Arizona -- NCAA Softball

May 13, 2002

The Games--The No. 2-ranked Arizona softball team (48-10, 15-6 for second place in the Pac-10) plays a first-round NCAA Softball Championships game Thursday, May 15, as the No. 1 seed against No. 6 seed Boston University (28-21) at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis. No. 2 seed DePaul (46-9) plays No. 5 seed Penn State (32-24), and host and No. 3 seed Minnesota (35-19) meets No. 4 seed Princeton (34-16). The winner of the Region 2 double-elimination tournament will earn a berth in the eight-team Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla., May 23-27.

Thursday, May 15 Game 1 Arizona vs. Boston University

Game 2 DePaul vs. Penn State

Game 3 Minnesota vs. Princeton

Game 4 Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 loser

Friday, May 16 Game 5 Winner Game 4 vs. Loser Game 3

Game 6 Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3

Game 7 Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 5

Saturday, May 17 Game 8 Loser Game 7 (if 1st loss) vs. Loser Game 6

Game 9 Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 6

Game 10 Loser Game 9 (if 1st loss) vs. Winner Game 8 (or the bye-through team)

Sunday, May 18 Game 11 Winner Game 9 vs. Winner Game 10 (or the bye-through team)

Game 12 Repeat Game 11 if both teams have a loss

How They Got There-- Boston University earned the America East Conference automatic bid as did Princeton of the Ivy Group and DePaul of Conference USA. Arizona of the Pacific-10 Conference earned an at-large bid to the tournament, as did Minnesota and Penn State of the Big Ten.

Team Rankings-- Arizona (No. 2) and DePaul (No. 16) are the only teams in the Minneapolis field ranked in the final regular season NFCA/USA Today poll.

Pac-10 Flavor in NCAAs--The Pac-10 qualified seven teams for the NCAA tournament, continuing a streak of three years (All eight teams played in the 1999 and 2000 tournaments). Oregon did not get a bid. The other selected Pac-10 teams and their seeds and sites are UCLA (1) at Columbia, S.C.; Washington (1) at Ann Arbor, Mich.; Arizona State (2) at Lafayette, La.; Stanford (2) at Fresno, Calif.; Oregon State (2) at Iowa City, Iowa; and California (3) at Fresno. For the first time since NCAA Division I play began in 1982, no Pac-10 team was selected as a Regional host.

Arizona's NCAA Appearance--Arizona appears in its 16th consecutive NCAA regional playoff (16th overall) since 1987, all under coach Mike Candrea. Softball became a Division I sport in 1982 and Arizona did not qualify for the first five tourneys. Arizona has won a regional 14 consecutive years. Arizona has been host 11 times -- 1988, 1990, 1992, 1993-95, 1997-2001. Arizona has a record of 82-22 in NCAA games including a 42-5 mark in NCAA Regional play. Arizona is 35-2 in regional games played in Tucson and 7-3 in Regional games played elsewhere. The last time Arizona traveled for Regional play was in 1996 when the eventual national champions played at Tallahassee, Fla., before the WCWS at Columbus, Ga.

Arizona vs. the Minneapolis NCAA Field--Arizona did not play any of the teams in Region 2 during the regular season. In previous NCAA action, Arizona is 1-0 against Minnesota (5-0 UA victory in NCAA Tucson in 1988), 1-0 vs. Princeton (9-0 Wildcat victory in NCAA Tucson in 1995), and 0-1 vs. DePaul (1-0 Blue Devils victory at the 1999 College World Series).

Arizona vs. Entire NCAA Field--Including its 12-6 record against Pac-10 teams in the NCAA Tournament (two losses at UCLA, two losses at Washington, two losses at California), Arizona played to a 27-8 record against teams in the Tournament. The other losses were to Mississippi State in Fiesta Bowl Tournament play in Phoenix, and to Arizona State in a non-conference game at the Kia Klassic in Fullerton, Calif. This year the Cats were 3-0 against Alabama, 4-0 against Louisiana-Lafayette, 2-0 against Notre Dame; and beat Texas, Cal State Fullerton, Massachusetts, Auburn, Evansville and Oklahoma.

Regional OpenersArizona is 12-2 in first-round NCAA action. The two losses came in 1987 to Arizona State at Tempe, 4-3, and to Arizona State in Tucson in 1990, 1-0.

Cats in the Polls--Arizona has been No. 1, 2 or 3 all year in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll and was No. 2 in the final poll last week. The Cats have been ranked steadily since 1988.

Cats vs. Ranked Opponents--Arizona played to a 21-7 record against teams ranked at the time of the game.

Losing StreakArizona finds itself in a somewhat unfamiliar position - a losing streak. While a modest three games, the last time it happened was two years ago in April 2000 when UA was swept at Washington (the No. 1-ranked Huskies topped UA 2-0 and 7-0) and lost the first game of a series at No. 4 Arizona State, 3-1... Then sophomore pitcher Jennie Finch took the first decision against UW and the decision at ASU. She took losses at UCLA and Washington this year.

Arizona Coach-- Mike Candrea Arizona's mentor takes his 16th consecutive team into post-season play. Seven times he has been named Pac-10 Coach or Co-Coach of the Year, including this season and last year. He has led his teams to 14 consecutive NCAA Regional titles and thereby taken Arizona teams to the College World Series each year since 1988. He led UA to NCAA Championships six times (1991, '93, '94, '96, '97, '01) and his teams have won six of the past 11 Pacific-10 Conference titles (1992, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001) and finished second the other five years. Candrea, 45, became the eighth Division I coach in history to win 800 games last season, and one of five to win 900, this year. He is in his 17th year at Arizona and carries a record of 920-182, a winning percentage of .835. That Division I winning percentage is No. 2 all time and No. 1 among active coaches. Three times he has been named National Coach of the Year (NFCA '94, '96, '97). In all, during his career he has won 15 conference, regional or national coaching honors. He was elected to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1996. His teams' 67 victories in 1998, 66 victories in 1994, 65 victories in 2001 and 64 victories in 1995 are in the top 10 in the NCAA record book. His players have earned 59 All-America playing honors and six Academic All-America honors, plus he has coached four players to the Honda Softball Award as the national player of the year. His average yearly record to date: 53-10. The Cats played in the NCAA Championship game from 1991 through 1998.

Overall Record: 920-179

Pac-10 Record: 279-71

NCAA Games Record: 82-22

NCAA Regionals: 42-5

College World Series: 40-17

All-Pac-10 HonorsArizona placed six players on the 2002 All-Pacific-10 Conference Softball Team, plus Mike Candrea was named Coach of the Year. Senior Jennie Finch was named Pitcher of the Year for the second consecutive season. Junior shortstop Lovieanne Jung earned the league's Newcomer of the Year award. First-team selections were Finch, Jung and sophomore first baseman/designated player Leneah Manuma. Second-team honors went to sophomore catcher Mackenzie Vandergeest, while sophomore pitcher/dp Jenny Gladding and freshman third baseman Jackie Coburn were honorable mention selections. Candrea was a repeat selection, sharing the honor a season ago with John Rittman of Stanford. Finch became a three-time first-team pick. Manuma repeated after second-team honorss in 2001. Vandergeest also was a second-team selection in 2001. Jung was a two-time All-Western Athletic Conference honoree in 1999-2000 at Fresno State, so she's technically a repeat selection as well. Finch earned Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week honors twice this season and Jung earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors once.

Arizona Sets Attendance Records-Arizona set home attendance records this year with an average crowd of 1,755 and a total draw of 49,140. The Wildcats also drew the single-game record for their UCLA game on April 7, with 3,161 fans in the ball park. Arizona also had several crowds displace others in its all-time Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium top 10 crowds list - the No. 3 crowd of 2,987 for the April 30 Arizona State game, the No. 5 crowd of 2,773 for the April 5 Washington game and the seventh-largest crowd of 2,739 for the May 4 Stanford game. The Cats led the nation in total attendance at 46,499 in 2001 and were No. 2 in the nation in average attendance at 1,660, so this year's figures rate prominently among the nation's top programs. Furthermore, Arizona averaged about 70 percent of the permanent seated capacity of about 2,500.

Probable Arizona Lineup: Pronunciation

3 Lovie Jung ss as in jungle

22 Courtney Fossatti lf faw-SAH-tee

27 Jennie Finch p/1b

9 Leneah Manuma 1b/dp la-nay-uh MAH-nu-mah

52 Mackenzie Vandergeest c

77 Jackie Coburn 3b

15 Jenny Gladding dp/p

4 Carrie Hagen rf HAY-gen (hard g)

5 Crystal Farley cf

8 Lisha Ribellia 2b LEE-sha ra-bell-ya

Off the bench: Candace Abrams (rf/ph), Allyson Von Lichtenstein (rf/pr/ph), Rebekah Quiroz (pr/ph), Meaghan Finnerty (lf/pr/ph)

Arizona Softball Notes...

...Arizona was 33-1 at home and 6-7 on the road. The Cats played to a 9-2 record in neutral-site games...

...Arizona clouted 89 home runs this year, the most in the nation and its fourth-highest total in history. The 2001 club set the NCAA record with 126, led by former third baseman Toni Mascarenas with 25. This year's leader is sophomore first baseman Leneah Manuma with a career-high 20, followed by a group of five sluggers - shortstop Lovie Jung (16), pitcher Jennie Finch (15), third baseman Jackie Coburn (13), catcher Mackenzie Vandergeest (12) and pitcher/dp Jenny Gladding (11).... The Cats have hit 13 grand slams this year... Vandergeest, Manuma and Coburn each have three, Finch has two and Gladding and Jung each have one slam...

...In the latest NCAA state, Manuma was the national leader in home runs, at 20... Stacey Nuveman of UCLA and L. Taylor of Seton Hall were next at 18...

...Arizona had the bases loaded 90 times this year and had 32 hits in the situation... The team leader with the bags loaded is freshman Jackie Coburn, who had seven hits and batted .538 with the bases loaded. Jennie Finch had six hits with the bases loaded and hit .477. In its three-game losing streak the Cats had the bases loaded several times but didn't get the big hit enough to win. Arizona standed 25 runners in the UCLA and Washington games last weekend...

...Jennie Finch established the NCAA record for consecutive victories this year, boosting her mark to 60 games before a loss April 7 vs. UCLA... The old mark was 50 be Rebecca Aase of Florida State from 1991-1993... In the same game, UCLA broke Arizona's home-field winning streak at 70 games...

...Catcher Mackenzie Vandergeest has thrown out 25 runners attempting to steal this season - with opponents successful only 12 times in 37 tries...

...Lovie Jung continues to lead the Wildcats in hitting (.386), runs (59), hits (68) and on-base percentage (.500)... Jung also led the club with a .343 average in league games, while Vandergeest came in a .327, the only other player above .300 in league action...

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