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Opening Weekend, Take 2: Cats Host Hillenbrand Invitational to Kick Of 2021

Feb 16, 2021

Arizona Game Notes (PDF) | Live Stats | Free Live Stream (Arizona Games) | FloSoftball Live Stream (Non-Arizona Games) | Follow on Twitter

HILLENBRAND INVITATIONAL
FEB. 19-21 • TUCSON, ARIZ. (HILLENBRAND STADIUM)


#4 ARIZONA (0-0)

NEW MEXICO (0-0)

SEATTLE U (0-5)

SOUTHERN UTAH (0-5)
Arizona Roster New Mexico Roster Seattle U Roster Southern Utah Roster
Arizona Schedule New Mexico Schedule Seattle U Schedule Southern Utah Schedule
Arizona Stats New Mexico Stats Seattle U Stats Southern Utah Stats
Arizona Notes New Mexico Notes Seattle U Notes Southern Utah Notes
Arizona Twitter New Mexico Twitter Seattle U Twitter Southern Utah Twitter

THE GAMES

DATE TIME (MST) MATCHUP/RESULT LINKS
Friday, Feb. 19 9 a.m. Seattle University vs. Southern Utah Live Stats • Live Stream ($)
Friday, Feb. 19 12 p.m. Seattle University vs. New Mexico Live Stats • Live Stream ($)
Friday, Feb. 19 3 p.m. Arizona vs. Southern Utah Live Stats • Live Stream
Friday, Feb. 19 6 p.m. Arizona vs. New Mexico Live Stats • Live Stream
Saturday, Feb. 20 9 a.m. Southern Utah vs. New Mexico Live Stats • Live Stream ($)
Saturday, Feb. 20 12 p.m. Southern Utah vs. Seattle University Live Stats • Live Stream ($)
Saturday, Feb. 20 3 p.m. Arizona vs. New Mexico Live Stats • Live Stream
Saturday, Feb. 20 6 p.m. Arizona vs. Seattle University Live Stats • Live Stream
Sunday, Feb. 21 9 a.m. New Mexico vs. Seattle University Live Stats • Live Stream ($)
Sunday, Feb. 21 12 p.m. New Mexico vs. Southern Utah Live Stats • Live Stream ($)
Sunday, Feb. 21 3 p.m. Arizona vs. Southern Utah Live Stats • Live Stream

WEEKLY NOTES
 

LEADING OFF

  • Following a 337 day wait... what's one more week? The season-opening Texas Classic in Austin, Texas, was canceled last week due to weather, making it now 36 straight regular season games that have been canceled after the early conclusion to the 2020 season. 
  • Now, the Wildcats will open at the Hillenbrand Invitational, UA's annual home tournament in which Arizona has a 119-6 record all-time.
  • Arizona returns seven starters, its top three pitchers and 12 total letterwinners from last season's 22-3 team, which ended the season ranked #4 in both the NFCA and USA Softball Top 25.
  • The Wildcats started the season ranked No. 3 by both major polls, their highest preseason ranking since 2011 (#2/#1). They dropped to No. 4 this week.
  • All six of last year's seniors decided to take advantage of the NCAA's decision to grant all spring student-athletes an additional year of eligibility. Additionally, Arizona's seventh senior, Dejah Mulipola, rejoins the Wildcats after taking the 2020 season off to train with Team USA for the Tokyo Olympics.
  • Mulipola's return gives the Wildcats four 2019 All-Americans -- C Dejah Mulipola (1st team), CF Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza (1st team), 2B Reyna Carranco (2nd team), SS Jessie Harper (2nd team) -- on the roster (All-America honors were not given in 2020). Arizona's four returning All-Americans are the most in the country.
  • In addition to Arizona's all-star cast of returners, the Wildcats also welcome in the nation's top recruiting class (Extra Inning Softball).
  • The Wildcats have two of the two three home run hitters in the country. Jessie Harper is the active career leader with 76 home runs, 19 shy of the NCAA record, while Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza is third among active players with 61 homers.
  • Arizona head coach Mike Candrea enters 2021 as the winningest coach in NCAA softball history, with 1,633 wins (all at Arizona). He surpassed Michigan's Carol Hutchins in the penultimate game of 2020; Hutchins enters this season with 1,631 career victories.

ARIZONA EAGER TO OPEN 2021 SEASON AT HOME    

  • Arizona's long wait to return to the field got a little bit longer when last week's Texas Classic was canceled due to weather. So now, after what will be 346 days between games, the Cats will finally return to action at the Hillenbrand Invitational.
  • The Wildcats will welcome New Mexico (0-0), Seattle University (0-5) and Southern Utah (0-5) to Hillenbrand Stadium for the three-day, 11-game event.
  • The tournament will kick off year 3 of the renovated Hillenbrand Stadium. Arizona has led the Pac-12 in 27 of the 28 years since its construction in 1993, including last year, when the Wildcats set a program record, averaging 2,675 fans per home date. This year, until further notice, the Wildcats will not be able to host fans in the facility, per Pac-12 policies and Pima County guidelines.
  • The Hillenbrand Invitational opens up UA's 28-game home schedule in 2021. The Wildcats went 9-1 at home last season and are 756-101 all-time at Hillenbrand Stadium.
  • Arizona is hosting the Hillenbrand Invitational for the 25th time in school history and holds a 119-6 all-time record in the event. The Wildcats went 4-1 in last year's event, with wins Long Beach State (2x), Northern Iowa and Bryant, and an extra-inning loss to No. 2 Oklahoma.
  • Schedule
    • Friday: Originally scheduled to play once on Friday, Arizona picked up an additional game on opening day following last week's cancelations. Arizona will now play Southern Utah at 3 p.m. and New Mexico at 6 p.m. MST.
    • Saturday: Arizona will face New Mexico at 3 p.m. and Seattle University at 6 p.m. MST on day 2.
    • Sunday: The Cats conclude the Hillenbrand Invitational vs. Southern Utah at 3 p.m. MST on Sunday.
  • Live Coverage
    • T.V.: N/A
    • Live Stream: All of Arizona's games will be streamed for free at arizonawildcats.com/SBLIVE. The six non-Arizona games will be streamed by FloSoftball for a fee.
    • Live Stats: Live stats for all games this weekend will be available at arizonastats.com.
    • Twitter: Follow @ArizonaSoftball to keep up with the team this weekend and all season long.

NEW MEXICO LOBOS (0-0)    

  • Like the Wildcats, New Mexico did not play last weekend. The Lobos will also be starting their 2021 season at the Hillenbrand Invitational.
  • The Lobos return nearly every starter from last season's 11-15 team, including Cameryn O'Grady, who led the team with a .355 average ang 15 doubles in just 26 games.
  • Series History: Arizona holds a 33-1 all-time series advantage and has won 29 straight since the Lobos' lone win in 1990. Arizona run-ruled New Mexico, 15-1, in the 2019 Hillenbrand Invitational; Reyna Carranco had two homers and six RBI in the game.
    • LAST 5 MATCHUPS (5-0) 
      • April 18, 2012 | Arizona 5, New Mexico 0 | Tucson, Ariz.
      • Feb. 14, 2014 | Arizona 8, New Mexico 0 (5) | Tucson, Ariz.
      • Feb. 11, 2018 | Arizona 8, New Mexico 0 (5) | Tempe, Ariz.
      • April 25, 2018 | Arizona 3, New Mexico 1 | Tucson, Ariz.
      • Feb. 16, 2019 | Arizona 15, New Mexico 1 (5) | Tucson, Ariz.

SEATTLE U REDHAWKS (0-5)    

  • The Redhawks got off to a rough start at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Arizona, falling five times facing a difficult schedule. Seattle University lost to Utah (3x), Arizona State and BYU.
  • Series History: Arizona won the only matchup between the two clubs, beating Seattle University, 4-3, on opening day last season. Malia Martinez had an RBI double in the seventh to break a 3-3 tie and secure the win for Arizona.
    •     LAST MATCHUP (1-0)
      •     Feb. 7, 2020 | #5 Arizona 4, Seattle University 3 | Tempe, Ariz.

    
SOUTHERN UTAH THUNDERBIRDS (0-5)    

  • Southern Utah went 0-5 at the UNLV Rebel Kickoff in Las Vegas to start the season.
  • SUU lost to Washington (2x), UNLV (2x) and Dixie State, but did score 13 runs in one of its losses to the second-ranked Huskies. 
  • Series History: Arizona is 12-0 all-time vs. Southern Utah. The two teams last met in 2016, when UA run-ruled the Thunderbirds in back-to-back games.
    • LAST 5 MATCHUPS (5-0)
      • Feb. 18, 2012 | Arizona 9, Southern Utah 1 (5) | Tucson, Ariz.
      • Feb. 19, 2012 | Arizona 8, Southern Utah 0 (5) | Tucson, Ariz.
      • Feb. 16, 2013 | Arizona 6, Southern Utah 3 | Tucson, Ariz.
      • Feb. 11, 2016 | Arizona 10, Southern Utah 2 (5) | Tucson, Ariz.
      • Feb. 12, 2016 | Arizona 10, Southern Utah 0 (5) | Tucson, Ariz.

RANKINGS     
NFCA: #4 • USA Softball: #4

  • The Cats fell one spot to No. 4 in both polls after not playing in week 1.
  • Preseason: Arizona is beginning the 2021 season ranked third in both polls, UA's best preseason ranking since 2010 (#2 NFCA, #1 USA Softball).
  • The Conference of Champions: The Pac-12 owns the three of the top four teams in the poll, with UCLA and Washington holding at 1 and 2. In all, the league has five top-25 teams, with No. 10 Oregon and No. 15 Arizona State also in the rankings.
  • The Cats' schedule is again among the toughest in the nation. UA is scheduled to play 21 games against teams ranked in the top 15 of the NFCA 25, including 14 against top-10 opponents. With the exception of Arizona's four-game series vs. UCLA to close the regular season in Tucson, every game vs. a team currently ranked in the top 25 will be away from Hillenbrand Stadium.

WILDCATS RAKE IN PRESEASON HONORS    

  • USA Softball Player of the Year Watch List: Three Wildcats -- Jessie Harper, Dejah Mulipola and Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza -- were named to the USA Softball Player of the Year Watch List. This marks the fifth straight year the Wildcats have had at least three players on the list.
  • Softball America Top 100 Players: Arizona placed five players on Softball America's Preseason Top 100 Players, including three top-13 players. Arizona is one of two teams nationally with more than two top-20 players.
    • #3 Jessie Harper    
    • #11 Dejah Mulipola
    • #13 Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza
    • #73 Reyna Carranco
    • #76 Mariah Lopez
  • D1 Softball Preseason All-Americans: The entire middle of the UA defense -- its catcher, second baseman, shortstop and centerfielder -- were named D1 Softball Preseason All-Americans. Arizona's four selections were the second most in the country. Dejah Mulipola was a first-team selection while Reyna Carranco, Jessie Harper and Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza were second team selections.
  • Softball America's Top Freshmen: Arizona placed two first-year players on Softball America's Preseason Top 25 Freshmen. The list featured both true freshmen as well as 2020 freshmen who received their year of eligibility back. Both of Arizona's selections were true freshmen, part of the Wildcats' No. 1 ranked recruiting class.
    • #8 Carlie Scupin
    • #25 Sophia Carroll

SENIOR SALUTE    

  • Arizona will be led by its stellar super senior class in 2021. All seven (including Dejah Mulipola, who took an Olympic redshirt in 2020 to train with Team USA) seniors decided to return for an additional season. All seven will play key roles for the Wildcats, with five position starters as well as UA's top two pitchers.
  • The Wildcat senior class has won 165 games with a .797 winning percentage in their careers.
  • Offensively, the five position-playing seniors have hit a combined .340 in their careers with 214 home runs and 737 RBI.
  • In the circle, both Denham (Louisiana-Lafayette) and Lopez (Oklahoma) started their careers elsewhere but are set for their grand finales in the cardinal and navy. In their careers, they have combined to go 110-16 with a 1.81 ERA and 788 strikeouts.

THE CHASE FOR HISTORY    

  • Two legends, two Hall of Famers, Arizona's Mike Candrea and Michigan's Carol Hutchins, are battling it out to become the winningest coach in the sport's history. Candrea grabbed the edge in the penultimate game of 2020.
  • Each of Candrea's 1,633 victories have occurred over 33 years of coaching at Arizona (his record does not include UA's 2004 and 2008 records when he was coaching the Olympic team) while Hutchins is in her 37th year (including a season in NCAA Division II).
  • Candrea is fourth all-time in NCAA Division I victories (across all sports).
  • In 2019, Candrea became the fastest coach in NCAA history, in any sport, in any division, to record 1,600 career wins. 

HOME RUN U

  • Arizona's historical dominance in the sport of softball extends to many facets of the game, but no stat has been dominated by any team much like the Wildcats have owned the long ball.
  • The Wildcats have hit 2,228 home runs since softball became a Division I sport in 1982, the most of any team by far in NCAA history.
  • The Wildcats have hit at least 100 home runs seven times in school history. No other school in the country have more than three 100-plus home run seasons.
  • A Wildcat has led (or co-led) the Pac-12 in home runs in seven consecutive seasons. In five of those years, Arizona also had the runner-up.
  • Arizona has four of the top six home run hitters in NCAA history, including Katiyana Mauga, who hit a Pac-12-record 92 from 2014-17, three shy of the NCAA record. Jessie Harper enters the year just nine homers shy of joining this list.

For Arizona's complete notes, click HERE.