Softball diamond notes: Wildcats set school, national records

By James Kelley
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 15, 2004

The Arizona softball team set the school record for wins to open a season this year, but it looks like it won't end there, as the Wildcats are topping the national charts.

"I just think that anything that happens from here on out is a plus. I couldn't even tell you what those records may be," said UA acting head coach Larry Ray.

Freshman centerfielder Caitlin Lowe is fifth in the country in batting average at .483, first in steals and first in runs scored. Lowe is 15 runs away from the No. 8 spot on Arizona's all-time single-season chart. After being caught stealing just once, she is No. 6 in UA history in steals and 10 steals behind the No. 2 spot.

"I know Caitlin is stealing some bases, but how close she is to the record, I have no idea," Ray said. "In a game, that doesn't matter to me. I just try to utilize our offensive weapons as best we can.

"She's got good speed and she gets on base a lot, and she does a great job when she gets on base, so if she can continue to get on in the right situations, she'll have an opportunity (for the record). But right now, all I'm trying to do is win the very next game."

Not to be outdone, sophomore pitcher Alicia Hollowell (27-0) is No. 1 in the nation in strikeouts and fourth in wins.

Hollowell's 345 Ks this year rank as the ninth most in Pacific 10 Conference history and third in UA history, 49 away from her record last year.

Meanwhile, senior utility player Wendy Allen is No. 1 in the country in RBIs, while senior catcher Mackenzie Vandergeest is sixth. Vandergeest is 17th in home runs.

Sophomore left fielder Autumn Champion (.483) is third in the land in batting average.

With a 40-1 mark, Ray is already No. 24 in Pac-10 history in career coaching wins and 10 away from No. 19.

Pac-10 tightens grip on national rankings

Arizona remained No. 1 in both national polls, collecting all the first-place votes in both polls for the second consecutive week.

In the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll, UCLA dropped a spot to No. 3 after starting the Pac-10 season 0-4, while California remained No. 4. Washington jumped up two spots to No. 5, giving the Pac-10 four of the country's top five teams, plus five of the top 10, as Stanford jumped a spot to No. 10.

No. 14 Oregon and No. 15 Oregon State stayed put, giving the Conference of Champions seven of the top 15. The only unranked Pac-10 squad is Arizona State, which received just seven votes in the latest poll.

Arizona puts in bid for regionals at Hillenbrand

Arizona has submitted a bid to host an NCAA regional.

The fate of the UA's bid to be one of the eight sites will be decided May 16 when the field of 64 is announced. Arizona has hosted a regional 12 times since 1988.

The winner of each of the regionals advances to the World Series in Tulsa, Okla. The Wildcats have competed in the World Series for the last 16 years.

Finch's fiance gets bit in debut

The luck of one of the most envied men in Arizona may have run out.

Arizona Diamondbacks' pitcher Casey Daigle, fiance of UA and USA softball great Jennie Finch, gave up five home runs in his major league debut Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals in Phoenix's Bank One Ballpark. Daigle, who was roundly booed before manager Bob Brenly took him out of the game with two outs in the third inning, went straight from Double-A El Paso to the majors, bypassing the Triple-A Tucson Sidewinders.

Daigle's 27.00 ERA is a little larger than Finch's 0.15 ERA this year, but his attempt to avoid getting sent to Tucson will start today, as he is scheduled to take the mound again for Arizona at the Colorado Rockies at 12:05 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Net Arizona.

Everything Jennie must go on eBay

Finch's brother, Landon, is auctioning off Finch-worn (and washed) Arizona and USA T-shirts on eBay. Bidding ends April 18 at 6:10 p.m.

The items can be found at