Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday
Softball to Play Host to Hillenbrand Invitational
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: February 15, 2012
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Feb. 15, 2012

Hillenbrand Invitational Notes Get Acrobat Reader

First team listed will occupy third base dugout
Game times will change based on the length of the previous game. Games will not begin before scheduled time.
Friday, Feb. 17
9:00 a.m.	North Dakota vs. Western Kentucky	Hillenbrand Stadium
11:00 a.m.	Southern Utah vs. Western Kentucky	Hillenbrand Stadium
1:00 p.m.	Southern Utah vs. Alabama Birmingham	Hillenbrand Stadium
4:00 p.m.	ARIZONA vs. Alabama Birmingham		Hillenbrand Stadium
6:00 p.m.	ARIZONA vs. North Dakota		Hillenbrand Stadium
Saturday, Feb. 18
10:00 a.m.	Southern Utah vs. North Dakota		Hillenbrand Stadium
12:00 p.m.	Alabama Birmingham vs. North Dakota	Hillenbrand Stadium
2:00 p.m.	Alabama Birmingham vs. Western Kentucky	Hillenbrand Stadium
4:00 p.m.	ARIZONA vs. Western Kentucky		Hillenbrand Stadium
6:00 p.m.	ARIZONA vs. Southern Utah		Hillenbrand Stadium
Sunday, Feb. 19
9:00 a.m.	Alabama Birmingham vs. Western Kentucky	Hillenbrand Stadium
11:00 a.m.	North Dakota vs. Southern Utah		Hillenbrand Stadium
1:00 p.m.	ARIZONA vs. Southern Utah		Hillenbrand Stadium



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Live Stats:

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Hillenbrand Invitational All-Time Record:

74-3 (.961)

First Hosted:      Last Year:

1994                       5-0


- Arizona's three losses at the Kajikawa Classic were by one run apiece. Arizona lost just one game all season in 2011 by one run. The last time Arizona lost three games by one run was 3/17/2011 to Baylor (3-2).

- The Wildcats lead the conference in hits (53), home runs (11) and total bases (97).

- Jessica Spigner leads the Pac-12 with her .696 on-base percentage, helped by her conference-leading eight walks and two HBP.

- Arizona outscored opponents 42-20 despite splitting the six decisions at the Kajikawa Classic.


Alabama Birmingham: The Blazers (3-2) enter off a solid showing at the FIU Combat Classic in Miami. The Blazers defeated UMass, Michigan State and FIU while falling in one-run affairs with Lousville and Illinois. Mandy Lowman hit a couple home runs and batted .417 in the tournament. This will be the first ever meeting between Arizona and UAB. Series History: N/A // First Meeting: N/A // Last Meeting: N/A

North Dakota: The Fighting Sioux (3-1) are coming off a season-opening tournament in Ames, Iowa, the Ramada UNI-Dome Classic. NDU saw wins over Northern Iowa, Drake and Nebraska-Omaha while falling to Western Illinois. The Sioux are led in the circle by Lexa Twist, who did not allow an earned run in 11 innings over the weekend. This will be the first ever meeting between Arizona and North Dakota. Series History: N/A // First Meeting: N/A // Last Meeting: N/A

Western Kentucky: The Hilltoppers (3-1) began their season at the Palmetto Classic in Columbia, S.C., where  the team recorded wins over Cleveland State, Winthrop and Tennessee State. Its only blemish came in an eight-inning, one-run loss to South Carolina. Mallorie Sulaski led the team with a .900 slugging percentage and posted a .500 batting average on the weekend. This will be the first ever meeting between the Cats and the Hilltoppers. Series History: N/A // First Meeting: N/A // Last Meeting: N/A

Southern Utah: The Thunderbirds (0-2) dropped its first two games of the season to Utah Valley, 2-5 and 3-11 (5).  SUU has three hitters hitting in at least half of their at-bats: Mikkel Griffin (.571), Cora Cordova (.500) and Megan Gurski (.500). The teams will meet for the eight and ninth times in the schools' history with Arizona owning a 7-0 lifetime advantage. Series History: Arizona 7-0 // First Meeting: 1988 // Last Meeting: 2/17/2008; Arizona 11, Southern Utah 3 (6 innings); Kajikawa Classic (Tempe, Ariz.)

HEAD COACH Mike Candrea: Arizona head coach Mike Candrea is in his 27th year at the helm of the Arizona softball program with a career record of 1,275-280-2 (.819). A winner of eight national championships (1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2006, 2007), Arizona has made 22 trips to the Women's College World Series under his guidance, missing just twice in the last 24 years (2004, 2011). In 2010, Candrea became the fastest coach in NCAA Division I softball to earn 1,200 wins, and, providing the squad wins 28 games this season, he will be the fastest to 1,300. Under Candrea, Arizona has a spectacular postseason record of 148-43. An even 50 All-Americans with a staggering 90 total citations have played in the program since Candrea took over.

THE RANKINGS: Arizona fell eight spots in both polls and is now ranked 16th in both the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Preseason Poll and the Softball Collegiate Top 25. It marks the 24th-straight year that Arizona has been preseason top-10. The Wildcats finished 2011 ranked 11th in both rankings.


Thursday: Arizona downed McNeese State, 8-1. Jessica Spigner and Chelsea Goodacre homered in their first career games as Wildcats. Brigette Del Ponte chipped in with a home run of her own and collected four RBI.

Friday: The Wildcats dropped a couple of one-run games, falling to Georgia Tech 2-1 and Nebraska 11-10 on day two of the Kajikawa Classic. Arizona scored its only run against the Yellow Jackets in the first inning and failed to put anything across in the final six. Lini Koria hit three home runs against Nebraska and Hallie Wilson hit a two-out, three-run, go-ahead double in the top of the seventh inning against Nebraska, but the Cornhuskers walked off with the win in the bottom half.

Saturday: UA split its Saturday doubleheader against Syracuse and Texas A&M. The Cats run-ruled Syracuse 11-1 in five innings; Spigner tossed a three-hit gem and drove in four runs of offense in the victory. In the nightcap, the Wildcats battled back to tie up Texas A&M at four in the sixth, but an Aggie go-ahead seventh-inning home run would prove to be too much for UA to overcome.

Sunday: Arizona run-ruled Cal State Northridge 8-0 in its final game of the Kajikawa Classic. Shelby Babcock pitched a three-hit shutout and the offense assisted her with eight runs and the Wildcats finished the weekend 3-3.


Last Year: Arizona went 5-0 in the 2011 Hillenbrand Invitational, outscoring Drake, Kennesaw State, Pacific and Texas A&M Corpus Christi (two games) a combined 45-11.

All-Time: UA is 74-3 all-time at the Hillenbrand Invitational. Its .961 winning percentage is its highest of any active tournament. The Wildcats' three losses in the event came to Creighton (3/7/2009; 0-6), Oklahoma (3/6/1998; 3-4) and Texas Tech (3/7/1998; 0-6).


Lini Koria: Batted .533 with five extra-base hits at the Kajikawa Classic, including a three-homer output against Nebraska to tie a school record. Koria's batting average and slugging percentage (1.267) lead the team.

Jessica Spigner: Drew eight walks and was hit by two pitches and posted a .696 on-base percentage to lead the conference. The senior hit two home runs and a double and batted .500 on the weekend while also getting it done in the circle, allowing just three hits and one run in the first start of her career, a victory over Syracuse. Hit a home run in her first Arizona at-bat.

Hallie Wilson: Collected a hit in each of her first six games as a Wildcat and leads the team with 10 hits. Half of her hits have gone for doubles and the freshman leads the Pac-12 with five two-baggers.

Shelby Pendley: Five of her six Kajikawa hits went for extra bases, including a team-high tying three home runs. The freshman also played stellar defense, making a handful of nice plays and connecting on all 18 chances defensively.

Brigette Del Ponte: Homered twice and drove in six runs while batting .381 at the Kajikawa Classic and played well defensively.

TOUCHING `EM ALL: UA hit 11 home runs in the Kajikawa Classic, tops in the Pac-12. Arizona had three games of three-plus homers: McNeese State (3), Nebraska (4) and Syracuse (3). Lini Koria and Shelby Pendley are tied for the conference lead with three blasts apiece; each of Koria's came against Nebraska (her three-home run game tied a Wildcat record). Similarly, Arizona had 11 home runs in the 2011 Kajikawa Classic, pacing it to a league-leading 79 home runs last season.

DOUBLE TROUBLE: The Wildcats led the conference in doubles in 2011 and hit the gaps once again to begin this season, legging out 11 two-baggers. Hallie Wilson leads the Pac-12 with five doubles. Brigette Del Ponte set the single season record with 23 doubles in 2011, she hit one at the Kajikawa Classic.

AN IMMEDIATE IMPACT: Four Wildcat newcomers started all six games in Tempe: Hallie Wilson, Jessica Spigner, Chelsea Goodacre. The four combined to go 26-70 (.371) with six home runs, eight doubles and 21 RBI. Spigner also pitched five innings, getting the victory against Syracuse while allowing just one run on three hits in five innings.

SO CLOSE: Arizona's three losses came by a combined three runs while its wins came by a total of 25 runs. Arizona lost three one-run games in the span of four games; in 2011 Arizona lost just one game by one run (Baylor; 3/17/11; 3-2).

NO NEED TO PANIC: This year marks the fourth season in the past six that the Wildcats have dropped at least two of its first six games. In that span, only the 2010 team scored more runs through the first six games than the 2012 club's 42.

LEADING THE PAC: Arizona leads the Pac-12 in the following team statistics: hits (53), home runs (11) and total bases (97). The following Wildcats lead the Pac-12 in individual statistics: Jessica Spigner (on-base percentage - .696 // walks - 8 // hit-by-pitch - 2), Hallie Wilson (hits - 10 // doubles - 5), Lini Koria (home runs - 3 // total bases - 19), Chelsea Goodacre (hit-by-pitch - 2 // fielding percentage - 1.000), Karissa Buchanan (stolen bases - 3), Shelby Babcock (innings pitched 26.1 // strikeouts 28) and Brigette Del Ponte (assists - 19).