WEEK 2 (FEB. 13-16): HILLENBRAND INVITATIONAL // Hillenbrand Stadium
#24/22 Arizona Wildcats (3-0) vs. // Grand Canyon Antelopes (2-3), New Mexico Lobos (1-4), Tennessee State Tigers (1-3), Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-1), #4/6 Alabama Crimson Tide (5-0)
THE GAMESThursday, Feb. 13
6:00 p.m. ARIZONA vs. Grand Canyon
Friday, Feb. 14
11:00 a.m. Grand Canyon vs. Tennessee State
1:00 p.m. Grand Canyon vs. Alabama
4:00 p.m. ARIZONA vs. New Mexico
6:00 p.m. Alabama vs. Tennessee State
Saturday, Feb. 15
9:00 a.m. New Mexico vs. Grand Canyon
11:00 a.m. Tennessee State vs. Grand Canyon
1:00 p.m. Alabama vs. New Mexico
4:00 p.m. ARIZONA vs. Tennessee State
6:00 p.m. ARIZONA vs. Alabama
Sunday, Feb. 16
9:00 a.m. New Mexico vs. Tennessee State
11:00 a.m. ARIZONA vs. Alabama
1:00 p.m. ARIZONA vs. Grand Canyon
FOLLOW THE CATS
Live Stream: pac-12.com/videos/university-arizona-2
Live Stats: arizonalivestats.com
Live Updates: Twitter: @UA_Softball (twitter.com/ua_softball)
THIS WEEK: No. 24 Arizona (3-0) welcomes Grand Canyon, New Mexico, Tennessee State, Georgia Tech and No. 4 Alabama to beautiful Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium Feb. 13-16 for the 17th Hillenbrand Invitational. Arizona will look to uphold its unblemished record as it swept its season opening series with Southern Miss and outscored the Golden Eagles 35-2 in the three games. Arizona has an 84-3 record in the Hillenbrand Invitational all-time.
ARIZONA IN THE HILLENBRAND INVITATIONAL: The Wildcats have hosted the Hillenbrand Invitational 16 times beginning in 1994 and posted a record of 84-3 (.966) in the 87 games. UA has gone undefeated in the tournament the last three seasons, with its last loss coming on March 7, 2009 to Creighton, 6-0. Alabama will be the first ranked to team to compete in the event (other than Arizona) since 24th-ranked Virginia Tech in 2008 and first top-10 team since fifth-ranked Oklahoma participated in 2001.
- Arizona outscored Southern Miss 35-2 over UA’s season-opening three-game sweep last weekend. The 33 run differential is Arizona’s best over its first three games in program history.
- Arizona hit .514, slugged .786 and got on-base at a .568 clip, three figures which lead the Pac-12. The Wildcats had nine different players hit .500 or better for the weekend.
- On Sunday, Estela Piñon (three innings) and Kenzie Fowler (two innings) combined to throw the program’s 88th no-hitter in UA’s 12-0 victory. Prior to Sunday, Fowler had four career solo no-hitters, all coming in 2010, including one perfect game, and been involved in one combined no-hitter. It was Piñon’s first involvement with a no-no at Arizona.
- Arizona is scheduled to play 11 teams currently ranked in the top 25 this season, with the first matchup coming up this weekend. Arizona will take on fourth-ranked Alabama on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. MST. Arizona was just 7-18 last season against top 25 teams and 3-8 against top-10 teams. All-time, Arizona is 512-197-1 against ranked competition, 249-137 against top-10 teams and 120-93 against top-five teams.
- This will be the first of two tournaments hosted by Arizona this season. UA will welcome Longwood, Valparaiso, Texas-Arlington, Iowa and Indiana to Hillenbrand Stadium Feb. 28-March 2 for the Wildcat Invitational.
- Courtney Rodriguez, who had just eight hits in 2013 in 63 at-bats, nearly equaled that total in just seven at-bats this weekend. Rodriguez went 6-for-7 (.857) and leads qualified Pac-12 hitters in batting average.
Grand Canyon: The Antelopes went 2-3 in their first ever DI action at the BYU/UVU Dirt Classic with wins over Utah State and Southern Utah and losses to East Carolina, Weber State and Idaho State. GCU is led offensively by Camree Wartman, who batted .400 with a double and an RBI. In the circle, Stephani Pesqueira leads a four-person pitching staff with a 3.50 ERA in 12.0 innings pitched.
Series History: N/A // First Meeting: N/A // Last Meeting: N/A
New Mexico: The Lobos went 1-4 at the Kajikawa Classic with a win over UC Riverside and losses to seventh-ranked ASU, 24th-ranked Cal, Northwestern and Portland State. Naomi Tellez leads the team with a .636 average, including a double, a triple and three RBI while the pitching staff has struggled to a team 10.23 ERA.
Series History: Arizona leads 29-1 // First Meeting: 1987 // Last Meeting: 4/18/12; Arizona 5, New Mexico 0; Tucson, Ariz.
Tennessee State: The Tigers went 1-3 at the Music City Classic with a win over East Tennessee State and losses to Virginia Tech, Lipscomb and Miami (Ohio). Kate Morris’s .333 average, double, home run and three RBI lead the Tigers offensively while Olivia Gamache posted a 2.33 ERA in 12.0 innings pitched in the circle.
Series History: N/A // First Meeting: N/A // Last Meeting: N/A
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets took their season-opening series against Missouri State, winning two of the three games against the Bears. Ashley Thomas hit .556 with two homers to lead the Yellow Jackets while Kylie Kleinschmidt posted a 2-0 record and 0.50 ERA in the circle.
Series History: Arizona leads 2-1 // First Meeting: 2000 // Last Meeting: 2/10/12; Georgia Tech 2, Arizona 1; Kajikawa Classic (Tempe, Ariz.)
Alabama: The fourth-ranked Crimson Tide swept its way through the Troy Subway Invitational, outscoring its opposition 48-3 over the five games. Alabama defeated Kennesaw State, North Florida, Northwestern State, Middle Tennessee State and Troy. Haylie McCleney hit .571 with two doubles, a triple and a home run while Leslie Jury did not allow a run in 12 innings pitched.
Series History: Arizona leads 10-2 // First Meeting: 1997 // Last Meeting: 5/30/09; Alabama 14, Arizona 0; Women’s College World Series (Oklahoma City, Okla.)
HEAD COACH MIKE CANDREA: Arizona head coach Mike Candrea is in his 29th year at the helm of the Arizona softball program with a career record of 1,346-322-2 (.807). 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 four times in the last 26 years (2004, 2011, 2012, 2013). In 2012, Candrea became the sport’s fastest ever, and second all-time, to reach 1,300 wins. Under Candrea, Arizona has a spectacular postseason record of 152-47. An even 50 All-Americans with a staggering 90 total citations have played in the program since Candrea took over.
THE RANKINGS: Arizona moved into the polls at 24th in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll and 22nd in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25. UA began the season unranked, marking the first time since the NFCA began publishing polls in the early 90s that Arizona was unranked in the preseason poll.
RECENT RESULTS: Arizona swept Southern Miss in the season-opening three-game series, outscoring the Golden Eagles 35-2. The Wildcats needed the minimum 15 innings to dispose of USM in the three run-rule victories. The series was highlighted by Sunday’s combined no-hitter, tossed by Estela Piñon (three innings) and Kenzie Fowler (two innings). Arizona hit .514 as a team while its pitchers limited the Golden Eagles to a .137 clip.
2/7/14 - Cats Win Opener, 9-0: Arizona scored nine runs on nine hits while limiting Southern Miss to just a pair of hits in Arizona’s season-opening 9-0, five-inning victory Friday night at Hillenbrand Stadium.
The Wildcats were led by shortstop Kellie Fox and pitcher Kenzie Fowler, two players forced to redshirt the 2013 season. Fox, in her first game in Arizona uniform after transferring from UCLA, doubled, tripled and drove in four runs while supplying stellar defense at short. Fowler, in her first start since May 26, 2012, allowed just two hits and struck out two batters in four innings of work.
The nine-run season-opening victory was Arizona’s most lopsided victory since a 13-0, five-inning triumph over Western Michigan in 2010.
2/8/14 - Softball Powers Past Southern Miss: With help from five Kellie Fox RBI, Arizona softball cruised to its second-consecutive run-rule victory over Southern Miss Saturday afternoon, 14-2 in five innings.
Ten different Wildcats contributed hits in the contest, which saw Arizona score 14 runs on 16 hits. Fox and Chelsea Sutios recorded three each.
Fox picked up where she left off Friday night, when she had two hits and drove in four runs. In her first at-bat Saturday, the junior drilled a home run to left field, a three-run blast. She would follow with RBI singles in each of her next two at-bats, giving her five for the game and nine for the season.
2/9/14 - Cats No-Hit Golden Eagles, Sweep Series : Estela Piñon and Kenzie Fowler combined for the 88th no-hitter in Arizona softball history as Arizona cruised to a 12-0 victory over Southern Miss to sweep the series from the Golden Eagles.
Piñon and Fowler combined to strike out 12 batters, meaning that just three Golden Eagles were able to put the ball in play in the five-inning, mercy-shortened game. The lone USM base runners came on back-to-back first-inning walks from Piñon with two out.
Piñon pitched the first three innings and struck out seven of the 11 batters she faced. She retired the final seven batters she faced before Fowler retired each of the six batters she saw, five of them via the strikeout.
RECENT RESULTS AT THE HILLENBRAND INVITATIONAL: The Wildcats swept Nebraska, Drake, Southern Utah, Purdue and Utah State in the 2013 Hillenbrand Invitational. Arizona’s 1-0 victory over to-be-Women’s College World Series participant Nebraska was the highlight of the weekend. Hallie Wilson batted .538 in the five games with four doubles while Kelsey Rodriguez added two homers and six RBI.
2/15/13 - Two Wins for Softball to Open Hillenbrand Invitational: Sixteenth ranked University of Arizona Wildcat softball earned a two-game sweep in its first two games of the Hillenbrand Invitational. Arizona was victorious in its tournament opener 1-0 over Nebraska before a 5-3 dramatic win over Drake to close the night.
2/16/13 - Cats Knock off Southern Utah, Purdue: Sixteenth ranked University of Arizona Wildcat softball earned a two-game sweep in day two of the Hillenbrand Invitational. Arizona defeated Southern Utah, 6-3. Then, the Wildcats rallied back against Purdue from one down to win, 5-4.
2/17/13 - Cats Dominate Aggies, Complete Tournament Sweep: Sixteenth-ranked University of Arizona softball completed its 5-0 sweep of the Hillenbrand Invitational with a 13-1, five-inning victory over Utah State to improve to 8-2 on the year.
Freshman Nancy Bowling earned her first career win in relief in the contest, pitching 2.1 innings of scoreless ball while striking out three and allowing just one baserunner.
Kelsey Rodriguez, who hit seven home runs in two seasons with Pacific, blasted two homers Sunday and accounted for five RBI in the game. The junior was one of three Cats to record a multi-RBI game; Chelsea Suitos and Hallie Wilson batted in two runs apiece.
Courtney Rodriguez: After recording just eight hits in 36 starts as a freshman, C-Rod nearly equaled that total in the first three games of 2014. Rodriguez went 6-for-7 (.857) in Arizona’s sweep of Southern Miss. Rodriguez recorded two doubles and two RBI after having just one and three, respectively, in 2013. She leads the Pac-12 in batting average and is batting .730 points better than last season.
Hallie Wilson: The junior got on-base in nine of her 10 plate appearances last weekend, including going 4-for-5 (.800) at the plate, second behind Courtney Rodriguez in the Pac-12 in batting average. Wilson drew five walks out of the leadoff spot and scored six runs on the weekend. The Santa Ana, Calif., native also homered and drove in three runs.
Kellie Fox: The UCLA transfer had five hits against Southern Miss, all of which brought in runs. In total, Fox brought in 10 runs to lead the team. She also doubled, tripled and homered in her first action in an Arizona uniform.
Kenzie Fowler: Fowler showed no rust after missing 2013 while recovering from back surgery. In two appearances, the redshirt senior did not allow a run in six innings while striking out seven batters and limiting opponents to a .105 batting average. On Sunday, Fowler struck out five of the six batters she faced and was a part of Arizona’s 88th no-hitter in program history.
Estela Piñon: The senior pitched the first three innings of Sunday’s aforementioned no-hitter in her only action of the weekend. The Tucson native struck out seven batters and has, obviously, not allowed a hit on the year.
NEARING THE CENTURY MARK: Kenzie Fowler has 80 career wins, eighth most in program history. With 21 wins in 2014, Fowler would become the eighth pitcher in Wildcat history to reach the 100-win milestone (Alicia Hollowell - 134, Nancy Evans - 124, Jennie Finch - 119, Carrie Dolan - 103, Becky Lemke - 103, Susie Parra - 101 and Taryne Mowatt - 100). Fowler is also on pace to become the fourth pitcher in school history to strike out one thousand batters.
HOME SWEET HOME: The Wildcats are a perfect 3-0 this season inside the friendly confines of Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium. Since its opening in 1993, Arizona has put up a 586-69 record on the field. That’s a .895 winning percentage at home in the last 20-plus years. Hillenbrand has led the nation in attendance nine times since 1994 and set the NCAA record in attendance in 2011 when 77,129 fans turned the turnstiles. For the sixth consecutive season, Arizona is drawing over 2,000 fans per game in 2014. In three home dates, the Wildcats are averaging 2,069 per contest.
DEADLY D: One of Arizona’s strengths in 2014 will surely be its defense. With athleticism at every infield position, head coach Mike Candrea has stated that this may his best infield D since he arrived at Arizona in 1987. The Cats are perfect in 55 defensive chances so far this season.
BEATING THE BEST: In 2014, Arizona is scheduled to play 24 games against teams currently ranked in the NFCA Top 25, including 13 against the top 10 and seven against the top five. All-time, Arizona is 512-197-1 (.722) against ranked competition, 249-137 (.645) against top-10 teams and 120-93 (.563) against top-five teams.
FRESH FACES: The 2014 Arizona roster features nine newcomers. Five of the nine newbies are transfers -- Nikki Dunlap (Texas Tech), Payton Kornfeind (Colorado at Colorado Springs), Cynthia Pelayo (Pima College), Siera Phillips (Dixie State) and Erika Tapia (Paradise Valley Community College) -- and four are freshmen -- Michelle Floyd (San Marino, Calif.), Katiyana Mauga (San Diego, Calif.), Mo Mercado (Temecula, Calif.) and Eva Watson (Victoria, Va.).
FAMILY TIES: Prior to last season, head coach Mike Candrea had never had sisters come through the program, in 2014, he has two pairs. Siblings Kelsey and Courtney Rodriguez are the first pair of sisters to ever be on the same Wildcat team. UCLA transfer Kellie Fox is the sister of former Wildcat shortstop and two-time national champion Kristie Fox (04-07). Additionally, third baseman Lauren Young’s brother Brandon is one of the team’s managers.
UP NEXT: The Wildcats head to Palm Springs, Calif., for the Mary Nutter Invitational, Feb. 25-28. UA will take on Texas A&M, Missouri, Fresno State, Nebraska and UNLV in the tournament.