WEEK 5 (MARCH 7-9): JUDI GARMAN CLASSIC // Fullerton, Calif.
#7/8 Arizona Wildcats (20-1) vs. #5/4 Michigan Wolverines (13-2) // Wisconsin Badgers (7-7) //
Cal State Fullerton Titans (11-7) // Houston Cougars (10-7) // San Jose State Spartans (11-6)
Date Time (PT) Opponent Location
Friday, March 7 3:00 p.m. #5 Michigan Field 2
5:30 p.m. Wisconsin Field 2
Saturday, March 8 3:00 p.m. Cal State Fullerton Field 1
8:00 p.m. Houston Field 1
Sunday, March 9 11:30 a.m. San Jose State Field 1
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THIS WEEK: Seventh-ranked Arizona (20-1) swept a doubleheader with Ball State Tuesday at Hillenbrand Stadium to open the week, outscoring the Cardinals 28-5 in the process. The Cats now turn their attention to the Judi Garman Classic, the final non-conference they will participate in. In Fullerton, Calif., UA will take on fifth-ranked Michigan, Wisconsin, Cal State Fullerton, Houston and San Jose State. The tournament marks the beginning of a 10-game road swing.
ARIZONA AT THE JUDI GARMAN CLASSIC: Arizona returns to the Judi Garman Classic, formerly known as the CSFU Pony Invitational, Pony-Louisville Slugger Classic and the Kia Klassic, for the 31st consecutive time. The Wildcats have competed in this tournament every season since 1984. UA holds a 120-49 mark all-time in the event. Since 2007, Arizona and Michigan have met every season at the Judi Garman Classic other than the rain-shortened 2012 event. Michigan has won the last five meetings in Fullerton. In 2013, Arizona went 2-3 at the Judi Garman Classic, beating Notre Dame and Penn State and losing to Virginia Tech, top-ranked Oklahoma and the 15th-ranked Wolverines.
- Arizona has run-ruled eight consecutive opponents, setting a school record. The previous record was six straight mercy wins, accomplished thrice (2003, 2001 and 1994). The Cats have run-ruled nine of their last 10 opponents, with the lone seven-inning game occurring in a 7-0 victory over No. 11 Nebraska. In the 10-game span, the Cats are outscoring their opponents 108-10.
- Arizona is set to embark on a 10-game road swing, its longest regular-season road swing since an 11-gamer in 2010.
- Twenty one games into the season, the Arizona offense is hitting over .400 as a team. UA’s .404 average tops the Pac-12 and is .041 points better than second-place Washington. Additionally, the Wildcats lead the conference in slugging percentage (.694), on-base percentage (.497) and runs scored (186).
- Seven regular starters have batting averages over .390, including six over .400, led by Kelsey Rodriguez’s .523 clip. Rodriguez, the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week is 9-for-her-last-11 (.818) with six doubles and a home run.
- All five Wildcat pitchers have ERAs of 1.60 or better, led by Estela Piñon’s 0.29 earned run average. Arizona’s 0.90 team ERA and .173 batting average against both rank second in the conference.
- Arizona’s pitching staff has allowed just 17 runs this season in 21 games and has a miraculous 0.90 ERA. In 21 games this year, Arizona has tossed 10 shutouts. In 59 games in 2013, UA threw just three shutouts. UA pitchers have thrown four one-hitters this season and one no-hitter (Estela Piñon and Kenzie Fowler, Feb. 9 vs. Southern Miss).
- Kellie Fox leads the Pac-12 in slugging percentage (1.060), on-base percentage (.609), RBI (32), home runs (9) and total bases (53).
- In just 21 games this season, UA has 15 run-rule victories. In 59 games in 2013, the Wildcats run-ruled just eight opponents.
- Arizona’s 20-1 start is its best since beginning the 2010 campaign 23-1. Ironically, in both years, Arizona’s lone loss at this point of the season was to Missouri. In 2010, Arizona was 23-1 when it fell to Michigan at the Judi Garman Classic for its second loss of the year. UA’s next opponent in 2014? Michigan.
- With Pac-12 play just around the corner, it will be difficult to keep these figures up, but as of right now, Arizona’s .404 average would be the best in team history while its 0.90 ERA would be the best since the 2001 team’s 0.77 ERA. Also, the Wildcats’ .983 fielding percentage would be the best in school history.
- On the season, Arizona has 68 extra-base hits. Its opponents have 72 TOTAL hits.
- How are these stats for a leadoff hitter? Hallie Wilson has not struck out once all season in a team-most 53 at-bats. Meanwhile, she has drawn 17 walks, tied for second most in the Pac-12, helping her to a .554 on-base percentage. Sisters Kelsey (1) and Courtney Rodriguez (2) have also limited their strikeouts as well and sit atop the batting average leaders on the team at .523 and .467, respectively. The feat is especially impressive for Courtney, who struck out in nearly one-third of her at-bats (20-of-63). This year, she has struck out in just 4 percent of her at-bats.
Michigan: The fifth-ranked Wolverines (13-2) are set to take on some of the best the Pac-12 has to offer this week as they take on fourth-ranked UCLA in Westwood in a two-game series before heading to Fullerton for the Judi Garman Classic, where they will take on 10th-ranked Arizona State and sixth-ranked Washington prior to taking on the seventh-ranked Cats. The Wolverines are hitting .340 as a team, led by Sierra Romero’s .548 average. In the circle, both Haylie Wagner (0.71) and Megan Betsa (0.87) own sub-1.00 ERAs for a staff which has struck out 103 batters and only walked 34.
Series History: Arizona leads 9-7 // First Meeting: 1986 // Last Meeting: 3.15.13; Michigan 9, Arizona 1 (5 innings); Fullerton, Calif. (Judi Garman Classic)
Wisconsin: The Badgers (7-7) enter the Judi Garman after a 3-2 weekend at the Texas A&M Invitational, falling only to the host Aggies twice and picking victories over Connecticut and Texas A&M Corpus-Christi twice. Three Badgers are batting over .400 on the year, led by Michelle Mueller’s .441 average. Taylor-Paig Stewart (3-2, 2.76 ERA, 33 Ks, 38.0 IP) leads a pitching staff that has thrown two shutouts on the year.
Series History: Arizona leads 2-1 // First Meeting: 2002 // Last Meeting: 2.11.07; Arizona 4, Wisconsin 1; Tempe, Ariz. (Kajikawa Classic)
Cal State Fullerton: The host Titans (11-7) boast victories over ranked Big-12 opponents Baylor and Oklahoma on the season. CSUF is led by Missy Taukeiaho (.370 avg, 2 2B, 4 HR, 11 RBI) on an offense that has outscored opponents 86-61 on the season. In the circle, the team has posted a 3.14 ERA, led by Desiree Ybarra (4-0, 0.61 avg, .179 BAA).
Series History: Arizona leads 25-20 // First Meeting: 1982 // Last Meeting: 2.14.10; Arizona 8, Cal State Fullerton 1; Tempe, Ariz. (Kajikawa Classic)
San Jose State: The Spartans (11-6) went 1-1 last weekend at the Libby Matson Tournament in Stockton, Calif., with a victory over a UTEP and a 1-0 loss No. 7 Washington. Jessie Hufstetler (.540 avg, 6 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 14 RBI) leads an offense that has scored 107 runs in 17 games. Allison Lang (6-2, 2.51 ERA, 28 Ks, 47.1 IP) leads a pitching staff that has struggled to a 5.03 team ERA.
Series History: Arizona leads 5-0 // First Meeting: 1989 // Last Meeting: 3.19.11; Arizona 14, San Jose State 6 (6 innings); 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 1,363-323-2 (.808). 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 to seventh in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll and eighth 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 a doubleheader with Ball State, outscoring the Cardinals 28-5 in the process. Hallie Wilson and Kelsey Rodriguez were each 4-for-5 in the doubleheader. Wilson had two doubles and a triple, while Rodriguez hit a double and a home run.
3/4/14 - Cats Sweep Cardinals in Record-Breaking Fashion: In a program that has won eight national championships and has topped the 60-win plateau five times, the Wildcats had never run-ruled seven straight opponents. That changed on Tuesday, when the Wildcats run-ruled Ball State twice, marking the seventh and then eighth consecutive run-rule victories for the 2014 Cats.
UA defeated Ball State (12-4) 16-2 and 12-3 in the doubleheader.
The Wildcats (20-1) have run-ruled nine of their last 10 opponents. The lone seven-inning game? A 7-0 victory over No. 11 Nebraska. In the 10-game stretch, the Wildcats are outscoring their opponents 108-10.
The two mercy wins gave Arizona 15 for the season in 21 tries after having just eight in 59 games a season ago.
Arizona outscored Ball State, which defeated then-third-ranked ASU 3-0 on Sunday night, 28-5 in the doubleheader, marking the most runs in a doubleheader since plating 34 against Saint Joseph’s on March 8, 2009.
Arizona hit six home runs in the doubleheader to snag the conference lead with 34 round-trippers on the season. Chelsea Goodacre had two, both in game two of the doubleheader, while Kelsey Rodriguez, Lauren Young, Mo Mercado and Katiyana Mauga had one each.
Kelsey Rodriguez, the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week, went 4-for-5 on the day with a double, a home run and seven RBI. Rodriguez is now 9-of-her-last-11 (.818) with six doubles and a home run. On the season, she leads the team with a .523 batting average.
RECENT RESULTS AT THE JUDI GARMAN CLASSIC: Arizona went 2-3 at the 2013 Judi Garman Classic. Arizona scored just 15 runs in the five games (3 per game) after scoring 75 runs in the previous eight contests (9.4 runs per game). Arizona defeated Notre Dame (2-0) and Penn State (10-2, 5 innings) and lost to Virginia Tech (9-2), No. 15 Michigan (9-1, 6 innings) and No. 1 Oklahoma (4-0) in the tournament. Chelsea Goodacre remained hot for the Cats, hitting .538 with a pair of homers and five runs batted in to bring her team-leading season totals to 10 and 32, respectively. Hallie Wilson and Lauren Young also homered during the tournament. Mandie Perez hit .400 during perhaps her best tournament as a Wildcat.
Kelsey Rodriguez: In her last 16 at-bats, Kelsey Rodriguez has six doubles, two home runs and four singles, good for a .750 average over her last eight games. Rodriguez leads the team, and is second in the Pac-12, with a .523 average. Her nine doubles are tied for the conference lead despite having just three through the first 14 games of the season.
Hallie Wilson: The junior has reached base in 12 consecutive games. Over the 12-game streak, Wilson is hitting .469 (15-for-32). On Tuesday, in the first game of Arizona’s doubleheader with Ball State, the first baseman was a home run shy of the cycle in just three at-bats.
Courtney Rodriguez: After recording just eight hits in 36 starts as a freshman, C-Rod has nearly tripled that in 21 games this season. Rodriguez is 21-for-45 (.467) on the year, good for second on the team and tied for fourth in the conference. Rodriguez is second on the team with six doubles and has nine RBI after having just one and three, respectively, in 2013. She is batting .340 points better than last season.
Estela Piñon: The senior leads qualified Pac-12 pitchers with a 0.29 ERA this season, having allowed just a single run in 24.0 innings pitched. In case her 24 innings this season are too small of a sample size, consider her last 46.1 innings pitched, dating back to last season. In the stretch, Piñon has allowed a total of three earned runs (0.45 ERA), with 55 strikeouts and just 23 walks. The Tucson native’s 37/24, K/IP ratio is the best on the team.
Kellie Fox: The junior leads the Pac-12 in five different offensive categories: slugging percentage (1.060), on-base percentage (.609), RBI (32), home runs (9) and total bases (53). Her .460 batting average ranks seventh in the league while her 25 runs scored are tied for second.
HEART OF THE ORDER: Arizona’s 3-4 hitters Kellie Fox and Chelsea Goodacre have each driven in 32 runs and are tied for the Pac-12 lead. The 32 RBI put them on track for 85-RBI regular seasons (plus any postseason RBI), which would be ninth best in UA history. Additionally, Fox and Goodacre rank one and two in home runs in the Pac-12 with nine and eight, respectively. Fox is on pace for 24 regular-season homers while Goodacre is on pace for 21, which would be good for 9th and 11th in a season in Arizona history.
NEARING THE CENTURY MARK: Kenzie Fowler has 82 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 16-0 this season inside the friendly confines of Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium. Since its opening in 1993, Arizona has put up a 599-69 record on the field. That’s a .897 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 12 home dates, the Wildcats are averaging 2,108 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 .983 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 480 at-bats this season, UA hitters have struck out just 55 times (11 percent of at-bats). On the other side of the ball, Arizona pitchers have struck out 130 batters in 117.0 innings pitched. Thirty-one 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. In the leadoff spot, Hallie Wilson has not struck out in 53 at-bats.
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 begin Pac-12 play when they head to Westwood for a three-game series with UCLA, currently ranked fourth nationally, March 15-17. UA will then take on UNLV in a doubleheader on March 19 in Las Vegas.