March 11, 2009
Cats Head to Fullerton for Judi Garman Classic
Up Next: After winning nine of ten in a week’s span and picking up 31 home runs in the process, No. 12 Arizona heads to Southern California and the campus of Cal State Fullerton for five games in the Judi Garman Classic, including a tilt against No. 10 Michigan.
ALL GAMES AT CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, FULLERTON
(H) – Home team
(A) – Away team
Friday, March 13 Arizona (H) vs. Texas, 9 a.m. (Field 1)
Arizona (H) vs. New Mexico, 11 a.m. (Field 1)
Saturday, March 14 Arizona (A) vs. Penn State, 11 a.m. (Field 1)
Arizona (A) vs. Notre Dame, 3:30 p.m. (Field 2)
Sunday, March 15 Arizona (H) vs. Michigan, 1 p.m. (Field 2)
Latest Arizona Lineup:
LF – Brittany Lastrapes
2B – Kristen Arriola
3B – Jenae Leles
1B – Sam Banister
DP – Stacie Chambers
C – Lini Koria
SS – Victoria Kemp
CF – Karissa Buchanan
RF – Jill Malina
Noting the Longhorns: Junior Loryn Johnson stands out as the best hitter for Texas (16-5) racking up a .463 batting average with 31 hits and 20 RBI, all tops on the team. Junior Torrey Schroeder (7-1) has seen the most time in the circle, striking out 48 in 54.2 innings pitched with a 3.07 ERA.
Noting the Lobos: New Mexico (8-10) is hitting .308 as a team and has five hitters batting over .300 this season. Junior Shaunte Duarte leads the team with a .429 average. Senior Analise Rubalcava is 5-6 on the year with a 4.16 ERA. The Chandler, Ariz., native has pitched 69 innings and made seven starts.
Noting the Nittany Lions: Penn State (7-8) is led at the dish by freshman Lisa Akamine with a .308 average. Akamine has also started in all 15 games and could potentially face her sister in the circle, UA hurler Sarah Akamine. Either Jackie Hill (4-5) or Lisa Akamine (3-3) could see time against Arizona, as their staff has combined for a 1.90 ERA. Arizona leads the all-time series 8-1.
Noting the Fighting Irish: Sophomore Sadie Pitzenberger leads the Irish (6-7) with a .400 average at the plate. Senior Brittany Bargar (4-3) and sophomore Jody Valdivia (2-4) have split time in the circle, giving the staff a 2.25 ERA
Noting the Wolverines: Michigan (16-6) touts the reigning Big-10 Pitcher of the Week in junior Nikki Nemitz (10-3). Also available to toss is sophomore Jordan Taylor (6-3). The two have given the pitching staff a 0.98 ERA with 226 strikeouts in 157.2 innings. Freshman Amanda Chidester swings the biggest stick, batting a team-leading .380, with 13 RBI and 27 hits.
Last Week: Arizona won seven of ten by run-ruling their opponents in five, and won nine of ten overall. The lone loss was a 6-0 shutout to All-American pitcher Tara Oltman of Creighton. UA hit a combined 31 home runs over the week.
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 1,154-233-2 (.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.
Standout Performances: Three RBI in one game is a lot. Wildcats have done it individually 14 times this year. But, that's one level. Here are some other RBI by the bundles driven in by the Cats this year (included in the 14 times, of course):
8 - Lastrapes vs. Saint Joseph's
7 - Leles vs. Minnesota
6 - Banister vs. UTEP, Arredondo vs. Minnesota, Banister vs. USF, Koria vs. A&M, Chambers vs. Utah, Chambers vs. N. Dak. St., Arriola vs. UTEP
5 - Chambers vs. Creighton, Chambers vs. Saint Joe's, Leles vs. Creighton.to break records for attendance in a single season. Right now, the Cats are averaging 2,308 per game, as opposed to 1,900 – last’s season’s total.
Crossing the Plate: Of course, if someone drives in all those runs, someone scores. These Wildcats have scored three or more runs in a game this year: Arredondo (4 vs. Minn), Arriola (3 vs. UTEP), Banister (4 vs. Creighton, 3 vs. SJU), Kemp (3 vs. SJU, 3 vs. Minn), Koria (3 vs. UTEP), Lastrapes (3 vs. Marshall, 3 vs. Utah, 3 vs. N.DakSt., 3 vs. A&M, 3 vs. A&M, 3 vs. Minn.), Leles (3 vs. Minn, 4 vs. Creighton, 3 vs. SJU), Schutzler (3 vs. Hofstra, 4 vs. SJU). If you're counting, that's three or more runs scored in a game 18 times by a Cat.
Mercy Me: Arizona has won its last five 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.
Up Against RBI History: Stacie Chambers has a superlative 51 RBI in 28 games, 1.8 per contest. That kind of pace is difficult to keep up for a full season, indeed. It also underscores some of the historically significant run producers in the Arizona program. If Chambers did stay on that track, with about three 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.
Yard Ball Notes: Arizona has 60 home runs, 16 of those with no runners aboard. One reason for the solo-weighted jacks is that UA has seven leadoff homers to start innings. The club has seven grand slams: Stacie Chambers has two, while Sam Banister, Lini Koria, Kristen Arriola, K’Lee Arredondo and Brittany Lastrapes have one each. UA hit an astounding 31 home runs over the past week. Arizona has 132 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 Pac-10 conference with 13, including two grand slams; Jenae Leles had a powerful week, upping her total to 11; Freshman Lini Koria has eight jacks along with sophomore Brittany Lastrapes; Sam Banister has six to her name; Laine Roth and Kristen Arriola have each hit four; Lauren Schutzler has belted two three home runs already; Alicia Banks nabbed a pinch-hit homer against UTEP, and Victoria Kemp hit her first jack against Simon Fraser.
Late-Inning Goods: The Cats could use some better focus at the plate at the ends of games. UA has played 12 run-shortened games (all victories) so the late innings have come at a somewhat discounted rate. Still, the Cats have scored 53, 38, 66, and 50 runs in the first through fourth innings and a combined 61 afterward including on 10 in seventh innings. In the last four seasons, UA has compiled a 133-2 record when leading after five innings, and a 129-1 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 2-47 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 five losses the opponents have scored 25 runs to 11 by the Cats. That will do it. In its victories the average score is Arizona 9, Opponents 2... UA is on pace to score well over 300 runs 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 almost there already at 268 runs, an average of 9.6 per contest.
Friendly Confines: Over 6,500 people came through the Hillenbrand Stadium gates to watch the home opening weekend. With five dates this past week, 11,706 people passed through the Hillenbrand gates. The numbers are on track
Going Streaking: Lauren Schutzler’s 16-game hitting streak came to an end against Simon Fraser on Wednesday. It was the longest streak in two seasons for the Wildcats. Sam Banister holds the team’s longest streak at seven games, with Victoria Kemp trailing her by one.
Who’s No. 1?: Jennifer Martinez has staked her claim to the rotation. The redshirt senior from La Habra, Calif. has tallied 33 strikeouts in 25 innings pitched. She touts a record of 2-0 with an ERA of 1.12. She is certainly giving Sarah Akamine (11-3, 2.08 ERA) and Lindsey Sisk (10-2, 2.54 ERA) a run for their money.
Run Support: Arizona has scored 118 runs and scattered 137 hits when Akamine is the pitcher of record. UA has picked up their offensive output for Lindsey Sisk as the season has rolled along. As of now, they have tallied 119 runs on 121 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.
Double Trouble: Brittany Lastrapes has taken the doubles lead on the team. With 14, she sits five 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.
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.
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 12th in NFCA poll and 13th 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 1,510-434-2. 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 1,336-328-2. 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.
Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award Watch: Jenae Leles was named to the 30 player list for the award. Laine Roth was named to the preseason list along with Leles, and Caitlin Lowe won the inaugural award in 2007.
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.