Arizona softball to face toughest road trip of season in Oregon
Arizona softball flies north to face a surging Oregon squad this weekend in its toughest road trip of the season.
The No. 22 Wildcats (27-14, 4-5 Pac-12) continue their five-game road swing at No. 6 UO (33-6, 10-2), the Pac-12 leader.
“Oregon’s a good team,” head coach Mike Candrea said. “Right now they’re the No. 1-ranked team in their region, our region, and they’re a very solid team. They’ve got good pitching; they swing the bats well. They’ve got some experience back from last year — of course [they] went to a college world series last year for the first time in a long time.”
The games will be at 5 p.m. today, 2 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday, on the Pac-12 Network. The first two games will be streamed on pac-12.com and can be heard on the UA’s Ustream page.
Briana Sanchez / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA softball ends with a final score of 12-2 against Univeristy of California Santa Barbra on Saturday April 6.
On Tuesday, Arizona split a doubleheader at New Mexico State, losing 3-2 after stranding 16 runners and then winning the nightcap 8-1, led by a grand slam by senior shortstop Brigette Del Ponte and a three-run homer by sophomore catcher Chelsea Goodacre.
The Wildcats returned home by bus early Wednesday morning, took Wednesday off and then flew to Eugene on Thursday morning. Counting the three-game series in Oregon, Arizona will have played 16 games in 23 days, including eight on the road in Utah, New Mexico and the Beaver State.
“It’s going to be a tough game, tough trip — obviously it’s really far,” junior pitcher and designated player Estela Piñon said.
Candrea said the weather could also make it difficult: “You never know how the weather’s going to be.”
The Ducks hit .343 and limit foes to .192. Four Ducks bat over .400, led by junior catcher Alexa Peterson’s .466 batting average.
“Right now they’ve got a lot of pieces to the puzzle,” Candrea said. “They’re a team that has been on the rise for the last two or three years, and I think right now they’ve got a little more depth on the mound — quality depth — and they’ve got three or four hitters in the lineup that are hitting .400, so they’ve got some weapons and they’ll play the game hard at home.”
Oregon’s pitchers all have ERAs of 1.66 or lower, led by senior Jessica Moore, whose ERA is 1.42.
“They’re as good a team as any team in the country right now, and we’re going to have to play this game and execute the game at our very best,” Candrea said.
Moore has won three Pac-12 pitcher of the week honors and is one of the 25 finalists for USA Softball Player of the Year. No Wildcats have won player of the week awards this year, and none are player of the year finalists.
The Wildcats own the all-time series 80-17, but the Ducks have won the last two, both in Tucson. Oregon won 11-7 and 12-7 last year before Arizona won 5-4 in eight innings.
“If we come up strong, we can totally beat them,” Piñon said.
Arizona has five Pac-12 series remaining, three on the road and four against current top-20 teams. After the UO trip, Arizona’s remaining road trips are to unranked Oregon State and No. 15 Stanford.
Oregon has won 26 of its last 29, swept Stanford and Utah and won the series with No. 8 California and No. 13 Washington.