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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Summer Sports Update: Softball starts final quest for national title in Oklahoma City

    Players high five pitcher Alicia Hollowell after Arizona defeated LSU 14-5 in the third game of the super regionals on Saturday at Hillenbrand Stadium. Arizona goes on to play Pac-10 rival Oregon State in the first game of the Womens College World Series today.
    Players high five pitcher Alicia Hollowell after Arizona defeated LSU 14-5 in the third game of the super regionals on Saturday at Hillenbrand Stadium. Arizona goes on to play Pac-10 rival Oregon State in the first game of the Women’s College World Series today.

    The No. 2-seeded Arizona softball team has come a long way since an inconsistent start to Pacific 10 Conference play, as the Wildcats enter this week’s Women’s College World Series as arguably the hottest team in the nation, having won 15 of 16 games.

    Arizona is right back where it started in looking to end a championship “”drought”” dating to 2001, facing the very team it lost to back on March 31 to open Pac-10 play.

    No. 7 seed Oregon State and Arizona are set to kick off the WCWS today at 10 a.m. Arizona time in Oklahoma City on ESPN2, and could continue playing until June 7 if they advance to the championship series.

    For Arizona, it marks the 18th time in 19 years that the team has qualified for the championship tournament, on which all games will be televised by ESPN or ESPN 2, while OSU is making its first appearance.

    “”Every time you go through this, it just gets tougher and tougher,”” Arizona head coach Mike Candrea said. “”It’s going to take every last breath out of us.””

    However, it is not only just Arizona and OSU that represent the Pac-10. In addition, both No. 1 seed UCLA and No. 6 seed ASU make up half of the eight-team pool.

    Despite the Pac-10-opening loss, Arizona finished with a 2-1 record against Oregon State. The Wildcats swept the Beavers out of Tucson May 12-13 to end Pac-10 play during Arizona’s 14-game winning streak.

    The Wildcats won the first contest 1-0 and the second was decided in a 11-2 landslide.

    If Arizona can hold off OSU for a day, the team will then await the winner of ASU and No. 3 seed Texas.

    The Wildcats must advance through the four-team, double-elimination bracket today through Sunday with the Beavers, Longhorns and Sun Devils to reach the championship series Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, if necessary.

    The final round is a best two-of-three series that will determine the national champion.

    To win the national champion crown, Arizona will likely have to get through Texas and UCLA, teams the Wildcats have a losing mark against.

    Arizona is 1-2 against the Longhorns with all three games having the score of 1-0.

    UCLA has also been a pest for the Wildcats, as they are 0-3 against the Bruins thus far, and two of the losses were not close.

    But some players think the pressure can be handled, based on the performance of the lineup in the super regionals.

    “”The LSU pitchers are not bad at all and we were all over them,”” junior shortstop Kristie Fox said. “”We’ve been watching the tapes of Texas and UCLA and all their games on TV, and we did our own little scouting report. We’re ready. We’re going to come out and swing the bats well.””

    Besides UCLA and Texas, who have combined to go 5-1 against the Wildcats, Arizona has a 6-2 record this year against the other squads. The only team the Wildcats have not played so far is No. 8 seed Tennessee.

    “”We can only go up, but we’re going to have to have really key hitting,”” Fox said. “”When you get to the World Series you have to come up with that one big hit, and you’ll see that with our confidence, that one hit is going to come. We also need key pitching and strong defense.””

    All in the family

    On the Beavers roster is the little sister of Arizona All-American Caitlin Lowe, Paige Lowe. Paige, a second baseman in her freshman year at OSU has compiled a .243 batting average, with two homers and eight RBI in 70 at-bats.

    The Wildcats’ Caitlin seems to have the better of the family tree right now, as she has a .430 batting average, with two home runs and 27 RBIs in 165 at bats.

    Arizona All-Americans

    Lowe and Fox both earned first-team All-American honors as at-large players, while senior ace Alicia Hollowell placed on the second team, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association announced yesterday.

    Lowe was named to the first team for the third straight year, while Fox earned it last year also.

    Hollowell, who is also one of three finalists for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award, has been named to an All-American team for all four of her seasons. She was a first-team pick as a freshman and sophomore and has made the second team the past two years.

    Also, senior left fielder Autumn Champion earned CoSIDA Academic All-America second team honors.

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