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Converted catcher Coburn corrals Pac-10 award


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CLAIRE C. LAURENCE/Arizona Daily Wildcat
UA softball head coach Mike Candrea has led his Cats to the No. 2 ranking in this week's ESPN.com/USA Softball national poll. Candrea's Cats had been ranked No. 1 for weeks, but losses to No. 4 Texas and new-No. 1 Michigan at the Kia Classic dropped the Wildcats from the top spot.
By Tom Knauer
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
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See ball spin. See Jackie hit. Hit, Jackie, hit.

Coming off her best offensive performance of the season, senior infielder Jackie Coburn was named the Pacific 10 Conference Player of the Week for the week of March 15-21, the conference announced yesterday.

Coburn hit .357 with three home runs, two doubles and 10 RBIs while playing at catcher in all six games of the Kia Klassic in Fullerton, Calif., last weekend.

Arizona head coach Mike Candrea said the position change helped Coburn, who entered the tournament with only two home runs, find a groove at the plate.

"Obviously, if you're watching a lot of pitches ... you come to definitely see the ball better," he said. "It's not uncommon for catchers to be pretty good hitters."

Wildcats drop from top spot in polls

After dominating the polls all season like a lackluster string of opponents, the Arizona softball team dropped to No. 2 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball national poll released yesterday.

Losses to No. 4 Texas and new No.1 Michigan at the Kia pushed the Wildcats from the top spot for the first time this season.

"Polls don't mean nothing," Candrea said. "My only concern is that we continue to get better and that we're No. 1 at the end of the year, not right now."

Hollowell makes perfect twice over spring break

Although she took her first loss since May, Alicia Hollowell further inked her place among the all-time Arizona pitching greats over spring break.

The junior tossed three no-hitters, including the second and third perfect games of her career against UNLV March 11 and Long Beach State March 16.

Hollowell, who struck out nine in five innings Saturday against No. 18 Fresno State, has three of the Wildcats' five perfect games.

"She's at a point now where she can definitely dominate teams when she's got everything going her way," Candrea said. "She's thrown the ball quite well."

Hollowell has eight no-hitters this season and 13 in her career.

Caitlin Lowe rising in record books

In her second year at Arizona, sophomore center fielder Caitlin Lowe is primed to take home more than just a few bases.

Despite being caught stealing for the first time this season at the Kia, Lowe has converted 19 of 21 attempts on the year. With 69 career steals, Lowe is sixth on the Wildcats' all-time list and is on pace to surpass the record of 148 set by Alison McCutcheon from 1995-1998.

Lowe is also taking aim at two more of McCutcheon's marks.

After batting 14-for-21 with eight runs and five RBIs at the Eller Media Stadium Classic March 11-14, Lowe went 10-for-22 with four runs and an RBI at the Kia.

Despite the relative dropoff, Lowe has a .516 batting average this season (47-91), tops in the Pac-10 among regular players.

With a slight boost in performance through May and beyond, Lowe has a shot at both McCutcheon's single-season average of .534 in 1997 and her career average of .466. Lowe has hit .463 (130-291) since 2004.

Autumn Champion finding way back

Though still hobbled by a slowly healing right knee she injured in last year's playoffs, junior left fielder Autumn Champion rediscovered both her bat and her speed in Fullerton.

After going hitless in eight at-bats against the 49ers and the Longhorns to start the Kia, Champion went 10-for-15 in the tournament's last four games, including a pair of three-hit performances Sunday.

Champion, who batted .489 in 2004, went 6-for-8 against the Bulldogs and the Wolverines, raising her average to a season-high .383, third on the team behind Lowe and sophomore shortstop Kristie Fox (.440).

The junior also swiped three bases in three attempts, giving her 10 steals in 12 attempts on the year.

"She's running a little better this last week than she has been, but she's still not 100 percent, I don't think," Candrea said. "Obviously, the one thing that helps her is, the more at-bats she gets, the more comfortable she gets."



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