Softball Opens Season at Kajikawa Classic
Feb. 8, 2010
Arizona Opens 2010 Campaign at the Kajikawa Classic
February 12-14, 2010 ~ Tempe Sports Complex/ASU Farrington Stadium
Arizona will open its 2010 season with six games in Tempe, Ariz. at the Kajikawa Classic, hosted by Arizona State University. The Wildcats will play their Friday and Sunday games at the Tempe Sports Complex, and their Saturday games will be played at Farrington Stadium at ASU.
The Cats will take on five 2009 NCAA Tournaments teams, including Purdue, who UA beat in Louisville to advance to the Super Regionals, and North Dakota State, who advanced to the Super Regional round for the first time in team history.
Western Michigan: The Broncos (25-22, 16-6 MAC) return seven starters from a team that reached the title game of the MAC tournament in 2009, including WMU ace and MAC Freshman of the Year Meredith Whitney. Junior Lexi Jager is the Broncos career, season and single-game record-holder for home runs.
Purdue: The Boilermakers (31-20, 12-8 Big Ten) return senior and leading hitter Liane Horiuchi, who played for Tennessee in the 2007 WCWS. Junior pitcher Suzie Rzegocki led the team with 187 strikeouts.
Northwestern: The No. 15/17 Wildcats (31-15, 14-6 Big Ten) return eight starters, including junior Michelle Batts and senior pitcher Lauren Delaney, who was the 2008 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year.
North Dakota State: The Bison (38-20, 19-4 The Summit League) return leading `09 hitters Melissa Chmielewski and Elisa Victa. Sophomore Randi Parks (2-3) is the only game-tested hurler on the squad.
Nevada: The Wolfpack (40-19, 15-5 WAC) return ace Katie Holverson, who compiled 237 strikeouts in 251.2 innings pitched. Junior catcher Noelle Micka led the team in batting average last season at .361.
Cal State Fullerton: The Titans (30-21, 17-4 Big West) return seven starters and welcome nine newcomers to the squad. Pitcher Ari Cervantes completed 28 of the 29 games she started, while junior Torrie Anderson led the team in 2009 with 11 home runs.
Four of the first six teams that Arizona will face this season (Purdue, Northwestern, North Dakota State and Nevada) all played the Cats in 2009. UA went a combined 5-1 against them, with their only loss coming at the hands of Northwestern in the same tournament.
· Defeated Purdue in the Regional round, 4-2
· Defeated NDSU three times in Tucson by a margin of 31-2
· Defeated Nevada in the same tournament, 7-2
Not Much Should Change
Arizona lost only two of its power hitters from last year's squad, Jenae Leles and Sam Banister. Still, the Cats return their top five hitters in terms of batting average and four of the six 10+ home run sluggers from 2009. And if Fall Ball was any indication (16 HR in seven games, and freshmen hit five of them), it's bombs away again!
Here's the Pitch
Freshman Kenzie Fowler and senior Sarah Akamine look to split time this season, as Akamine's leadership will be vital to Fowler's growth. Though she only threw three innings in the fall, Akamine is battle-tested and has tossed to the some of the best hitters in the game. Fowler comes in to the 2010 season with high expectations. But in the fall, the Tucson native stymied opposing batters, striking out 58 in 31 innings and shutting out the opposition.
The Long Ball
UA set an NCAA record with 134 home runs, besting the previous record of 126 set by the 2001 Wildcat squad. Stacie Chambers led the nation with 31 blasts, and 96 RBI. 11 Wildcats hit at least one home run, and 10 hit at least four. Six Cats had double-digit HR numbers.
Runs and More Runs
Arizona scored 499 runs last season, the fifth best total in team history. Arizona only achieved the 500 mark four times, notably by the 1995 powerhouse team (66-6) that scored 629 runs in 72 games (8.74 rpg).
The Cats finished the season hitting .339 as a club, second-best in the nation - behind only New Mexico State, who failed to make the NCAA Tournament. UA had actually led the nation in batting average headed into the WCWS, hitting .344. But a .159 showing at the short stay in Oklahoma City gave NMSU the team batting title over UA.
Arizona scored 108 runs in the first inning last season. Next best is the third inning with 103, when often those same players that hit in the first inning are up again. The Cats hit 31 first-inning home runs, one reason for the high scoring in that frame.
In Good Company
· Laura Espinoza (37), Jenny Dalton (28) and Leah Braatz (21) in 1995
· Toni Mascarenas (25) and Mackenzie Vandergeest (20) in 2001
· Leah Braatz (25) and Leticia Pineda (20) in 1998
Cashing in in the Clutch
Talk about clutch hitting. In 2009, the Cats hit 190 RBI with two outs. To put that number in perspective, opponents hit 192 total RBI against Arizona.
Arizona's 90 doubles last season are tied for seventh-most in the program's history, one reason the team's .630 slugging percentage was its best by 22 percentage points over the `95 sluggers' final .608 mark. That team and the 1994 club (.602) were previously the only Wildcat teams to eclipse the .600 level.
Arizona hit 13 grand slams in 2009 - six by Stacie Chambers, two by Brittany Lastrapes and Sam Banister, and one by K'Lee Arredondo, Kristen Arriola and Lini Koria. Several players had two-homer contests, 19 times in all. The Cats led off an inning with a home run 21 times, topped by none other than leadoff batter Lastrapes' seven quick yanks. UA had 44 two-out bombs, and Chambers had nine of them. Home runs often meant one thing: victory. Arizona lost only eight games in which it homered, including a pair of one-run contests at Texas A&M.