Arizona Athletics

A look at each of the Arizona Wildcats’ 19 NCAA championships

Graphic courtesy Arizona Athletics

Arizona junior Haley Moore made a 5-foot birdie on the first sudden-death hole of the final match at the NCAA Championship, giving the underdog Wildcats a 3-2 victory over Alabama on Wednesday.

“I’m just so happy for our five young women who got to play out there and give it all,” Arizona coach Laura Ianello said on the Golf Channel. “I told them this morning, ‘Don’t be nervous. Embrace the energy. Do what you got to do. Leave everything out there.’ … And they did just that.”

Moore went 3-0 in match play, as the Cats upset No. 1 UCLA 3-2 in the quarterfinals and bumped off No. 5 Stanford 4-1 in the semifinals. On Wednesday, freshman Yu-Sang Hou gave Arizona a huge point with a 4-and-3 upset of All-American Lauren Stephenson. Later, sophomore Sandra Nordaas held on to win her match 1-up to pull the Cats even at 2-2, setting the stage for Moore.

She lost on the par-5 18th hole in regulation but then won the big trophy for Arizona with a long chip and the 5-foot birdie.

“Oh my god, it means so much,” Moore said on the Golf Channel. “It’s actually like a dream. I never thought winning a national championship would like this.”

That capped a remarkable run for Arizona, which needed Bianca’s Pagdanganan eagle on the 18th on Monday at the end of stroke play to put the Wildcats into a two-hole playoff with Baylor for the eighth and final spot in the quarterfinals. Arizona won that … and then kept on winning.

This is the third national title for Arizona’s women’s golf and the 19th NCAA championship for the Wildcats.

Here is a look at the previous 18 UA champs:

1976 — Baseball
Coach: Jerry Kindall
Key players: OF Dave Stegman, C Ron Hassey, P/DH Steve Powers, P Craig Giola

Arizona went 0-6 against Arizona State in the regular season and then lost to the Sun Devils, 7-6 in 10 innings, in the first game of the College World Series. From there, the Wildcats next lost again, finally toppling ASU to reach the title game as Steve Powers threw a four-hitter in a 5-1 victory. Robert Chaulk went the distance in the title game with a six-hitter, as Arizona beat Eastern Michigan and its future MLB starter Bob Welch, 7-1.

1980 — Baseball
Coach: Jerry Kindall
Key players: OF Terry Francona, OF John Moses, 1B Wes Clements, OF Dwight Taylor, P Ed Vosberg, P Craig Lefferts

Like it did in 1976, Arizona dropped the first game of the College World Series, falling to St. John’s and starting pitching Frank Viola, 6-1. The pitching of freshman Ed Vosberg and Craig Lefferts (a shutout of Michigan) kept the Cats alive for a date against Hawaii. The Rainbows led 2-0 in the eighth, but Scott Stanley’s grand slam gave the lead to Arizona, which would survive 6-4 in 11 innings. Arizona went on to eliminate Pac-10 rival Cal, coming back from an 8-3 deficit to win a wild 11-10 game before meeting Hawaii again in the title game. Lefferts and Greg Bargar combined for a solid pitching performance as Arizona won 5-3. Terry Francona, the national player of the year, was voted MVP of the College World Series.

1986 — Baseball
Coach: Jerry Kindall
Key players: P Gil Heredia, 1B Todd Trafton, OF Mike Senne, C Steve Strong, 3B Chip Hale, 2B Tommy Hinzo

Forever remembered for Dave Shermet’s pinch-hit, full-count, two-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth for an 8-7 victory over Maine, capping a Cardiac Cats’ comeback from a 7-0 deficit. Arizona came back from smaller deficits to beat Loyola Marymount and Florida State before losing to Miami, although UA still had a date in the championship game. Facing the Seminoles’ 20-game winner Mike Loynd (the winner of the Golden Spikes Award as the national player of the year) and then All-American reliever Richie Lewis, Arizona belted out 11 hits en route to a 10-2 victory. Gary Alexander went the distance for Arizona, throwing a seven-hitter.

1991 — Softball
Coach: Mike Candrea
Key players: P Debby Day, 1B Julie Jones, SS Julie Standering

The Wildcats had been to the previous three World Series, but this was the breakthrough season thanks to transfer pitcher Debby Day, who was the ace that Arizona hadn’t quite had before. Day began an amazing streak of 17 consecutive seasons in which the Wildcats produced an All-American pitcher. She looked the part at the Series — UA won three 1-0 games, all in extra innings — before the final against UCLA. Once there, Day out-dueled two Bruins pitchers — Heather Compton and Lisa Fernandez, who began the game at third base. Sweet-swinging lefty Julie Jones hit a two-run triple off Compton to give the Wildcats the lead. Fernandez homered off Day, but that was all the UCLA scoring as Arizona won 5-1.

Men’s golf — 1992
Coach: Rick LaRose
Key golfers: Manny Zerman, Harry Rudolph, David Berganio, Jim Furyk

Jim Furyk would go to the greatest pro success, but he was no better than No. 4 on this team. Manny Zerman and David Berganio had played in The Masters several weeks before the national championship — Zerman took home low amateur honors at Augusta — and Harry Rudolph was the medalist at the NCAA West Regional. The Cats won the national title by seven strokes over Arizona State at the University of New Mexico’s South Course, firing an NCAA record 23-under par. Rudolph (10-under) finished second individually to ASU’s Phil Mickelson.

1993 — Softball
Coach: Mike Candrea
Key players: P Susie Parra, OF Jamie Heggen, SS Laura Espinoza, 1B Amy Chellevold, C Jody Miller-Pruitt, P/OF Leah O’Brien, 2B Jenny Dalton

This was the first season in which the NCAA used the harder, yellow optic ball, an attempt to introduce more offense into the sport. Powered by shortstop Laura Espinoza, Arizona led the nation with 36 home runs, but it was all about pitching as Arizona met UCLA in the national championship game. The Wildcats got only one hit off UCLA All-American Lisa Fernandez, but it was enough. Arizona’s Amy Chellevold reached on an error to lead off the bottom of the first. She advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and then freshman Leah O’Brien lined an RBI single over Fernandez’s head. Pitcher Susie Parra did the rest, allowing two hits and striking out six for a 1-0 victory.

1994 — Softball
Coach: Mike Candrea
Key players: C Leah Braatz, 1B Amy Chellevold, 2B Jenny Dalton, SS Laura Espinoza, OF Leah O’Brien, P Susie Parra

Arguably the greatest of Mike Candrea’s championship teams, Arizona went 64-3 and produced six first-team All-Americans (it could have been more, but teams could only nominate six). The Cats cruised through the postseason, going 7-0 by a combined score of 38-2. With a .380 team batting average and Parra’s shut-down pitching, Arizona dispatched UCLA 5-2 at the College World Series to get to the championship game against Cal State Northridge. Parra, a senior, struck out 13 and allowed only one hit in a 4-0 victory, lowering her all-time World Series ERA to 0.13 in 104 innings. Candrea was asked afterward if this was the best college softball team ever. “Personally, I would say yes,” he said.

1996 — Women’s Golf
Coach: Rick LaRose
Key golfers: Marisa Baena, Heather Graff, Krissie Register

Baena was a freshman who won medalist honors at the Pac-10 championship, the NCAA West Regional championship and at the NCAAs, winning the last by seven strokes. She saved her best shot for a sudden-death playoff against San Jose State at the NCAA championships, holing a 147-yard 8-iron shot for eagle on the 18th. Arizona had a total score of 15 on the hole, one better than San Jose State. “It was the greatest shot I’ve ever seen under that kind of pressure,” coach Rick LaRose said. “There have been a lot of great golf shots, but under these circumstances, with a team victory on the line, nothing’s bigger.” Heather Graff finished sixth individually for the Cats, while Krissie Register tied for 13th.

1996 — Softball
Coach: Mike Candrea
Key players: 2B Jenny Dalton, C Leticia Pineda, OF Alison Johnsen, 3B Krista Gomez, P Carrie Dolan, OF Brandi Shriver

Arizona was short-handed all season, losing three All-Americans to redshirts — outfielder Leah O’Brien (Olympics), catcher Leah Braatz (pregnancy) and pitcher Nancy Evans (foot injury). The Cats still caught fire at the right time, winning their final 17 games and beating top-ranked Washington in the title game, 6-4. Jenny Dalton won the Pac-10 triple crown — .469 average, 25 home runs, 109 RBIs — with Leticia Pineda adding another power source while Alison Johnsen hit .450 from the leadoff spot. Dalton hit a 3-run homer to give Arizona a 3-0 lead in the first inning of the title game, and the Cats built a 6-0 advantage before Carrie Dolan wiggled out of late trouble for the victory in Columbus, Ga. — the softball venue for the 1996 Olympics.

1997 — Men’s basketball
Coach: Lute Olson
Key players: PG Mike Bibby, SG Miles Simon, SF Michael Dickerson, PF Bennett Davison, C A.J. Bramlett, G Jason Terry

The Wildcats turned in one of the most surprising NCAA Tournament runs after finishing fifth in the Pac-10. A No. 4 seed in the NCAAs, Arizona was nearly one-and-done, trailing South Alabama by 10 points with 7:34 to go. But the Cats finished on 22-4 run and then eked out a 73-69 win over upstart College of Charleston to reach the Sweet 16. Behind the savvy of Miles Simon and the uncommon on-court leadership of freshman point guard Mike Bibby, Arizona proceeded to knock off three No. 1 seeds — Kansas in the Sweet 16, North Carolina in the Final Four and Kentucky, 84-79 in overtime, in the title game. The Cats scored all 10 of their overtime point from the foul line, with Simon finishing with 30 points and Most Outstanding Player honors.

And Bennett Davison got to muss up Lute Olson’s hair.

1997 — Softball
Coach: Mike Candrea
Key players: P Nancy Evans, C Leah Braatz, 1B Leah O’Brien, OF Alison Johnsen, 3B Leticia Pineda

This was the Year of Nancy Evans. She pitched all five games for Arizona at the World Series; basically, she had to after Carrie Dolan was kicked off the team before the trip for disciplinary reasons. The title game was a laugher as Arizona walked over UCLA 10-2 in five innings — the eight-run mercy rule had to be invoked for the first time in a Series final. The key battle came three days earlier in a second-round winners’ bracket game. Evans, in one of the greatest performances ever for an Arizona pitcher, held a powerful UCLA lineup — one that included freshman catcher Stacey Nuveman — scoreless for 14 innings in an epic pitcher’s duel against Christa Williams. Arizona finally prevailed 2-0, and coach Mike Candrea, as he sat down at the interview table after the game said, “Best heavyweight fight I’ve seen since Ali-Frazier.” Arizona finished 61-5.

2000 — Women’s golf
Coach: Todd McCorkle
Key golfers: Jenna Daniels, Jill Gomric, Cristina Baena, Julia Kraschinski

Arizona turned one of the most dominating season’s of women’s golf, ending on a run of eight consecutive tournament championships and winning the NCAAs by 19 shots. Senior Jenna Daniels was the national player of the year, and she took medalist honors at the NCAA championships with a 1-under par total. Freshman Julia Kraschinski finished second. Cristina Baena was another top 10 finisher for the Cats.

2001 — Softball
Coach: Mike Candrea
Key players: P Jennie Finch, 3B Toni Mascarenas, OF Lauren Bauer, OF Nicole Giordano, DP Leneah Manuma, C Lindsey Collins

Jennie Finch was unbeatable all season, and she wasn’t going to let UCLA spoil that at the end as Arizona won the title game 1-0. Finch pitched a four-hit shutout, striking out seven and walking two, to run her record to 32-0. The Bruins’ Amanda Freed was plenty tough, too, in the title game, allowing only three hits. One of those was to catcher Lindsey Collins, who took a pitch over the fence in right-center field with one out in the fourth inning.

Finch, a junior, beat UCLA three times that season, all by shutout, and would earn national player of the year honors. Arizona was 65-4 and finished on a 26-game winning streak, winning each of four games at the World Series by one run.

2006 — Softball
Coach: Mike Candrea
Key players: OF Caitlin Lowe, SS Kristie Fox, P Alicia Hollowell, OF Autumn Champion

Senior Alicia Hollowell cemented her place among the Arizona pitching greats with her first national title, pitching all six games at the World Series, spanning 43 innings while allowing only two runs. She out-dueled Texas All-American Cat Osterman in the second game of the Series, with Arizona catcher Callista Balko grounding a single to left for the go-ahead run in the sixth inning as UA won 2-0. The Cats went on to eliminate Tennessee to get to the championship series, where they made quick work of Northwestern, winning 8-0 and 5-0.

2007 — Softball
Coach: Mike Candrea
Key players: P Taryne Mowatt, SS Kristie Fox, OF Caitlin Lowe, 2B Chelsea Mesa, 3B Jenae Leles, C Callista Balko

Taryne Mowatt, unflappable and indefatigable, carried the Wildcats on her 5-6 frame all year, finishing with school season records for victories (42), innings (370) and strikeouts (522). With the Cats lacking a viable No. 2 pitcher, it was Mowatt’s show at the World Series … and what a long trek it was. Fighting through the loser’s bracket, Arizona swept a doubleheader from Washington to reach the championship series against Tennessee and All-American pitcher Monica Abbott. The Vols won the first game 3-0, and the thought was the Mowatt would be too gassed to win two games in a row. But UA bounced back with a 1-0 victory in 10 innings — pinch-runner Danielle Rodriguez scored from third on a bouncer to short with a brilliant slide around the catcher — and the Cats took the title the next night with a 5-0 win. Mowatt threw 1,035 pitches across eight games in seven days, with an ERA of 0.47, earning an ESPY for the Female Athlete of the Year.

2008 — Women’s swimming and diving
Coach: Frank Busch
Key swimmers: Taylor Baughman, Annie Chandler, Hailey DeGolia, Caitlin Iversen, Lara Jackson, Lacey Nymeyer, Justine Schluntz, Anna Turner

Arizona had finished third in 2005 and 2006, and second in 2007, and it broke through for the title, pulling away for 484 points, able to cruise to the championship past second-place Auburn (348). The Wildcats won all five relays at the meet, and had two individual winners in Lara Jackson (50-yard free) and Lacey Nymeyer (100 free). Nymeyer also was second in the 200 free and was part of four winning relay teams. With the women using a talented contingent of 18 swimmers, it was truly a triumph of team, as was the men’s victory a week later.

2008 — Men’s swimming and diving
Coach: Frank Busch
Key swimmers: Darian Townsen, Albert Subarits, Jean Basson, Cory Chitwood, Jake Tapp, Joel Greenshields, Nicolas Nilo, Marcus Titus

The Wildcats used their excellent depth — they took 15 swimmers to the NCAA championships in Federal Way, Washington — winning five events to finish with 500 points, well ahead of second-place Texas (406). In the process, Arizona knocked off five-time defending champ Auburn, which finished fifth. Albert Subarits won 100 butterfly, Darian Townsend won the 200 IM, and the Cats used that depth to win three relays –the 400 medley, the 800 free and the 400 free to cap the competition. UA finished second in the other two relays.

2012 — Baseball
Coach: Andy Lopez
Key players: SS Alex Mejia, P Kurt Heyer, OF Robert Refsnyder, P Konner Wade, OF Johnny Field, OF Joey Rickard, 3B Seth Mejias-Brean

Arizona went on an amazing postseason run, winning all 10 games, including a 4-3 victory in 12 innings in the opening game of the College World Series, earning the win on back-to-back doubles by Joey Rickard and Johnny Field. The Wildcats’ late-season surge was marked by great starting pitching. Konner Wade went the distance twice at the World Series, shutting out UCLA and beating South Carolina 5-1 in the first game of the championship series. James Farris went 7 2/3 innings, allowing one run and two hits, as the Wildcats clinched with a 4-1 win, scoring three runs in the top of the ninth. All four RBIs came from the bottom third of the order, including a two-run single in the ninth from No. 9 hitter Trent Gilbert. The Wildcats never trailed in the Series.


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