The Wildcats' quest for National Championship No. 9 begins in Tucson as Arizona hosts North Dakota State, Hawai'i and Notre Dame for an NCAA Regional
May 16, 2012
SITE NOTES (May 18-20): NCAA REGIONAL // Tucson
Friday, May 18
Game 1 2:30 p.m. Hawai'i vs. Notre Dame
Game 2 5:00 p.m. (13) ARIZONA vs. North Dakota State
Saturday, May 19
Game 3 3:00 p.m. G1 Winner vs. G2 Winner
Game 4 5:30 p.m. G1 Loser vs. G2 Loser
Game 5 8:00 p.m. G3 Loser vs. G4 Winner
Sunday, May 20
Game 6 3:30 p.m. G3 Winner vs. G5 Winner
Game 7 (if necessary) 5:00 p.m. G3 Winner vs. G5 Winner
(All times are estimated and may change based on the length of previous action)
FOLLOW THE GAMES
Live Coverage: All games at the Regional will be broadcast by ESPNU and ESPN3.com.
Interactive Bracket: Find live stats for all games at http://www.ncaa.com/brackets/softball/d1
Tournament Central: http://www.arizonawildcats.com/sports/w-softbl/spec-rel/2012-ncaa-tournament.html
Live Updates: Twitter: @UA_Softball (twitter.com/ua_softball) & Facebook: Arizona Athletics (facebook.com/arizonaathletics)
NCAA ACTION IN TUCSON: Arizona has played host to 16 NCAA Regionals along with six Super Regionals. This is the third consecutive year the regional round will be held in Tucson. The Wildcats are 52-4 in NCAA Regionals held in Tucson and have advanced out of 15 of the 16 Regionals they have hosted, only failing to make it out of 2004 pod, when defeats to Oklahoma and Lousiana Lafayette ended Arizona's season. The 2004 club remains the only since 1987 to lose in regionals. This will be the first time at Hillenbrand in NCAA action for North Dakota State and Notre Dame and third for Hawai'i (1998, 2001).
- Has been selected for 26 consecutive NCAA Tournament Appearance. In that span, Arizona has made 22 trips to the Women's College World Series and won eight National Championships. In NCAA action, Arizona has a 148-43 (.775) record including a sparkling 75-6 (.926) record in regional play.
- Swept its 2011 NCAA Regional by defeating Harvard, New Mexico State and Texas Tech by a combined score of 28-2.
- 2011 marked the first Mike Candrea-coached Wildcat squad to not make the Women's College World Series since 1987. Arizona, which has made 22 of the last 24, hopes to get back to the Women's College World Series, but will have to do it with its worst NCAA seeding in the 24-year span.
- Finished Pac-12 play with a 12-12 record, marking the first time since 1986 that Arizona finished at or below .500 in conference play since going 5-6-1 in the Pacific-West Conference in 1986, Mike Candrea's first year with the program. Arizona's fourth-place finish is its lowest since the 1991 team's fourth-place finish. That same club went on to win Arizona's first National Championship.
- Is a perfect 24-0 all-time against the three other teams in the region. The Cats are 7-0 all-time against Notre Dame, 4-0 vs. North Dakota State and 13-0 against Hawaii. UA has played just one game against the field in NCAA action, a 5-1 win over Hawai'i in the 2010 WCWS.
North Dakota State:
- Return to NCAA action for the fourth consecutive season (and 11th overall) after winning its fourth consecutive Summit League Tourney Title. It will be the fourth straight season North Dakota State travels to a Pac-12 school for NCAA play.
- Is 2-7 against opponents that made the NCAA tournament this season: Alabama (0-2), Arizona State (0-1), Baylor (0-1), Coastal Carolina (1-1), Florida State (0-1), Long Beach State (1-0) and Texas A&M (0-1).
- Finished the regular season ranked 16th in the Mid-Major Top 25.
- Krista Menke was named Summit League Pitcher of the Year as well as Freshman of the Year. Menke brings a 24-11 record to Tucson with a 2.08 ERA and 199 strikeouts in 238.2 innings pitched.
- Fourth time in six seasons and 10th overall that Hawai'i has made the NCAA Softball Tournament. Hawai'i returns to Tucson for NCAA play for the third time (1998 and 2001).
- Won the Western Athletic Conference regular season crown for the fourth time in school history after posting a 17-3 conference record.
- Holds the best regular season record in program history after going 43-5 in 2012.
- Is 5-16 against the field including 5-3 against Notre Dame and 0-13 against Arizona. Should Hawai'i and North Dakota State meet, it will be the first ever matchup between the two.
- Winners of 17 of its last 18 as well as 30 of its final 36.
- Making its 14th consecutive and 17th overall appearance in the NCAA Championship. The Fighting Irish is 24-32 (.429) in its previous 16 trips and has made the final day of the regional six times.
- Hurler Laura Winter was named BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year after going 27-9 with a 1.88 ERA. Winter struck out 266 opponents in 238 innings of work.
- Carries a 4-13 record against the field, including a 3-5 mark against Hawai'i, 0-7 distinction against Arizona and a 1-1 record against North Dakota State.
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WEEK 16 NOTES (May 18-20): NCAA REGIONAL // Tucson
TUCSON REGIONAL ON ESPNU: All games in the Tucson Regional will be broadcast by ESPNU this weekend with talent Pam Ward and Michele Smith. Arizona's regional is just one of three regions being broadcast by ESPN family of networks (Louisville and College Station). All games will be simulcast by ESPN3.com, available on your computer anywhere there is an internet connection.
THIS WEEK: Arizona returns to NCAA action for the 26th consecutive season and NCAA action returns to Tucson for the 17th time. The Wildcats, who are 148-43 all-time in the NCAA Championship, are 75-6 in regional play and have not lost a regional game since Super Regionals were implemented, bumping the regional round down to four teams in 2005. UA will look to advance to Super Regionals for the eighth straight season and to the Women's College World Series for the 23rd time in 25 years. The Cats are 12-5 in Super Regionals and 61-32 in WCWS games all-time, including eight national championships. Arizona, the bracket's 13 seed, welcomes Hawai'i, Notre Dame and North Dakota State. According to the NFCA, who ranks Arizona 17th and Hawai'i 13th, the Wildcats are underdogs in their own region.
North Dakota State: The Bison (37-20, 18-6 Summit League) are unranked by both the NFCA and USA Softball. NDSU won the Summit League Tournament Championship by defeating IPFW to clinch an auto-berth into the NCAA Championship. It is the Bison's fourth-consecutive Summit League Softball League Softball Tournament Championship. NDSU is a well-balanced team with nine Bison contributing double-digit RBI. In the circlie, the Bison's 2.16 ERA is 36th in the country. North Dakota State is led offensively by Taylor Mortensen (.308 avg, 8 HR, 9 2B, 4 3B, 33 RBI) and Katie Tamayo (.296 avg, 16 2B, 29 RBI, 3 HR). The two main contributors in the cicle, Whitney Johnson and Krista Menke, both have ERA hovering around two. Menke, the team's ace, was named Summit League's Freshman of the Year and Pitcher of the Year. The Wildcats are 4-0 all-time against the Bison. Arizona and North Dakota State last met on Feb. 13, 2010 when UA defeated NDSU 6-0 at the Kajikawa Classic.
Hawai'i: The Rainbow Wahine (44-7, 17-3 Western Athletic Conference) are ranked 13th by the NFCA and 16th by USA Softball. UH won the regular season WAC Championship, but fell to Fresno State in the WAC Tournament. The Rainbow Wahine boast one of the nation's top ERA and couple that with a powerful offense. Hawai'i is fifth nationally with a 1.32 ERA and sixth in the country with 1.43 homers per game. Hawai'i is one of only four teams to hand top-seeded California a loss on the season, along with Arizona. Its nine regular players all have more than 18 RBI and four home runs. UH is led offensively by Jessica Iwata (.403 avg, 14 HR, 57 RBI, 9 2B) and Leisha Li'ili'i (.326 avg, 9 HR, 37 RBI, 7 2B) and in the circle by Stephanie Ricketts (28-4, 1.24 ERA, 221 Ks, 214.1 IP) and Kaia Parnaby (16-3, 1.45 ERA, 123 Ks, 120.2 IP). Arizona has won all 13 meetings in the two programs' history. The Cats and the Wahine last met in 2010 in the Women's College World Series when Arizona eliminated Hawai'i with a 5-1 victory.
Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish (38-14, 16-3 BIG EAST) is unranked by both the NFCA and USA Softball. UND fell to Louisville in the BIG EAST Tournament championship game, 4-3 in extra innings, stopping a streak of 17 straight victories for the Fighting Irish. Eight of Notre Dame's 14 losses this season came at a neutral site. Notre Dame is the only team in the field to have above a .300 average; at .305, Notre Dame is 26th in the country. The Fighting Irish is led at the plate by Amy Buntin (.372 avg, 11 HR, 59 RBI, 8 2B) and Dani Miller (.340 avg, 16 HR, 56 RBI, 9 2B). In the circle, Notre Dame is paced by BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year Laura Winter (27-9, 1.88 ERA, 266 Ks, 238.0 IP). Arizona holds a 7-0 all-time advantage over Notre Dame. The Cats downed the Fighting Irish 10-1 in five innings the last time the two met, March 14, 2009 at the Judi Garman Classic.
HEAD COACH Mike Candrea: Arizona head coach Mike Candrea is in his 27th year at the helm of the Arizona softball program with a career record of 1,307-294-2 (.816). 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 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 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 remained 17th in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll and improved to 15th in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25. The Wildcats started the season ranked eighth in both polls (its highest ranking of the season) and finished 2011 ranked 11th in both.
RECENT RESULTS: The Wildcats ended the regular season on a good note when they took 2-of-3 from Oregon State in Tucson. The Pac-12 series win was its first in four tries. Despite being held scoreless for a 12 inning stretch during the series, the Wildcats still managed to outscore Oregon State 15-9, helped out by five long balls (Brigette Del Ponte - 2, Lini Koria - 1, Kristen Arriola - 1, Jessica Spigner - 1). Arizona sandwiched a 4-0 loss between a 12-4 six-innin win in game one and a 3-1, walkoff win in the regular-season finale. Karissa Buchanan batted .800 with three stolen bases and an RBI in the series and was rewarded with her first-career Pac-12 Player of the Week recognition.
Thursday, May 10: Offense Awakens in 12-4, Six Inning Win over OSU - No. 17 Arizona Softball hit three homers and scored eight times in the fourth inning to come from behind and help mercy Oregon State, 12-4 in six innings in the first game of senior weekend at Hillenbrand Stadium.
Chelsea Suitos' walk-off double in the sixth inning was the final of 15 Arizona hits, its most all season and most since a 16-hit outing against San Jose State on March 19, 2011.
Friday, May 11: Softball Blanked by Oregon State, 4-0 - No. 17 Arizona Softball was shut out for just the fourth time all season by Oregon State as Arizona's offense managed just four hits against the Beavers in front of the largest crowd at Hillenbrand Stadium all season, 2,680.
After compiling a season-high 15 hits against Oregon State on Thursday, the Wildcats offense went cold and did not score for the fourth time all season on just four hits, their third-fewest on the year.
Saturday, May 12: Cats Walk Off with Senior Day Victory - No. 17 Arizona Softball (35-17, 12-12 Pac-12) came up with a dramatic victory on an emotional senior day when Brigette Del Ponte sent seniors Kristen Arriola, Nicole Bryan, Karissa Buchanan, Lini Koria and Jessica Spigner home with a senior day to remember when she hit a walkoff, two-run homer to beat Oregon State (34-21, 9-12 Pac-12), 3-1 in the final regular season game of the season.
Arizona trailed by a run with five outs remaining in the regular season when Spigner, hitless in her last 15 at-bats and homerless in her last 77, tied the game with a home run to left-center. The home run ended 12.1 consecutive scoreless innings hurled by OSU's Marina Demore, dating back to her Friday night complete-game shutout.
RECENT RESULTS AT THE NCAA REGIONAL: The Wildcats swept through the 2011 NCAA Regional by outscoring Harvard, New Mexico State and Texas Tech by a combined total of 28-2. The Cats run-ruled Harvard 10-0 in the regional-opener, downed New Mexico State 8-0 and mercied Texas Tech 10-2 in the regional championship.
May 20, 2011: Chambers' 86th Highlights UA's First-Round Win - Lini Koria's sixth-inning walk-off grand slam finished off Harvard, concluding Arizona's 10-0 route of the Ivy League champions in front of a packed house in the opening round of the NCAA Championship.
In the fifth inning, Stacie Chambers became Arizona's career home run leader, rocketing a home run to the scoreboard in right field, her 86th career jack. The amendment in the Wildcat record book will lift her over Leah Braatz and Laura Espinoza, who each hit 85 homers in their storied careers.
May 21, 2011: Cats Advance to Regional Championship - Eighth-seeded Arizona shutout New Mexico State as 8-0 to advance to the regional championship game Sunday. Arizona will meet Texas Tech, winner late Saturday against NM State in the second elimination game.
Kenzie Fowler dealt a season-high 15 Ks while getting plenty of run-support in her complete-game shutout. Fowler flirted with danger all night, getting out of bases-loaded jams twice and leaving 12 Aggie runners on base. Fowler gave up eight hits and three walks.
May 22, 2011: Softball Punches Ticket to Supers - Arizona advanced to Super Regionals with a 10-2 win over Texas Tech. Arizona needed just six innings to beat the Red Raiders, who would have needed to beat Arizona twice Sunday to win the region.
The Cats' offense Sunday was fueled by Lini Koria, who kick-started the Cats' bats with a home run in the second inning, Arizona's first hit of the game. Koria went 3-for-3 with three RBI at-bats, missing just the triple for the cycle. Karissa Buchanan chipped in a 3-for-3 performance of her own while driving in two runs and scoring two more.
RECENT RESULTS VS. NORTH DAKOTA STATE: Arizona and North Dakota State last met in the fourth game of the season for Arizona during the 2010 campaign at the Kajikawa Classic at Farrington Stadium in Tempe, Ariz. The Cats won the game, 6-0 behind Sarah Akamine's gem.
Feb. 13, 2010: Cats Victors over Bison, 6-0
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Brigette Del Ponte knocked in four runs and Sarah Akamine shut down the North Dakota State offense in a 6-0 Arizona win over the Bison at Farrington Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The freshman Del Ponte had a bases-clearing double in the fifth after knocking in Baillie Kirker on a sacrifice fly in the fourth.
Lini Koria and Stacie Chambers tallied the other RBI in a five-run fifth.
Sarah Akamine (2-0) limited the Bison to four hits and issued one walk in the complete game.
Whitney Johnson, five weeks removed from graduating high school, held her own in the NDSU (3-1) circle but was chased after 4.2 innings. She scattered four hits and struck out six, but issued eight walks and fell to 1-1 on the season. Randi Parks tossed two-and-a-third innings of one hit ball.
The game was scoreless until the fourth inning, when three walks paved the way for Del Ponte's sac fly with one out to give Arizona (4-0) a 1-0 lead.
Brittany Lastrapes, Lauren Schutzler and K'Lee Arredondo each tallied a hit in the fifth to load the bases before Del Ponte's two-out double.
RECENT RESULTS VS. HAWAI'I: In an elimination game in the 2010 Women's College World Series, Kenzie Fowler led Arizona past Hawai'i en route to the Wildcats' national championship series appearance. The Cats ended Hawai'i's season with a 5-1 victory.
June 5, 2010: Cats Down Hawai'i, 5-1
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- Kenzie Fowler threw a two-hitter and Brittany Lastrapes had a three-hit game as the 10-seed Wildcats eliminated upstart Hawai'i, 5-1, Saturday evening to advance to the semifinals of the Women's College World Series.
In front of a WCWS single-session record 9,080 single session record in attendance, Fowler picked up her second win of the day and upped her season record to 36-7 with a 13-strikeout performance.
Arizona (50-12) will play Tennessee at 2:30 p.m. CT (12:30 p.m. Tucson time) Sunday, needing to win twice to advance to the WCWS finals.
UA got things started early. Brittany Lastrapes took the first pitch back to pitcher Stephanie Ricketts for a bunt single and Lauren Schutzler sacrificed her over. K'Lee Arredondo followed with a bunt, but the throw from Ricketts went past first baseman Amanda Tauali'i and allowed Lastrapes to score. Two Ricketts strikeouts ended the inning with UA up 1-0.
UH (50-16) answered back with a solo home run by Traci Yoshikawa in the third, knotting the score.
But Arizona responded in their half of the frame. Buchanan led off with a single, then Lastrapes moved her to third with a single of her own. After a groundout, Arredondo doubled to left, plating Buchanan. Chambers followed up with a sac fly to score Lastrapes and open up a 3-1 lead.
The Cats tacked two more on in the fourth, all with two outs. Karissa Buchanan singled after Kristen Arriola drew a walk earlier in the inning, then Lastrapes singled to right but Arriola was held up at third. Schutzler hit a rocket grounder to second that Yoshikawa mishandled, allowing Arriola and Lastrapes to score unearned runs and boost UA to a 5-1 lead after four complete.
From then on, Fowler allowed just four base runners and struck out eight - including retiring the side on strikeouts in the sixth - to hold the potent Wahine offense at bay.
Ricketts (30-10) allowed five runs on seven hits in 3.2 innings. Kaia Parnaby pitched two-and-a-third innings of shutout ball, walking one and striking out five.
RECENT RESULTS VS. NOTRE DAME: Arizona and Notre Dame have met six times in program history, with Arizona taking all six contests. The two teams last met in 2009 at the Judi Garman Classic when Arizona made quick work of the Fighting Irish in a 10-1, five inning affair.
March 19, 2009: Long Ball Leads Cats to Win
FULLERTON, Calif. -- Four home runs paved the way for No. 12 Arizona's 10-1 five-inning victory over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, earning them a split in their second day at the Judi Garman Classic on Saturday afternoon.
Stacie Chambers went 2-2 at the dish, slamming two homers and drawing two walks. Victoria Kemp and Sam Banister accounted for the other UA blasts.
Jennifer Martinez (3-0) went the full five innings for the win, allowing one earned run, a walk, and striking out two. The Irish scattered five hits off of the senior.
Jody Valdivia (2-5) was given the hook after 2.1 innings, allowing five earned runs on five hits. Brittney Bargar gave up the other five - all unearned.
Brittany Lastrapes led off the game with a single up the middle. After Kristen Arriola walked and Jenae Leles struck out, Chambers took the third pitch she saw over the right centerfield fence to open up a 3-0 margin.
In the Notre Dame (8-9) half, Heather Johnson laced a two-out double off the centerfield wall to score leadoff hitter Sadie Pitzenberger, who got on with a base hit. The RBI knock put the Irish on the board, 3-1.
Kemp led off the second with her second jack of the year, after changing bats midway through her turn at the dish. The towering blast to right centerfield gave Arizona the three-run cushion it had established the inning earlier, 4-1.
Chambers blasted another one to lead off the UA (26-6) third. It was her 19th homer and 66th RBI of the year. After Valdivia issued a walk to Lini Koria, she was given the hook in favor of Bargar, who induced a flyout and groundout to end the half with Arizona up 5-1.
Her next time up, Chambers was intentionally walked to load the bases with two outs after a base hit and an error. After a wild pitch scored Arriola, Banister made the Irish pay for the IBB with her sixth home run of the season to left center - a three-run shot that widened the margin to 9-1. Laine Roth added an RBI single to cap the scoring.
Arizona loaded them up again with two outs in the fifth when Chambers walked for the second time, but Banister grounded out to end the threat.
NEXT WEEK: The winner of the Tucson Regional moves to the Super Regional round where it will meet the winner of the Norman Regional. Should the top seeds hold, Arizona will meet Oklahoma for the second straight season in the Super Regionals, this time in Norman.
STARING AT THE STATS: Arizona has 17 regular-season losses, tied for the most losses in Mike Candrea's tenure. The 1989 team (48-19) also lost 17 regular-season contests ... The Cats have won at least 40 games a year since 1986 (27-13-1, Candrea's first year, and have some work to do to keep it going ... UA pitchers appear destined to give up 200 walks for only the second time after the program-high 234 a year ago. They hit the 300-strikeouts plateau for the 15th consecutive year in Westwood. There was an 11-year string of 400+ Ks (1998-2008) including seven years above 500 and three above 600 ... Lini Koria has drawn 119 bases on balls in her career, putting her sixth on the Arizona all-time list. Jenae Leles (2006-09) is No. 5 with 132 ... Koria's 61 home runs are No. 5 on the Arizona chart behind sluggers Stacie Chambers (87), Laura Espinoza and Leah Braatz (85 each) and Jenny Dalton (76) ... Brigette Del Ponte, in just three years, is one shy of the Arizona top 10 for career doubles. She has 45 and Kristie Fox is No. 10 with 46 ...
FREE BASES: Arizona has struggled all season by allowing free bases to the opposition, with bases on balls being the most frequent reason. Here's a breakdown of Arizona's final nine games of the regular season:
4/27-5/6 (6 games): 50 free bases (35 BB, 5 HBP, 10 E)
5/10-5/12 (3 games): 8 free bases (3 BB, 3 HBP, 2 E)
Karissa Buchanan: Was named Pac-12 Player of the Week after going 8-for-10 (.800) with three stolen bases and an RBI in her final regular season series of her career against Oregon State. After an underwhelming start to the season, Buchanan has come on strong. The senior has had a hit in 12 of Arizona's last 15 games and is batting .463 in that span. The game prior to the beginning of the 15-game stretch, Buchanan's average bottomed out at .242 on April 10.
Shelby Pendley: Has 18 home runs on the season, but is homerless in her last five games. The figure is already good for t19th on Arizona's all-time list. Pendley needs four more to break the freshman homer record, set by Brigette Del Ponte (21) in 2010.
Brigette Del Ponte: Hit a pair of home runs against Oregon State, including a walkoff, two-run blast in game three. Del Ponte's extra-base power has helped her to 29 extra base hits (14 2B, 1 3B, 14 HR) while she has hit just 21 singles on the season. For her career, Del Ponte has 98 XBH (45 2B, 1 3B, 52 HR) and only 73 singles. Just a junior, Del Ponte is already on the career top-10 list in home runs with 50. Additionally, Del Ponte, who set the single-season record with 23 doubles in 2011, is one shy of breaking the top-10 in two-baggers as well.
LEARNING QUICKLY: Arizona has four freshmen in its starting lineup and all four have been imperative to the Wildcats' offensive success. First-year players Hallie Wilson (.355) and Shelby Pendley (.346) lead the team in batting average. Chelsea Suitos' .317 mark and Chelsea Goodacre's .260 average aren't too shabby either. The last time a freshman led Arizona in batting average was in 2008 when Brittany Lastrapes paced the Cats at .364.
MAKING THE PLAYS: The Wildcats boast a fielding percentage of .978, which would be tied for third best in school history if kept up. Only two other clubs fielded better than the current Cats for a whole season: the 2001 National Champions (.981) and the 1995 squad (.979). That said, the Wildcats have had trouble on that side of the ball recently. The Cats have committed 12 errors in the past nine games. That is more than half of the total errors Arizona had in the previous 43 games (19). Still, UA has committed only 31 total errors on the season, which is on track to beat the 2001 program-low of 34 errors committed.
SUCCESSFUL SWIPES: Arizona has collected 50 stolen bases on 54 attempts this season, a 93% success rate. The 50 swipes are already more than the last four seasons when the Cats stole 37 bases in 2011, 36 in 2010, 29 in 2009 and 43 in 2008. Fifty will not touch the school record of 136 set in 1998, but still a high number in the current context. The only four caught-stealings has the potential to set a Wildcat record for fewest CS's. The 2009 (29-for-36) and 1986 (11-for-18) squads were each caught seven times. The four runners caught stealing are best in the conference. No Wildcat has been caught more than once on the year. Karissa Buchanan (19-for-19) leads the team and is tied for third in the conference.
HEATING UP: In the last five weeks of the season, Arizona has averaged nine hits per game, including seven double-digit hit games. This came on the heels of a March lull when Arizona went 16 games without cracking double-digit hits and averaged 6.5 hits per game.