Wildcats Host NCAA Action Thursday-Sunday

May 17, 2004

The Games--The No. 1-ranked Arizona softball team (53-4 and 17-3 for its eighth Pacific-10 championship) plays host to one of eight NCAA Women's Softball Championships Thursday through Sunday, May 20-23, at Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium on campus. Arizona was selected as the No. 1 overall seed in the Championships.

This is the second year of a 64-team field for NCAA softball championships, which began Division I championship play in 1982.

The Tucson Regional includes Arizona (53-4) vs. Centenary (35-28), Northwestern (32-18) vs. UC-Santa Barbara (32-29), Temple (29-16) vs. Oklahoma (39-19-1), and South Carolina (27-22) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (55-6).

The Wildcats, the No. 1 seed in Tucson and winner's of the league's automatic bid, play the first-round game at 4:30 p.m. Thursday against No. 8 seed Centenary.

The winner of the Tucson Region double-elimination tournament will earn a berth in the eight-team Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla., May 27-31.

Wednesday Practices - Teams will be allotted one hour to practice Wednesday at Hillenbrand Stadium. Times designated by the NCAA Softball Committee: Northwestern-9 a.m., UC-Santa Barbara-10:15 a.m., Oklahoma-11:30 a.m., Temple-12:45 p.m., South Carolina-3:15, Louisiana-Lafeyette-4:30, Arizona-5:45 p.m., Centenary-7 p.m. Times may be changed due to travel plans for participating teams. Coaches and players may be available for brief interviews before or after their practices per the policies of their coach and sports information personnel.

Game TimesThursday, May 13	Game 1	9 a.m. 	No. 3 Seed Northwestern vs. No. 6 Seed UCSB			Game 2	11:30 a.m.	No. 7 Seed Temple vs. No. 2 Seed Oklahoma			Game 3	2 p.m.	No. 4 seed South Carolina vs. No. 5 Seed Louisiana-Lafayette			Game 4	4:30 p.m.	No. 8 Seed  Centenary vs. No. 1 Seed Arizona			Game 5	7 p.m.	Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2Friday, May 14		Game 6	9 a.m.	Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4			Game 7	11:30 a.m.	Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2			Game 8	2 p.m.	Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4			Game 9	4:30 p.m.	Winner Game 5 vs. Loser Game 8			Game 10	7 p.m.	Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 7Saturday, May 15	Game 11	11:30 a.m.	Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8			Game 12	2 p.m.	Winner Game 9 vs. Winner Game 10			Game 13	5 p.m.	Winner Game 12 vs. Loser Game 11Sunday, May 16		Game 14	1 p.m.	Winner Game 13 vs. Winner Game 11			Game 15 	3:30 p.m.	Repeat Game 14 if both teams have a loss

How They Got To Tucson - Arizona of the Pac-10, Centenary of the Mid-Continent and Temple of the Atlantic 10 earned automatic bids. Centenary and Temple won conference tournaments. Northwestern of the Big Ten, Louisiana-Lafayette of the Sun Belt, UC-Santa Barbara of the Big West, South Carolina of the Southeastern, and Oklahoma of the Big 12 conferences earned at-large bids.

Team Rankings -- Arizona (No. 1 in both polls), Louisiana-Lafayette (No. 9 both) and Oklahoma (No. 20/21) were ranked in the latest polls. The two polls are by the NFCA/USA Today and ESPN/USA Softball.

Field of 64 - The NCAA expanded the field from 48 to 64 teams last year, following the continued growth of college softball as a championship sport. The Pac-10 qualified seven of its eight teams for the NCAA tournament. All eight Pac-10 teams played in the 1999, 2000 and 2003 tournaments. The other selected Pac-10 teams, their seedings and sites are UCLA (1) at Los Angeles; Stanford (1) at Palo Alto, Calif.; Washington (1) at Athens, Ga.; California (1) at Lincoln, Neb.; Oregon (2) at Tallahassee, Fla.; and Oregon State (3) at Ann Arbor, Mich.

Arizona's NCAA Appearance-- Arizona appears in its 18th consecutive NCAA regional playoff (18th overall) since 1987, all under coach Mike Candrea, or in the case of this year, his acting stand-in, Larry Ray. Softball became a Division I sport in 1982 and Arizona did not qualify for the first five tourneys. Arizona has won a regional 16 consecutive years. Arizona has been host 12 other years -- 1988, 1990, 1992, 1993-95, 1997-2001 and 2003. Arizona has a record of 95-26 (.785) in NCAA games including a 50-6 mark (.893) in NCAA Regional play. Arizona is 39-2 in regional games played in Tucson and 11-4 in Regional games played elsewhere. UA last traveled to Regional play in 2003 to Minneapolis, and in 1996 to Tallahassee, Fla.

Arizona vs. the Tucson NCAA Field - Arizona played two teams in the Tucson field during the regular season, winning both games in Fullerton, Calif., during the Kia Klassic in mid-February. UA beat Oklahoma, 9-1, and beat Louisiana-Lafayette, 2-0.

Arizona vs. Entire NCAA Field - Arizona was 30-4 against teams selected to appear in the NCAA Tournament, including its 14-3 record against Pac-10 teams in the field (losses vs. Oregon, Stanford and UCLA), plus a non-conference loss to Washington at the Kia Klassic. The Cats beat all six fellow Pac-10 teams in the field at least once and 12 other teams picked for the tournament during regular-season play.

Regional Openers - Arizona is 14-2 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 in the top three all year in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll and the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. The latter poll made its debut last year. In the NFCA poll, Arizona has been ranked steadily since 1988. Here's how Arizona has fared in the polls this year (dates are Wednesdays in season):

NFCA: Preseason (2), Feb. 11 (2), Feb. 18 (2), Feb. 25 (2), March 3 (2), March 10 (2), March 17 (1), March 24 (1), March 31 (1), April 7 (1), April 14 (1), April 21 (1), April 28 (1), May 5 (1), May 12 (1/1).

USA Softball: Preseason (3), Feb. 18 (3), Feb. 25 (2), March 3 (2), March 10 (2), March 17 (1), March 24 (1), March 31 (1), April 7 (1), April 14 (1), April 21 (1), April 28 (1), May 5 (1), May 12 (1/1).

Cats vs. Ranked Opponents -- Arizona played to a 26-4 record against teams ranked in the poll this year, thanks in large part to its 14-3 record against Pac-10 teams ranked at some time this year. UA's losses came to No. 9 Washington at the Kia Klassic in its title game, 7-6, in late March; lost at No. 13 Oregon, 1-0, in late April; lost to No. 9 Stanford, 2-1, in Tucson the first weekend in May; and lost to No. 3 UCLA last weekend in Los Angeles.

Arizona Coach Mike Candrea -- Arizona's mentor misses his 18th consecutive trip to post-season play. Eight times he has been named Pac-10 Coach or Co-Coach of the Year. He has led his teams to 16 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 seven of the past 12 Pacific-10 Conference titles (1992, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2003) and finished second the other five years. Candrea is taking a partial leave of absence to coach the U.S. National Team in the Athens Olympics this summer. Three times he has been named National Coach of the Year (NFCA '94, '96, '97). In all, during his career he has won 17 conference, regional or national coaching honors. He was elected to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1996.

Overall Record:		982-191Pac-10 Record:		297-73NCAA Games Record:	95-26NCAA Regionals:	50-6College Word Series:	45-20

Coach Larry Ray -- In Candrea's stead, acting head coach Larry Ray has led Arizona to a sparkling 53-4 record and kept UA's string of post-season appearances alive. Ray has an overall record of 222-110, including five years (four of competition) as the head coach at Florida from 1996-2000. Ray passed the 200-victory plateau earlier this year, a fine sum for five years as a man in charge, giving him an annual average record of 44-22. Acting associate head coach Nancy Evans and Ray were helped this year by volunteer student assistants Mikel Candrea (the son of the head coach) and former UA second baseman Lisha Ribellia. Ray took the 1998 and 2000 Florida teams to the NCAA Tournament.

Ray Overall:	222-110Pac-10 Record:	17-3Postseason:	10-12NCAA Games:	2-4

Pac-10 Title - Arizona clinched its eighth Pac-10 Championship a week before the regular-season ended, then went out and punctuated it with a narrow road loss at UCLA and a doubleheader sweep over Washington in Seattle. In the UCLA game, coach Larry Ray rested ace Alicia Hollowell in favor of sophomore Leslie Wolfe, who kept the Cats in the game until the very end. Hollowell tossed a three-hit shutout over the Huskies and Wendy Allen won the season finale in the circle. Arizona now has more Pac-10 titles than any school since league play began Division I play in 1987. Arizona is also the winningest team in the history of the league in overall total victories (1005-178), overall winning percentage (.850), league victories (312-76), and league winning percentage (.804) in the 18 years of league play. Every four-year player who has enrolled at Arizona since 1988 has been part of at least one Pac-10 Championship club. Senior catcher Mackenzie Vandergeest, the lone four-year senior, has three league titles to her credit.

Players of the Week - Pitcher Alicia Hollowell earned the Pac-10 weekly honor five times this year - Feb. 24, March 2, March 9, March 23 and May 18. She also was USA Softball National Player of the Week March 22 after five victories at the Kia Klassic. Hollowell earned the National Player of the Week honor a second time May 18 after three shutouts in league play.Outfielder Autumn Champion won league Player of the Week honors Feb. 17, Wendy Allen won Feb. 24, and soph first baseman Shelly Schultz won April 13. Caitlin Lowe earned her first honor May 4. Those are the 91st Pac-10 weekly honors for UA, and 10th for Hollowell in her short career. Caitlin Lowe was named ASA National Player of the Week for April 12-18 after hitting .545 with five runs versus Cal and Stanford.

Player of the Year - Alicia Hollowell was named one of three finalists for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award May 18. She, Autumn Champion and Caitlin Lowe were all among 10 finalists for the award a week earlier. The honor will be presented at WCWS opening ceremonies in Oklahoma City next week. Hollowell carries a 39-2 record, 0.65 earned run average and leads the nation in strikeouts per seven innings. She's a multiple Pac-10 Player of the Week honoree and a pretty good bet at first-team All-America honors for the second consecutive season. Her victory total is No. 4 in Pac-10 history behind 42 by Katie Wiese of Oregon in 1989, 40 by Hollowell herself last year, and 40 by Keira Goerl of UCLA last year.

Allen Named Academic All-District VIII - Senior designated player/pitcher/first baseman Wendy Allen was named to the Academic All-District VIII team last week. She carries a 3.324 cumulative grade point average in business management. A week earlier, she earned the athletics department's Ruby Award as the top senior female student-athlete.

Possible Arizona Lineup: 26	Caitlin Lowe	cf00	Autumn Champion	lf2	Wendy Allen	dh/p/1b52	Mackenzie Vandergeest	c77	Jackie Coburn	3b29	Kristie Fox	ss7	Samantha Quintero	2b/dh6	Shelly Schultz	1b/dh5	Crystal Farley 	rf(5)44	Alicia Hollowell	p
Off the bench:  Allyson Von Liechtenstein (rf/ph/pr), Candace Abrams (ph/pr/rf), (Erin Palomarez (ph/1b), Leslie Wolfe (p), Betsy Wilson (pr), Cortney Nix (pr/ph), Jennifer Martinez (ph/3b), Annalyn Hollingsworth (ph/p).

Record Charts

	Arizona's all-time top 10 charts in all categories are populated by outstanding players who earned postseason honors. A number of Cats climbed or potentially will hit the charts this year:Batting Average, season: Autumn Champion (.482), would be No. 4; Caitlin Lowe (.458), would be No. 8Doubles, season: Wendy Allen (16), tied for 7thDoubles, career: Mackenzie Vandergeest (48), No. 8Home Runs, career:  Vandergeest (59), No. 4Home Runs, career: Jackie Coburn (41), tie No. 8RBI, career: Vandergeest (245), tie No., 4Runs Scored, season: Caitlin Lowe (74), tie No. 10Stolen Bases, season: Lowe (47-49), tied No. 3Stolen Bases, career: Lowe (47-49), No. 10Walks, career: Vandergeest (113), No. 3Walks, career: Coburn (Games Played, career: Vandergeest (251), four shy of No. 10Fielding Average, season: Lowe (1.000, one of many in outfield; Allen (91, 1.000, 9 chances shy of tie for No. 1),	Vandergeest (.994, tie No. 10)Putouts, season: Vandergeest (602), No. 1Putouts, career: Vandergeest (1775), No. 1Earned Run Average, season: Alicia Hollowell (0.65), No. 10Victories, season: Hollowell (39-2), No. 2Victories, career: Hollowell (79-7), No. 6Strikeouts, season: Hollowell (480), No. 1Strikeouts, career: Hollowell (874), tie No. 3Innings Pitched, season: Hollowell (270.0), No. 4Innings Pitched, career: Hollowell (567), No. 8

Arizona Attendance Record - Arizona drew a Rita Hillenbrand Stadium and school-record crowd of 3,541 to its exhibition game against the U.S. National Team in March. The Cats drew a total of 28,132 spectators in 22 home dates for an average of 1,279 per game. The games in the NCAA Championships this week will count in the eventual final home attendance figure. UA had six crowds in excess of 1,500 this year. Arizona set a home attendance record in 2002 with an average crowd of 1,755 and a total draw of 49,140 for 28 dates.

Arizona Softball Notes...

...The Cats won the Pac-10 title for a variety of reasons. Here are four: UA led the league in hitting (.341), scoring (367 runs), earned run average (0.95), slugging percentage (.515), and fielding (.974, tied with UCLA). All the figures will be subject to the ravages of NCAA play, but the Cats should end up with the hitting title - which it also was leading the nation entering the final week of the regular season (and postseason play for other leagues in conference tournaments). Arizona was second to Cal in league-games only fielding percentage, but led in the other categories...

...Arizona won at least 50 games in a season for the 11th consecutive year. Three other years over the mark give UA 14 seasons over the mark, all under Mike Candrea (and Larry Ray) in 19 years...

...The Cats' 123 stolen bases in 144 attempts give the team the fourth-biggest total in history, with a chance to get to No. 2 with five more...

... Jackie Coburn picked a good time to get some improved looks at the plate. She had seven hits in 10 at bats on the road last week, with a homer and four RBI and in the past six games has improved her average from .252 to .295...

...UA's platoon in right field has come up with good numbers this year. Crystal Farley has been starting of late and is hitting .326, Allyson Von Liechtenstein is hitting .393 and Candace Abrams is hitting .250 with three home runs and 14 RBI... Combined the group has scored 55 runs and driven in 31, plus stolen 16 bases...

...Alicia Hollowell has 480 strikeouts and needs five more to pass former Cal great Michele Grainger to set a single-season Pac-10 record... Hollowell struck out 10 or more batters 27 times this year and leads the nation in strikeouts per seven innings at 12.4...

...Wendy Allen and Caitlin Lowe each enter postseason play with 1.000 fielding percentages, Allen at first base and pitcher and Lowe all 57 games in centerfield... Lowe would join a group of 10 outfielders with perfect percentages since 1996... Allen would need 100 chances to hit UA's single-season chart and she has 91 entering the Regionals... Mackenzie Vandergeest's one error in 638 chances gives her a .998 percentage, accomplished by fellow catcher Lindsey Collins in 2000 - and Collins had a perfect season in 2001...

...Arizona's team strikeout total of 599 by three pitchers - Alicia Hollowell (480), Wendy Allen (71) and Leslie Wolfe (48) are within reach of the school record of 632 by the 2001 team led by Jennie Finch and Becky Lemke... Wolfe, a spot pitcher this year, had a good outing at UCLA last week, keeping the Cats in the game despite giving up 13 hits. She had no strikeouts but walked only one and took the Cats through six innings with a 2-2 tie, with one of the Bruins' runs unearned. The Bruins won, 3-2...

...Arizona tossed four no-hitters this year. Leslie Wolfe got it started with a five-inning performance in a 19-0 victory over Dayton on Feb. 14. Hollowell tossed a seven-inning perfect game against Indiana (6-0) on March 6, then came back a week later and three a seven-inning no-hitter against Missouri (5-0). Hollowell (4 innings) and Wendy Allen (1 inning) combined for the fourth no-no against Oregon State on April 23. The first three were in Tucson and the last one was in Corvallis... Hollowell and Wolfe combined for one-hitters against Mississippi, New Mexico, Boston and Missouri, and Hollowell had seven-inning one-hitters against Texas, Oklahoma State and Louisiana Lafayette during the year...

...The Cats banged out 31 hits in the three games to close the regular season, their best splurge since a 34-hit three-game run in late March...

...The Cats opened the year with a school-record 34-game winning streak, then subsequently added another winning streak of 11 games before some later Pac-10 play broke up streaks to three- , three- and two games...

...Arizona played 16 games (16-0) shortened by the eight-run mercy rule, and played three extra-inning games. The Cats beat California 2-0 and 3-2 in eight-inning games, and lost to Oregon (1-0) in another eight-inning contest...

...Arizona's Pac-10 title years and resulting NCAA play: 1992 (16-2), made NCAA title game; 1994 (23-1), won NCAA title; 1995 (23-5), made NCAA title game; 1997 (26-1), won NCAA title; 1998 (27-1), made NCAA title game; 2001 (19-2), won NCAA title; 2003 (19-2), made NCAA World Series semi-finals...

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