Looking Ahead

Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Baseball trying to host NCAAs

With three weeks left to play in the regular season, the No. 9 Arizona baseball team has positioned itself to make a run at the College World Series for the second straight season.

The Wildcats (32-15, 12-3 Pacific 10 Conference) have played a competitive non-conference schedule and trail No. 4 Oregon State (36-8, 14-4) by a half game for the conference lead.

After beating Utah Valley State 16-0 Friday, 12-1 Saturday and 7-2 Sunday at Sancet Stadium, the stretch run starts this weekend with games Saturday through Monday at No. 18 ASU, which trails Arizona by two games.

The Wildcats took two games from the Sun Devils (29-18, 10-5) in Tucson Feb. 15 and 23.

Arizona also travels to No. 24 Stanford (27-16, 8-6 entering Monday) May 20-22 and hosts California (30-21, 10-10 entering Monday) May 27-29 to close out the regular season.

"Our first goal is always to win the Pac (-10), and then after that we can think about (the) postseason," Arizona head coach Andy Lopez said.

- Michael Schwartz

Softball's future in own hands

With a couple of looks to the past, the No. 3 Arizona softball team can get a good idea of where it stands and where it might end up in the final month of the season.

At the NCAA Regional round hosted by the Wildcats last May, a supercharged squad carrying its eighth Pacific 10 Conference title and a 55-6 regular-season record dropped two of three games to miss the Women's College World Series for the first time in 17 years.

In 1991, the Wildcats finished fourth in the Pac-10 in head coach Mike Candrea's sixth season, but went on to win to the program's first national title.

Arizona (37-9, 11-7) would prefer to repeat the latter scenario come June 2-7 in Oklahoma City, site of the 2005 WCWS, even as the team has a few modifications.

The Wildcats enter the week tied with No. 2 California for third in the Pac-10, and Arizona could win its fewest games, including postseason play, since 1986.

All of which makes a final road series with the Bears (Friday, 3 p.m.) and No. 5 Stanford (Saturday, 7 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m.) about as trivial as it can get.

"It's more important to win the NCAA Regionals round," said sophomore catcher Courtney Nix. "The Pac-10, you don't necessarily have to win it to go on. A lot of times, if you look at past seasons, the team that wins the Pac-10 doesn't always win the (Women's College) World Series."

- Tom Knauer

Track a favorite for Pac-10 title

The Arizona track and field teams have enjoyed successful seasons to date - encompassing both the indoor and outdoor seasons - but there is some unfinished business the Wildcats would like to take care of this weekend in Westwood, Calif., at the Pacific 10 Conference Championships.

The men's team, currently ranked No. 4 by Trackwire, heads into the championships as a favorite.

Five other Pac-10 men's teams are ranked in the Trackwire 25, including No. 5 Stanford, No. 6 Southern California, No. 7 ASU, No. 11 Oregon and No. 22 UCLA.

Arizona head coach Fred Harvey said that his squad is trying not to go into the meet with a big head.

"On the men's side, our goal is to be in the top four," he said. "Just being able to be in that position will give you an opportunity to win the (conference) title."

The unranked Wildcat women face five teams from the Top 25 in No. 2 UCLA, No. 6 Stanford, No. 8 USC, and Washington State and ASU, who are tied at No. 13.

"On the women's side, we don't have enough point potential to win the meet," Harvey said. "A lot of things have to go bad for a lot of other people in order for that to happen."

- J. Ryan Casey