Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
No. 2 Softball Faces No. 14 Washington, No. 3 UCLA in Pac-10 Home Opener
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: April 07, 2006
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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THIS WEEK: No. 2 Arizona (30-4, 1-1) has its first Pac-10 home games this weekend, as the Wildcats play host to No. 14 Washington (26-10, 1-2) on Friday and No. 3 UCLA (30-3, 2-1) on Saturday and Sunday.

ON THE AIR: Subscribers to All-Access, Arizona's premium multimedia service, can watch video webcasts of all three games. In addition, subscribers can listen to an audio webcast of 1290 AM The Source's radio broadcast of Saturday's game, with Paul Johnson and former Wildcat softball player Erika Hanson calling the action.

More information about All-Access


FRIDAY, APRIL 7                     WASHINGTON                 7 p.m. (MST)        ARIZONA OLYMPIC RECOGNITION ANDAUTOGRAPH NIGHT.  SATURDAY, APRIL 8              UCLA                                  7 p.m. (MST)

SUNDAY, APRIL 9                    UCLA                                  1 p.m. (MST)


NOTING WASHINGTON: The Huskies are coming off an up and down weekend of Pac-10 play, in which they lost to Cal, 1-0, and Stanford, 2-0, before run-ruling Stanford, 8-0 to finish the weekend.


The UW offense, which lost 2005 co-Pac-10 Player of the Year Kristen Rivera, averages almost five runs a game and is led by Ashley Charters and Sarah Hyatt. Charters boasts a .454 batting average with 25 stolen bases on the year.  Hyatt, meanwhile, leads the team with 31 RBI and is second to only Charters with her .538 slugging percentage.  Danielle Lawrie and Caitlin Noble split the time in the circle and combine to account for every inning pitched for UW this season.  Lawrie is 15-6 with a 1.63 ERA, while Noble is 11-4, with a 1.76 ERA.


UW is scheduled to play Portland State in Seattle, Wash., this Wednesday, before heading down to Tucson.


NOTING UCLA: The Bruins enter the week with a 30-3 record and a 2-1 clip in conference play.  Last week in Los Angeles, UCLA defeated Stanford, 5-4, before losing to California, 10-3, and then coming back to beat the Golden Bears, 3-1 on Sunday.


UCLA return all of its starters from last year’s WCWS runner-up squad, including Jodie Legaspi, Caitlin Benyi, Andrea Duran and Emily Zaplatosch.  Legaspi leads the Bruins with her .357 batting average and nine home runs, while Benyi and Duran both have seven bombs on the year.  Colburn leads UCLA with 25 RBI and four triples, while Zaplatosch is coming off a season in which she hit three home runs and had 11 RBI in three games against UA.  In the circle, UCLA returns 2005 All-American and Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year Anjelica Selden.  Selden has a 17-2 record and a 0.48 ERA this season.  She has allowed only nine earned runs, but has allowed another nine unearned runs in 130.1 innings pitched this season.


LAST WEEK RECAP: Arizona opened Pac-10 play in Oregon, as the Wildcats lost to No. 7 Oregon State, 2-1, on Friday.  The defeat was UA’s first loss in a Pac-10 opener since 1991 at California.  UA bounced back on Saturday, defeating Oregon, 4-1, before having Sunday’s matinee rained out.


Alicia Hollowell pitched her way to a complete-game victory against Oregon, in her first appearance since being struck in the face with a line drive against Texas on March 19.


INJURY UPDATE: During the same game that Hollowell got hurt, Caitlin Lowe suffered an injury to her left hand when sliding head first into first base on a groundout.  The initial prognosis was that Lowe would be out 4-6 weeks, and this is week number three in that timeframe.


Since the injury, Lowe’s absence from the Arizona lineup was a first in her career.  The junior outfielder from Tustin, Calif., had started 147 straight games since joining the Wildcat family as a freshman two years ago.


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 five runs scored Champion could also crack the top 10 for runs in a career.  The Tustin, Calif., native has touched home 168 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 19 stolen bases this year, Lowe has swiped 93 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.


BIRTHDAY BALKO BUSTS SLUMP: UA’s sophomore catcher Callista Balko has had some reason to celebrate lately.  One reason could be that her 20th birthday came this past Tuesday on April 4, or another could be her recent performance at the plate.


Balko went 4-for-5 (.800) with two walks this past weekend, and is 5-for-6 (.667) with a .900 on-base percentage (9-for-10) over the last three games.  The streak is especially notable, as it started when Balko was mired in a 3-for-19 (.158) slump in the previous eight games.  As if all that were not enough, Balko has been behind the plate for all 216.2 innings this year while UA has been in the field.


IS BIRTHDAY GIRL BANISTER NEXT? Keeping with the theme, Sam Banister, who will celebrate her 19th birthday this Sunday, is looking to be the next Wildcat (whose surname begins with B) and has a birthday to snap out of a slump.  The freshman first baseman from Petaluma, Calif., has only three RBI in her last 11 games and is 1-for her last-11 at the plate (.091 in three games).


LEADING OFF WITH A BANG: Of Sam Banister’s five home runs this year, three have come when she was leading off an inning.  With 18 plate appearances leading off this year, Banister’s hits a leadoff jack in one out of six tries.  If she maintained that rate for all of her plate appearances, the UA first baseman would have 18 long balls on the year.  Also, without Banister’s numbers, UA hitters start their frames with a home run about one in every 26 times.


SPEAKING OF SOLO SHOTS: Arizona’s pitchers have been touched up for nine home runs all year.  Eight of those have come with no one on base.  The only non-solo shot came with two runners on base to Baylor’s Brett Reagan.  Reagan’s four-bagger also marked the only time UA has trailed in a game, but did not lose (see “Get Ahead, Stay Ahead”).


THREE FOR THE MONEY: Caitlin Lowe moved into a four-way tie on Arizona’s all-time triples list, when she had her fourth three-bagger of the year and ninth of her career on March 18 against CSUN.  Among the names Lowe had been tied with when she had eight career triples: UA senior associate athletics director Kathleen “Rocky” LaRose.


Lowe tied her career-high for most triples in a season with four.


TRIPLE THE FUN: 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 34 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 just over 21 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.


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.


HOMER HAPPY: Kristie Fox’s fourth-inning home run at Oregon on April 1 was UA’s 33rd long ball this season (in 34 games).  That mark equals the Wildcats’ total in 2005, in which they played 57 games.  The 33 home runs that last year’s squad were the smallest total for a UA team since 1992.


NEWCOMERS MUSCLE UP: Aside from last minute roster additions Kelly Nelson, Jill Malina and Danielle Rodriguez, UA had brought in four new players this year who have helped to fix last year’s power problem.


Chelsie Mesa, Laine Roth, Jenae Leles and Sam Banister have started all 34 games this year and have had a noticeable impact on the UA offense.  Those four have 22 of Arizona’s 33 home runs and 55 percent of the team’s RBI.  Additionally, the newcomers are slugging .546 as a group.


NERVOUS NEWBIES? NOT ANYMORE: Arizona’s quartet of new hitters may have had some Pac-10 jitters in their first league contest, or maybe All-American Brianne McGowan had something to do with it.  Either way, they combined to go 0-for-11 at the plate in UA’s, 2-1, loss.  The next day, the newcomers turned things around, as each had at least one hit, including a combined three doubles in the 4-1 victory over Oregon.


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.


ARIZONA HEAD COACH MIKE CANDREA is in his 21st season at Arizona and carries a career 1,057-207 (.836) 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.


USA SOFTBALL NATIONAL COLLEGIATE PLAYER-OF-THE-YEAR WATCH LIST:  Four Arizona players were named to the USA Softball POY pre-season watch list.  Alicia Hollowell, Caitlin Lowe, Kristie Fox and Autumn Champion are the quartet of Wildcats featured on the 50-name list, which includes players representing 28 schools from 10 conferences.


AND THEN THERE WERE EIGHT: Okay, here’s the bad news: Arizona returned just eight of its 17 players from 2005.  The good news is that half of the Wildcat returnees are All-Americans (Alicia Hollowell, Caitlin Lowe, Kristie Fox and Autumn Champion) and the other half had significant contributions in 2005, as well.


To cope with the lack of returners, UA brought in Chelsie Mesa, Laine Roth, Jenae Leles and Sam Banister (see “Newcomers Muscle Up”), as well as former UA soccer standout Kelly Nelson, manager Jill Malina and former Tucson High infielder Danielle Rodriguez.


LEADING THE PAC: Arizona leads the nation’s toughest conference in team batting average (.339), pitching ERA (0.65), and fielding percentage (.980).  The Wildcats also lead the conference in on-base percentage (.422), opposing batting average (.119),


IF WE SCORE TWO, WE WIN: Arizona is 30-0 in games in which it scores two runs or more.  UA’s only four losses this year have come when the prolific Wildcat offense has been shutout or limited to one run.  In its wins, UA averages 6.8 runs scored, but has totaled only one run its four losses combined.  Also, in Arizona’s four defeats, opponents have scored a total of five runs.


RBI FOR EVERYONE! Arizona’s offense has six 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:  Mesa, .88, Fox .85, Roth .76, Leles .71, Lowe .62 and Banister .59.


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


MULTI-HIT AND MULTI-RBI GAMES: Every Arizona starter with the exception of Taryne Mowatt who has only 21 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 and Jenae Leles both have a half dozen multi-RBI games, including 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.  Kristie Fox (12), Autumn Champion (10), Laine Roth (8) and Chelsie Mesa (8) round out the top of the list.  All told, UA batters have combined for 77 multi-hit and 48 multi-RBI games.


HITTING STREAK: Caitlin Lowe’s career-high 15-game hit streak was snapped in UA’s March 19 loss to Texas.  Kristie Fox currently leads UA with a modest five-game hitting 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 is currently riding a 23-game home winning streak, dating back to May 7, 2005, against Washington.


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 15 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       0.65    12.4        14.7*      .125

Hollowell   0.60    13.2        20.0        .110


Mowatt walked two batters intentionally in the March 19 contest against Texas.  Without the IBBs, her K:BB is 17.4.


NOBODY EVER GOT ANYTHING FREE FROM UA: The Wildcat pitching staff has combined to strikeout 393 opponent hitters in 216.2 innings pitched this season.  What’s more, they have issued a total of 24 walks to opposing hitters.  That’s one walk per 9.0 innings pitched and 16.4 strikeouts to the walk.  In contrast, UA hitters have walked 119 times or 3.5 times a game.


TAKING BALLS AND TAKING NAMES: When Kristie Fox isn’t driving in one of her 29 RBI on the year, she may be doing a number of things, but one of them is not striking out.  Fox has drawn 17 walks this year, while striking out just six times.  The junior from San Diego, Calif., strikes out on average once every 17 at-bats.  The rest of the Wildcats strikeout every 4.5 at-bats.


STEALING WITH ACCURACY: Arizona has stolen 40 bases this year.  What’s more, the thieves have been caught only twice in 42 attempts.  Although Arizona State leads the Pac-10 with 76 stolen bases, the Sun Devils have been caught 12 times, for a respectable 87 percent success rate.  The Wildcats, on the other hand, lead the conference with success in 95 percent of their stolen base attempts.   


ACTION ACTON: Adrienne Acton’s speed has put the pressure on opposing defenses all year, as she has reached on an error seven times this year, including two four-base scoring plays.  The rest of the Wildcats have combined to reach on an error 14 times.


GET AHEAD, STAY AHEAD: Arizona has trailed a total of five times all year.  In addition to its four losses, the Wildcats were behind for three innings in its second of three games against Baylor.


THAT’S WHY THEY’RE ALL-AMERICANS: Arizona has had its ups and downs with runners in scoring position, but three hitters who have thrived in big spots are UA’s three All-American hitters.  Arizona’s top three batters in RISP situations are Caitlin Lowe (.560), Autumn Champion (.459) and Kristie Fox (.395).  Second baseman Chelsie Mesa (an NJCAA All-American) is batting .378 in RISP situations.


PINCH WHAT? Taryne Mowatt’s at-bat against UNLV on March 16 marked the first and only time Coach Candrea has sent a pinch-hitter to the plate this year.


PINCH RUNNERS: Kelly Nelson has appeared as a pinch runner in 21 games for UA.  In doing so, she has scored 10 runs.  Jill Malina and Danielle Rodriguez have appeared as a PR in 10 and nine games, respectively.  Rodriguez scored the game-winning run in UA’s 2-1, nine-inning victory over Baylor on March 12.


EXTRA ALMOST EVERY TIME: Arizona has at least one extra-base hit in 29 of its 34 games this season for a total of 81.  UA’s opponents, on the other hand, have 16 extra-base knocks.


THE OLD RED, WHITE & BLUE: Caitlin Lowe and Alicia Hollowell return to Arizona after a summer with the USA National Team.  With Coach Candrea at the helm, Lowe started 11 of 12 games and hit a combined .357, while scoring six runs and going 4-for-4 on stolen base attempts, during several tournaments.  Hollowell did not give up an earned run in 8.2 innings of work, during which time she struck out 12 batters.  Kristie Fox was invited to numerous USA Softball tryouts, but declined invitations to play over the summer, as she was recovering from surgery on her throwing arm.


DEFENSE WINS WHAT? With 16 only defensive hiccups in 793 fielding attempts, UA has a Pac-10 leading .980 fielding percentage.  Opponents, on the other hand, have committed 41 errors for a .952 fielding clip.  UA is error-free in 20 games this season.


NOT AFRAID OF A CHALLENGE: As always, Arizona is playing one of the most challenging schedules in the nation.  Of UA’s 53 scheduled regular season games, 19 are against teams ranked in the top 10 of the pre-season Today Poll.  In addition, another 11 games are against teams that were ranked 11-25 to begin the year.  Additionally, Arizona has played or will face ever team in the top 10 of this week’s USA Softball poll at least once in the regular season, with the exception of No. 5 Tennessee.


EARLY SIGNINGS:  Head coach Mike Candrea announced that UA has received four National Letters of Intent for the 2006-07 academic year from pitcher Amanda Williams of Brentwood, Calif., catcher/third baseman Stacie Chambers of Glendale, Ariz., shortstop/utility K’Lee Arrendondo of Tempe, Ariz., and pitcher/third baseman Sarah Akamine of Escondido, Calif. 


ARIZONA SOFTBALL ATTENDANCE: This year, Arizona is averaging 1,095 fans a game in 11 dates.