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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Loaded schedule awaits softball

The Arizona softball team is diving head first into the 2010 season.

Accomplished sports programs often begin their seasons by playing inferior teams to build up a winning record and solidify their spots atop the national scene early in the season.

Not so for Arizona softball.

Arizona began the season at the No. 4 position, and, after a 6-0 start at the Kajikawa Classic, have risen to the No. 2 spot.

The historically-sound Wildcats jump into a nationally-ranked pack in their first weekend of play at Hillenbrand Stadium when the No. 5 Missouri Tigers roll into Tucson for an early season top-5 showdown.

In the Cathedral City Classic, which takes place next weekend, Arizona will go up against five teams, four of which have earned some national talk.

“”For me, I’ve never dodged the opportunity to play good people,”” said head coach Mike Candrea. “”I think you learn more from good opponents than playing weak opponents, so I think it’s a good thing for us.””

The rest of the season won’t get any easier for the Wildcats.

“”It’s a test to see where we really are,”” said shortstop K’lee Arredondo. “”To play three games against a really good squad is going to test our ability for Pac-10s.””

The Pacific 10 Conference is, simply put, stacked. Six of the eight teams that compete in the Pac-10 are nationally ranked, with defending national champion Washington sitting at No. 1.

The travel situation for Arizona also changes this year. The Wildcats will now play a weekend series against each of the Pac-10 teams, either all three at Hillenbrand Stadium or all three on the road. In years past, the season series between teams have been split between the two schools’ venues with either two games at home and one on the road or one game at home and two away.

“”It’s different than in past years, but I think it’s a good thing.”” Candrea said. “”It will be a little different playing the same opponent three times in a row.””

Extra bases

• Last year, Arizona played 31 percent of its games against teams that were ranked in the top 25 nationally at the beginning of the 2009 season.

• In this year’s remaining schedule, the Wildcats will play 20 games against teams that are currently ranked in the top 25 nationally (35.7 percent). If you count teams that received votes in the rankings, that number jumps to 41 percent.

• Missouri, Michigan, Washington and Arizona State — along with Arizona — all made it to the Women’s College World Series in 2009. The Wildcats will have to face all four of those teams this year.

 

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