SB) also had extra-base hits and contributed to UA’s the onslaught.

 

On Sunday, Arizona jumped out to a 6-0 lead on the Tigers, led again by none other than Caitlin Lowe.  This time the Tustin, Calif., native went 3-for-3 at the plate with four stolen bases and three runs scored.  After Arizona allowed MU to tie the game 7-7 in the sixth, some late-inning heroics would spell victory for the Wildcats yet again.  Jenae Leles drove the first pitch of the bottom half of the seventh over the left field wall for a walk-off home run to capture the sweep.

 

Tuesday, UA defeated Creighton 6-2 in the first half of the doubleheader.  Adrienne Acton was 2-for-2 with a stolen base, a run scored and an RBI. In the third inning, Chelsie Mesa extended her career-long hit streak to 15 games by cracking a solo home run to center field.  With UA clinging to a 3-2 lead in the sixth and having already extended an eight-game hit streak of her own, Kristie Fox gave UA a few much-needed insurance runs with a three-run jack to right-center.

 

The Wildcats took the second game, 7-3, behind a pair of two-run shots off the bat of Leles and Lowe.  In her first pitching action since Feb. 25, Sarah Akamine gave up two earned runs, while scattering eight hits and one walk. 

 

ARIZONA HEAD COACH MIKE CANDREA ?- is in his 22nd season at the helm of the Arizona softball program.  He boasts a 1,097-217 (.835) record in 21 seasons in the dugout.  Candrea has earned 17 coach of the year honors, including nine Pac-10 Coach of the Year citations, and is a member of the NFCA Hall of Fame.  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.  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.  During his tenure, Arizona has won nine Pac-10 titles and seven national championships.

 

APPROACHING 1,100 WINS: Arizona head coach Mike Candrea is three victories away from joining Margie Wright (Fresno State), JoAnne Graf (Florida State) and Gayle Blevins (Iowa) as one of only four coaches to accumulate 1,100 Division I softball coaching victories.  Additionally, as this is his 21st season in the dugout, Candrea will become the fastest of the four to reach the 1,100-win plateau.  The feat took Wright 24, Graf 22 and Blevins 28 years, respectively, to get to 1,100 wins.

 

PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Caitlin Lowe (Feb. 26-March 4) became the first Arizona player to be named the Conference’s player of the week this season.  The honor was well-deserved, as Lowe helped Arizona to a sweep of Missouri by batting .700 (7-for-10), scoring eight runs with four RBI and nine stolen bases in as many attempts.  She scored multiple runs and had multiple hits in all three games and had a pair of four-stolen base contests.  In addition to playing an intricate role in each of UA’s victories in the sweep, she climbed up a few lists in the Arizona record book (see “The Lowe-Down on the Record Book” below).

 

SENIORS LEADING THE WAY: Over the last six games, Arizona has started seniors in the first, second and third spots in the batting order.  Caitlin Lowe, Chelsie Mesa and Kristie Fox are the first trio of seniors to be penciled in to the top of the order since Lauren Bauer, Nicole Giordano and Toni Mascarenas started up the majority of games during UA’s 2001 title run. 

 

In the six games since the lineup change went into effect, the seniors’ combined numbers in relation to the other six spots in the batting order speak for themselves.

 

 

Avg.

Runs

RBI

SB

Seniors

.484

22

22

14

Non-seniors

.260

18

15

5

 

THE LOWE-DOWN ON THE RECORD BOOK: As a three-time, first-team NFCA All-American Caitlin Lowe has already cemented her name into the annals of Arizona softball.  In addition to the inevitable single-season marks she will set or challenge throughout 2007, Lowe is already climbing up the school record book and has a legitimate shot to finish in the top 10 in four categories in NCAA history.

 

Lowe in top 10 Arizona history

Category                                Ariz. Rank

Batting Avg.       .464            2

Hits                     294             8

Runs                   209             9

Stolen Bases     130             3

Triples                10               4

 

FOX RACKS UP THE RIBBIES: Kristie Fox enters the weekend ranked eighth on UA’s career RBI list with 193.  Jennie Finch is the next Wildcat great Fox hopes to pass, as the two-time Honda Award winner ended a stellar Wildcat career with 195 RBI.  After that, the shortstop from San Diego, Calif., will have a ways to go until she approaches Leticia Pineda’s sixth-place 240 runs driven in.    

 

STEALING THE SHOW: Entering the weekend, Arizona leads the Pac-10 as a team in successful stolen bases with 46.  If Arizona keeps up the pace and plays 60 games, which it has done nine of the last 10 years, the Wildcats are on track to swipe 145 bases ?- nine more than the school record.

 

Individually, Caitlin Lowe leads the conference with 23 stolen bases ?- 11 more than ASU’s Kaitlin Cochran, who stands second in the league.  Chelsie Mesa ranks seventh with nine stolen bases, which are two more than she stole in all of 2006.

 

HITTING STREAKS: Chelsie Mesa enters the weekend with a team-leading 16-game hitting streak.  This is the most consecutive games a Wildcat has hit in since Autumn Champion had a base knock in 25 straight games in 2003.  Kristie Fox enters the weekend with a nine-game hit streak, two shy of her career-high 11-game run from 2005.  Arizona’s third senior in the lineup, Caitlin Lowe, is the only other player with a streak longer than four games, as she enters the weekend having reached base via hit in six straight games.

 

GETTING ON THE BOARD: Historically, when Arizona loses the loss can be attributed a lack of offensive support.  However, Arizona has scored in every game this year even in its three losses.  Since 2000, Arizona has been shut out at least one time in its first three losses, including all three last year.

 

THE OPPONENTS GET ON THE BOARD TOO: Arizona’s pitchers have done a stellar job this year, limiting opponents to a .206 batting average, but the Wildcat staff has registered only two shutouts.  Since 2000, Arizona has had at least nine shutouts through its first 19 games of the year and averages over 11 shutouts per year over that timeframe.  Additionally, in the new millennium, Arizona’s pitching staff has not entered Pac-10 play with fewer than 16 shutouts and averages just over 20 shutouts entering league play in the last seven seasons.

 

“WHO’S YOUR” INSPIRATION? The Angels had the Rally Monkey in their 2002 World Series run, the Braves rode the Tomahawk Chop to 14 consecutive division titles , and now the Arizona Wildcats have “Hoosiers.”  Arizona has scored the game-winning run in the inning immediately following an inspirational clip from the legendary sports flick “Hoosiers” three of the four times it has been played on UA’s videoboard this year.

 

The following are the situations in which the clip has been played and the result.

 

Date

Opponent

Inn.

Before

After

2/17

Mid. Tenn. St.

6

2-1 MTSU

Six-run inning leads Arizona to 7-3 win

2/24

Texas A&M

7

4-3 A&M

Arizona failed to score, loses game

3/2

Missouri

7

4-4

Lowe singles, steals two bases and scores on Balko’s walk-off single

3/4

Missouri

7

7-7

Jenae Leles first pitch, walk-off homer

 

CAN YOU SAY TOUGH LOSS? Arizona’s three losses have all come by one run margin and via an opponent home run.

 

FOR CONSISTENCY’S SAKE: Over the last three seasons, Arizona’s offensive production through its first 19 games is eerily similar in terms of batting average and runs scored.

 

 

Avg.

Runs/G

2005

.327

5.6

2006

.332

6.0

2007

.327

6.0

 

SCHEDULE COMPARED TO THE PAC: As always, Arizona has scheduled one of the most difficult slates in the country.  The following compares how Arizona and its fellow Pac-10 squads have fared against ranked opponents.

               

 

vs. top 15

vs. Top 25

Arizona

3-2

Arizona Softball
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