By Tom Knauer
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, February 14, 2005
Off the field, persistent rain-muddled playing conditions cast doubt on whether the No. 1 Arizona softball team would see an inning this weekend.
On the field yesterday, Alicia Hollowell and the Wildcats saw five, and they proved the wait was perfectly worth it.
Hollowell pitched a perfect game in five innings, and Arizona defeated Tennessee-Chattanooga 8-0 in Phoenix on the final day of the Kajikawa Classic.
Hollowell (3-0) struck out 11 batters in registering her sixth regular-season no-hitter and the second perfect game of her career. She last accomplished the feat against Indiana on March 6, 2004.
"Alicia's a very good pitcher," said Arizona assistant head coach Larry Ray. "Her ball was moving very well today."
Sophomore Kristie Fox continued her torrid start to the season. The shortstop, who leads the team in batting average, home runs and RBIs, hit an RBI double in the first inning. She followed later with a two-run home run, finishing 2-3 with three RBIs.
Fox's performance highlighted a somewhat shaky outing for the Wildcats (6-0), who brought a two-run lead to the fourth inning before erupting for five runs.
Senior third baseman Jen Martinez ended the inning's scoring with a two-RBI single, stretching the lead to 7-0.
Freshman catcher Callista Balko hit her first career home run leading off the fifth to end the game.
"We started off a little sluggish," Ray said. "I don't think it had anything to do with being in a hotel room the last two days."
Yesterday's matchup was in doubt all weekend for Arizona. Rain showers cancelled play at the Tempe Sports Complex and Farrington Stadium Friday and Saturday for all 19 teams participating in the tournament.
Play at the Classic began Sunday with seven games at both venues. Only one of four fields were available for play at the Sports Complex, forcing groundskeepers to keep the field fresh through three consecutive games amid poor weather.
"They did a tremendous job," Ray said.
Arizona was slated to play South Carolina and Cal State-Northridge Saturday. Those games were given rain-delay status for Sunday, but were ultimately scrapped.
The same fate met the Wildcats' Friday matchups with the Mocs (0-3) and Sacramento State.
"In this sport, we're at the mercy of Mother Nature," Ray said.
Arizona returns to Tucson this weekend to host the Worth Wildcat Invitational. The Wildcats begin play against Marshall at 4 p.m. Friday at Hillenbrand Stadium, followed by a game against Northern Iowa at 6 p.m.