March 7, 2012
THE GAMES Date Time Opponent Location Friday, March 9 6:30 p.m. CT No. 15 Baylor Getterman Stadium Saturday, March 10 1:00 p.m. CT No. 15 Baylor Getterman Stadium Sunday, March 11 12:00 p.m. CT No. 15 Baylor Getterman Stadium
FOLLOW THE CATS Audio: Live audio will be available at ustream.com/channel/ua-athletics Live Stats: Live stats will be provided via GameTracker at arizonawildcats.com.
SERIES HISTORY Arizona vs. Baylor All-Time: Arizona, 13-4 First Competed: Last Year: 1983 Baylor, 2-1
LEADING OFF: - Arizona is 1-1 against the Big-12 Conference this season. UA lost to then-17th-ranked Texas A&M, 5-4, at the Kajikawa Classic and beat then-21st-ranked Oklahoma State, 8-0, in six innings at the Cathedral City Classic. - Brigette Del Ponte has reached base in Arizona's last 17 games. - Arizona has shut out its last five opponents. - Kenzie Fowler has gone 35 innings without allowing a run. - Arizona pitchers allowed just three hits to College of Charleston; Arizona outhit the Cougars 30-3 and outscored CofC 22-0. - Shelby Babcock dealt her first career no-hitter vs. College of Charleston in Arizona's 8-0, five-inning victory on Saturday. Babcock was a first-inning walk away from perfection. - The trip will be Arizona's first and only trip east in the regular season. All of UA's other destinations are west of Tucson; the Cats travel to California for four trips this season (Cathedral City Classic, Palm Springs; Judi Garman Classic, Fullerton, @California; @UCLA), Tempe for two (Kajikawa Classic and @ASU) and Washington for one (@Washington). - The Wildcats' defense has been errorless in 13 straight defense and 16 of its last 17 contests, leading to a very good .988 fielding percentage which leads the Pac-12. - Arizona's pitching staff has a 0.91 ERA since Feb. 12. In that same time period, UA's offense is scoring 6.87 runs/game. - Arizona stole six bases in Sunday's 5-0 victory over College of Charleston. Karissa Buchananswiped three of them. Prior to the contest, Arizona's team season-high stolen bases was three.
OPPONENT Baylor: The Bears (16-5) are ranked 15th by the NFCA and 16th by USA Softball. BU welcomes Arizona for three games after sweeping midweek-foe Lousiana Tech on Tuesday. Baylor lost ace Whitney Canion for an extended period of time with a torn ACL and is 4-3 without Canion. Courtney Repka will attempt to step up in her place; Repka in 7-2 on the season with a 1.18 ERA. Offensively, Baylor is led by Kathy Shelton who hits .393 with four doubled, a home run and eight RBI. The Bears are outscoring opponents 89-51. Series History: Arizona, 13-4 // First Meeting: 1983 // Last Meeting: Baylor 3, Arizona 2; March 13, 2011; Tucson, Ariz.
HEAD COACH Mike Candrea: Arizona head coach Mike Candreais in his 27th year at the helm of the Arizona softball program with a career record of 1,288-281-2 (.820). 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 Preseason Poll and ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25. UA was ranked 15th in the NFCA poll and 14th in the USA Softball poll the previous week. The Wildcats started the season ranked eighth in both polls and finished 2011 ranked 11th in both.
LAST TIME OUT The Wildcats took all three games in a series with College of Charleston. Arizona shutout the Cougars, and limited CofC to just three hits in the three games. Shelby Babcocktossed her first-career no-hitter on Saturday. UA downed College of Charleston 9-0 (5) on Friday, 8-0 (5) on Saturday and 5-0 on Sunday. Friday: Fowler Fans 12 as Cats Cruise, 9-0 in Five Arizona cruised past College of Charleston in the first of three games between the two clubs, 9-0 in five innings.
The fifteenth-ranked Wildcats (14-4) recorded a season-high 12 hits in the game, accomplishing the feat in just four innings of offense. Senior first baseman Jessica Spigner led the way with three hits, her first three-plus hit game in an Arizona uniform. Arizona outhit College of Charleston (9-5), 12-2 on the night. Saturday: Babcock Collects First No-Hitter in UA Victory Shelby Babcock allowed only one base runner in her first career solo no-hitter and Arizona run-ruled College of Charleston, 8-0. Babcock retired the final 13 batters she faced and was a walk shy of perfection. The no-hitter was the 87th in school history. The sophomore struck out six of the 16 Cougar batters she faced. Babcock pitched the final inning of a combined no-no with Kenzie Fowler on March 25, 2011 against Cal State Northridge. Sunday: Softball Completes Sweep of College of Charleston Kenzie Fowlertossed a one-hitter and fifteenth-ranked Arizona shutout College of Charleston, 5-0, to earn a three-game sweep of the Cougars. Fowler tossed a one-hitter, and recorded her fifth-consecutive complete-game shutout. The junior has not allowed a run in her last 35 innings pitched. Fowler struck out eight and walked three while improving to 7-0 on the season.
AGAINST BAYLOR Last Year: Arizona and Baylor met for a three game series in 2011 with Baylor taking two of the three games. March 11, 2011: Baylor Shuts Out Arizona No. 4 Arizona (20-3) fell to No. 23 Baylor (21-2), 6-0. Arizona got just a single hit off Bear pitcher Whitney Canion and a total of four base-runners in the game. March 12, 2011: Arriola's Three-Run Triple Lifts Cats No. 4 Arizona (21-3) used a five-run sixth to come from behind and defeat No. 23 Baylor (21-3) 9-7 in a wild game at Hillenbrand Stadium. With two strikes, two out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the six with Baylor ahead by two runs, Kristen Arriola rocketed a ball into the gap in left center. The three runners on the bases scored to put the Cats ahead and Arriola scored herself on the play on an errant relay by the Bears. March 13, 2011: Baylor Rallies to Take Game, Series No. 4 Arizona (21-4) lost a heartbreaker Sunday when No. 23 Baylor (22-3) got three runs across in the top of the seventh inning to earn a comeback victory, 3-2. Shelby Babcockwas nearly flawless through six, limiting a Baylor team that had put 13 runs and 20 hits combined in the previous two games, to only one hit and no runs. The freshman couldn't close it out, however, giving up two walks and three hits, including a two-run home run by Dani Leal to tie the game before a sacrifice fly by Shelbi Refearn scored the would-be winning run. All-Time: The Cats and the Bears have met 17 times since 1983 with Arizona taking 13 of the games. The two clubs have become familiar with one another lately; Arizona and Baylor have played 13 times since 2005 with Arizona holding a 9-4 advantage in those games.
WHO'S HOT? Brigette Del Ponte: Had four doubles in eight at-bats while driving in four runs against College of Charleston. Del Ponte hit .625 and slugged 1.125 in the three games. Kenzie Fowler: Allowed three hits in 12 innings pitched while not allowing College of Charleston to cross the plate on the weekend. Fowler struck out 20 batters, including a season-high 12 in five innings (3/2). Shelby Babcock: Pitched her first career no-hitter against College of Charleston (3/3). Babcock was one walk away from perfection in the five-inning no-no. The sophomore struck out six of the 16 batters she faced. Jessica Spigner: Went 5-for-8 (.625) while driving in a couple of runs against Collegeof Charleston. Spigner doubled and drew a walk on the weekend. Shelby Pendley: Had a couple of bombs and four ribbies to extend her team lead in both categories vs. College of Charleston. Pendley led the team with a 1.250 slugging percentage for the weekend.
STARING AT THE STATS: Arizona is on pace to become the 10th Wildcat club to knock and leg-out 90 doubles in a season. The Cats have 34 led by leadoff hitter Hallie Wilson's nine and seven by Brigette Del Ponte... Del Ponte is working on being a more selective swinger. She still gets the most of an at-bat but has built a .455 average and .855 slugging percentage as a more patient hitter. She hit .335 last year and .322 as a freshman with some more theatrical at-bats... Pitchers Kenzie Fowler, Shelby Babcock (and Jessica Spigner) have given UA a team ERA of 1.68 so far this year. A year ago Arizona checked out of the year at 2.99 in the category. Fowler (9.6) and Babcock (7.7) have increased their strikeouts-per-7-innings figures by 2.1 and 3.0, respectively. They each had some early-season trouble with bases on balls, but those tendencies appear to be diminishing as they challenge more hitters.
THREE HITS: Arizona pitchers Kenzie Fowler (2), Shelby Babcock(0) and Fowler (1) held College of Charleston to three hits in three games - one Babcock's first career no-hitter - in a total of 52 at-bats and 60 plate appearances by the Cougars. The hits all were safeties by outfielder Kristy Giragosian, who went 3-for-8 in the series. Babcock walked one batter, Kelsey Hodgson, in the first inning, otherwise would have notched a five-inning perfect game.
MAKING THE PLAYS: Arizona has gone 13 games without an error. (Uh-oh, not a good number.) It's helped push the team fielding percentage to .988, a superlative figure that would be its best in history if it held up. UA has been above the .980 mark just once in history, the 2001 national title year when UA went 65-4 and committed 34 errors. The Cats have just six miscues this year by five players.
GETTING IT DONE: Arizona is 16-4 to start the year. Decent, and typical. In the last five seasons the Cats have opened 18-2 (2011), 19-1 (2010), 16-4 (2009), 15-5 (2008) and 17-3 (2007).
PENDLEY POWER: Slugging freshman shortstop Shelby Pendley had two home runs last week to extend her team lead to eight. If that projected to three times that in a 60-game season she'd have one of Arizona's top 20 single-season home run marks. A couple of other slugging shortstops in UA history were Laura Espinoza with 37 in 1995 to set the UA record, Espinoza with 30 in 1994 and Lovie Jung with 25 in 2003. Kristie Foxhad 15 in both 2006 and 2007 and finished with a career total of 48 (No. 11 on UA's chart). It's unfair to compare her to those All-Americans, but she has the power to make a run for it.
THIRTY-FIVE AND COUNTING: Kenzie Fowlerhas not allowed a run in her last 35 innings pitched, a streak that dates back to Feb. 18, when she allowed four runs to Western Kentucky. In the streak, Fowler has allowed just 14 hits and struck out 45.
IN THE CIRCLE: Arizona's pitching staff has been lights out as of late. In the last 92 innings, UA has allowed just 12 earned runs, shaking out to an ERA of 0.91 since Feb. 12. Arizona's only hiccup in that regard was an 11-10 loss to Nebraska on Feb. 10. The 11 runs surrendered to the Cornhuskers came in Kenzie Fowler'sfirst start of the season after receiving minimal work in the weeks leading up to the season due to back injury. Over a third of Arizona's runs allowed on the season came in that game.
BDP: Brigette Del Ponteis a Bad Dream for Pitchers. BDP has reached base in 17 consecutive games and in all but one game this season. The junior has had multiple hits in five of Arizona's last nine games and has recorded 16 RBI in her last 10 games. Five of her seven doubles on the season have come in the past six games, including a three-double effort against College of Charleston on Saturday.
TURNING TURNSTILES: Through six home dates, Arizona is averaging 2,515 fans per game. If the fans continue to turn the turnstiles at this rate, it would rank second in Hillenbrand Stadium history. Last season, Arizona attracted 77,129 fans, an NCAA record, in 30 dates, shaking out to an average of 2,570 fans per game... a Hillenbrand high.
HOME SWEET HOME: One reason for the attendance is the usual result. Arizona wins 91% of its games at Hillenbrand Stadium (547-57) and is undefeated this season (8-0).