Rocky road ahead for softball team
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Freshman pitcher Jennie Finch (27) makes contact with the ball during Wednesday game against CS-Northridge. The No. 2 Wildcats (33-5 overall, 5-1 Pac-10) take on No. 1 UCLA Saturday in California.
All eight of the Pacific 10 Conference softball teams were ranked in the top 13 nationally in the coaches poll last week, and this weekend the three teams leading the polls go head-to-head in doubleheaders as the No. 2 Wildcats travel to No. 1 UCLA tomorrow and No. 4 Washington Sunday.
"We got to compete to get the job done," UA head coach Mike Candrea said in regards to what has been called the "most perilous road trip" for the Wildcats this season.
The Wildcats (33-5 overall, 5-1 Pac-10) will try to leave behind their "losing" split to Cal-State Northridge (17-19), which saw the Matadors win 5-3 in the second game of Wednesday night's meeting at home. The Wildcats took the first game with a 9-1 mercy rule victory. UA freshman pitcher Jennie Finch (15-2, 1.50 ERA) took the loss.
"We've got to have people stepping up and making the plays," Candrea said in reference to the game. "It's going to take a lot more than that (Wednesday's game) to win."
In last season's meeting between the Wildcats and Bruins (currently 35-1, 5-1), UA swept UCLA in all four home and away games, 16-3, 11-9, 2-0 and 6-0, with sophomore pitcher Becky Lemke (18-3, 1.15 ERA) earning two of those wins.
Against the Huskies (currently 25-7, 3-2) last year, the Wildcats split the games at home 0-9, 10-0, but regained composure on the road for two victories, 4-2, 4-0. Lemke again picked up two wins.
UA and Washington also had a final showdown last year in the College World Series May 24, when the Wildcats won 8-0 and continued on to play two more games, placing as NCAA runner-up to Fresno State.
UCLA paid a visit to Seattle last weekend where the second-longest winning streak in the NCAA ended at 35 games with a 4-1 Husky win. The Bruins did bounce back to the with a come-from-behind 7-3 victory in the second game.
Before Washington faces the Wildcats, the Huskies will host Arizona State and should they come out victorious, it could move them up in the rankings and make it a 1-2-3 weekend.
The Wildcats sealed a tie for first place with the Bruins after an away series in Tempe last weekend, when UA had two close wins over the Sun Devils 3-2, 2-1. Finch threw a no-hitter in the second game up until the sixth inning when she gave up two hits and an unearned run.
Kate Longworth can be reached at Kate.Longworth@wildcat.arizona.edu