Arizona softball puts perfect home record on the line
The Arizona softball team has a quick turnaround after scoring 26 runs in Wednesday’s doubleheader against New Mexico State.
The Utah Utes (23-21, 5-12 Pac-12 Conference) come to town for a three-game weekend series that starts today at 6 p.m. at Hillenbrand Stadium.
“We’ve got a day to get ready for Utah, and that’s the name of the game right now,” Arizona head coach Mike Candrea said after Wednesday’s game. “Three big games, and they’re crucial for us.”
Arizona (36-9, 9-6) is a perfect 24-0 at home and has used its offensive firepower to win eight of its last 10 games. During that stretch, the team has scored 9.1 runs per game, which is over one run more than its season average of 8.04.
Sophomore Lauren Young (9) high-fives teammate Kelsey Rodriquez (24) after the Wildcats' 13-3 five-inning win on Wednesday night over the New Mexico State Aggies. The Wildcats will put their 24-0 home record to the test this weekend when they host Utah.
The Wildcats smashed nine home runs on Wednesday against NMSU.
With the way the offense is performing and a reliable pitching staff, several Wildcats said they look forward to the Utah series and want to win all three games.
“We want to sweep, always,” junior utility player Hallie Wilson said. “Getting three wins is our goal.”
Utah has the second-worst ERA in the conference at 4.88, which should give Candrea some peace of mind, knowing his offense will likely be able to put lots of runs on the board.
Since Candrea more or less knows what he’s going to get from his offense, getting a three-game sweep against Utah will fall heavily on Arizona’s pitching staff.
The Wildcats have the fifth-lowest ERA in the Pac-12 at 2.36 and have relied on senior Estela Piñon to carry the team throughout the season. Piñon leads the team in appearances (25), wins (13), innings pitched (105) and strikeouts (96).
The right-handed pitcher pitched in relief in the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader and should be in line, along with redshirt senior Kenzie Fowler, to start at least one of the three games against Utah.
However, the players said they aren’t going to overlook the Utes just because Utah’s stats don’t match up with Arizona’s.
“We’re going to come out hard,” sophomore infielder Lauren Young said. “They’re a scrappy team. Just get out and attack hard against Utah.”
—Follow Roberto Payne @HouseOfPayne555