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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona softball returns with new competitiveness to take on the Pac-12

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Nathanial Stenchever

Allie Skaggs, one of the infielders on the Arizona softball team, pitches the ball to the first baseman as she tries to get an out on Friday, March 4, 2022, at Hillenbrand Stadium. After a slow start, the Wildcats would win 11-3.

After a promising 2022 season, the Arizona softball team was knocked out of the Women’s College World Series by the University of Texas at Austin early last summer. Now the Wildcats are back in action, ready to get the season started and aim for another run to the Women’s College World Series.

Arizona softball player Allie Skaggs said the team’s downfall last season was, in part, because of a collective lack of ambition and competitiveness.

“Last year got a little frustrating halfway through. It didn’t feel like we were competing and it didn’t feel like we wanted to win as badly as I hoped we would have,” Skaggs said.

The Wildcats were given a preseason ranking of No. 14 in the country by Softball America and No. 15 by ESPN/USA Softball, making them the second and third- highest ranked Pac-12 team, respectively. Six out of the 12 teams in the Pac-12 have a top-25 preseason ranking this year.

Arizona softball will start their season at home during the Candrea Classic, which runs Feb. 9-12. The teams competing this year will be Arizona, California State University Long Beach, the University of Kansas and North Carolina State University.

After the Classic, the Wildcats will go on a 10-game, two-tournament road trip. Four of the teams they will face also ranked in the top 25 in the preseason polls.

“We tend to load pretty early in the spring, so we tend to play some really good teams early on. Opening up with top-25 teams right off the bat will be huge and great for getting some experience,” Skaggs said.

This new season brings a new Arizona team dynamic full of competitive players.

“You’re gonna see girls making doubles out of a ball they barely hit into the outfield. It’s those types of players that will speed the game up so fast and if teams aren’t ready to pick up the pace with us, we’re gonna run all day and I think that’s really cool,” Skaggs said.

Skaggs also talked about needing to do better in the Pac-12, as the team was not as dominant as players wanted it to be last year.

The first Pac-12 game will take place on rival turf in Tempe against a preseason-ranked ASU team on March 10.

Then, after facing Stanford University on the road, the Wildcats will face a No. 4 preseason ranked UCLA team at home on April 14. UCLA is the highest-ranked Pac-12 team during the preseason polls.

The Wildcats will finish their season at home against the University of California Berkeley after three games from May 5-7.

The Wildcats will then host the first-ever Pac-12 Softball Tournament starting on May 10 at Mike Candrea Field at Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium in Tucson.

“There’s no better place to host. Rita is a beautiful place and having all the teams here will be awesome, especially for us being here we are going to have that little extra edge of having the home-field advantage, which will be great,” Skaggs said.

Looking for another postseason berth, Skaggs talked about being fortunate to play in such a competitive conference with so much talent.

“I think just playing a couple more games against the [Pac-12] in the tournament will get us ready for the postseason.”

With the 2023 season approaching quickly and the thrill of hosting the first-ever Pac-12 tournament, there’s a lot to look forward to in this upcoming Arizona softball season.


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