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Star-Bulletin Sports


Wednesday, May 16, 2001


[ COLLEGE SOFTBALL ]



Road to World Series
goes through Wildcats



By John Moredich
Special to the Star-Bulletin

TUCSON, Ariz. >> The University of Hawaii softball team is not anticipating an easy time in the NCAA regional tournament here. But neither are any of the other four visiting teams.

All know that the road to the College World Series goes through host Arizona, the nation's No. 1 team.

If all goes according to seed, the earliest the Wahine would play the Wildcats is Saturday. Hawaii and Arizona had planned to meet earlier this season, but their game at the South Florida Tournament was rained out.

"We didn't play them but (we saw that) they are very solid and coached very well,'' said Arizona coach Mike Candrea. "Hawaii teams are usually very feisty. They always have good pitching.''

A look at the field, according to seeding:

>> Arizona (57-4): The No. 1 Wildcats are looking to head to the College World Series for the 14th consecutive time. Arizona has won 44 straight home games at Hillenbrand Stadium, one shy of the school record.

Arizona set an NCAA single-season record this season with home runs (115). Six players have hit 11 or more, led by Toni Mascarenas (20).

Jennie Finch (27-0) is the catalyst on the mound with an NCAA-leading 0.24 ERA.

>> CalState Fullerton (46-12): The 10th-ranked Titans, the Big West champions, have an outstanding battery in catcher Jenny Topping (.423, 14 HR, 58 RBIs) and pitcher Jodie Cox (18-5, 1.72 ERA, 11 shutouts, 166 strikeouts).

Fullerton, 3-0 against Hawaii this season, has won 16 of its last 18 games.

>> Hawaii (46-16): The Wahine offense does not need to produce many runs with Felicity Witt (22-10, 1.26 ERA) and Desiree Duran (17-4, 1.37 ERA) dominating the mound.

Junior second baseman Natalie Gonzales leads UH in hitting (.348). Sophomore shortstop Kate Judd is the power producer (8 HR, 30 RBIs).

>> Southwest Texas State: The 19th-ranked Bobcats, Hawaii's opening opponent, won 33 of 35 games during one stretch this season en route to taking the Southland Conference title with a 26-1 record.

Jessica Chase (28-3) and Nicole Neuerburg (22-6) lead a pitching staff with an ERA of 0.94. Freshman Kristen Zaleski is the big offensive threat (.360, 21 SB).

>> Texas Tech (35-22): The Red Raiders have just one player hitting over .274 in Sandy Butler (.369). She also has 26 stolen bases in 29 attempts.

Amanda Renfro is the team's only legitimate pitching threat (32-17, 1.04 ERA). The senior has allowed 75 runs in 328 innings this year, but 26 runs were unearned.

>> St. Peter's (39-18): It could be a quick trip back home to New Jersey for the Peahens, who open with Arizona. They feature the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference MVP in Aimee Barsalona (.343, 10 HR, 48 RBIs), and pitcher Sandy Attanasio (22-8, 1.66 ERA).



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