March 11, 2002
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Arizona Softball (25-2)
Thursday, March 14 vs. Texas Tech, 9 a.m., at Cal State Fullerton's Titan Softball Complex
Thursday, March 14 vs. Notre Dame, 3 p.m., at Titan Softball Complex
Friday, March 15 vs. Cal State Northridge, 1 p.m., Titan Softball Complex
TBA March 15-17 Championship play
The Cats in D.C. Monday-Wednesday
Arizona's games scheduled at Utah Saturday and Sunday were canceled because of cold weather. Members of the Cats' 2001 NCAA Championship team head for Washington, D.C., Monday morning for some sightseeing and a scheduled meeting with President George W. Bush on Wednesday morning. Then the 2002 squad heads for Fullerton, Calif., and the Kia Klassic Tournament. The format is three games in pool play, then seeding for championship elimination play. UA's Pool A includes Texas Tech, Notre Dame and Northridge. Eight other ranked teams are in Pools B, C, and D. The East Coast-West Coast trip will log the Wildcats some 4,664 miles as the crow flies to accomplish a treasured visit with the Commander in Chief and some ball in one of country's top in-seasons tourneys.
Arizona's Mike Candrea carries a career record of 896-174 (.837), accomplished in 16+ years with the Wildcats. The 2001 Pac-10 co-Coach of the Year has led UA to six national titles and six Pacific-10 Conference championships. He needs four victories to become only the fifth coach in history to win 900 Division I games. During his tenure Wildcat student-athletes have earned All-America honors 59 times and won the Honda Softball Award four times (Susie Parra-1994, Jenny Dalton-1996, Nancy EvansB1998 and Jennie Finch-2001). Candrea=s Arizona teams have played in 15 consecutive NCAA Tournaments and 14 consecutive College World Series. Candrea is joined by assistant coaches Nancy Evans and Larry Ray.
Home Sweet Home
UA gets a break from its home winning streak of 65 games. (44 last year and 21 this season). UA last lost in Hillenbrand Stadium on April 9, 200, to No. 9 Stanford, 4-3, in eight innings. The Cats are 4-2 on the road this year - action at Arizona State's Fiesta Bowl Tournament in early Feburary. The home winning streak broke the school record of 45 games (May 1996 to March 1998). UA carries a live 16-game winning streak to Fullerton.
The Rankings: 1-3-2
Arizona was ranked No. 2 in the March 6 poll. UA was No. 1 in the preseason poll and No. 3 in the February 27poll. UA has been ranked steadily since 1988.
Finch on Fire
UA senior All-American - and 2001 Honda Softball Award winner -- Jennie Finch has won 54 consecutive games in the circle, an NCAA mark she established Feb. 24 with her 51st. She broke the record of 50 set by Rebecca Aase of Florida State from 1991 to 1993. The remarkable streak is all the more so because it spans considerable Pac-10 play and NCAA regional and WCWS action. She was 32-0 last year, another NCAA record for single-season perfection. Finch is 14-0 with an earned run average of 0.56 and has 138 strikeouts in 88 innings pitched. Among her nine shutouts, she has two no-hitters this year (seven in her career).
Bangin' Them Silly
Among one of the seemingly unassailable records UA set in 2001 was the team's 126 home runs in 69 games. This year a powerful UA club has whacked 49 dingers in 25 games - a pace (1.9 per game) ahead of last year's effort. Leneah Manuma leads the team with 14 homers and needs six more to top her freshman-year high of 19 a year ago. Arizona also has hit 10 grand slam home runs this year. The team slugging percentage is .622, which would be a school record if it held. But, better pitching will be the rule as UA plays in the Kia, host Louisiana-Lafayette for a three-game series March 22-24, then opens Pac-10 play at Arizona State on March 29.
Wildcat Softball Notes
...Manuma has 49 RBI in 69 at-bats. She has a crack at the UA top 10 chart on which No. 10 is catcher Leah Braatz 75 RBI in 1994... She has 10 multiple-RBI games and a six-game hitting streak, the team's best... Manuma's 33 career homers are No. 8 on the UA charts - in one-plus seasons... Catcher Mackenzie Vandergeest is No. 9 on the career chart with 25...
...No. 2 pitcher Jenny Gladding has won nine straight starts after taking both of UA's losses in the Fiesta Bowl tournament... Gladding's the usual DP when not in the circle and has nine homers...
...Lead-off hitter Lovie Jung has an on-base percentage of .559 (second to Manuma's .67), has walked a team-high 22 times and scored a team-high 33 runs... She has 11 multiple-hit games
...Candrea platoons four players in left and right fields - Allyson Von Lichtenstein (RF), Carrie Hagen (LF), Meghann Finerty (LF) and Candace Abrams (RF). Starting left fielder Courtney Fossatti might return to action soon after missing games with a stress fracture in her left foot. She's the team's leading hitter at .475... Abrams, Hagen and reserve second baseman Rebekah Quiroz are a combined 7-for-18 as pinch hitters (.389)...
...Arizona has outscored opponents 212-29 and has won 15 games of less than seven innings due to the eight-run mercy rule, including 11 of its last 14 games...
...Jennie Finch's career pitching record is 99-10. With one more victory she'll become only the fifth UA pitcher in history to win 100 games. With five more victories she'll pass Carrie Dolan (103-13, from 1994-97), Becky Lemke (103-19, 1998-2001) and Susie Parra (101-9, 1991-94) into the No. 2 spot behind current assistant coach and former Honda Award winner Nancy Evans (124-8, from 1994-98)...
...Arizona is 8-0 against ranked teams this year. The two losses were to Mississippi State and Wisconsin, both ranked in the NFCA poll of March 6...
...Arizona has drawn 20,082 patrons to Hillenbrand Stadium this year in 13 home dates, an average of 1,338 per game. The Cats have sold all 1,500 reserved seats on a season-ticket basis...