UA faces ranked teams at PONY

By Eric Wein

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The past several Marches have been maddening for UA softball coach Mike Candrea.

His teams may have a history of success in May during the NCAA playoffs, having won three of the last four national championships. But when it came to the PONY Invitational, a prestigious softball tournament that includes the nation's elite teams, success was a thing of the past.

Somehow, the PONY championship has eluded the Wildcats.

"That's a good tournament we'd like to win that darn thing," Candrea said. "We haven't won that in a long time."

In fact, the Wildcats haven't left Fullerton, Calif., with the tournament trophy since 1988.

No. 1 Arizona (29-1) hopes to reclaim the PONY title today, facing UC-Santa Barbara at 9 a.m. and Cal-State Northridge at 3 p.m.

Last year, the Wildcats cruised into the tournament with an undefeated record, but ran into Fresno State, which beat them 3-1. Having that first loss out of the way this season (UCLA beat UA 2-0 last Friday), the Wildcats hope to be undefeated in '95 PONY play come the tournament's conclusion Sunday.

"(The loss to UCLA) came at a good time," first baseman Amy Chellevold said. "We usually struggle at the tournament but we're going to come out like gangbusters now.

"We needed the loss to bring us out of the clouds a little bit, to bring us back to reality."

It definitely won't be easy. Ten of the 16 teams in this year's tournament were ranked in the recent poll.

The last time the Wildcats saw Cal-State Northridge was in the championship game of the College World Series last year. Arizona beat the Matadors 4-0 to win the title.

Texas A&M awaits the Wildcats tomorrow as well as a team to be named later.

Read Next Article