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Wildcats Meet Sun Devils in Rivalry Series
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/30/2010
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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March 30, 2010

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Wildcats Meet Sun Devils in Rivalry Series

April 1-3, 2010 ~ Farrington Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.

The Games

After overmatching New Mexico in Albuquerque and defeating the Lobos by a combined margin of 32-2, Arizona heads up I-10 to Tempe to face off against the Arizona State Sun Devils in the State Farm Territorial Cup Series. All games can be heard on KCUB 1290 AM.

Opponent

The Sun Devils, ranked 7th in the land by the NFCA, were swept at the hands of the Wildcats last season after taking all three games in 2008. Both teams have a rejuvenated pitching staff, and both are ranked near the top in all offensive categories.

At the conclusion of the weekend, UA will have played seven of its last nine games against ASU in Tempe.

Team Notes

ASU: The No. 7 Sun Devils (31-4) are led by sophomore Katelyn Boyd and her .459 average at the dish. The Phoenix native has a .959 slugging percentage to go along with a team-high 13 home runs and 38 RBI. She has also stolen 20 bases, having been caught just once. Arizona State has two other regulars hitting above the .400 mark, and three hitting over .370.

In the circle, sophomore Hillary Bach (15-1) touts a 1.26 ERA with 69 strikeouts in 99.2 innings pitched. She holds opponents to a .209 average. Senior Megan Elliott (11-1) is the No. 2 pitcher, having racked up 89.1 innings worth of work.

Last Time Out

Arizona dismantled the New Mexico Lobos in a three-game set in Albuquerque over the weekend.

Game 1: Kenzie Fowler twirled a two-hitter and Arizona put up five runs before New Mexico saw the plate as the Wildcats upended the Lobos, 8-0, on an evening where the wind gusted upwards of 50 miles per hour at Lobo Field. Fowler struck out seven and walked four in the run-rule victory.

Game 2: Stacie Chambers hit two homers to lead Arizona to a 10-2 win over New Mexico in front of 1,575 at Lobo Field on Saturday. Sarah Akamine picked up her 10th win of the season.

Game 3: Arizona's bats exploded for 16 hits off New Mexico pitching, and Kenzie Fowler tossed her second no-hitter of the season in a 14-0 five-inning win Sunday at Lobo Field. Fowler improved to 18-2 on the season, tied for the most wins in the Pac-10.

Catch the Action

Go to arizonawildcats.com for live GameTracker stats, sponsored by Tucson Electric Power. Fans can watch all home games on All-Access, and most home games will be broadcast in-stadium on 103.3 FM with David Kelly and former UA softball player Erika Barnes describing the game action.

A Tale of Two Seasons: Now that non-conference play is mostly complete, reality checks in. If five years can be any indication, things get tougher from here on out. Here's a look at UA's team batting average for overall games vs. its conference games only mark:

Year    Overall Conference

2010    .339     ???

2009    .339    .301

2008    .304    .296

2007    .289    .266

2006    .311    .265

Running Away

With 32 runs in three games over the weekend, Arizona vaulted to the top of the national charts, tied with Arizona State for scoring at 8.26 runs per game. It's higher than the 7.92 that the 2009 squad posted, but Pac-10 caliber pitching looms for this year's team, and the mark will more than likely drop some.

KFC

Kenzie Fowler in the circle...The freshman's 18-2 pitching record bodes well for Arizona, and gives her a chance, albeit a tough one with 23 regular-season games remaining, to crack the 30-victory barrier.  Arizona pitchers have accomplished it 17 times, last by Taryne Mowatt in the magical NCAA title 2007 year when she did all the pitching and went 42-12 with a lot of the work in the postseason. Mowatt just missed in her senior year in 2008, going 29-15, again pitching a lot with 72 percent of the innings thrown. Fowler's tossed 62 percent of the action this year, thanks to some strong work by senior Sarah Akamine who's won a career-best 10 games (against one defeat). Another game and Akamine reaches her career high in single-season innings pitched.

Swipes

The Cats are overall blessed with as much team speed as most UA clubs, but aren't prone to base stealing. A team slugging percentage of .606 will do that. In fact, UA has three historical .600-plus slugging seasons and all are marked by the long ball. Last year's club set the record at .630 (with a record 134 jacks) and the 1994-95 juggernaut slugging squads posted .602 (93 HR) and .608 marks (100 HR). UA has 18 stolen bases (22 attempts) this year, its second lowest total in 29 seasons of Division I softball. The 1986 club, Mike Candrea's first, stole 11 bases in 18 tries to post the lowest. Doubling the current figure, which is generous, would put UA with its lowest since the 2002 (and 94 HR squad) swiped 32 in 41 tries. Basically the same personnel had 29 thefts in 36 tries last year while it blasted the 134 yard balls.

Top of the Order

Leadoff batter Brittany Lastrapes leads the team (tied with Brigette Del Ponte) with 11 home runs. Four of them led off innings. In Arizona's history, no leadoff hitter has more circuit clouts than Lastrapes. Caitline Lowe had 12 from 2004 to 2007, and Alison McCutcheon had 10 from 1995 to 1998. Brittany has 35 career home runs, No. 15 in UA history. She recently passed Lauren Bauer (32 from 1998 to 2001). Next up is Leneah Manuma with 40 in 2001-02, and a pair at 41 -- Lindsey Collins from 1998-2001 and Lovieanne Jung in 2002-03.

Brigette Brings Them In

Brigette Del Ponte has 45 RBI through 31 games played, a torrid pace for a freshman even at Arizona where some historical years show up on RBI charts. Here's how she stacks up against the Wildcat career RBI leaders' freshman seasons (full season totals):

Player    RBI Freshman Year

Leah Braatz 75 1994

Toni Mascarenas 73 1998

M. Vandergeest 61 2001

Stacie Chambers    49 2008

Brigette Del Ponte 45 2010

Laura Espinoza 44 1992

Alison McCutcheon 40    1995

Kristie Fox 37 2004

Jenae Leles 36 2006

Jennie Finch 34 1999

Jenny Dalton 30 1992

Leticia Pineda 19 1995

In a few weeks, Stacie Chambers will displace one of those. She had a team-leading 49 RBI in her first year in 2008 (after missing 2007 with injury). She has 178 career RBI entering the ASU series, just six shy of the No. 10 spot held by Alison McCutcheon with 184 from 1995-98. 

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