No. 16 Arizona softball hosts No. 17 Washington
After dropping three out of five games last weekend in Fullerton, Calif., Arizona’s No. 16 softball team returns home to Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium Saturday through Monday to host the No. 17 Washington Huskies in the first series of conference play.
The Wildcats and Huskies both participated in last weekend’s Judi Garman Classic, with Washington going 3-2 and Arizona going 2-3. The Wildcats are currently undefeated at home with a perfect 13-0 record to complement their 20-8 overall record this season.
“We want some victories,” head coach Mike Candrea said. “That’s the bottom line. Our biggest goal is to improve each week and put more things together, so it would be great for us to come out, have good pitching performances, supply some offense and play good defense.”
Arizona hopes to capitalize on its offense this weekend and looks to sophomores Hallie Wilson and Chelsea Goodacre and freshmen Lauren Young and Mandie Perez to provide enough runs to support the Wildcats’ pitching.
Tyler Baker / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA Softball hosted the Wildcat Invitational last weekend and won all of the 5 games that they played, beating UC Riverside, Boston University, and Portland State. They will finish the tournement next weekend.
Wilson has hit three home runs in her last eight games after hitting just two in her previous 76 career games. She batted .444 with one home run in three games against Washington last season.
After opening the season just 2-of-22, Goodacre has become a force to be reckoned with, composing a 21-game hitting streak where she has hit .544 with 31 hits in 57 at-bats. She leads the team in three categories and is batting .418 this season with 10 home runs and 32 RBI. She has hit .647 with six home runs and 21 RBI so far in March.
“I’m feeling pretty good about the way I’m hitting right now,” Goodacre said. “It’s kind of nice to see all of my hard work paying off, and hopefully it will continue into Pac-12 play.”
Young homered in last weekend’s tournament and hit six home runs in her last eight games, after hitting just two in her first 20 games as a Wildcat.
After beginning the season with four hits in her first 28 at-bats, Perez has finally settled into a groove and hit 14-of-34 since. She hit .400 in last weekend’s tournament and said she is looking forward to this weekend’s action.
“I feel so much better now than earlier in the season,” Perez said. “I think we are going to come out strong. We have been working hard and touching up on our weaknesses.”
The Huskies will come prepared, boasting a pitching rotation with a team ERA of 1.98. Although Washington does not usually overpower its opponents with its offense, the Wildcats should remember that the Huskies possess a .352 team batting average and a .447 OBP with 30 stolen bases.
“They’re a good team,” Candrea said. “They have quite a few people who have returned. All of their pitching is back, and if you look at the stats, they look like they’ve gotten a little bit better. We are going to have to make the plays when we need to, make the pitches when we need to and get the hits when we need to.”
In the teams’ past matchups, Arizona defeated Washington in 60 of 84 games and five of their last seven meetings, including two of three last year in Seattle.