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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    PRO/CON: Was Finch more valuable to UA than Hollowell?

    Claire C. Laurence/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

Senior pitcher Alecia Hollowell delivers a ball to home plate as No. 1 softball defeated guest Longbeach 11-0 in five innings on Sunday in Hillenbrand Stadium.
    Claire C. Laurence/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Senior pitcher Alecia Hollowell delivers a ball to home plate as No. 1 softball defeated guest Longbeach 11-0 in five innings on Sunday in Hillenbrand Stadium.

    Hollowell can’t change Finch’s advantage

    Overall success in sports is often measured by wins. With that said, former Arizona pitcher Jennie Finch is more valuable to a softball team than current pitcher Alicia Hollowell.

    By no means am I saying that Hollowell is not a successful pitcher. In fact, she probably fits the bill as one of the four most successful pitchers in Arizona softball history, and for a player to have that title next to her name is something extremely special.

    But there are four things that Finch has over Hollowell, only two of which Hollowell has the power to change by the time her collegiate career is over.

    1. It is rare for a coach to be able to have an athlete on his team who is able to provide such dominant numbers as Finch did at the plate and on the mound. Hollowell doesn’t play in the field; hence, Arizona head coach Mike Candrea cannot use her in the lineup, unless of course he decides to use her as a designated player. This is not likely, however, since Hollowell has no official at-bats this year. An argument can be made that Candrea doesn’t want to risk injuring his ace, but given his reluctance to use backups in the lineup, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Finch, on the other hand, not only shined in the pitcher’s circle but at first base as well as in the lineup. She was among the Pacific 10 Conference leaders in every major offensive category in each of her four years at Arizona, along with her dominant pitching statistics.

    2. There is no doubt that Hollowell has better overall career numbers on the mound than Finch, but not by much. Finch ranks third behind Arizona assistant coach Nancy Evans and Hollowell in career wins, but her overall winning percentage is better than Hollowell’s. Finch also had a streak of 40 consecutive wins, which ranks as the second-highest streak of all time, and in 2001 she went 32-0, which established another NCAA record. Hollowell can surpass Finch in winning percentage over the next month, but with a grueling Pac-10 schedule ahead, it will be tough. Hollowell is ahead of Finch in career strikeouts with a whopping 540-strikeout margin and leads Finch by 0.22 in career ERA, but the one thing to go back to is Finch’s dominance at the plate, something Hollowell has had the inability to handle during her whole career.

    3. Finch is a two-time National Player of the Year (2001, 2002). Hollowell has zero wins. Hollowell should stand to make a good run for the title this year, but even if she’s victorious, she would still be one behind Finch.

    4. Finch helped Arizona win its last national championship in 2001, and she was named the Women’s College World Series Most Outstanding Player. Hollowell can do the same this year, but if not, Finch might still be considered the more valuable of the two, and by my standards, she will be regardless.

    Mike Ritter
    staff writer

    Hollowell’s dominance not to be overlooked

    The one advantage Jennie Finch will probably always hold over Arizona senior ace Alicia Hollowell is her prestige.

    Forget for a moment Finch’s 2001 National Player of the Year award and her perfect 32-0 record that season. Even a full four years after graduating, Finch remains the unquestioned poster girl of the entire Wildcat softball program.

    Her rare combination of filthy stuff and fair looks – demonstrated on a national stage when she won ESPN.com’s “”hottest female athlete”” contest in 2003 over tennis beauty Anna Kournikova – resulted in Arizona’s last national championship and crushed the hopes of all fraternity-aged Wildcat students when she married Tucson Sidewinders pitcher Casey Daigle two years later.

    But now forget all that pomp and circumstance. If the question comes down to who’s the better pitcher, Hollowell has Finch struck out and caught looking.

    Clearly, Finch is the best all-around player the team has ever had. In addition to her 1.09 ERA between 1999 and 2002, she smacked 50 home runs, good for seventh in team history.

    Yet if the buck stops at the mound – as it should in this case – Hollowell has by far the better resume (numbers as of today):

    ? 128 wins, first all-time at Arizona (Finch is third with 119)

    ? 16 no-hitters, more than twice Finch’s seven

    ? 1,558 strikeouts, including a team-record 508 in 2004 (Finch, by the way, had a season high of 366)

    Of course, the one flaw you can point out in Hollowell is that, unlike many of Arizona’s top pitchers, she has yet to guide the Wildcats to a championship.

    It’s a case similar to that of future Hall-of-Fame forward Karl Malone, formerly of the NBA’s Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers. Though he remains the league’s second-leading all-time scorer, he never got to see his accomplishments mirrored in trophy gold.

    Hollowell may have her best chance to do just that this season, despite the Wildcats’ rough start to its Pacific 10 Conference schedule. Freshmen first baseman Sam Banister, third baseman Jenae Leles and first baseman Laine Roth and junior transfer second baseman Chelsie Mesa have revitalized a traditionally potent offense that’s still waiting for National Player of the Year candidate Caitlin Lowe, a center fielder, to return to health after injuring her hand.

    If the team indeed makes June’s Women’s College World Series, watch out: In last year’s Series, Hollowell did not allow an earned run in 30 innings, keeping afloat a team that hit only .094 over three games.

    You could argue that sophomore pitcher Taryne Mowatt (15-4, 0.89 ERA), who has stepped up this season after an under-the-radar first year, is equally as valuable as Hollowell to the team’s postseason success.

    But watch how Hollowell performed with relatively little offensive help last season (career lows in wins and innings pitched) and it’s obvious that Arizona head coach Mike Candrea would rather tote a two-headed throwing monster into Oklahoma City.

    Tom Knauer
    staff writer

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