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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Hillenbrand Stadium an icon of Arizona softball history

Carl+Miller+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AThe+Rita+Hillenbrand+Memorial+Stadium+celebrates+its+20th+anniversary+today.+At+the+start+of+the+2013+season%2C+Arizona+Softball+held+a+563-62+record+in+the+facility.++
Carl Miller
Carl Miller / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium celebrates its 20th anniversary today. At the start of the 2013 season, Arizona Softball held a 563-62 record in the facility.

Hillenbrand Stadium is an iconic cornerstone of Arizona’s softball program and has been one of the premier venues in college softball since its opening in 1993. Thanks to a generous gift from the Hillenbrand family, the Wildcats became pioneers when they built their softball stadium in the early ’90s, paving the way for the modern softball stadium to be introduced into universities nationwide.

“After winning the Women’s College World Series in ’91, Bill [Hillenbrand] walked into my office and asked if there were any projects that he could donate money to,” UA head coach Mike Candrea said, recalling when he first brought up the idea of a stadium with Hillenbrand.

“I pulled out a napkin with a drawing of Hillenbrand Stadium,” he said. “It wasn’t more than a month later that there was a check on my desk and everything was getting started.”

Candrea has been quoted as saying that the day he received the $1 million donation [to build the stadium] was “one of the biggest days of [his] life.”

Hillenbrand Stadium has since been the home of Wildcat softball and has provided the team with a place to create collegiate softball history.

Arizona softball makes it a point to win at home. The Wildcats are in possession of a 580-66 (.878) all-time record and have gone 17-4 at home this season.

Since taking the field at Hillenbrand, the Wildcats have collected a total of 77 All-American awards and have hosted the NCAA regionals 17 times.

“I think any time I walk in here, I reflect on all of the memories,” Candrea said. “Everyday is a reminder of the accomplishments that have taken place here and the greats that have played on this field.”

Hillenbrand has led the country in average attendance nine times, the most recent being in 2010 when the Wildcats attracted an average of 2,516 fans. They have averaged 1,291 fans in attendance for every game since 1994.

Hillenbrand is also a popular venue for televising softball, having hosted more than 30 live national broadcasts since 2005.

Stacy Redondo Schulte played outfield for the Arizona Wildcats when they won the 1991 World Series to become the first women’s team for Arizona to win a team national championship in any sport.

“What was really amazing was that we saw the whole process of the field being constructed,” Schulte said. “It was really exciting. Once it was opened to us and we got to practice on it for the first time, it was like a dream. It was kind of indescribable.”

Sophomore first baseman Hallie Wilson has also made Hillenbrand her home, enjoying success in her first two seasons, hitting five home runs and 12 doubles while compiling a career batting average of .452 with in home games.

“It is such an honor to play here at Hillenbrand,” Wilson said. “We have great facilities and a lot of people who are in awe of what we have here and the history that accompanies it. I feel grateful to be able to live out my dream here.”

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