Preview: Wildcat softball aiming to topple top ranked Huskies
The Arizona softball team, fresh off a sweep of the Utah Utes, will attempt to continue its Pac-12 success with a trip to Seattle. The 24-3 ‘Cats will take on the 29-2 Washington Huskies, who are the top-ranked team in the country. The Huskies are coming off a series defeat at the hands of the Arizona State Sun Devils, in which they sandwiched a 7-0 victory between two 2-0 loses.
Arizona swept the Utes last weekend on the backs of Taylor McQuillin and Jessie Harper. McQuillin pitched in all three games, earning two victories and a save. She threw 17 innings over the course of the three games, giving up two earned runs and striking out 14 batters. Harper won the Pac-12 Player of the Week for her efforts against Utah. She went 5-10 with five RBIs and two home runs, including a go ahead home run in the first game in the series.
The Huskies are the top-ranked team for a reason. They feature two phenom pitchers, Gabbie Plain and Taran Alvelo. Plain, a freshman from Australia, has a 0.62 ERA in 56.1 innings. She strikes out 9.19 batters per seven innings and has a 3.89 K/BB ratio.
Alvelo has a 0.85 ERA in 90.1 innings. Alvelo has a 10.54 K/7 and strikes out eight batters for every batter she walks. Alvelo started two consecutive games in the Arizona State series, starting games two and three, while Plain started game one.
Washington is led offensively by Taylor Van Zee, Kistyn Thomas and Sis Bates. Van Zee is hitting .444 with seven home runs and 28 RBIs. Thomas is hitting .429 with 11 home runs. Bates is hitting .422 with five home runs and 25 RBIs.
The Huskies score, on average, 7.39 runs per game, which is fourth in the country. That’s 1.03 runs per game more than the ‘Cats. Additionally, Washington gives up an average of .93 runs per game, which is nearly half a run better than Arizona.
The Huskies have played a relatively tough schedule to date. Washington played three games against top-10 teams in its non-conference schedule, beating No. 11 Alabama twice and No. 6 Texas A&M once. The Huskies also beat the Longhorns, who the ‘Cats went 2-1 against, and Washington beat Bryant 7-0, who the UA beat 14-0 during the Hillenbrand Invitational.
Arizona will most likely start Taylor McQuillin in games one and three, and Alyssa Denham in game two. Washington will probably start Taran Alvelo in two of the three games and Gabbie Plain in one, but Washington has shown a willingness to throw Alvelo in back to back games.
The first game of the series is at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 23. Game two is at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, and game three is at 1 p.m. on Sunday. All games will be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks.
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