pacing the void

By Craig Degel
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 18, 1997

UA, UCLA renew softball rivalry

Every week, the Pacific 10 Conference chooses two players - one fielder, one pitcher - for its softball player of the week honors.

The UA's Alison Johnsen was last week's player of the week, while UCLA's Christa Williams was the pitcher.

Tonight they will go head-to-head when Williams' third-ranked Bruins visit Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium for a doubleheader beginning at 7.

Williams (12-3, 1.10 ERA) defeated the Wildcats, 5-1 in Los Angeles on March 29.

Johnsen provided the only punch for UA by touching Williams for three hits.

Johnsen currently leads the conference in batting - she sports a healthy .510 average - and in hits (79), runs (55) and stolen bases (34). And lest one thinks Williams is just an average freshman with a good arm, look no further than the Olympic gold medal she won last year at the Summer Games in Atlanta.

Johnsen said there is a mental checklist of things to remember when facing a pitcher like Williams.

"Being patient, having a good eye and not letting her get in your head," she said.

The second-ranked Wildcats are 38-4 overall and lead the Pac-10 at 12-1, which puts them three up in the loss column against the 32-8 Bruins, who are 12-4 in conference.

With conference matches remaining against No. 10 Arizona State and No. 6 Washington in Seattle, putting some distance between themselves and the rest of the field is important for the Wildcats.

"If we can put some distance between us and UCLA and have a lot of offense, I think the emotion will carry over the rest of the year," Johnsen said.

Emotion is what this series is all about. Since 1991, all the NCAA titles have gone to either the Bruins or the Wildcats. In 1991 and 1993, the Wildcats defeated UCLA for the title. In 1992 and 1995, the Bruins pulled the same feat on UA.

"Games like this are going to come down to great pitching and timely hits," Arizona head coach Mike Candrea said. "I think we're very confident. Hell, if we're not ready by now we aren't going to be."

Junior Nancy Evans (20-1, 0.89) and senior Carrie Dolan (17-3, 2.16) will handle the pitching duties for Arizona. B'Ann Burns (13-4, 1.40) will join Williams in the circle for UCLA.

A break from conference play for Arizona comes tomorrow night in the form of Cal State-Northridge. The 27h-ranked Matadors (26-14) and Wildcats last met in the 1994 College World Series title game which UA won, 4-0.

"Northridge is a good team and they're going to come out and play with a lot of emotion," Candrea said.

All four home games will be broadcast live by KAMP Student Radio (AM 1570).

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