No. 1 Cats to host No. 13 Crimson Tide
Jan. 30, 2002
Next Up For the Cats
After a week of exhibition games the Cats will be home to face No. 13 Alabama. The Crimson Tide finished the 2001 season with a 50-11 overall record.
Last Time the Cats Played
The defending NCAA Champion Arizona Wildcats opened the 2002 softball season with exhibition doubleheaders against Division II competition this past week. In their first exhibition game against Sonoma State senior Jennie Finch threw a five-inning perfect game and struck out 12 batters. Sophomore Mackenzie Vandergeest hit one home run in the first game and three home runs in the second. The Cats went on to win both games of the doubleheader 15-0 and 8-0. On Saturday against Western New Mexico the Cats were led by Jennie Finch once again. In the first game she struck out 11 batters on her way to a no-hitter. Arizona went on to beat Western New Mexico in the first game 3-0. In the second game of the doubleheader the Cats won 6-1 with the help of runs by Junior Lovie Jung, sophomore Leneah Manuma and freshman Carrie Hagen. Pitcher Jenny Gladding had 13 strikeouts and only allowed two hits. Against Central Arizona on Tuesday Finch threw for her third no-hitter. Finch finished the three exhibition games with 39 strikeouts in 18 innings. The Cats went on to beat Central Arizona 8-0 in the first game. In the second game Manuma hit a two-run home run after a single by Courtney Fossatti to lead the Cats to a 8-3 victory.
Arizona's Mike Candrea carries a career record of 871-172 (.835), accomplished in 16 years with the Wildcats. The 2001 Pac-10 co-Coach of the Year has led UA to six national titles and six Pacific-10 Conference championships. He should become only the third Division I coach in history to win 900 games this year. Candrea is joined by assistant coaches Nancy Evans and Larry Ray.
Arizona is ranked No. 1 in the Preseason USA/Today Top 25. Five other Pac-10 schools are in the Preseason USA Today/NFCA Top 10.
Cats Put Winning Streaks on the Line
Arizona enters the 2002 season with a live 26-game winning streak and an improbable home 44-game winning streak in Hillenbrand Stadium. The latter is one shy of tying the school record of 45 games (from May 1996 to March 1998). UA last lost in Hillenbrand on April 9, 2000, to No. 9 Stanford, 4-3 in eight innings.
Returning With Honors
Senior Pitcher Jennie Finch - 1st-team All-America, 1st-team All-Pacific-Region, 1st-team All-Pac-10, Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year, Honda Softball Award, College World Series MVP, All-NCAA Region 1.
Sophomore First Baseman Leneah Manuma - 1st-team All-America, 1st-team All-Pacific-Region, 2nd-team All-Pacific-10.
Sophomore Catcher Mackenzie Vandergeest - 2nd-team All-Pac-10, All-NCAA Region 1.
Cats Winning Streaks on the line Feb. 1
Arizona has a live 26-game winning streak and a live 44-game home-field winning streak entering the 2002 season. They'll be tested Feb. 1 with the regular-season opener at Hillenbrand Stadium Feb. 1 in the first of three games against Alabama.
Most of Hillenbrand Stadium's reserved seating has been sold out on a season-ticket basis, and fans are purchasing outfield general admission seating as season tickets. Contact the McKale Center Ticket Office for more information at 621-2287 or 1-800-452-2287.
Arizona Softball Media Day
The Wildcat softball team and staff will be available for annual Media Day activities at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30.
Probable Wildcat Lineup
Arizona's 2002 lineup likely won't be set for weeks, but don't bet against pitcher/first baseman Finch, first baseman/dh Manuma, second baseman Ribellia, catcher Vandergeest, shortstop Jung and pitcher Gladding. The big group of young outfielders and third base candidates get to show their mettle in early games.