By Eric Wein
Arizona Daily Wildcat
As the annual rite of spring break begins, the Arizona softball team (18-0) looks forward to hosting six doubleheaders during the week.
The Wildcats, ranked No. 1 in the March 1 USA Today/NSCA coaches poll, host three doubleheaders in the Arizona Softball Classic tournament this weekend.
The Classic starts today when the UA faces McNeese State at 3 p.m. at Hillenbrand Stadium. Tomorrow, Arizona has two games with New Mexico State at 4 p.m. and then closes the tournament Sunday with a doubleheader against Oklahoma at 2 p.m.
Arizona faces Oklahoma again in a non-tournament doubleheader Tuesday at 2 p.m. The UA has seen the Sooners before, beating them 12-1 and 8-2 in Texas A&M's tournament late last month.
"If we play the games within ourselves, we should be OK," assistant coach Larry Ray said.
Next weekend, Arizona opens Pacific 10 Conference play with two games each against No. 2 UCLA Friday and Oregon Saturday.
"That will probably be our first real test, not that some of the games haven't been," Ray said. "We always have a tough time with UCLA."
The UA will begin their quest for their third conference title and try to go undefeated in the conference Ä a feat that has never been done but which the Wildcats failed to do by losing to Washington last year in Seattle, their second-to-last Pac-10 game of the season.
This spring break is unusual. In past years, the softball team has been able to take the week off from the sport, but not this year. The week will function like spring training as they hope to end with 12 more victories.
"It's good to let them have an opportunity to go home for a couple of days and get away from the game. They're just not able to do that this year," Ray said.
They will have the same schedule as normal, with practice on days without games. But they don't have to worry about class.
"It will give the girls a little bit of a rest," Ray said. "During the day, they can relax and do what they do Ä shop and sunbathe and stuff like that. But we don't want them to lose sight of the fact we've got some crucial conference games coming up."
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