Arizona readies for Baylor in Super Regional - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Arizona readies for Baylor in Super Regional

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1 | Friday, May 26 (6 p.m.) |  vs.  | Tucson, Ariz. (Hillenbrand Stadium Stadium) | ESPN 2 | Live Stats | Twitter Updates
2 | Saturday, May 27 (6 p.m.) |  vs.  | Tucson, Ariz. (Hillenbrand Stadium Stadium) | ESPN | Live Stats | Twitter Updates
(if nec.) | Sunday, May 28 (4 p.m.) |  vs.  | Tucson, Ariz. (Hillenbrand Stadium Stadium) | ESPNU | Live Stats | Twitter Updates

Arizona Game Notes | Baylor Game Notes | NCAA Interactive Bracket | Tucson Super Regional Ticket Info
THIS WEEK: Two wins, and you're in. It's that simple for second-seeded Arizona (51-7) and 15th-seeded Baylor (46-12), who square off in a three-game series for a trip to the Women's College World Series this weekend at Hillenbrand Stadium. The Tucson Super Regional will take place Friday-Sunday and be televised by the ESPN family of networks. Both the Wildcats and Bears used dominant pitching to sweep their respective regionals. Arizona was the only team to not allow a run in its regional, outscoring its opponents 25-0 over three victories while Baylor's Gia Rodoni threw a no-hitter in two of Baylor's three games, all victories. Arizona is making its 12th trip, fourth consecutive, to Super Regionals, while Baylor is headed to its sixth Super Regional and first since 2014.

A series victory would send Arizona to its 23rd Women's College World Series and first since 2010.

The Wildcats are making their NCAA-record 31st straight trip to the NCAA Tournament and 12th trip (fourth straight) to the NCAA Super Regional. UA's 12 trips are second-most in the NCAA.

Arizona earned its 28th Regional Championship in dominant fashion, outscoring New Mexico State and 24th-ranked South Carolina (twice) a combined 25-0 in three games. UA was the only team to not allow a run in Regionals.

The Wildcats are Pac-12 Champions for the 11th time in program history and first since 2007.

The No. 2 seed is UA's highest since winning the NCAA title as a one seed in 2007.

Arizona has the Pac-12 Coach of the Year (Mike Candrea - 12th overall and first since 2007), Pitcher of the Year (Danielle O'Toole - first Wildcat since Alicia Hollowell in 2004) and the co-Player of the Year (Katiyana Mauga - first Wildcat since Caitlin Lowe in 2005). Arizona becomes the third team to win all three awards in conference history (ASU - 2008, Cal - 2012).

O'Toole and Mauga are two of 10 finalists for USA Softball Player of the Year, while Jessie Harper is one of 11 finalists for NFCA/Schutt Sports DI Freshman of the Year.

Mike Candrea was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year, earning his 12th conference nod and first since 2007.

Arizona's 48-7 regular season marks its highest regular-season win total since 2004 (53) while the 18 conference victories are the most since 2003 (19).

Prior to the most recent cut, Arizona had the most finalists for USA Softball Player of the Year, five (Katiyana Mauga, Mo Mercado, Danielle O'Toole, Mandie Perez and Taylor McQuillin) and the most finalists for NFCA DI Freshman of the Year, three (Jessie Harper, Dejah Mulipola and Alyssa Palomino).

Four seniors were selected in this season's NPF Draft, the most of any school in the country (no other school had more than two). UA had three of the first nine picks and four of the first 19 overall. Katiyana Mauga (#6) went to the Texas Charge, Danielle O'Toole (#8) went to the Chicago Bandits and Mo Mercado (#9) and Mandie Perez (#19) went to the USSSA Pride.

Katiyana Mauga is heating up. She has 14 home runs in her last 70 at-bats, hitting .400 with 31 RBI in those 24 games. She was named Pac-12 Player of the Week three of the last seven weeks of the regular season and four times overall.

Mauga (91 career home runs) has set the Arizona and Pac-12 home run records this season and is now four off the NCAA record. She leads the Pac-12 and is second in the country with 24 home runs; she's the only player in NCAA history with 20-plus homers in every season in her career.

Arizona has outscored its opposition by more than 300 runs (429-85). Its offense has hit more home runs (NCAA-most 93) than its opponents have total runs (85). UA has over 150 more hits (519) than its opponent has total bases (341).

Six of Arizona's seven losses this season came to Super Regional teams, with all seven coming to teams in the NCAA field. The Wildcats played 15 games vs. the teams remaining and went 9-6.

Head coach Mike Candrea became the first coach in NCAA softball history to reach 1,500 Division I victories earlier this season vs. Washington. Candrea, who is 1,519-386-2 (.797), trails only Michigan's Carol Hutchins (1,527 wins) in NCAA history. Candrea's victories have occurred over 30 years of coaching while Hutchins is in her 34th year (including a season in a lower NCAA division).

Candrea is the fastest coach in NCAA history, in any sport, in any division, to record 1,500 career wins.

UA leads the Pac-12 in batting average (.340), slugging percentage (.590), on-base percentage (.435), runs scored (429), hits (519), RBI (388), home runs (93), walks (234), ERA (1.28), opposing batting average (.175), strikeouts (398) and fielding percentage (.975).

Individually, Arizona has the Pac-12's leader in slugging percentage (Mauga - .883), runs scored (Perez - 63), home runs (Mauga - 24), walks (Mauga - 42), ERA (O'Toole - 1.02) and strikeouts (O'Toole - 202).

Arizona has thrown 24 shutouts in 58 games, its most since 2006 (29). In 46 of the 58 games, the Cats have limited the opponent to two or fewer runs.

While Arizona has many eye-popping stats in many different categories, softball is simply a game of scoring more runs than your opponent. Well, Arizona is third in the country in runs scored (429) and is second in runs allowed (85). The Wildcats are third in the nation with a 1.28 team ERA. Meanwhile, the UA offense is scoring 7.40 runs per game, second best nationally.

Arizona earned 15 of the 39 Pac-12 weekly awards (Player, Pitcher and Freshman), by seven different players. Arizona has had seven Pac-12 Players of the Week (Katiyana Mauga – 1, Mo Mercado – 3, Jessie Harper – 6, Katiyana Mauga – 8, Katiyana Mauga – 9, Katiyana Mauga – 11, Jessie Harper – 12), three Pac-12 Pitchers of the Week (Danielle O'Toole – 3, Michelle Floyd – 5, Danielle O'Toole – 7) and five Pac-12 Freshmen of the Week (Dejah Mulipola – 2, Jessie Harper – 5, Jessie Harper – 6, Alyssa Palomino – 8, Jessie Harper – 12).

Arizona has scored 108 runs in the first inning this season. That's over 20 runs more than its pitchers have allowed all season (85) in all innings combined.

Arizona's freshmen have combined for 48 home runs. That four-player total would be tied for 36th nationally.

NCAA ACTION IN TUCSON: Hillenbrand Stadium is set to host its seventh Super Regional, but first since 2011. Arizona has hosted 22 NCAA Regionals in addition to the seven Super Regionals. Arizona is 82-12 overall in NCAA games in Tucson, including 10-4 in Super Regionals.
ARIZONA IN NCAA SUPER REGIONALS: The Wildcats have advanced to 12 of the 13 super regionals since they began in 2005, with their only miss coming in 2013. The 12 appearances are second to only Alabama, who's been in all 13. Arizona is 13-13 in the round and has advanced out six of its previous 11 trips, but none since 2010. Most recently, the unseeded 2016 Wildcats took game 1 against fourth-seeded Auburn, but fell in games 2 and 3 (full recap on page 7).
SCOUTING THE BEARS: The 15th-seeded Bears (46-12) advanced to the Tucson Super Regional in impressive fashion, sweeping the Waco Regional, including two no-hitters from Gia Rodoni ... Rodoni's no-nos highlight Baylor's strength: pitching; the Bears are 12th nationally with a 1.64 ERA led by Rodoni (17-2, 1.57 ERA, 134 K, 138.0 IP, .198 b/avg) and Kelsee Selman (23-8, 1.46 ERA, 185 K, 201.0 IP, .197 b/avg) ... BU's offense is led by a pair of .400 hitters, Lindsey Cargill (.449 avg, 79 H, 6 2B, 3 3B, 34-40 SB) and Kyla Walker (.413 avg, 81 H, 7 2B, 4 3B, 18-24 SB), and a couple of big bats in the middle of the order, Shelby Friudenberg (.337 avg, 4 2B, 10 HR, 47 RBI) and Shelby McGlaun (.253 avg, 6 2B, 10 HR, 32 RBI) ... Baylor won eight games vs. ranked teams this year, including two in the Regional vs. #12 James Madison.
ARIZONA vs. BAYLOR: Arizona and Baylor have met 22 times in program history, with Arizona holding 15-7 all-time record ... The two teams have met three times in NCAA Tournament play, most recently when the Bears went 2-0 against the Wildcats in the 2013 College Station Regional, UA's only Super Regional miss ... The two teams met earlier this season at the season-opening Hillenbrand Invitational in Tucson, with Arizona defeating Baylor 4-0 (full recap on page 8). That victory ended a streak of four straight wins in the series for Baylor.
LAST WEEK: Arizona shut out New Mexico State (once) and No. 24 South Carolina (twice) at the Tucson Regional, outscoring the competition 25-0 in the process; UA was the only team to not allow a run in regional action ... UA used a combination of the long ball (five home runs) and the short game to overwhelm the opposing pitchers. UA racked up 35 hits over 17 innings of offense, led by Reyna Carranco's 7-for-10 weekend ... Katiyana Mauga and Mandie Perez hit two home runs apiece on the weekend; Mauga tied and then broke the Pac-12 home run record with home runs No. 90 and 91 for her career ... Danielle O'Toole and Taylor McQuillin combined to dominate the opposition, totaling 19 innings and allowing 10 total hits with 23 strikeouts and two total walks ... The three wins secured UA's 28th Regional Championship and sent UA to its 12th Super Regional in 13 years. (Full recap on page 6).

Katiyana Mauga: The senior is 28-for-her-last-70 (.400) with 14 home runs and 31 RBI over her last 24 games. She received three Pac-12 Player of the Week honors in that span. Mauga leads the Pac-12 in home runs (24) and slugging percentage (.883).

Reyna Carranco: The freshman has four straight multiple hit games and led the Wildcats with seven hits in 10 regional at-bats (.700). After having just eight hits in her first 56 at-bats of 2017 (.142), Carranco is 37-for-her-last-77 (.481), and led the Pac-12 batting average in league play (.419).

Mandie Perez: Arizona's leadoff hitter was its biggest run producer in regional play. Perez drove four runs in two games, first setting and then tying her season and career high. Perez, after hitting four home runs during the regular season, and none at Hillenbrand Stadium, hit two homers and drove in nine runs in the three games. She, like Carranco, has four straight multi-hit outings and is 9-for-her-last-16 (.563).

Ashleigh Hughes: After entering her junior year a career .277 hitter in 242 at-bats, Hughes has had a breakout campaign in year 3. Hughes leads Arizona, hitting .385 this season and hit .387 in Pac-12 play.

Danielle O'Toole and Taylor McQuillin: The lefty duo was the only pitching staff to not allow a run in regionals, and that frankly doesn't do their dominance justice. In 19 innings, opponents managed only 10 hits, just one for extra bases, and struck out 23 times while walking twice. This is nothing new for the two of them.  McQuillin has yet to allow a run in 15.0 career postseason innings while O'Toole has allowed 19 total hits in 42.2 career postseason frames at Arizona (.129 avg).

Eva Watson: The day before the postseason started, the senior learned she would have to go from pinch runner to starting centerfielder with first-team all-region starter Alyssa Palomino suffering a torn ACL. Watson, who led Arizona in batting average as UA's starting centerfielder in 2016 (.387), entered the week with just two hits in 18 2017 at-bats (.111). She answered the call, going 4-for-6 (.667) at the plate and supplying great defense in center. She received UA's weekly "gold jersey" given out by Coach Candrea.

THE KATI WATCH IS ON: Co-Pac-12 Player of the Year Katiyana Mauga's chase for history is on. How many #MaugaBombs can she hit? A complete breakdown of where she stands in the UA, Pac-12 and NCAA record books can be found on page 14. Here are some notes:

Mauga has hit 91 career home runs in 233 games played. She now holds the Arizona and Pac-12 career records and is four shy of the NCAA record (95 - Lauren Chamberlain, Oklahoma, 12-15).

The senior leads the Pac-12 and is second in the NCAA with 24 home runs this season.

With 20 homers as a freshman, 26 as a sophomore and 21 as a junior and now 24 as a senior, Mauga is the only player in NCAA history to hit 20 home runs in every season of her career.

Mauga's 91 career homers lead all active hitters in the NCAA by a wide margin. No other player has 70 career homers.

Arizona now has four of the top six home run hitters in NCAA history. Mauga joins Chambers (4th - 87), Leah Braatz (t5th - 85) and Laura Espinoza (t5th - 85). Additionally, Shelby Pendley, whose 84 homers are seventh, played at Arizona before transferring to Oklahoma.

RAISE THE A: Arizona started a new tradition in 2016 -- raising the "A" flag in Candrea's Corner, the left field bleachers, after home victories. The flagpole may get a workout, considering Arizona's 692-88 (.887) record all-time at Hillenbrand Stadium. Arizona is 29-2 at Hillenbrand Stadium this year.
PACK THE PLACE: Arizona is averaging 2,275 fans per home date this season, second best average attendance in the country behind Alabama (2,488/date). This will mark the ninth straight year averaging more than 2,000 fans for Arizona.
RED, WHITE AND BLUE TAKES ON A DIFFERENT MEANING: Arizona's long-standing tradition with USA Softball will continue this summer. Senior Danielle O'Toole was named the U.S. Women's National Team while freshmen Jessie Harper and Dejah Mulipola were named to the U.S. Junior Women's National Training Team following a selection camp in January. Arizona's ties to USA Softball run deep, most memorably as skipper Mike Candrea served as the head coach for Team USA's 2004 (gold medal) and 2008 (silver medal) teams. In 2016, a pair of Wildcats received the Association's highest honors as Kellie Fox (2014-15) was named USA Softball Athlete of the Year and redshirt freshman Alyssa Palomino was named USA Softball Junior Athlete of the Year.
CIRCLE IT: After a five-year span in the circle in which Arizona put up a combined ERA north of 3.50 from 2011-15, pitching has returned as Arizona's strength the last two years, coinciding with the arrival of Danielle O'Toole and Taylor McQuillin in 2016. After Arizona finished second in the Pac-12 in ERA last year (2.67), the pitching staff is first with a 1.28 ERA in 2017. O'Toole and McQuillin have ERAs of 1.02 and 1.72, respectively. O'Toole leads the Pac-12 in ERA while McQuillin is seventh.
SOMETHING TO HARP ON: Jessie Harper is second in the Pac-12 with 19 home runs in her freshman campaign, two shy of the Arizona freshman record. One of 11 finalists for NFCA Freshman of the Year, Harper was one of three freshman on this year's all-Pac-12 first team and Arizona's first freshman since Katiyana Mauga in 2014. In weeks 5 and 6, Harper was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week in back-to-back weeks as well as Pac-12 Player of the Week in week 6. During that two-week 11-game roadtrip in southern California and Oregon State, Harper went 18-for-34 (.529) with five doubles, five homers and a 1.177 slugging percentage. For the season, Harper is hitting .333 and has a .747 slugging percentage, third in the Pac-12.
TOOLE TIME: Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year Danielle O'Toole is 29-4 with a 1.02 ERA. O'Toole, who is seventh in the NCAA in victories and sixth in ERA, has been named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week twice and was national pitcher of the week after her first career no-hitter vs. No. 6 Washington (3/24) and posting a 0.00 ERA in two starts vs. the Huskies. O'Toole leads the Pac-12 in strikeouts (191). She's trying to become the 19th Wildcat to record 30 victories and the first Wildcat to post an ERA under 1.00 since Alicia Hollowell (0.89) in 2006. In her two seasons at Arizona, O'Toole has thrown 18 shutouts, nine of which have occurred vs. ranked opponents. This year, O'Toole has shut out #21 Baylor (7.0 IP, 5 H), #23 BYU (6.0 IP, 3 H), #6 Washington (7.0 IP, 0 H), #6 Oregon (7.0 IP, 5 H), #23 Arizona State (5.0 IP, 1 H) and #24 South Carolina (7.0, 1 H).
TAKING HOME THE HARDWARE: Arizona has the Pac-12 Coach of the Year (Mike Candrea), the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year (Danielle O'Toole) and the Pac-12 co-Player of the Year (Katiyana Mauga). This marks the third time this millennium that a team has taken home all three awards (2012 - Cal, 2008 - ASU). In all, 10 players and Candrea were honored in some capacity in the Pac-12 awards. Arizona's eight first or second teamers (Jessie Harper - 1st, Katiyana Mauga - 1st, Mo Mercado - 1st, Danielle O'Toole - 1st, Mandie Perez - 1st, Ashleigh Hughes - 2nd, Taylor McQuillin - 2nd, Alyssa Palomino - 2nd) were the most since the Wildcats also had eight in 1998.
MO HITTER: Mo Mercado is second on the team with a .384 batting average and is UA's active leader in career hits (261). At the Mary Nutter Classic in week 3, Mercado went 11-for-13 (.846) with three doubles, a homer, 11 RBI and six runs scored. She was named national and conference player of the week.
PERFECTION! In her first start of the season, Michelle Floyd threw the ninth perfect game in Arizona history, retiring all 15 Hartford batters she faced in an 18-0, five-inning Wildcat victory on March 11. She was named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week. Floyd has yet to allow an earned run in 16.1 innings this season.
D UP: In addition to its stellar offense and pitching staff, Arizona's defense has also been rock solid in 2017. The Wildcats are 16th in the country with a .975 fielding percentage. Shortstop Mo Mercado and pitcher Danielle O'Toole were named to the Pac-12 all-defensive team. Arizona is the only team in the country to be top 10 in ERA (3rd - 1.28), batting average (4th - .340), home runs (1st - 93) and have a .975 or better fielding percentage.
SENIOR SALUTE: Arizona's eight-player senior class is its largest since the eight seniors in 2001 went out on top, winning the program's sixth NCAA title. In 2017, UA will bid adieu to eight players who have been invaluable to the program. All eight have either been full or part time starters during their time. The octet has received 10 all-Pac-12 first or second team citations and has played a combined 2,182 games at Arizona, combined for 871 hits, 162 home runs, 628 RBI, 883.0 IP, 796 strikeouts and 98 pitching victories. Here are some notes on each senior's career contributions:

Nancy Bowling: A 37-game starter in her career in the circle, plus 32 games at first base. Has not lost a pitching decision since her freshman year (16-0 from sophomore year on).

Alexis Dotson: A 79-game starter since transferring from local Pima College after her sophomore year. Owns a career .321 average and has scored 53 runs.

Michelle Floyd: Arizona's ace in 2015, a season in which she tallied the most innings pitched (183.2), wins (19) and strikeouts (135) while helping lead Arizona to a 41-win season and a super regional appearance. Threw the ninth perfect game in Arizona history in 2017.

Katiyana Mauga: The best power hitter in Pac-12 history with 91 career long balls, second in NCAA history. On pace to leave UA as the all-time leader in slugging percentage (.824). Earned Pac-12 co-Player of the Year and is a finalist for USA Softball Player of the Year in 2017.

Mo Mercado: Has started every game (240) of her Arizona career and has put up a .358 average in 730 career at-bats, the most among active Wildcats. Three-time all-region performer.

Danielle O'Toole: 2017 Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year has been the winning pitcher in 55 of Arizona's 91 victories the last two seasons. Two-time all-Pac-12 first-teamer and finalist for USA Softball Player of the Year this season.

Mandie Perez: A 219-game starter who was named first-team all-conference as a junior and a senior, her two seasons as Arizona's leadoff hitter. Owns a career .342 average and a stellar .437 on-base percentage.

Eva Watson: Has battled injuries, but led Arizona in batting average in 2016 (.387). Has appeared in 179 games in her career, including 71 starts.

BEATING THE BEST: Since 1994, Arizona is above .500 against ranked teams, top-10 teams and top-five competition. UA is 556-248-1 (.691) against ranked competition, 262-163 (.617) against top-10 teams and 128-111 (.536) against top-five teams.
FOLLOW THE TEAM: Be sure to follow the Wildcats on their various social media platforms. To stay up-to-date on all the latest happenings with the team, follow Arizona softball on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (@UA_Softball).
FAB FRESHMEN: In addition to Arizona's spectacular senior class, UA's freshmen have been instrumental to Arizona's success as well. The Cats started four freshmen in their usual lineup, Dejah Mulipola (C), Alyssa Palomino (CF), Jessie Harper (1B) and Reyna Carranco (2B) until Palomino tore her ACL last week. Palomino is fourth among freshmen in the NCAA in RBI (54), Harper is second among freshmen in the NCAA in home runs (19).
R31GNING SUPREME: Arizona has appeared in every NCAA Tournament since 1988, Mike Candrea's second year on campus. That's an NCAA-Record 31 consecutive years in the tournament for Arizona. Not only is that the longest active streak, but it is seven years longer than the second longest streak. The 31 straight seasons breaks Fresno State's inactive 30-year streak.
KEEPING IT 100: Arizona has reached the century mark in home runs six times in school history, including two of the last three years and will likely challenge it again this year. Only two other schools (UTSA and Louisiana-Lafayette) have had more than two seasons of 100-plus homers. There have been 26 seasons of 100 home runs or more in NCAA history and Arizona has six of them. Below are the top 10 seasons in NCAA history, and Arizona history:
HIGH EXPECTATIONS: Arizona was ranked No. 10 in the Preseason NFCA Top 25, its highest preseason ranking since 2012, and picked to finish second in the Pac-12 by the coaches prior to the season, its highest since 2011. Why?

Arizona returned eight starters, four pitchers and 16 total letterwinners from a 40-win team in 2016. In all, the Cats return 90% of their hits (420-of-465), 91% of their home runs (61-of-67) and 90% of their RBI (268-of-298). Additionally, all four pitchers return from a staff that was second in the Pac-12 in ERA.

The Wildcats' senior class of eight is its largest in 16 years, when the eight seniors in 2001 went out by winning national championship.

Those seniors will play a key role in mentoring Arizona's seven-player freshman class. The six true freshmen -- Dejah Mulipola (No. 5 recruit, FloSoftball), Reyna Carranco (No. 16), Jessie Harper (No. 43), Malia Martinez (No. 57), Carli Campbell and Jaycee Lindley -- were rated as the No. 3 recruiting class in the country. Add in redshirt freshman Alyssa Palomino, the 2016 USA Softball Junior Athlete of the Year who missed last season with a torn ACL, and the Wildcats have plenty of fresh talent to go with their experienced core.

UP NEXT: Win two games, and it's off to OKC.

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