Wildcat softball readies for UCLA - Tucson News Now

Wildcat softball readies for UCLA

Source: Arizona Athletics Source: Arizona Athletics
 #16/17 Arizona Wildcats (37-12, 12-6 Pac-12) vs. #7/7 UCLA Bruins (41-8, 15-3 Pac-12)

THE GAMES

Date                                      Time (PDT)          (Rank) Opponent             Location

Friday, May 1                     5:00 p.m.             (7) UCLA                              Westwood, Calif. (Easton Stadium)

Saturday, May 2               2:00 p.m.             (7) UCLA                              Westwood, Calif. (Easton Stadium)

Sunday, May 3                  7:00 p.m.             (7) UCLA                              Westwood, Calif. (Easton Stadium)

FRIDAY, APRIL 10

T.V.: Pac-12 Networks

Stats: uclalivestats.com

Updates: Twitter: @UA_Softball

SATURDAY, APRIL 11

T.V.: ESPNU

Stats: uclalivestats.com

Updates: Twitter: @UA_Softball

SUNDAY, APRIL 12

T.V.: Pac-12 Networks

Stats: uclalivestats.com

Updates: Twitter: @UA_Softball

THIS WEEK: Sixteenth-ranked Arizona (37-12, 12-6 Pac-12) faces two key series as the regular season comes to a close, beginning this weekend in Westwood. Arizona travels to No. 7 UCLA for a three-game set before hosting second-ranked Oregon to finish the regular season. The Wildcats and the Bruins meet Friday (5 p.m.), Saturday (2 p.m.) and Sunday (7 p.m.). Friday and Sunday's games will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks while Saturday's will be shown on ESPNU. The matchup will feature two of the nation's top offenses: Arizona leads the country in batting average (.371) and is third in scoring (8.45 runs/game) while UCLA is fourth in the NCAA in batting average (.366) and seventh in scoring (7.83 runs/game).

LEADING OFF

·         Fresh off a home sweep of Stanford in which Arizona outscored the Cardinal 43-7 in three mercy-rule games, Arizona heads north to UCLA for a matchup between No. 2 (UCLA) and No. 3 (Arizona) in the Pac-12.

·         Arizona's offense is heating up at the right time. The Wildcats lead the country in batting average (.371), are third in runs/game (8.45), fifth in on-base percentage (.465), fifth in slugging percentage (.633) and eighth in home runs/game (1.78).

·         After hitting 42 home runs in 31 nonconference games (1.36/game) Arizona has ramped it up in Pac-12 play, hitting 45 home runs in 18 conference games (2.5/game). The 45 home runs are the most in the Pac-12 in conference play, 10 more than second place Oregon. Chelsea Goodacre leads the way with 10 Pac-12 blasts while Hallie Wilson, Kellie Fox and Katiyana Mauga have eight apiece. The Cats are slugging a whopping .685 in Pac-12 games.

·         Arizona has had at least eight hits in 19 of its last 23 games, including double-digit hits in 13 of those contests.

·         In those 23 games, Arizona has 56 home runs, including at least one home run in 19 of the last 20 games (and 3-or-more home runs in seven of the last 10 games). As a team, in Arizona's last 626 at-bats, the Wildcats are averaging a home run every 11.4 at-bats. In the previous 704 at-bats, UA hitters averaged one home run every 22 at-bats. Arizona leads the Pac-12 with 87 home runs.

·         Chelsea Goodacre is the NCAA leader with 76 RBI, already a new career high with two weeks remaining in the regular season. The senior, whose 230 career RBI are currently tied for eighth in school history, is on pace to become the sixth player in Arizona history to bat in 90-or-more runs in a season.

·         Senior Chelsea Goodacre (21 home runs) and sophomore Katiyana Mauga (20) and are seventh and 11th, respectively, nationally. The duo hit 22 and 20, respectively, a season ago. Mauga is the first player in school history to hit 20-or-more home runs in her freshman and sophomore seasons and just the fifth player to hit 20-or-more in multiple seasons. Goodacre is the sixth.

·         Kellie Fox and Chelsea Goodacre have been named two of 26 finalists for USA Softball Player of the Year. Fox leads the team with a .407 average, starting all 49 games at shortstop. The senior has eight doubles, three triples, 12 home runs, 55 RBI and a .740 slugging percentage. Goodacre is leads the country with 76 RBI and is seventh with 21 home runs. The senior is hitting .354 and slugging .837 in 49 starts.

·         Arizona is 5-1 in the third game of its five Pac-12 series this season, with its only loss coming at Utah. Dating back to last season, Arizona has won 11 of 13 game 3s in Pac-12 play.

·         With one more road conference series to play, Arizona has already won six games (6-3) on the road in Pac-12 play. UA went 4-8 on the road in league play in each of the last three years.

·         Arizona is 23-3 at Hillenbrand Stadium this season and 54-6 since the start of 2014.

·         The Wildcats are 48-43 (.528) in Pac-12 play since the conference expanded to 12 teams in 2012. Since joining the Pac-10 in 1987, Arizona is 454-171-1 (.726).

·         The Wildcats have proven power throughout the lineup (109 homers led the country in 2014), but Arizona has added a new element to its offensive attack in 2015: speed. Arizona has stolen 47 bases this season in 48 tries. The 47 steals are fourth in the Pac-12 (and the one caught stealing is fewest) and nearly double Arizona's 2014 total of 24 stolen bases. On the other side of the ball, Chelsea Goodacre has allowed just 10 steals in 19 attempts.

·         Additionally, Arizona has hit 10 triples in 2015. The 10 three-baggers are fifth in the Pac-12 and better UA's 2014 60-game total of eight. In 2012 and 2013, Arizona hit a combined six triples (2 in 2012, 4 in 2013).

·         Arizona is 13-1 in night games, but just 24-11 during the day.

·         The Wildcats have scored 104 more runs (414) than opponents have total hits (310).

SCOUTING UCLA: The Bruins (41-8, 15-3 Pac-12) enter the series on a 10 game winning streak, with three straight conference sweeps. UCLA is hitting .363 as a team, with a Pac-12 best 2.29 team ERA. Ace Ally Carda (22-4, 1.99 ERA, 227 Ks, 162.0 IP) leads the way in the circle while Allexis Bennett (.507 avg, 9 2B, 2 3B, 25 RBI) leads an offense that has a .466 OBP.

CATS VS. THE BRUINS: UCLA holds a 55-71 advantage in the all-time series, dating back to 1982. UCLA is the only opponent to hold a winning record in a series vs. Arizona (minimum three games). The Bruins have won five straight in the series and eight of the last 10. UCLA swept the series in Westwood a season ago (full report on page 5).

HEAD COACH MIKE CANDREA: Arizona head coach Mike Candrea is in his 30th year at the helm of the Arizona softball program with a career record of 1,424-350-2 (.802). A winner of eight national championships (1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2006, 2007), Arizona has made 22 trips to the Women's College World Series under his guidance, missing just five times in the last 27 years (2004, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014). On Feb. 27 vs. UTEP, Candrea became the sport's fastest ever coach, and second all-time, to reach 1,400 wins; Candrea is the sport's active wins leader. Under Candrea, Arizona has a spectacular postseason record of 155-50. Fifty-two All-Americans with a staggering 92 total citations have played in the program since Candrea took over.

Winningest Division I Coaches (Softball)

1.            Margie Wright (Illinois State 1980-85; Fresno State 1886-2012)                    1,457-542-3 (.729)           

2.            Mike Candrea (Arizona 1986-2003, 05-07, 09-)*                                                 1,424-350-2 (.802)

3.            Yvette Girouard (La.-Lafayette 1981-2001; LSU 2002-11)                                 1,285-421-1 (.753)

Winningest Division I Coaches (All Sports)

1.            Augie Garrido, baseball (multiple-)*                                                                        1,941-913-2 (.675)

12.          Cliff Gustafson, baseball (Texas 1968-1996)                                                         1,427-373-2 (.792)

13.          Mike Candrea, softball (Arizona 1986-2003, 05-07, 09-)*                               1,424-350-2 (.802)

*Active coach

THE RANKINGS: Arizona improved to 16th in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll and fell to 17th in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25. The Wildcats were preseason 14th in the NFCA Top 25 and 12th in the USA Softball preseason poll.

WHO'S HOT?

Chelsea Goodacre: In Arizona's 27 games prior to conference play, Goodacre's average sat at .273 with just 12 extra base hits. In the 22 games since, the senior has hit .432 and slugged over 1.000 (1.014) in 73 at-bats. Goodacre has been held hitless just three times in those 22 games and enters the UCLA series on a five-game hitting streak. Goodacre has homered in three straight games and four of the last five and has driven in multiple runs in five straight games. In her last 108 at-bats, Goodacre is averaging a home run every 5.7 at-bats.

Hallie Wilson: Wilson, who recently had her career-long 19-game hitting streak snapped at Utah, has recorded a hit in 22 of Arizona's last 23 games, hitting .475 in those 23 games. Wilson's .476 conference average is third in the Pac-12 while her 29 Pac-12 RBI and eight conference homers rank second and third in the Pac-12, respectively. Not bad for a leadoff hitter. In game 3 vs. Stanford she tied an Arizona record with three home runs and drove in a career-high eight runs, the most for any Wildcat since Feb. 2012.

Mo Mercado: In Arizona's last nine games, Mercado has multiple hits in six of them, putting up a .583 batting average in those nine games. More impressively, Mercado, who had not shown much of an affinity to draw walks earlier in her career, has drawn seven walks in the nine games, helping her to a .677 on-base percentage in those contests. After falling into a 1-for-20 (.050) slump from March 21-April 2, Mercado has appeared to change her approach at the plate; the sophomore had drawn six walks all season to that point (38 games) and has drawn nine walks in the 11 games since then.

Mandie Perez: The redshirt sophomore has asserted herself at the plate recently and has earned the last 14 starts as Arizona's designated player after spending the majority of the season as a bench player. Entering the UCLA series, Perez has reached base in nine of her last 11 plate appearances (two doubles, four singles and three walks). Despite having the ninth most at-bats on the team, Perez is second on the team with 11 doubles, one behind leader Hallie Wilson.

Siera Phillips: The converted outfielder had her fair share of struggles in her transition to the circle, but is seeming to find a groove within the last few weeks. Over the last two series, Phillips has been Arizona's top pitcher, at least statistically. The junior has seen action in five of Arizona's six games in the two series, going 2-0 in 10.2 innings. Her ERA in that span (3.28) leads the team by nearly two full runs, in part because she does a tremendous job limiting base runners. Opponents have hit just .162 against her the last two weeks while she has walked only three batters (Arizona's other two pitchers have combined to walk 23 in the span).

HOME SWEET HOME: The Wildcats are 54-6 in the last 60 games inside the friendly confines of Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium, including 24-3 this season. Since its opening in 1993, Arizona has put up a 637-75 record on the field. That's a .895 winning percentage at home in the last 22-plus years. Hillenbrand has led the nation in attendance nine times since 1994 and set the NCAA record in attendance in 2011 when 77,129 fans turned the turnstiles (since broken by Alabama). For the eighth consecutive season, Arizona is drawing over 2,000 fans per game in 2015. In 20 home dates, the Wildcats are averaging 2,260 per contest. UA has lost just 17 nonconference games in the stadium's 22-plus years; its 385-17 record in such games equates to 96 victories in every 100 games.

DOUBLE THE MENDOZA LINE: Three Wildcat starters are hitting in the .400s this season - Kellie Fox (.407), Mandie Perez (.405) and Hallie Wilson (.403). The last time an Arizona team had three players above .400 was 1998 when four Wildcats did so (Alison McCutcheon - .490, Lauren Bauer - .441, Nicole Giordano - .424, Leah Braatz - .410).

IF YOU'RE NOT EARLY, YOU'RE LATE: Arizona has a knack for jumping on opponents early, doing the majority of its offensive damage early in games. The Wildcats are 19-2 when scoring in the first inning, but it's the second and third frames in which the bats really heat up. Arizona has outscored opponents 91-19 in the second and 84-37 in the third this season. UA averages 4.77 runs in the first three innings alone, that figure is better than 156 division I teams average in an entire game.

COUNTING ON NO. 34: As Katiyana Mauga goes, so go the Cats. In Arizona's 12 losses this season, Mauga has just five hits (.156) with three extra-base hits and four RBI. In Arizona's 37 victories, Mauga is hitting .413 with 21 extra-base hits and a .954 slugging percentage.

BEATING THE BEST: In 2015, Arizona has played 16 games against teams ranked in the NFCA Top 25, including three against the top 10 and two against the top five. UA is 6-10 against the top 25, 1-2 against the top 10 and 1-1 against the top five. Since 1994, Arizona is 530-221-1 (.715) against ranked competition, 254-147 (.636) against top-10 teams and 124-100 (.554) against top-five teams.

Over the last two calendar years, Arizona owns seven victories over top-five competition. Most recently, the Cats defeated No. 4 Oklahoma, 5-4, on Kellie Fox's walkoff homer in the bottom of the seventh on Feb. 19 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. It was Arizona's first victory over Oklahoma in the last nine games of the series.

WALK IT OFF: UA owns two walkoff wins this season. Ashleigh Hughes hit a two-run, come-from-behind triple in the bottom of the eighth to beat Oklahoma State (3-2) on Feb. 8. On Feb. 19, Kellie Fox hit a walkoff homer to break a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the seventh vs. No. 4 Oklahoma. Both walkoff hits went to the opposite field.

FRESHMAN PHENOM:  Trish Parks was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week four of the first seven weeks of the season (Weeks 1, 2, 4, 7). Most recently, Parks had a hit in all four games in week 7, none bigger than her seventh-inning, two-out RBI single vs. NMSU to complete Arizona's game-tying four-run rally that sent the game into extra innings, where Arizona would win 11-6. It was one of five RBI in the four games for Parks, who hit .400 in 15 at-bats. Parks hit one home run, a three-run shot vs. Connecticut in her first at-bat of the weekend. In the circle, Parks threw a complete-game two-hit shutout in Arizona's 12-0, five-inning victory over Connecticut, her second career complete-game shutout.

FRESH FACES: The Cats have six newcomers this season (Alexis Dotson, Ashleigh Hughes, Danielle O'Toole, Trish Parks, Robyn Porter and Aireal Sakasegawa), though you will only see five of them on the field this season - O'Toole, a transfer from San Diego State and reigning Mountain West Pitcher of the Year, will have to sit out this season per NCAA transfer rules. Additionally, Arizona welcomes back Mandie Perez, a 55-game starter in 2013, who redshirted last season with a torn ACL.

CATS ON THE TUBE: Arizona has an all-time high 19 games on national T.V. this year, including two games to be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks. Seventeen conference games will be aired on the Pac-12 Networks while Arizona's May 2 matchup at UCLA will be shown on ESPNU and the May 9 regular-season finale against Oregon will be on ESPN. All of Arizona's non-televised home games will be streamed online at pac-12.com for free with Kenzie Fowler providing analysis.

FOLLOW THE TEAM: Be sure to follow the Wildcats on their various social media platforms. To stay up-to-date on all the latest happenings with the team, follow Arizona softball on Twitter (@UA_Softball) and for behind-the-scenes photos and infographics, follow the team on Instagram (@UA_Softball).
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