WEEK 4 (FEB. 25-MARCH 2): UTEP, WILDCAT INVITATIONAL // Hillenbrand Stadium
#14/14 Arizona Wildcats (15-1) vs. // UTEP Miners (6-11), Longwood Lancers (3-1), Valparaiso Crusaders (2-7), Texas-Arlington Mavericks (10-6), Iowa Hawkeyes (3-9), Indiana Hoosiers (1-12-1)
Tuesday, Feb. 25 Arizona 11, UTEP 1 (5 innings)
Wednesday, Feb. 26 Arizona 14, UTEP 1 (5 innings)
Wildcat Invitational Schedule
Friday, Feb. 28
9:00 a.m. Longwood vs. Texas-Arlington
11:00 a.m. Indiana vs. Texas-Arlington
1:00 p.m. Iowa vs. Valparaiso
4:00 p.m. ARIZONA vs. Longwood
6:00 p.m. ARIZONA vs. Valparaiso
Saturday, March 1
9:00 a.m. Longwood vs. Indiana
11:00 a.m. Valparaiso vs. Indiana
1:00 p.m. Valparaiso vs. Longwood
4:00 p.m. ARIZONA vs. Texas-Arlington
6:00 p.m. ARIZONA vs. Iowa
8:00 p.m. Texas-Arlington vs. Iowa
Sunday, March 2
9:00 a.m. Iowa vs. Longwood
11:00 a.m. Texas-Arlington vs. Valparaiso
1:00 p.m. ARIZONA vs. Indiana
Game times may be pushed back due to the length of previous contests.
FOLLOW THE CATS
Live Video: pac-12.com/videos/university-arizona-2
Live Stats: arizonalivestats.com
Live Updates: Twitter: @UA_Softball (twitter.com/ua_softball)
THIS WEEK: Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium will be the site of 18 games over an eight day stretch, beginning with a midweek series with UTEP followed by the Wildcat Invitational. UA welcomes Ball State for a midweek series next week to conclude the softball-packed eight days. Fourteenth-ranked Arizona posted a 4-1 record at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, including a pair of victories over top-12 teams, to improve its record against ranked opponents to 4-1 on the season. UA meets UTEP on Tuesday (6:00 p.m.) and Wednesday (3:00 p.m.) before welcoming Longwood, Texas-Arlington, Indiana, Iowa and Valparaiso for the Wildcat Invitational Friday-Sunday.
ARIZONA VS. UTEP: Arizona is 7-1 all-time against the Miners. UA and UTEP last met in 2010 when UA swept a doubleheader with the Miners (8-0, 5; 10-0, 5) on April 7. UTEP’s lone victory in the series came in 2008 when the Miners took game one of a doubleheader (9-6) on March 18. UA has won six straight in the series.
ARIZONA IN THE WILDCAT INVITATIONAL: The Wildcats have hosted the Wildcat Invitational 17 prior times and have posted an 89-3 record all-time in the event. UA has hosted the event every year since 1996 except 2012. UA first held the invitational in 1988. The Wildcats have swept each of the past four Wildcat Invitationals. Arizona’s last loss in the event came in a 2-1 decision to Creighton on March 8.
- Arizona’s pitching staff has allowed just 10 runs this season in 16 games and has a miraculous 0.68 ERA. In 16 games this year, Arizona has tossed nine shutouts. In 59 games in 2013, UA threw just three shutouts. Four of five Arizona pitchers have ERAs under 1.00.
- Arizona welcomes back former national champion and All-American shortstop Kristie Fox (2004-07) back to Hillenbrand Stadium. Fox is in her second year as the head coach of Texas-Arlington. Kristie Fox is the sister of current UA shortstop Kellie Fox.
- In just 14 games this season, UA has eight run-rule victories, equaling its 59-game total from 2013.
- Arizona’s 12-1 start is its best since beginning the 2010 campaign 23-1.
UTEP: The Miners (6-9) went 5-0 at the UTEP Invitational last weekend with a trio of victories over Incarnate Word and a pair of wins against Houston Baptist. Ashley Eldridge (.364 avg, 7 2B, 2 HR, 13 RBI) leads an offense that has posted an impressive .322 team average through 15 games. Danielle Pearson (3-4, 4.33 ERA, 20 Ks, 43.2 IP) leads a pitching staff which has struggled to a 7.00 ERA.
Series History: Arizona leads 7-1 // First Meeting: 2004 // Last Meeting: 4.7.10; Arizona 10, UTEP 0 (5 innings); Tucson, Ariz.
Longwood: The Lancers (3-1) outscored their opponents 24-4 in the Longwood Spring Classic last weekend. Longwood beat Lafayette twice and split with Towson. Emily Murphy (.800 avg, 3 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI) leads an offense which averages six runs per game. Elizabeth McCarthy (1-1, 1.14 ERA, 11 Ks, 12.1 IP) leads a pitching staff which boasts a team 0.55 ERA.
Series History: N/A // First Meeting: N/A // Last Meeting: N/A
Valparaiso: The Crusaders (2-7) were winless at the Ragin’ Cajun Invitational with losses to Central Arkansas (twice), Louisiana Lafayette, Boston College and Memphis. Amanda Wisniewski (.409 avg, 1 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBI) leads the offense, which has outscored its opponents 45-40. Sierra Pico (0-4, 2.39 ERA, 15 Ks, 29.1 IP) leads a pitching staff which has a team 3.22 ERA.
Series History: N/A // First Meeting: N/A // Last Meeting: N/A
Texas-Arlington: The Mavericks (10-6) went 4-2 at the UTA Hilton Invitational with a pair of victories over Creighton and UMKC and losses to Illinois and Texas Tech. Britnea Barilli (.364 avg, 2 2B, 1 3B, 7 RBI) leads an offense that has outscored its opponents 59-52. Callie Collins (4-3, 3.24 ERA, 48 Ks, 41.2 IP) leads a pitching staff that has 76 strikeouts on the year.
Series History: Arizona leads 2-0 // First Meeting: 1987 // Last Meeting: 2.15.91; Arizona 3, Texas-Arlington 1; Tucson, Ariz. (Arizona Classic)
Iowa: The Hawkeyes (3-9) were swept in a series at Mississippi State, managing just a single run in the three games. Claire Fritsch (.360 avg, 3 2B, 3 RBI) leads an offense that has outhit its opponents 78-64. Kayla Massey (1-6, 2.65 ERA, 20 Ks, 39.2 IP) leads a pitching staff which has allowed opponents to hit just .221 this season.
Series History: Arizona leads 7-0 // First Meeting: 1984 // Last Meeting: 3.16.12; Arizona 6, Iowa 1; Fullerton, Calif. (Judi Garman Classic)
Indiana: The Hoosiers (1-12-1) went 0-3-1 at the Lipton Invitational in Gainesville, Fla., with losses to top-ranked Florida (twice), Georgia Southern and a tie with Troy. Jenna Abraham (.308 avg, 1 HR, 2 RBI) leads an offense which has hit nine homers on the year. Brooke Boetjer (1-2, 5.35 ERA, 34 Ks, 35.1 IP) leads a pitching staff which has racked up 74 strikeouts this season.
Series History: Arizona leads 4-2 // First Meeting: 1983 // Last Meeting: 2.10.11; Arizona 4, Indiana 0; Tempe, Ariz. (Kajikawa 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 1,358-323-2 (.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 went 4-1 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs, Calif., with a pair of victories over top-12 teams (No. 12 Texas A&M and No. 11 Nebraska). UA outscored its opponents 33-5 on the weekend, with a pair of run-rulings in the process. Alex Lavine hit .538, drove in four runs and posted a .600 OBP to lead the team. Nancy Bowling’s near-perfect game against 11th-ranked Nebraska highlighted a stellar weekend in the circle for the Cats.
2/20/14 - Arizona Downs Texas A&M, Falls to Missouri: Fourteenth-ranked Arizona softball split with a pair of ranked SEC foes on day one of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. The Wildcats downed 12th-ranked Texas A&M 4-2 before falling to 16th-ranked Missouri 2-0 Thursday.
The Wildcats took advantage of Texas A&M defensive mishaps while receiving a great effort in the circle from Shelby Babcock and Estela Piñon to down the 12th-ranked Aggies 4-2 to open the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.
After averaging eight runs per game the first 10 games of the season, the Wildcats were shutout for the first time since May 17, 2013 in a 2-0 loss to No. 16 Missouri, Arizona’s first loss of the season.
2/21/14 - Pitching Shines in Day Two Sweep: A near perfect performance from Nancy Bowling highlighted a pair of shutouts as Arizona cruised to a pair of wins on the second day of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.
Bowling retired the first 18 Nebraska batters she faced in the Wildcats’ 7-0 victory over the 11th-ranked Cornhuskers. The sophomore would allow two hits in the seventh-inning to spoil the perfect-game bid.
In the early game, Michelle Floyd and Shelby Babcock combined to toss a three-hit shutout in Arizona’s five-inning, 8-0 victory over Fresno State.
2/22/14 - Cats Dominate Rebels, 14-1 in Five Innings: Arizona plated six runs in the third and eight runs in fourth as it cruised to a 14-1, five-inning victory over UNLV to close the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.
Arizona finished the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic 4-1 and improved to 13-1 on the season.
The Wildcats’ offense has scored 107 runs this season while its pitchers have allowed just eight total runs. The eight runs allowed by UA pitchers were equaled by the Arizona offense during just the fourth inning on Saturday.
Kelsey Rodriguez and Kellie Fox homered in the contest, while Chelsea Goodacre, Courtney Rodriguez, Katiyana Mauga and Alex Lavine also brought in runs in the game.
RECENT RESULTS AGAINST UTEP: The Wildcats shutout the Miners in a doubleheader on April 7, 2010, the last time the two clubs met. Kenzie Fowler threw a five-inning no-hitter in Arizona’s 8-0 victory in game 1 before the Cats downed the Miners 10-0 in game 2.
4/7/10 - Cats Claw Miners in Double Dip: The Cats unleashed an 11-hit attack and blasted past UTEP, 10-0, in the nightcap to sweep a doubleheader Wednesday evening before 2,633 fans at Hillenbrand Stadium.
Both games were five-inning affairs, fueled by good pitching and hitting by the third-ranked Wildcats. Freshman Kenzie Fowler threw a no-hitter in the opener and Sarah Akamine scattered four hits in tossing her fifth shutout of the year.
Fowler threw a five-inning no-hitter and Arizona used a couple of long balls to punctuate an 8-0 victory over UTEP in game 1 of an evening doubleheader at Hillenbrand Stadium.
RECENT RESULTS AT THE WILDCAT INVITATIONAL: Arizona outscored its opposition 42-10 while sweeping the 2013 Wildcat Invitational with a victory over UC Riverside and two-game sweeps of Boston and Portland State. Chelsea Goodacre had a monster weekend at the dish, hitting .769 (10-for-13) with a double, home run and nine RBI. Shelby Babcock went 3-0 and posted a 0.78 ERA in 18.0 innings pitched.
3/1/13 - Cats’ Bats Awaken in Day One Sweep: Seventeenth-ranked University of Arizona earned a two-game sweep in its first two games of the Wildcat Invitational. Arizona was victorious in its tournament opener 12-2 over UC Riverside before a 6-3 win over Boston University to close the night.
At Palm Springs, Calif., last weekend, Arizona scored a total of nine runs in five games at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.
In its first game of the Wildcat Invitational, Arizona batted in nine runs before the fourth inning in Saturday evening’s game against UCR at Hillenbrand Stadium. Arizona tacked on three more runs to defeat UCR, 12-2, in five innings.
UA junior Estela Piñon completed six innings in the circle, picking up her fourth win of the season. Piñon allowed three runs on five hits as the Wildcats defeated Boston University, 6-3.
3/2/13 - Arizona Downs Boston, Portland State: University of Arizona Wildcat softball earned wins over Boston 4-1 and Portland State 12-3 in five innings to improve to 4-0 at the Wildcat Invitational.
The Wildcats scored three times in the first four batters to and cruised to a 4-1 victory over Boston in the first game of two on the second day of the Wildcat Invitational.
A seven-run fourth inning led Arizona past Portland State in five innings, 12-3.
3/3/13 - Softball Completes Tourney Sweep with 8-1 Win: Seventeenth-ranked Arizona softball concluded the Wildcat Invitational with an 8-1 victory over Portland State to finish the event undefeated (5-0) and improve to 15-5 on the season.
Arizona outscored its opponents 42-10 in the tournament; more than half of those runs (22) were scored in the first two innings of the games.
UA scored in the first inning in every game of the Wildcat Invitational after scoring in the first inning in just three of its first 15 games.
Alex Lavine: After hitting .538 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic and leading the team in RBI (4) and OBP (.600), Lavine has taken over the team lead in batting average (.483).
Courtney Rodriguez: After recording just eight hits in 36 starts as a freshman, C-Rod has nearly doubled that in 14 games this season. Rodriguez is 14-for-32 (.438) on the year, good for third on the team. Rodriguez leads the team with four doubles and has six RBI after having just one and three, respectively, in 2013. She is batting .311 points better than last season.
Kellie Fox: The UCLA transfer leads the Pac-12 in both slugging percentage (1.088) and on-base percentage (.617). Her six homers are tied for first in the league while her 22 RBI are tied for second. Fox is second on the team with a .471 average and has a double and a triple on the year.
Estela Piñon: Dating back to last season, over Piñon’s last 36.1 innings pitched, the senior has allowed just three earned runs (0.58 ERA), with 41 strikeouts and just 18 walks. This season, Piñon is 0.50 ERA ranks eighth in the conference and her 23/14, K/IP ratio is the best on the team.
Michelle Floyd: The freshman has yet to allow a run in her young UA career, boasting a perfect 0.00 ERA. Floyd went 2-0 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in seven innings pitched. For the season, Floyd has limited batters to a .104 batting average against, fifth-best in the Pac-12.
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 .982 fielding percentage on the year, the top mark 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 4-1 against the top 25, 2-0 against the top 10 and 2-0 against the top five. Since 1994, Arizona is 516-198-1 (.723) against ranked competition, 251-137 (.647) against top-10 teams and 122-93 (.567) against top-five teams.
THE K ZONE: In 325 at-bats this season, UA hitters have struck out just 40 times (12 percent of at-bats). On the other side of the ball, Arizona pitchers have struck out 92 batters in 82.0 innings pitched. Thirty-two 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 .123 strikeout rate would be the best since 1995 when it posted a .100 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 Ball State on March 4 for a doubleheader before heading to Fullerton, Calif., for the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic where it will take on Michigan, Wisconsin, Cal State Fullerton, Houston and San Jose State.