April 10, 2012
THE GAMES Date Time (PDT) Opponent Location Tuesday, April 10 5:00 p.m. Utah Hillenbrand Stadium (2,956) Tuesday, April 10 7:00 p.m. Utah Hillenbrand Stadium (2,956) Wednesday, April 11 12:00 p.m. Utah Hillenbrand Stadium (2,956) Friday, April 13 3:00 p.m. No. 1 California Levine-Fricke Field (500) Saturday, April 14 1:00 p.m. No. 1 California Levine-Fricke Field (500) Sunday, April 15 12:00 p.m. No. 1 California Levine-Fricke Field (500)OPPONENTS Utah: The Utes (23-12, 0-6 Pac-12) are unranked by both the NFCA and USA Softball. Utah marks Arizona's third consecutive opponent to face the Wildcats following a sweep by Cal. The Utes were swepped 10-0 (5), 11-3 (5) and 12-3 (6). Whitney Holm (.424 avg, 8 doubles, 8 RBI, 32 RBI, .747 slg%) leads the team at the plate. In the circle, Generra Nielson (17-9, 2.06 ERA, .200 baa, 217 strikeouts, 153.0 IP) is the team's ace; Nielson leads the conference in strikeouts. The Utes have lost seven straight contests against ranked competition. Series History: Arizona, 68-24 // First Meeting: 1982 // Last Meeting: 2/11/2011; Arizona 8, Utah 3; Tempe, Ariz. (Kajikawa Classic)
FOLLOW THE CATS Live Audio: Head to ustream.tv/channel/ua-athletics for live play-by-play of all six games. Live Stats: Live stats will be provided via GameTracker at arizonawildcats.com Live Updates: Follow Arizona Softball on Twitter (@UA_Softball) and Facebook (facebook.com/ArizonaAthletics) for game updates.
LEADING OFF: - Head Coach Mike Candrea, currently at 1,297 career wins, hopes to win his 1,300th game this week. When accomplished, Candrea will become the fastest coach ever to reach the milestone. - Since losing four of five games in late March, Arizona has won six of its last eight with four victories coming against teams ranked in the top 13. - The Wildcats continue to lead the country in fielding percentage (.985). - Arizona does not have a hitter batting .360 or better. The last time this occurred was 1991, the year of Arizona's first national title. In 1991, UA's best average belonged to Julie Jones (.350). - The Cats' 38 stolen bases are more than each of the past three seasons and five away from the 43 swipes by the 2008 club. Base stealers have only been caught four times on the year. The fewest number of runners caught stealing in Arizona history is seven in 1986 (11-18).
California: The Golden Bears (36-1, 9-0 Pac-12) are the best team in the nation according to both polls. The matchup with the top-ranked Bears marks the first time Arizona faced a No. 1 team since 2010 when top-ranked Washington swept the Cats, April 9-11. Cal is led by perhaps the best player in the country, Valerie Arioto. A redshirt senior, Arioto leads the team in home runs (16), RBI (46), slugging percentage (1.073) and walks (52). Arioto also carries a perfect 16-0 record in the circle with a 1.20 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 93.1 innings pitched. Cal has won 13 games in a row; its only loss came in 10 innings to Hawaii, 3-1 in Honolulu. Series History: Arizona, 21-6 // First Meeting: 1983 // Last Meeting: 5/14/2011; California 6, Arizona 3; Tucson, Ariz. (senior day)
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 1,297-287-2 (.818). 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 improved to 13th in both the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll and the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25. The Wildcats started the season ranked eighth in both polls (its highest ranking of the season) and finished 2011 ranked 11th in both.
LAST TIME OUT Arizona took two of three games at No. 4 Washington in a series altered by rain. The Wildcats won the first two games (2-0, 5-3) before dropping the finale to the Huskies 7-5.
Thursday, April 5: Cats Shut Down Fourth-Ranked Huskies No. 17 Arizona Softball handed fourth-ranked Washington its fourth consecutive loss as Shelby Babcock tossed a complete game shutout. The Cats downed the Huskies, 2-0.
UA and UW each scattered five hits in the game; Wilson had three of Arizona's.
Saturday, April 7: Arizona Splits Day with Washington, Takes Series No. 17 Arizona Softball (25-10, 4-5 Pac-12) split a pair of games with fourth-ranked Washington (33-6, 4-5 Pac-12) and taking the series two games to one.
Game 2: Arizona 5, Washington 3 Picking up in the sixth inning a game which began Friday night, Arizona needed 32 minutes to complete its 5-3 win over Washington.
Kenzie Fowler (10-3) recorded her 11th complete game of the season. Fowler allowed three earned runs on seven hits while striking out four and walking six.
Just two of Arizona's five runs were batted in as UA took advantage of three Washington errors and only one was charged to Washington starter Kaitlin Inglesby (16-4).
Koria hit her eighth home run in the fifth inning to tie the game at a run apiece and Shelby Pendley doubled in her 36th RBI of the season in UA's five-run fifth.
Game 3: Washington 7, Arizona 3 Arizona fell into an early hole and, despite a solid comeback effort, dropped the final game of the series 7-5 to Washington.
The Huskies scored five runs in the bottom of the third inning on four straight two-out RBI singles to take a lead it would not give up.
After falling into a 5-1 hole in the third, UA scored four runs, but a Inglesby two-run home run in the fourth which, at the time, gave UW a 7-2 lead, proved to be the difference.
Bryana Walker (8-1) got the start and the victory for the Huskies. Walker pitched five innings and left the bases loaded with no one out in the sixth. She allowed five runs on five hits while striking out six and walking three. Walker was relieved in the sixth by Kasey Stanchek who faced two batters, both RBI walks, credited to Walker. Stanchek was then relieved by Inglesby who walked in the fifth Arizona run of the game, again credited to Walker, before getting out of the inning with the two-run lead intact. Inglesby pitched a scoreless seventh to record her fourth save of the season.
Freshmen Wilson and Pendley had Arizona's only RBI hits, both solo homers in the third and fourth, respectively. Koria, Chelsea Goodacre and Buchanan all walked in runs in the contest.
LAST YEAR VS. UTAH Feb. 12, 2011: Softball Bests Utah in Tempe Shelby Babcock earned her first collegiate victory with an impressive performance in the circle. For the first four innings, Babcock allowed only three runners past first base in scoreless fashion. She struggled a bit, however, in the fifth and sixth, giving up three runs, one earned, before being replaced by Kenzie Fowler.
Offensively, Arizona's bats woke up in the third inning after the first nine innings of the season went by with limited offense for the Wildcat's highly touted hitters. The first of the game for the Cats was a Brittany Lastrapes solo home run, her first hit of the season and the team's first home run of the season. It would be the first of five Cat-jacks on the night.
LAST YEAR VS. CALIFORNIA May 12, 2011: Brawley's Walk-Off Single Sinks Bears in 10 A game-saving RBI by Baillie Kirker and game-winning RBI by Ashlee Brawley backed up Kenzie Fowler's 10-inning, complete-game gem as No. 10 Arizona notched win No. 40 on the season in the Wildcats 2-1 victory over sixth-ranked California in a 10-inning thriller.
Down to its last out in the bottom of the seventh inning, needing a run to extend the game, Kirker laced one into right field to score Lini Koria from second to push the game into extra innings.
While in extras, Fowler was tremendous. The sophomore allowed only one base-runner, a two-out single by Jace Williams in the ninth.
Arizona, meanwhile, got a runner on in each of the three bonus innings, including three in the game-winning bottom of the 10th.
May 13, 2011: Chambers Ties Record in 9-4 Loss Stacie Chambers hit a home run for the 85th time in her career, tying Laura Espinoza and Leah Braatz' record for home runs in a career, but it was not enough as 10th-ranked Arizona fell to No. 6 California, 9-4 in game two of the series.
Arizona tied a season-high with four errors, with each error occurring in non-zero-filled frame for Cal.
May 14, 2011: Cal Spoils Senior Day with 6-3 Win No. 10 Arizona fell in its final regular season game to sixth-ranked California, 6-3, in Victoria Kemp, Stacie Chambers, Lauren Schutzler and Brittany Lastrapes' final regular season season at Hillenbrand Stadium.
If it is the final home game of the season, the four seniors went out to a crowd of 2,533 which set a new NCAA attendance record. The Cats total attendance on the season was 64,665, breaking Alabama's 2010 figure of 63,271. Teams could catch Arizona, however, depending on NCAA postseason hosting designations.
Arizona closed the season dropping three of the four final Pac-10 games. Only once in Candrea's tenure at Arizona has Arizona lost more than 16 regular season games (1989).
Kenzie Fowler dealt six innings, and gave up 12 hits, the most given up all year. She allowed six runs, five earned. Entering the series, Fowler had allowed just seven earned run in her last 63 innings pitched. Fowler struck out 10, though, in the loss, as she fell to 23-7 on the year.
WHO'S HOT? Shelby Pendley: Batted .556 with a double, a homer and a pair of RBI against Washington. While her offense was impressive in Arizona's series victory, her defense was phenomenal. While showing great range, the freshman was perfect on four assists and seven putouts, including an incredible diving grab of a pop up behind third base.
Hallie Wilson: Hit her second home run of the season, part of her four hits against Washington. The freshman drove in a pair of runs while batting .444 against the No. 4 team in the country.
Chelsea Suitos: Had a couple of hits and a run scored against Washington. Stole a base in game three of the series.
Karissa Buchanan: Drew three walks, including an RBI walk in game three vs. UW, to help her to an on-base percentage of .500 vs. the Huskies. Also stole a base in her only attempt.
Jessica Spigner: Pitched her 10th and 11th-consecutive scoreless innings in game three vs. Washington.
STARING AT THE STATS: ...Through more than half the year, Arizona has almost as many stolen bases (38-for-42) as it had in the last four full seasons. UA had 37 in 2011, 36 in 2010, 29 in 2009 and 43 in 2008. There's no national-leader threat, just success by Karissa Buchanan (14-14), Brigette Del Ponte (9-10) and Chelsea Suitos (8-9) to lead the way. It could be a useful ploy in tight games ... Speaking of which, the Cats' 217-87 edge in runs scored works out to 6.2 to 2.5 per game, so games have been close. In the Cats' Jennie Finch/Alicia Hollowell-led pitching years, 2001 to 2006, Arizona allowed less than 90 runs all season by opponents with a low of 63 in Finch's junior NCAA-record 32-0 season. That's second only to the Debby Day (32-5) and Susie Parra (26-2) 1992 season when Arizona gave up only 33 runs all season for a 0.35 team ERA ... Arizona has struck out 168 times compared to drawing 137 bases on balls. The last time UA had that close of a ratio (to the good side) was in 1998 when it struck out 191 times and walked 238 times ... The Cats' defensive execution has been good all year, and the .985 fielding percentage would be a school best if UA can keep it up. UA has booted only 14 balls and by extrapolation the total would be the fewest number of miscues in school history. The 2001 club committed 34 errors in 69 games and set the school record with a .981 fielding percentage ... One mathematical function in UA's season is its six missed games, to rain. UA has 17 regular-season contests left and an expected minimum of at least two NCAA games. That adds up to 53 - one more than the 52 played by the 1993 club. Since it began its string of 25 consecutive NCAA appearances in 1987 Arizona has played an average of 65 games per year and only played less than 60 games twice - in 1993 and in 2005 (57).