Arizona clinched its eighth Pacific-10 Conference championship Sunday afternoon with a 3-0 victory over No. 19 Oregon State (40-23, 4-14) in the Cats' final 2004 regular-season home game at Hillenbrand Stadium.

Arizona moved to 51-3 overall and 15-2 in league play. The Cats have three remaining games on the road at UCLA and Washington next weekend, with no team in the standings able to top UA's league winning percentage no matter the outcome of next week's action.

The title is the first for acting head coach Larry Ray, a long-time UA top aide who coached at Florida for four years before rejoining Mike Candrea in Tucson. Candrea is on leave as head coach for the U.S. National Team that will play in this summer's Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Candrea was on hand Sunday to watch his college team cap its yet-unfinished season with a title, to go with the seven his Wildcat teams have garnered.

Arizona sophomore pitcher Alicia Hollowell continued her outstanding season in earning the victory, putting her record at 38-2. She gave up three hits and struck out 11. It was her 19th shutout of the season.

Arizona's four seniors -- cited in post-game Senior Day recognition -- all played parts in the victory.

The Cats took a 1-0 lead with an unearned run in the bottom of the third. Senior second baseman Samantha Quintero led off with a single and was sacrificed to second by senior designated player Erin Palomarez. An out later, Caitlin Lowe's grounder to second base was mishanlded for an error that allowed Quintero to score.

Quintero drove in the Cats' second run in the fourth. Senior catcher Mackenzie Vandergeest singled to lead off, moved up on Kristie Fox's sacrifice bunt and scored when Quintero doubled to right-center, but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple.

UA padded the lead with a two-out bloop single by senior first baseman Wendy Allen in the fifth. Crystal Farley drew a walk and Autumn Champion singled, then Allen hit a looping fly ball into short right field to drive in Farley.

Monica Hoffman (19-14) took the loss for the Beavers.

Arizona will play host to NCAA Softball Championships regional action Thursday through Sunday, May 20-23. The 64-team field will be announced Sunday, May 16, by the NCAA softball committee.

Wildcat Authority Top Stories