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This Week in Fastpitch

Dates to Remember
February 14: Pre-season USA Today/NFCA Division III Top 25
February 20: First regular-season USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25
February 22-24: Seventh annual NFCA Leadoff Classic (Columbus, Ga.)
February 27: Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I Player of the Week award begins
March 1-3: NFCA/Schutt Sports Division II Leadoff Classic (Irving, Texas)
March 6: Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division II Player of the Week award begins
March 8-10: NFCA Junior College Leadoff Classic (LaGrange, Ga.)
March 13: First regular-season USA Today/NFCA Division II Top 25
March 27: Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division III Player of the Week award begins
April 2: First regular-season USA Today/NFCA Division III Top 25

For tournament dates and team schedules, check the NFCA Calendar.

Special Valentine's Day Edition of This Week in Fastpitch

In honor of Valentine's Day, we thought it would be appropriate to include the following notes: Montana State-Billings began its season on February 1, led by senior pitcher Kamee Love. The Division II school is in its second year of softball ... Sacred Heart opens its season on March 3 in Osceola, Florida, with games against Lehigh and UNC-Wilmington ... Alfred State (community college) opens its season April 6 against Broome CC. Alfred State has three pitchers on its roster, including Shannon Valentine.

One Wildcat Streak Comes to an End...

The nation's longest winning streak came to an end on February 9 as defending national champion Arizona fell to Mississippi State 7-1 at the Fiesta Bowl Softball Tournament. The No. 1 Wildcats came into the contest with 32 consecutive wins, dating back to last season when they swept through the NCAA regionals and the Women's College World Series. The next day, Arizona suffered its second loss of the year, falling to Wisconsin 3-0.

...Another Wildcat Streak Continues

Arizona pitcher Jennie Finch extended her personal winning streak to 45 consecutive wins. Finch, who posted an NCAA-record 32-0 mark last year, entered the 2002 season with a 40-game winning streak and has won her first five decisions so far this year (through Feb. 13). The NCAA record is 50 consecutive wins by Rebecca Aase of Florida State (1991-93).

Quick Start for Bulldogs

Mississippi State is off to a 6-0 start (through February 13), including a 4-0 mark at the Fiesta Bowl Softball Tournament at Phoenix, Arizona. Two of the Bulldogs' wins at the Fiesta Bowl Tournament came over ranked teams, No. 1 Arizona and No. 17 Southwest Texas State. In the win against Arizona, Iyhia McMichael hit a two-run homer in the first inning and Kellie Wilkerson added a three-run shot in the second to stake the Bulldogs to a quick 5-0 lead. Also in the tournament, in a 12-4 win over Texas Tech, Mississippi State scored all 12 of its runs in the fifth inning.


Another Bulldog Quick Start

Fresno State Bulldogs, that is, and Jamie Southern in particular. Southern, who redshirted last year after an early-season shoulder injury ended her year, has won each of her first three starts in 2002 and was named Western Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week. Two of her wins for the No. 16 Bulldogs were shutouts, including a four-hitter against No. 5 California.


Early-Season No-Hitters for Bruins

UCLA is off to a 9-0 start and already has two no-hitters. Keira Goerl struck out 10 and tossed a no-hitter in the second-ranked Bruins' 8-0 season-opening win over San Jose State. Amanda Freed tossed a no-hitter without the benefit of a strikeout as UCLA blanked Texas 14-0. The no-hitters were the 78th and 79th in UCLA history.

Olympic Road Trip for Utes

While nations are competing for gold, silver and bronze medals in Salt Lake City, the Utah softball team is on a 19-day road trip. The Utes opened at Houston on February 6 and will remain on the road through February 24 when they wrap up play at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga.

Washington Off to Best-Ever Start

No. 9 Washington opened the season with a 10-0 mark (through Feb. 13), the best-ever start for the Huskies. Included are wins over No. 15 Florida State, No. 22 San Diego State and No. 23 South Carolina. The previous best start was 9-0, set in 1996 and 2000.

Tide's Laird Breaks SEC Record

Alabama pitcher Shelley Laird became the Southeastern Conference's winningest pitcher as she helped lead the 13th-ranked Crimson Tide to its 'Bama Bash title. Laird posted a 3-0 record at the Bash to give her 94 career wins, breaking the previous record of 93.

Northwestern State Pitchers Excel

Northwestern State has received some outstanding early-season pitching performances. On February 10, Amanda Ortega tossed a two-hit shutout over No. 19 DePaul. Eight days earlier, Crista Miller tossed the third perfect game in school history against Southern.


Classic Metrodome Classic Performance for UNI's Wood

Lindsay Wood of Northern Iowa was the offensive star of the Metrodome Classic in Minneapolis, Minn. Wood was 10-for-18 (.556) at the tournament with four home runs and seven RBI. Two of her home runs came in an 8-0 win over Wisconsin-Green Bay.


Extra Innings

Ohio State's Stacy Roth hit a three-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh in the Buckeyes' 4-2 victory over Cal State Northridge (Feb. 8) ... Baylor's Joni Miller set a school record with 15 strikeouts against Stephen F. Austin (Feb. 9). In the same game, Danelle Arnold hit a pinch-hit grand slam home run for the Bears ... Florida freshmen Amanda Knowles and Brittani Houghton combined for the first opening-game no-hitter in Gator history in a 10-0 win over North Carolina (Feb. 8).