WEEK 3 (FEB. 20-22): MARY NUTTER COLLEGIATE CLASSIC // Palm Springs, Calif.
#14/14 Arizona Wildcats (9-0) vs. // #12/16 Texas A&M Aggies (9-2), #16/18 Missouri Tigers (4-1), Fresno State Bulldogs (8-2), #11/12 Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-2), UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (2-7)
Date Time (PT) (Rank) Opponent Location
Thursday, Feb. 20 3:30 p.m. (12) Texas A&M Big League Dreams (Yankee)
Thursday, Feb. 20 6:00 p.m. (16) Missouri Big League Dreams (Yankee)
Friday, Feb. 21 5:30 p.m. Fresno State Big League Dreams (Yankee)
Friday, Feb. 21 8:00 p.m. (11) Nebraska Big League Dreams (Yankee)
Saturday, Feb. 22 12:30 p.m. UNLV Big League Dreams (Yankee)
FOLLOW THE CATS
Live Stats: arizonalivestats.com
Live Updates: Twitter: @UA_Softball (twitter.com/ua_softball)
THIS WEEK: No. 14 Arizona (9-0) takes its perfect record on the road for the first time this season when it heads to Palm Springs, Calif., for the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. The Wildcats are scheduled to take on three ranked opponents in the tournament -- No. 12 Texas A&M, No. 16 Missouri and No. 11 Nebraska. Additionally, Arizona will take on Fresno State and UNLV in the event. Arizona is coming off a six-game sweep of the Hillenbrand Invitational, which included two shutout victories over fourth-ranked Alabama. UA outscored its opponents 39-1 in the tournament and 74-3 this season.
ARIZONA IN THE MARY NUTTER COLLEGIATE CLASSSIC: The Wildcats return to the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, formerly the Cathedral City Classic, for the eighth time and fourth consecutive year. In its previous seven trips, Arizona has posted a 29-7 record. The Cats went 2-3 at the 2013 Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, including a trio of shutout losses (No. 2 Oklahoma, Ohio State and No. 11 LSU). In the previous seven trips, Arizona has faced three ranked opponents just once, its first season attending in 2004.
- Arizona’s pitching staff has allowed just three runs this season in nine games and has a miraculous 0.41 ERA. In nine games this year, Arizona has tossed seven shutouts. In 59 games in 2013, UA threw just three shutouts. All five Arizona pitchers have ERAs under 1.00. The three runs allowed through nine games is the fewest since UA pitching coach Alicia Hollowell’s senior year, 2006.
- The Wildcats’ 8-0, run-rule victory over fourth-ranked Alabama was Arizona’s first mercy win over a top-five team since beating No. 3 Washington 11-0 in five innings on April 26, 2009. Additionally, it was the first time that Alabama had been run-ruled since 2011.
- While the pitching staff continues to make headlines with its stellar start, the offense has been equally as impressive. Arizona’s 17 home runs lead the Pac-12 despite the fact that Arizona has the fewest at-bats in the conference, 40 fewer than the No. 8 team.
- As a team, Arizona is hitting .408, one point behind Washington for the conference lead. Four qualified players (1 ab/g) are hitting .500 or better on the season. Courtney Rodriguez’s .571 average is third in the Pac-12. Chelsea Suitos (.529 - 5th), Kellie Fox (.522 - 6th) and Kelsey Rodriguez (.500 - t10th) are also on the conference top 10.
- UA leads the conference with a .728 slugging percentage, more than .100 points better than second place on the list. Kellie Fox leads the conference individually with her 1.304 slugging percentage.
- In just nine games this season, UA has six run-rule victories. In 59 games in 2013, UA mercied just eight of its opponents.
- Arizona is scheduled to play 10 teams currently ranked in the top 25 this season and is currently 2-0 against those squads with its sweep of fourth-ranked Alabama. Arizona was just 7-18 last season against top 25 teams and 3-8 against top-10 teams. All-time, Arizona is 514-197-1 against ranked competition, 251-137 against top-10 teams and 122-93 against top-five teams.
- This will be the first of two away tournaments that Arizona will attend this season. UA will participate in the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif., March 7-9.
- Courtney Rodriguez, who had just eight hits in 2013 in 63 at-bats, already has a team-high 12 hits in 21 at-bats. Her .571 batting average leads the team. Last year, Rodriguez had just one double and three RBI in 36 starts. This season, in just nine games, Rodriguez already has three doubles and three RBI.
- Arizona pitchers have allowed just two extra-base hits this season, keeping opponents’ slugging percentage at a miniscule .169. Compare that to last season when opponents slugged .461 and hit 71 home runs, an all-time high.
- Through nine games this season, Arizona already has two grand slams (Hallie Wilson vs. Tennessee State, 2/15 and Mo Mercado vs. Alabama, 2/16). This matches its 59-game total from 2013.
- UA has committed just five errors on the season and is second in the Pac-12 with a .976 fielding percentage.
Texas A&M: The 12th-ranked Aggies (9-2) went 3-2 at the Aggie Classic in College Station last weekend with two victories over Oregon State, a split against McNeese State and a loss to Tulsa. Nicole Morgan (.457 avg, 4 HR, 18 RBI) and Abby Donnell (2-0, 1.79 ERA, 16 Ks, 15.2 IP) lead the Aggies, who have outscored their opponents 84-33 in the 11 games.
Series History: Arizona leads 25-12 // First Meeting: 1982 // Last Meeting: 2.11.12; Texas A&M 5, Arizona 4; Tempe, Ariz. (Kajikawa Classic)
Missouri: The 16th-ranked Tigers (4-1) defeated UAB, Iowa, Lipscomb and Drake in the Baylor Getterman Classic in Waco, Texas, while falling to host Baylor. Angela Randazzo (.455 avg, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI) leads an offense which has outscored its opponents 28-4. Casey Stangel (2-0, 0.50 ERA, 5 Ks, 14.0 IP) leads a pitching staff which boasts a team 0.68 ERA.
Series History: Arizona leads 10-2 // First Meeting: 2001 // Last Meeting: 2.21.10; Missouri 10, Arizona 5; Tucson, Ariz.
Fresno State: The Bulldogs (8-2) went 5-0 at the Fresno State Kick-Off with victories over Sacramento State, UC Riverside, Southern Utah, CSU Bakersfield and UC Santa Barbara. Michelle Solomon (.324 avg, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 2-2 SB) leads the offense, which has swiped 20 bases in 21 tries. Taylor Langdon (1-0, 0.86 ERA, 7 Ks, 16.1 IP) leads a four-person staff which has a team 1.93 ERA.
Series History: Arizona leads 37-12 // First Meeting: 1982 // Last Meeting: 2.23.12; Arizona 9, Fresno State 0 (6 innings); Palm Springs, Calif. (Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic)
Nebraska: The 11th-ranked Cornhuskers (7-2) went 4-1 at the Hilton Houston Plaza Classic with victories over Houston, Army and two over Sam Houston State and a loss to Stephen F. Austin. Taylor Edwards (.500 avg, 2 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI) leads an offense which has outscored its opposition 43-11 this season. The pitching staff carries a 1.17 ERA, led by Emily Lockman (4-1, 1.14 ERA, 30 Ks, 37.0 IP).
Series History: Arizona leads 14-3 // First Meeting: 1983 // Last Meeting: 2.15.13; Arizona 1, Nebraska 0; Tucson, Ariz. (Hillenbrand Invitational)
UNLV: The Runnin’ Rebels (2-7) went 1-3 at the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas last weekend with a win over Utah Valley and losses to Oregon, Minnesota and Long Beach State. Pauline Monreal (.292 avg, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 10 RBI) leads the offense, which has 20 extra-base hits on the year. Amando Oliveto (3.13 ERA, 22 Ks, 31.1 IP) leads the pitching staff which carries a team 4.59 ERA.
Series History: Arizona leads 5-2 // First Meeting: 1982 // Last Meeting: 3.16.06; Arizona 7, UNLV 0; Fullerton, Calif. (Judi Garman Classic)
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 1,352-322-2 (.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 up 10 spots to 14th in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll and eight spots to 14th 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 the Hillenbrand Invitational, outscoring its opponents 39-1 in the process. Arizona shutout then-fourth-ranked Alabama twice, including an 8-0 run ruling in game two. Shelby Babcock’s two-hit shutout of Alabama was a part of her 2-0 weekend in which she did not allow a run and struck out 13 batters.
2/13/14 - UA Downs GCU to Open Hillenbrand Invitational: Arizona softball pitchers hurled their third shutout of the season as UA cruised to a 5-0 victory over Grand Canyon in the first game of the Hillenbrand Invitational.
Freshman Michelle Floyd earned her first career start and pitched three innings of one-hit ball. Shelby Babcock earned the win in relief, pitching the final four innings and not allowing a run on two hits. The senior walked one and struck out six.
Kellie Fox and Chelsea Goodacre homered in the contest, the second home run of the season for each player. Fox’s first-inning solo long ball gave the Cats a lead they would not relinquish; Goodacre hit a three-run shot in the third inning.
2/14/14 - Cats Improve to 5-0 with Run-Rule Victory: Arizona softball plated eight runs on 11 hits while its pitchers hurled their fourth shutout of the season as the Wildcats cruised to an 8-0, five-inning victory over New Mexico, Friday night in UA’s second game of the Hillenbrand Invitational.
Chelsea Goodace, Kellie Fox and Lauren Young homered in the contest.
2/15/14 - Cats Stay Unbeaten With Wins over TSU, #4 Alabama: Arizona pitchers allowed one run on four total hits in Arizona’s sweep of day three of the Hillenbrand Invitational including a three-hit shutout of fourth-ranked Alabama.
Arizona defeated Tennessee State 10-1 in five innings before earning the biggest win of the young season with a 3-0 victory over the Crimson Tide.
2/16/14 - UA Shuts Out Alabama, GCU to Sweep Tournament: Arizona softball run-ruled fourth-ranked Alabama before shutting out Grand Canyon to sweep the Hillenbrand Invitational and improve to a perfect 9-0 on the season.
In the early game, UA became the first team since Florida in 2011 to run-rule Alabama with an 8-0, five-inning victory over the Crimson Tide. Shelby Babcock threw a two-hit gem while Mo Mercado supplied five RBI, including a grand slam.
In the tournament-cap, Kellie Fox and Katiyana Mauga homered in Arizona’s 5-0 victory over Grand Canyon.
RECENT RESULTS AT THE MARY NUTTER COLLEGIATE CLASSIC: The Wildcats were shut out three times and posted just a 2-3 record at the 2013 Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. Despite a solid effort from the pitching staff (.203 BAA, 36 Ks, 34.0 IP), UA was shut out by No. 2 Oklahoma, Ohio State and No. 11 LSU while beating Long Beach State and Loyola Marymount. Hallie Wilson hit .500 in the tournament and got on-base at a .611 clip.
2/21/13 - Comeback Victory Caps Day One Split: Fourteenth-ranked Arizona softball split its first two games of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, Thursday. Arizona dropped a 5-0 decision to second-ranked Oklahoma before earning a dramatic, comeback victory over Long Beach State 4-3.
In game one, the Wildcats managed just three hits against OU hurler Michelle Gascoigne and were shutout in a 5-0 decision against second-ranked Oklahoma.
In game two, down to its final strike with no one on and trailing by two runs, Arizona mounted a two-out rally, plated three runs and earned a triumphant 4-3 victory over Long Beach State.
2/22/13 - UA Bested by OSU, Downs Loyola Marymount: Fourteenth-ranked Arizona softball split two games on the second day of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs to move to 10-4 on the season. The Wildcats were blanked 6-0 by Ohio State before downing Loyola Marymount in the second game of the doubleheader, 5-3.
Arizona left 10 runners on base and had two runners thrown out at the plate in a 6-0 loss to Ohio State (8-4) to open the day.
Chelsea Goodacre launched two home runs and drove in four runs to lead the 14th-ranked Wildcats over Loyola Marymount, 5-3.
2/23/13 - Cats Fall in Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic Finale : Despite a solid effort in the circle, 14th-ranked Arizona softball fell in its final game of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, 3-0 to No. 11 LSU. The Wildcats finished the tournament 2-3 and fell to 10-5 on the season.
Arizona’s pitching duo of Nancy Bowling and Shelby Babcock held LSU to just three hits on the day, and zero after the second inning. The Tigers had just one baserunner in the final five innings of the game.
However, by then it was too late. LSU took a two-run lead three batters into the game with an Allison Falcon two-run home run and added to the lead with a two-out RBI double in the second inning.
Courtney Rodriguez: After recording just eight hits in 36 starts as a freshman, C-Rod has already surpassed that in nine games this season. Rodriguez is 12-for-21 (.571) on the year to lead the team and rank third in the Pac-12. Rodriguez has three doubles and three RBI after having just one and three, respectively, in 2013. She is batting .444 points better than last season.
Kellie Fox: The UCLA transfer continued her hot start by hitting four home runs and batting .500 (7-for-14) in the Hillenbrand Invitational. Fox drove in eight runs on the weekend. For the season, the junior leads the Wildcats with five home runs and 18 RBI and leads the conference with a 1.304 slugging percentage.
Shelby Babcock: The senior’s two-hit shutout of No. 4 Alabama highlighted a pair of scoreless appearances for Babcock, who is 2-0 and carries a 0.64 ERA this season. Babcock has 16 strikeouts in 11.0 innings pitched.
Estela Piñon: The senior saw action in only one contest on the weekend, but pitched five innings of scoreless ball against Alabama, keeping her ERA at 0.00 on the season. The senior struck out nine Alabama hitters in the contest to tie her career mark, despite not pitching the entire game. Piñon’s 16 strikeouts in eight innings pitched is UA’s best K/IP ratio on the team.
Katiyana Mauga: The freshman hit her first two career homers and batted .400 in the Hillenbrand Invitational settling into the No. 5 spot in UA’s order. Mauga drew four walks and was hit by two pitches to post an OBP of .625 for the weekend. For the year, the San Diego native is hitting .417 in five starts.
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 9-0 this season inside the friendly confines of Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium. Since its opening in 1993, Arizona has put up a 592-69 record on the field. That’s a .896 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 (since broken by Alabama). For the sixth consecutive season, Arizona is drawing over 2,000 fans per game in 2014. In seven home dates, the Wildcats are averaging 2,184 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 own a .976 fielding percentage on the year, good for second in the conference.
BEATING THE BEST: In 2014, Arizona is scheduled to play 21 games against teams currently ranked in the NFCA Top 25, including 13 against the top 10 and seven against the top five. This year, UA is 2-0 against the top 25, 2-0 against the top 10 and 2-0 against the top five. Since 1994, Arizona is 514-197-1 (.723) against ranked competition, 251-137 (.647) against top-10 teams and 122-93 (.567) against top-five teams.
THE K ZONE: In 206 at-bats this season, UA hitters have struck out just 16 times (8 percent of at-bats). On the other side of the ball, Arizona pitchers have struck out 67 batters in 51.0 innings pitched. Thirty-eight percent of opponent at-bats have resulted in strikeouts. The Wildcats have not had a positive K/IP ratio since Arizona pitchers struck out 492 hitters in 392.2 innings in 2008. Offensively, the .078 strikeout rate would be the best since 1989 when it posted a .076 strikeout rate.
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.
FOLLOW THE TEAM: Be sure to follow the Wildcats on their various social media platforms. To stay up-to-date on all the latest happenings with the team, follow Arizona softball on Twitter (@UA_Softball) and for behind-the-scenes photos and infographics, follow the team on Instagram (@UA_Softball).
UP NEXT: The Wildcats host UTEP in a midweek series (Tuesday, Feb. 25 and Wednesday, Feb. 26) before welcoming Longwood, Valporaiso, Texas-Arlington, Iowa and Indiana for the Wildcat Invitational, Feb. 28-March 4.