This Week in Pac-10 Softball

May 8, 2002

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The regular season is heading into its final week with top-ranked UCLA and second-ranked ARIZONA duking it out for the top spot in the Pac-10. Both enter the final weekend with identical 15-3 Conference records. The winner of Friday's match up between the 'Cats and Bruins will own the tie breaker for the automatic NCAA berth. The two have won 12 of 15 Pac-10 titles (six each) and 14 of 20 NCAA championships (UCLA, eight; Arizona, six). . . Arizona and ARIZONA STATE will finish the Conference season with the toughest road trip (mileage-wise) in the Pac-10 as each travels to UCLA and WASHINGTON this weekend. . . CALIFORNIA and STANFORD will host the Oregon schools. . . Early in the the week, the Cardinal will lace them up against Bay Area rival San Jose State. . . UCLA senior Stacey Nuveman is now the NCAA career home run leader with 87 all-time. She broke the record at the OSU Softball Complex last Saturday (May 4). . . The field of 48 teams for the 2002 NCAA Division I Women's Softball Championship will be announced on a selection show at 6 p.m., Sunday, May 12. . . Seven teams continue to be ranked in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Poll this week. UCLA owns the top spot, followed by No. 2 Arizona, No. 4 Arizona State, No. 5 California, No. 6 Washington, No. 8 Stanford and No. 16 OREGON STATE.

THIS WEEK's SCHEDULE

Wed., May 8STANFORD @ San Jose State, 2 p.m.

Fri., May 10*ARIZONA @ UCLA, 2 p.m.*ARIZONA STATE @ WASHINGTON, 2 p.m.*OREGON @ CALIFORNIA, 2 p.m.*OREGON STATE @ STANFORD, 7 p.m.

Sat., May 11*ARIZONA @ WASHINGTON, 1-3 p.m. (DH)*ARIZONA STATE @ UCLA, 1-3 p.m. (DH)*OREGON STATE @ CALIFORNIA, 1-3 p.m. (DH)*OREGON @ STANFORD, 1-3 p.m. (DH)

All times local to site

LAST WEEK's RESULTS

Tue., Apr. 30*ARIZONA 5, ARIZONA STATE 3Hawai'i 5, OREGON 4 (GM 1)OREGON 5, Hawai'i 4 (GM 2)STANFORD 3, Saint Mary's 0 (GM 1)STANFORD 8, Saint Mary's 0 (GM 2)

Fri., May 3*ARIZONA 3, CALIFORNIA 0*STANFORD 9, ARIZONA STATE 1*UCLA 2, OREGON 1*OREGON STATE 2, WASHINGTON 1

Sat., May 4*ARIZONA 3, STANFORD 2*ARIZONA STATE 8, CALIFORNIA 4*WASHINGTON 6, OREGON 2*UCLA 10, OREGON STATE 1

Sun., May 5*ARIZONA 6, STANFORD 1*ARIZONA STATE 2, CALIFORNIA 1, 8 innings*WASHINGTON 8, OREGON 0*UCLA 8, OREGON STATE 0

* - Pac-10 Conference Game

USA TODAY/NFCA TOP 25 POLL (May 1)

1. UCLA (27) 2. ARIZONA 3. LSU 4. ARIZONA STATE 5. CALIFORNIA 6. WASHINGTON 7. Nebraska 8. STANFORD 9. CS Fullerton10. Florida Atlantic11. Michigan12. Oklahoma13. Texas14. Fresno State15. Alabama16. OREGON STATE17. Pacific18. DePaul19. Ohio State20. Louisiana-Lafayette21. Florida State22. Iowa23. Baylor24. Texas A&M25. Georgia

PAC-10 PLAYER/PITCHER OF THE WEEK

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - UCLA catcher Stacey Nuveman has been named Pac-10 Player of the Week, while ARIZONA's Jennie Finch was named Pitcher of the Week for April 29 - May 5.

Nuveman, a senior from LaVerne, Calif., posted a .571 batting average (4-for-7) with one double, two home runs, five walks and an on-base percentage of .750 this weekend, helping the Bruins remain tied for first place in the Conference.

Last Saturday (May 4), Nuveman broke the NCAA career home run record at the OSU Softball Complex with her 16th homer of the season and 86th round-tripper of her UCLA career. The following day, Nuveman hit another home run adding to the record, which now stands at 87 homers all-time.

Finch, a senior, from La Mirada, Calif., went 3-0 last week against the likes of No. 4 Arizona State, No. 5 California and No. 8 Stanford. Finch ended the week with an 0.67 ERA. She gave up 11 hits and four runs in 21.0 innings of work while striking out 18 batters.

It is the 10th weekly honor for Nuveman and the 68th for UCLA all-time. Finch garners the seventh award of her career. Arizona has now received 73 honors all-time.

USA SOFTBALL COLLEGIATE PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD

The Amateur Softball Association (ASA) announced on April 5 its 25 candidates for the inaugural USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award.

The list of 25 was reduced to 10 players on May 3, and three finalists will be announced May 31. The winner, who will be presented with a trophy during the ASA National Council Meeting in Reno, Nev., in November, will be announced June 7. The Pac-10 candidates included (elgible finalists in bold):

Sarah Beeson, STAN; Kara Brun, ASU; Jaime Clark, WASH; Jennie Finch, ARIZ; Jocelyn Forest, CAL; Amanda Freed, UCLA; Keira Goerl, UCLA; Lovieanne Jung, ARIZ; Leneah Manuma, ARIZ; Jessica Mendoza, STAN; Stacey Nuveman, UCLA; Natasha Watley, UCLA; Phelan Wright, ASU.

AROUND THE PAC-10

ARIZONA - The Wildcats lead the Conference with a .977 fielding percentage. . . Arizona has yet to allow a triple this season. . . Inning leadoff hitters are batting a combined .422. . . Junior Lovieanne Jung is hitting .522 as a leadoff hitter. . . After not hitting a home run in the month of April, sophomore Leneah Manuma has already gone deep twice in May. She now has a league-leading 19 home runs on the season. Manuma currently ranks seventh on the Arizona career home run list with 38 all-time. . . Sophomore Mackenzie Vandergeest has only three errors in 525 chances (.994 fielding percentage). She has thrown out 24 of 35 runners this season. Vandergeest has also done it with the bat in Conference play as she is hitting .348, which is 45 points higher than her season average. . . Senior Jennie Finch has 49 career home runs, which moves her to No. 5 on the UofA homer list. With one more homerun and 45 more strikeouts, Finch will become the first player in NCAA history to win 100 games, strike out 1,000 baters and hit 50 home runs in her career.

ARIZONA STATE - In ASU's 8-4 victory over Cal last Saturday (May 4), the Sun Devils pounded out 17 hits as a team, the most in two years. Four players had three hits while two others had two knocks apiece. . . As a team, the Sun Devils are currently hitting .310, which is 17 points higher than last year at this time. Seven players are hitting .300 or better (Wright, .441; Brun, .392; Thompson, .384; Forner, .319; Beach, .310; Hixon, .309; Farber, .300). . . ASU is batting .314 (159-for-506) with runners in scoring position and .325 (25-for-77) with the bases loaded. . . Arizona State is five wins shy of new school record (44). . . Senior Nichole Thompson has five doubles in Conference play. . . Junior Kara Brun has fielded 13 double plays (second in Pac-10). . . Brun's 10 home runs this year is a new single season record.

CALIFORNIA - Cal's current three-game losing streak is the longest of the season. . . The Bears have not finished .500 or better in the Conference since 1996 when they finished 14-12. . . Cal has not surrendered a passed ball all season - the only team in the Conference to do so. . . The Bear's lead the Pac-10 with 485 strikeouts. Senior Jocelyn Forest owns 309 of those K's, which is also leading the Conference. . . With 263 bases on balls this year, Cal is 25 walks shy of breaking Arizona's 1995 NCAA record of 287 walks in a single season. . . Junior Veronica Nelson is just four walks away from breaking the NCAA single season record. She has 270 in her career and 90 on the season. . . Kaleo Eldredge leads all Pac-10 freshman with 70 hits. She is currently batting .317. . . Senior Candace Harper is batting .316 with 66 hits, seven home runs and 38 RBI. In each category, Harper ranks in the top three on the team.

OREGON - The Ducks nearly upset top-ranked UCLA last Friday (May 3), dropping the game 2-1. In that contest, senior Connie McMurren pitched seven innings, giving up just six hits and two runs, while striking out eight. Junior Janell Bergstrom went 2-for-3, scoring the lone Oregon run of the game. . . Junior Alyssa Laux is hitting .471 (8-for-17) versus southpaws and .310 (39-for-126) against righthanders. . . Junior Lynsey Haij is hitting .323 (20-for-62) with runners on base. . . Oregon pitchers have hit the fewest batters in the Conference (nine). . . The Ducks have 58 doubles this season, seven more than all of last year.

OREGON STATE - The Beavers need two more victories to extend its 40-win season streak to four consecutive years. . . OSU leads the Conference with 20 fielding double plays. . . The Beavers have recorded 1,119 putouts (second in Pac-10). . . Last Friday (May 3), Oregon State knocked off sixth-ranked Washington for just the sixth time in school history. The Beavers overcame a 1-0 deficit in the seventh inning in that game. Junior Jessica King knocked in the game-winning run and senior Crystal Draper threw six solid innings, giving up just five hits and one in six innings of work. Draper also struck out 12 Huskies. . . Junior Brynnen Guthrie is hitting .348 (16-for-46) in Conference play. . . Senior Crystal Draper's 825.2 career innings ranks second all-time at OSU behind Tarrah Beyster. . . Sophomore Monica Hoffman has five career saves, which ranks her third in Beaver history.

STANFORD - Stanford is just 1-11 when trying to come from behind in the last inning. . . The Cardinal snapped a nine-game Conference losing streak last Friday (May 3) in Tempe, as its offense exploded for four runs in the first inning en route to a 9-1, six inning victory over fourth-ranked Arizona State. Junior Kira Ching went 4-for-4 with four RBI and sophomore Jessica Allister added a three-run home run. Junior Tori Nyberg threw three shutout innings to get the victory. . . Ching has reached base safely in six of the last seven games and is hitting .500 (11-for-22) with six runs, two home runs, 11 RBI during that stretch. . . Senior Robin Walker's .283 batting average with two outs is tops among starters. . . Stanford has not had more than one sacrifice hit in a game all season. . . Freshman Elizabeth Bendig is hitting .412 with runners on base. . . With Stanford's 9-1 victory over Arizona State last Friday, head coach John Rittman earned his 250th career win.

UCLA - With a sweep this coming weekend, the Bruins would not only win their seventh Pac-10 title (first since 1999), but would also post the team's longest winning streak of the season at 17 games. . . UCLA pitchers have allowed just 34 earned runs (54 total) and 36 extra-base hits to lead the Conference. The Bruins are also tops in the Pac-10 in ERA (0.69) and opposing batting average (.129). . . UCLA has won nine Conference Player/Pitcher of the Week honors this year (first in Pac-10), which is the most since Washington accomplished the feat in the 2000 season . . . By winning her 10th Pac-10 Player of the Week award, senior Stacey Nuveman ranks third in the Conference all-time, behind California's Michele Granger (13) and current UCLA assistant coach Lisa Fernandez (11). . . For her career, Nuveman currently has a batting average of .469 (first in Pac-10, second in NCAA), 87 home runs (first in NCAA), 293 RBI (fourth in Pac-10, NCAA), and a .940 slugging percentage (first in NCAA). . . Junior Natasha Watley is three hits shy of becoming the ninth player in Conference history to reach the century mark in hits in one season. . . Junior Tairia Mims has 362 putouts (third in Pac-10).

WASHINGTON - The Washington pitching staff tallied its ninth save of the season last Saturday (May 4), breaking the previous school record of eight by the 1997 squad. . . The Huskies have now stolen 100 bases so far this season, the fifth time the UW has reached the century mark in its 10-year history. Washington had just 75 stolen bases last year (a program low), while one more stolen base can sit this year's squad as fourth-most in UW history. . . With four home runs last weekend, Washington now has 49 for the season, second-most in school history trailing only the 84 the UW hit in 2000. . . Sophomore Tia Bollinger's five saves are the most since All-American Jaime Graves recorded the school record with six as a freshman also in 1997. Out of Bollinger's five saves, four have come in Conference play. . . Bollinger has only allowed one home run in 170.0 innings pitched. . . Senior Becky Simpson tied a school record for most triples in a season with her sixth against Oregon. . . Freshman Leslie Scott has finished 17 games for the Huskies (tied for first in the Pac-10).

2001 YEAR-IN-REVIEW

The Pac-10 continued to excel and prove that it is still the nation's premiere softball Conference in 2001. Seven teams went to the NCAA Regionals while four Conference squads advanced all the way to the Women's College World Series (ARIZONA, CALIFORNIA, STANFORD and UCLA). For the eighth time in Conference history, two Pac-10 teams met in the National Championship Game with Arizona defeating UCLA in a 1-0 thriller. The Conference has now claimed 14 titles in the 20 years the event has been in existence, including 11 of the last 14 years.

Overall, the Pac-10 finished strong, as Conference teams finished 1-2-3 in the final USA Today/NFCA Poll, including five teams in the top nine and seven teams in the top 20 (1. Arizona, 2. UCLA, 3. Stanford, 6. California, 9. ARIZONA STATE, 13. WASHINGTON and 20. OREGON STATE). Additionally, 17 student-athletes were named Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-Americans, of which 10 were named to the first team.

Arizona concluded the regular season by winning its sixth Pac-10 crown in school history and eventually finished the year with a 65-4 overall record and its first national title since 1997. UCLA closed its season in second place in both the Pac-10 and nation as the Bruins felt the heartbreak of losing in the NCAA title game for the second consecutive year. The Bruins were impressive, nevertheless, posting a 35-game winning streak to begin the season. Stanford posted its best record in school history (54-16-1) while making its first trip to Oklahoma City. Washington put up an impressive 40-23 mark during the year and finished tied for third in the Conference with the Cardinal. The Huskies were led by freshman pitcher Tia Bollinger, who was honored at the end of the year as the team MVP. Oregon State also put together one of its best seasons in history as the Beavers finished at 10-10 (.500) in Conference play, only the second time an OSU squad has finished at .500 or better in the Pac-10. Arizona State went to its 14th NCAA Regional in 2001. Junior Erica Beach and freshman Phelan Wright were instrumental in the Sun Devils winning two games in one of the tougher NCAA Regionals last season (Baton Rouge, La.). For the second straight year, California proved that seventh in the Pac-10 is still good enough to get you to the WCWS. The Bears knocked off NCAA Regional host Florida State en route to the 'Big Dance.' Unfortunately for Oregon, its run of three consecutive NCAA tournaments came to an end. The Ducks, however, found a gem in transfer Alyssa Laux, who will return as the biggest UO offensive threat in 2002.

The 2001 campaign was a definitive year for Pac-10 softball. There were 14 no-hitters thrown from 10 different pitchers (seven of which were perfect games). Last year also marked the first time in NCAA softball history that three teams from the same Conference had posted an undefeated record through its first 30+ games of the season (UCLA, 35-0; CAL, 32-0; ARIZ, 31-0). Arizona hit an NCAA record 126 home runs, averaging nearly two homers per contest (1.83). California's Veronica Nelson broke her own single season NCAA walk record set the previous year with 93 free passes. Nelson's teammate, pitcher Jocleyn Forest, also set a milestone by throwing 88 consecutive scoreless innings during the season, a mark that ranks sixth all-time in NCAA history.

On the awards front, UCLA's Stacey Nuveman won Conference Player of the Year honors after taking a year off to play with Team USA in the 2000 Olympics. Nuveman was also named NFCA Diamond Sports Catcher of the Year. Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year went to Arizona's Jennie Finch. Finch went 32-0 on the season, breaking former UCLA star Lisa Fernandez's mark (29-0) of most wins without a loss in a season. Finch also went on to garner the Honda Award, which goes to the nations' most outstanding softball player. Rounding out the honors, Washington's Tia Bollinger won Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year. Bollinger posted UW season records for wins (36), innings pitched (287.0) and games started (39).

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