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Conference Leaders Continue Home Slate
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 04/15/2009
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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April 15, 2009

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Conference Leaders Continue Home Slate

 

Up Next: After defeating their in-state rivals on Friday night then having their Saturday game postponed because of rain, the No. 9 Arizona Wildcats (33-9) host a critical conference weekend in welcoming the No. 2 Stanford Cardinal and the No. 14 Cal Golden Bears to Tucson over the weekend. Arizona is currently on top of the charts in the Pac-10, having a 5-2 mark in conference play.

 

Friday, April 17                vs. Stanford, 7 p.m. (Hillenbrand Stadium)

                                            (CBS College Sports TV)

 

Saturday, April 18           vs. California, 7 p.m.

                                            KCUB 1290 AM

 

Sunday, April 19              vs. California, 12 p.m.

 

Noting the Cardinal: No. 2 Stanford (37-4, 6-3 Pac-10) touts one of the best pitchers in the nation in senior Missy Penna (25-3). The Miami, Fla. native has compiled a 0.90 ERA, and has shutout opponents 14 times so far. In 193.2 innings she has 247 strikeouts against 42 walks and has given up only 25 earned runs. The most impressive stat: Penna has given up a total of only five home runs. Offensively speaking, junior Alissa Haber leads the team with a .428 average at the dish. Her 56 hits are one behind freshman Ashley Hansen, who is also batting over .400. Hansen's team-leading 39 RBI are one ahead of junior Shannon Koplitz. As a team, Stanford is batting .301, with 321 hits and 31 home runs.

 

Stanford this Week: The Cardinal defeated Santa Clara 7-0 in Palo Alto, Calif. on Tuesday night. Alissa Haber tallied three hits and Ashley Chinn (11-1) pitched 7 innings of 2-hit ball.

 

Noting the Golden Bears: No. 14 California is led by freshman Jamia Reed with a .350 average at the plate. The Southern California native has a team-high 43 hits, and a .545 slugging percentage, good for third on the squad. The sophomore duo of Valerie Arioto and Sanoe Kekahuna round out the top three on the charts, hitting .330 and .298, respectively. The latter has hit a team-high 9 home runs, and senior teammate Gina Leomiti leads the team with 30 RBI. In the circle, both Arioto (13-3) and junior Marissa Drewrey (16-9) should see action against the Wildcats. Drewrey has tossed 155.1 innings, striking out 184 and scattering 127 hits. Arioto has started 12 games and has 27 appearances on the season.

 

Cal this Week: The Bears took on Saint Mary's on Wednesday afternoon and eeked out a 1-0 win. Valerie Arioto picked up the W.

Last Week: On Friday, Sam Banister knocked two home runs after being slighted by intentionally walking her predecessor to help lift Arizona to a Pac-10 victory over Arizona State, 10-8. Banister drove in six runs with the pair of three-run blasts. Three other Wildcats hit home runs. Stacie Chambers hit her nation-leading 24th blast, and ASU opted to intentionally walk her in her final two-at bats. Banister - who followed Chambers in the order - came through both times. The first was in the third inning, and the second came with the Cats trailing in the sixth and gave UA the lead for good. Sarah Akamine pitched every inning but the six-run ASU sixth, earning an odd save. Jennifer Martinez (8-3) picked up the win, having pitched only 0.2 innings.

Saturday contest was rained out in the third inning. The game was tied 2-2 in the bottom of the third, and has yet to be rescheduled.

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 KCUB 1290 AM Radio. Those games are noted on the schedule on the first page.

 

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 1,164-237-2 (.831) record in his 22nd season 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.

 

The Best of the Best: With 96 long balls, Arizona is on pace to hit more than 100 home runs, which will eclipse the mark set by the 1995 team. If they can manage to hit 30 more, they will tie the record set by the 2001 national champions.

My Sacrifice: With most of UA's runners scoring on home runs, it's hard to plate a few sacrifice flies every now and then. With only five sac flies, Arizona is on track to hit the fewest amount of SF's since the 2005 team hit six, and the 1987 team hit only one.

 

Cashing in in the Clutch: Talk about clutch hitting. The Cats have hit 140 RBI with two outs. To put that into perspective, opponents have hit 123 total RBI against UA.

 

Leading Off: Sophomore Brittany Lastrapes is hitting a remarkable .635 when leading off. The Laguna Niguel, Calif. native has also reached base 40 out of 63 times she has led off an inning.

 

Home Sweet Home: Arizona brings a 19-1 home record into this weekend's competition. The lone loss was against All-American pitcher Tara Oltman and Creighton in a 6-0 loss, the first home shutout since 2005. UA's home winning mark of 95 percent is just above the 92 percent mark that the Cats have established since Hillenbrand Stadium opened in 1993.

 

Top of the Order Troubles: One- and two-hole hitters Brittany Lastrapes and K'Lee Arredondo went a combined 0-for-20 two weekends ago. Against ASU however, both went a combined 3-for-6, including a home run for each in the second game - to be added to the total when the game is resumed.

 

Lineup Card: With K'Lee Arredondo's return three weeks ago, Lini Koria's recent hand injury and Laine Roth's wrist problems, this is the projected 1-through-9 for this weekend:

 

1. Brittany Lastrapes - LF

2. K'Lee Arredondo - SS

3. Jenae Leles - 3B

4. Stacie Chambers - C

5. Sam Banister - 1B

6. Kristen Arriola - DP

7. Victoria Kemp - 2B

8. Lauren Schutzler - CF

9. Karissa Buchanan - RF

 

Pick Your Poison: Arizona's lineup may very well be one of the most feared in softball. The 1-through-4 hitters are hitting an average of .395 at the plate, with a combined 58 home runs, and that's with Arredondo having only played in 22 games and both her and Lastrapes with one homer in reserve in the second ASU game. The bottom five are hitting .326, with 32 jacks. Pitch around the powerful combination of Leles and Chambers, and you run into Sam Banister who cranked two home runs against ASU after IBBs to her predecessor.

 

Up Against RBI History: Stacie Chambers has a superlative 74 RBI in 42 games, leading the nation with 1.76 per contest. That kind of pace is difficult to keep up for a full season with Pac-10 pitching, indeed. It also underscores some of the historically significant run producers in the Arizona program. If Chambers did stay on that track, with about two dozen games left in the regular

season, she'd finish at around 99 RBI. That would be the fourth-best total in Arizona single-season history behind the NCAA-record 129 by Laura Espinoza in 1995, 109 by Jenny Dalton in 1996 and 100 by Leah Braatz in 1998. She clearly has a shot at the most recent high total, 79 by eventual Olympic gold medalist Lovie Jung in 2003, the No. 9 figure in UA history. Reaching the top 10 chart will take 78 -- the number of RBI Braatz had in 1997.

 

Standout Performances: Three RBI in one game is a lot. Wildcats have done it individually 48 times this year. But, that's one level. Arizona has 26 4+ RBI games. Think that's a lot? Stacie Chambers has had 5 5+ RBI games, her latest: a seven-RBI performance against New Mexico. Sam Banister tallied the most recent 5+ RBI game - a six-RBI output against ASU last weekend.

 

Mercy Me: In a streak that ended just over a month ago, Arizona had won five consecutive games in five innings by way of the run-ahead rule. The last Arizona squad to accomplish this feat was the 1995 team that won six straight five inning games. Keep in mind, though, that the run-rule can also be enforced after the

fifth. For example, the 2003 team had a streak of six games won by the mercy rule, however, one of those games went six innings.

 

Yard Ball Notes: Arizona has 96 home runs, 30 of those with no runners aboard. One reason for the solo-weighted jacks is that UA has 15 leadoff homers to start innings. The club has eight grand slams: Stacie Chambers has three, while Sam Banister, Lini Koria, Kristen Arriola, K'Lee Arredondo and Brittany Lastrapes have one each. UA hit an astounding 31 home runs a month ago, and added 11 more two weekends ago. Arizona has 174 HRBIs - runs batted in off of long balls - so far this season.

 

More Jack Smack: Some of Arizona's bombs have come from the usual suspects, some not. Stacie Chambers leads the team and the nation with 24, including three grand slams; Jenae Leles upped her total to 19 last week; Sam Banister has a career-high 11 to her name; Freshman Lini Koria has 10 jacks along with sophomore Brittany Lastrapes; Kristen Arriola belted her fifth against NMSU and K'Lee Arredondo batted her fifth against ASU; Lauren Schutzler has belted four home runs along with Laine Roth's four early-season blasts; Victoria Kemp slammed her third homer of the season against Oregon; Alicia Banks nabbed a pinch-hit homer against UTEP.

 

Going Streaking: Not much in this column, thanks to Washington's Danielle Lawrie. Jenae Leles has a three-game streak, and a number of Wildcats are riding simple one-game stints. Lauren Schutzler's team-high 16-game hitting

 

streak came to an end against Simon Fraser. It was the longest streak in two seasons for the Cats.

 

Who's No. 1?: As Pac-10 play continues, Sarah Akamine has taken over the ERA lead on the team. Her 2.50 ERA betters both Jennifer Martinez's and Lindsey Sisk's. Martinez has still tallied more strikeouts than Akamine and Sisk and in limited action, but seemed to struggle in her last few outings. In 26 of the games that Martinez has appeared in, she has finished 17 of them.

 

Double Trouble: Brittany Lastrapes has taken the doubles lead on the team. With 16, she sits three shy of K'Lee Arredondo's mark from 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 eight more to crack the UA career top-10 for doubles.

 

Late-Inning Goods: The Cats could use some better focus at the plate at the ends of games. UA has played 15 run-shortened games (all victories) so the late innings have come at a somewhat discounted rate. Still, the Cats have scored 75, 55, 76, and 68 runs in the first through fourth innings and a combined 94 afterward including 28 in seventh innings. In the last four seasons, UA has compiled a 138-2 record when leading after five innings, and a 135-1 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 4-51 when trailing in the final frame. If there was one tenet coach Mike Candrea has preached in his quarter-century of excellence at Arizona, it's to finish games.

 

Simple Reasoning: In Arizona's seven losses the opponents have scored 47 runs to 18 by the Cats. That will do it. In its victories the average score is Arizona 8, Opponents 2... UA has surpassed the 300 run mark for the year, something it's done every year since 1992 except for the 2005 campaign when it checked in with 261. The club is already at 368 runs, an average of 8.76 per contest.

 

National Leaders: On the left side of the page you will find a list of where Arizona is ranked in national statistics. Though Pac-10 season looms, Arizona's offensive prowess can be seen in the numbers. Stacie Chambers, Jenae Leles and Brittany Lastrapes account for much of Arizona's offensive firepower. In years past, this list probably would have included an Arizona pitcher or two...

 

Friendly Confines: Over 6,500 people came through the Hillenbrand Stadium gates to watch the home opening weekend. On Friday night against ASU, a season-high 2,794 people passed through the Hillenbrand gates. The numbers

are on track to break records for attendance in a single season. Right now, the Cats are averaging 2,352 per game, as opposed to 1,900 - last's season's total.

 

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 9th in the NFCA poll and 11th in the USA Softball/ESPN.com poll.

 

Arizona Softball in Historical Perspective: Arizona began play in 1974 and sports an all-time record of 1,520-438-2. The Cats are 360-97-1 in Pac-10 play, which began in 1987. Since 1982 and NCAA Division I Championships play began, Arizona is 1,346-332-2. 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 178-25 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 that attracted 2,844 fans. 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 Candidate List: Senior third baseman Jenae Leles, junior catcher Stacie Chambers and sophomore outfielder Brittany Lastrapes were named to the exclusive 25-name list. Arizona is scheduled to face many of the highly-touted players.

 

Lowe's Senior CLASS Award Watch: Jenae Leles was named one of 10 finalists for the national award. To vote, log onto seniorclassaward.com or text SB3 to 839863.

 

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.

 

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