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KEVIN B. KLAUS/Arizona Daily Wildcat
UA sophomore pitcher Alicia Hollowell has started 39 games on the mound this season for the top-ranked Wildcats, posting a record of 38-2 with 31 complete games and 19 shutouts.
By James Kelley
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
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Softball's title hopes hinge on the arm of its sophomore workhorse

Alicia Hollowell has changed the UA softball record book so much, she's created her own category: BH, or Before Hollowell.

The single-season strikeout mark? Before Hollowell, it belonged to Jennie Finch with 366 in 2002. The sophomore phenom has 466 this season, and counting.

Before Hollowell, the single-season wins record of 36 belonged to associate head coach Nancy Evans. As a freshman last year, Hollowell posted 40. This year, she's 38-2.

Not surprisingly, Hollowell is the Arizona Daily Wildcat Athlete of the Year for 2003-04.

"She's had a phenomenal year," said Evans, who also serves as the team's pitching coach. "She's been doing great on the field, she's been doing great in the classroom, and the payoffs have been showing for all her hard work and dedication. But the year is not over, and she only has good things ahead of her. She can make this year a very memorable one."

With her second season not yet completed, Hollowell is already fourth on the career strikeout list and sixth on the career wins list. Evans is fourth.

A national player of the year finalist, Hollowell led the nation in strikeouts through May 5, was seventh in ERA, had a 0.72 ERA and had limited opponents to a .129 batting average and tossed three no-hitters. USA Softball's National Player of the Week, Hollowell has had 10 or more strikeouts 26 times this year, including a school-record 20 against Indiana, when she faced 21 batters and pitched a perfect game.

If her neighbors in the UA record books are any indication, Hollowell is a favorite to win the national POY award. Finch won it twice, Evans once.

"She's setting all kinds of records. That's a tremendous accomplishment because the standard here is pretty high, but records are meant to be broken and she's taken care of a few," said UA acting head coach Larry Ray.

Hollowell deflected credit to her teammates.

"I think I did all right, but overall the team has made me have such a great year," Hollowell said. "They came out and scored a lot of runs and played really well."

Alicia Kay Hollowell
2004 record: 38-2

Complete games: 31

Shutouts: 19

Earned Runs: 25

ERA: 0.72 1

Alicia Kay Hollowell

Opponent's BA: .129

Strikeouts: 466 2

Ks per 7 innings: 12.6 3

No hitters: 3 4

In fact, it often seemed as if Hollowell didn't even notice her accomplishments. When asked about the perfect game, Hollowell shrugged and said she was just pitching. When asked about breaking her own strikeout record, she didn't even know she had done it.

Having already thrown 263 innings, started 39 games, thrown 31 complete games and had 19 shut outs, Hollowell's workload could very well determine how far the No. 1 Wildcats (51-3, 15-2 Pacific 10 Conference) go.

"I would prefer her to throw less, but I think in order for us to be where we are right now, we need her in the circle," Ray said, "I'm going to (try to rest her), but from here on out each team is so explosive. You can't let your guard down."

During last year's World Series, Hollowell pitched 32 innings, going 2-2 over four days. She lost first to California, 2-1 in 12 innings, despite striking out 17 and giving up one run. Her other loss also came against the Bears, in a game when she notched just three Ks.

Hollowell will have little time on the bench should the UA make it to the World Series.

"Unless we jump on someone, I anticipate her throwing every inning," Ray said. "It is going to be crucial. I think her conditioning is going to play a big part in her success from here on out."

Ray said that Hollowell, who pitched as much as six games a day before college, worked hard on her conditioning and knows when to rest.

"Unfortunately, we're not going to give her many opportunities to rest," he said.

"She knows what it is like to go through a 45-game schedule, so I think her body is in better shape to perform than it was a year ago."

The school record for innings pitched is 301 1/3, by Teresa Cherry in 1988. Hollowell threw 297 last year, and is eighth on the career list.

"I don't keep track of how many innings. She's the kind of pitcher that can throw a lot of innings and gets stronger as she goes," Evans said.

Hollowell said this year has been easier.

"It's been really easy this year just because the team can score so many runs for me, so I am ahead," she said.

With the Pac-10 title clinched, Hollowell will get to rest this weekend. Ray said that she will pitch once on the impending road trip. The Wildcats will face No. 3 UCLA Friday afternoon and then head to Seattle for a doubleheader with No. 6 Washington on Saturday afternoon.

Hollowell has started every Pac-10 game for the UA - 17 in a row, four times pitching all three games of a series.

"When you have an athlete like her who has heart and wants to win for her team, she's going to find a way to make it through," said Evans, who recruited Hollowell for two years.

Perhaps the Wildcats caught a glimpse of things to come in the Kia Klassic in mid-March. The Klassic, renowned for its collection of top-notch teams, featured six games over four days during spring break.

Hollowell earned national player of the week honors by continuing a stretch of 18 innings of hitless ball, including two no-hitters and one near-no-hitter.

"She just pitched so spectacularly that week. It was neat to see, and that's what she's capable of," Evans said. "She's capable of that kind of performance every time, and we're going to come to a point in a couple weeks where we need it again, and she'll be ready."

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