By Eric Wein
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Nestled in the farmland of the San Joaquin Valley in the central part of the California, Fresno State is expecting to draw thousands of people today as it hosts a showdown between highly-ranked teams.
The doubleheader between the No. 2 UA softball team (43-4) and No. 4 Fresno State (39-9) in Fresno is expected to shatter the NCAA single-date regular season attendance record of 3,517 set there in 1993.
The Wildcats just wrapped up a four-game sweep of the Bay Area Pac-10 teams and they now return to California, the site of their three southern California losses the previous weekend.
Do the Wildcats need a rare mid-week doubleheader with a highly ranked nonconference team?
ŇNot really,Ó UA coach Mike Candrea said with a sigh, Ňbut itŐs on the schedule.Ó
Arizona has trouble coaxing teams to come here to play at Hillenbrand Stadium. It seems the crowd, the tradition of success highlighted on championship signs in the outfield and the atmosphere are intimidating in the mold of Duke basketballŐs Cameron Arena and Notre Dame footballŐs Notre Dame Stadium.
Fresno StateŐs home field carries that similar mystique as the Bulldogs have an established softball program, which can only boast nine NCAA regional appearances and three national runner-up trophies in comparison to Arizona. Still, the Bulldogs are the big game in town as all their home games are broadcast on local television. And the atmosphere does resemble what the Wildcats see in Oklahoma City, Okla., every May for the College World Series.
ŇItŐs good to be in a foreign place thatŐs like this,Ó Candrea said looking around Hillenbrand Stadium. ŇItŐs not fun when you have 1,500 people cheering against you. Fresno will give us that opportunity.Ó
Like opponents arriving for a doubleheader at Hillenbrand, Arizona will have a better idea of what itŐs like while playing in Bulldog Stadium for the first time since 1993.
ŇItŐs going to be a tough one in front
of their fans and on the road. I know a stadium like this can influence teams coming in,Ó second baseman Jenny Dalton said.
ŇItŐs always good to have fans on your side.Ó
NOTES Ń TodayŐs first game of the doubleheader will be telecast tape delay this Saturday at 8:30 a.m. on ESPN2 as part of the channelŐs ŇGreat College Rival Series.Ó This is the seventh rival installment which included womenŐs basketball (Texas vs. Texas Tech), menŐs lacrosse (John Hopkins vs. Maryland), womenŐs gymnastics (Alabama vs. Georgia), wrestling (Iowa vs. Iowa State) and menŐs volleyball (UCLA vs. Southern Cal). ...
Last season, the Bulldogs were one of only three teams to beat Arizona as they did it in a 3-1 victory in FullertonŐs PONY tournament. ...
The matchup today is also significant in that it puts an All-American at every defensive position except third base. ...
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