Wildcats softball drops in rankings, focuses on NCAA tournament
On Tuesday, Arizona softball dropped out of the ESPN.com/USA Softball rankings for the first time.
The Wildcats (28-19, 5-10 Pac-12) had been tied for 25th with North Carolina, who also dropped out.
“I think we’re capable of being in the top 25,” head coach Mike Candrea said. “The way we’re playing right now, we’re borderline.”
Tyler Baker / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA Softball took on UCLA this weekend and lost the series 2-1.
Arizona lost the last two games of the UCLA series 13-3 and 9-1 in six innings, UA’s 12th mercy rule loss of all time but third in a week.
“I think we were all assuming it was going to happen when we lost this weekend,” senior shortstop Brigette Del Ponte said. “It’s not something we can focus on; we just gotta focus on getting better.”
Arizona is ninth among the teams receiving votes — second to last. The poll is voted on by the media and coaches.
“I try not to talk about it with the team because we need to just focus on the positive things, and if we focus on rankings then we’re just focusing on the wrong things,” junior center fielder Alex Lavine said. “We just need to work on getting things together and not worry about where we’re ranked.”
Candrea declined to say if he voted UA in the top 25.
“When there is more red than there is black, people have a tendency to start moving people around,” Candrea said. “We need quality wins, and I think that’s the big thing right now.”
The good news for the Wildcats is that they remained in The USA Today/NFCA Top 25 at No. 23, dropping just one spot in. The poll is selected by coaches.
Now the focus for the Wildcats is to make the NCAA tournament.
“Do I think we’re one of the best 64 teams in the country? Absolutely,” Candrea said.
The Wildcats were ranked No. 28 in the April 22 RPI update.
Del Ponte, Arizona’s only active senior, said the Wildcats are a “little scared” about the NCAA tournament.
“The new girls don’t know how important the RPI and all that stuff is, so I don’t think they really think about it that much, which is probably a good thing right now,” Del Ponte said.
The last time Arizona missed the NCAA tournament was in 1986, Candrea’s first season.
“We’re trying not think about what’s happening in the future and just worry about the now,” Lavine said.
Arizona closes up the regular season with a trip to Oregon State (27-17, 4-11), by hosting ASU (39-7, 10-5) and then by traveling to Stanford (29-15, 6-9).
ASU dropped to No. 5 from third, Oregon moved up to No. 4, Cal remained No. 10, Washington moved up to No. 13, Stanford stayed No. 15 and UCLA rose three spots to No. 16.
“I think these next nine games are going to be huge for us as far as the committee’s concerned,” Candrea said. “Our RPI’s good enough, but we still need to win some quality games.”
Candrea said the Wildcats have to take it “one game at a time.”
“That’s an old cliche, but what else can you do right now?” Candrea said. “You gotta win the next game. We’re at a point where every game is very crucial for us.”