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Softball continues season home stretch against Sun Devils

JON HELGASON/Arizona Daily Wildcat

Arizona senior pitcher Jennie Finch releases a pitch last month against Louisiana-Lafayette at Hillenbrand Stadium. The Wildcats play host to Arizona State tonight at 7.

By Dan Komyati
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday Apr. 30, 2002

An in-state rival coming to town could be just what the Arizona softball team needs as it looks to build momentum for the seasons stretch run.

The No. 2 Wildcats take on No. 5 Arizona State tonight at 7 p.m. in the heated rivals final meeting of the regular season. UA (44-7,11-3) will attempt to keep pace with UCLA, as a win will tie the clubs atop the Pacific 10 Conference standings.

ASU (38-13, 8-6 Pac-10) handed the Wildcats a 3-0 setback UAs first loss to a ranked opponent earlier this season at the Kia Classic Invitational in Fullerton, Cailf. Arizona responded by sweeping a two-game set from the Sun Devils in Tempe two weekends later including a 10-1 drubbing. Arizona leads the all-time series 78-72, and has dominated the rivalry over the last decade.

As head coach Mike Candrea looks to see his Wildcats get on a roll as the regular season begins to wind down, he said the matchup tonight comes at an important time in the season.

I think its a great time for ASU to come in, Candrea said. Theyre a good ballclub. They can swing the bats, and (Erica) Beach when she gets hot she can keep you off balance, so we gotta come out and take it to them.

Senior All-American Jennie Finch will likely get the nod for the Wildcats in the circle. Finch is coming off two wins this past weekend and brings a 26-2 record including 16 shutouts and 0.79 ERA into the contest. She has recorded 275 strikeouts in 185 2/3 innings pitched and has reached double digits in strikeouts 14 different times this year.

Offensively, junior shortstop Lovie Jung continues to lead the Wildcats, hitting .392 with 56 runs scored. While sophomore Leneah Manuma has been kept in the ballpark in recent weeks, she still tops UA with 62 RBIs.

Tonights matchup kicks off a huge week for the Wildcats, as they play host to No. 6 California (45-16, 9-6) which swept two games from Arizona just over a week ago on Friday at 7 p.m. Arizona takes on No. 7 Stanford on Saturday at 7 p.m. and again on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Candrea said he hopes tonight is the start of a dominant stretch run for his Wildcats.

I hope (Hillenbrand Stadium) is packed, and it should be a fun night, Candrea said. Right now, with this group, its another opportunity to see if we will absolutely arrive.

Thats what Ive been waiting for.

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