By Michael Irish
EVAN CARAVELLI/Arizona Daily Wildcat
UA pitcher Leslie Wolfe delivers to the plate during a Wildcat victory yesterday at Hillenbrand Stadium.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, October 18, 2004
With its season not starting until late January, the UA women's softball team played host to a six-team, 15-game exhibition tournament over the weekend at Hillenbrand Stadium and Pima Community College. The Wildcats played five games in three days as part of an early pre-season tuneup, sweeping its opponents during the tournament.
With an expected top five preseason national rank, as well as head coach Mike Candrea back from his Olympic sabbatical, there was a little extra flavor added to this year's tournament for the Wildcats. Arizona was out to seek revenge on Pima who handed them an upset loss in last year's tournament with All-American pitcher Alicia Hollowell on the mound.
As both the UA players and coaching staff expected, the Wildcats got what they wanted.
The Wildcats beat Pima in a runaway, 8-0 in six innings, as part of a mercy rule shortened game.
Hollowell dominated action against Pima. The first out of a game that wasn't a strikeout was a popped up bunt attempt to start the third inning. Hollowell was flawless until the sixth inning. With two outs she gave up back-to-back singles, the only Pima batters that reached base. In dominating fashion, Hollowell had 15 strikeouts in six innings. Sparking the offense was Candace Abrams, who hit a two-run home run to right field in the sixth.
"It feels good to be playing. We come to win every game. That's what we're expected to do," said Hollowell. "It's the best thing ever having coach (Candrea) back. He's such a presence out there, it makes you play better."
Hollowell went 3-0 in the tournament. She pitched 18 innings, striking out 45 hitters, while throwing two no-hitters in the process.
After being asked how it felt to be back at the UA, head coach Mike Candrea said, "I've only been asked that a million times, but it feels great."
"Obviously it's home and I missed it. Now it's back to routine. We just have to continue to get better and work hard," Candrea said. "Right now we're just trying to find the best combinations."
The Wildcats have returning players at every position except catcher, first base and second base. They return three 2004 All-Americans, juniors Alicia Hollowell on the mound, outfielder Autumn Champion and last year's freshman phenom, centerfielder Caitlin Lowe. Junior outfielder Courtney Fossatti, a 2003 All-American, is also back after missing last season due to an ankle injury.
The Wildcats breezed through the tournament in dominating fashion, allowing no runs in the entire tournament. They won each of the first four games all by the same score of 8-0. All of them were mercy rule shortened games. The last game against Central Arizona was a 6-0 victory.