Arizona returns to the NCAA Tournament for the 27th consecutive season under head coach Mike Candrea; the Wildcats have been to the Women's College World Series in 22 of those 27 seasons.
The Wildcats will face Baylor in the opening round Friday at 2:30 p.m. Tucson time. The Bears (39-15, 10-8 Big 12) are an at-large selection and the No. 2 seed in the region.
BU is ranked 23rd by the NFCA and 18th by USA Softball. Baylor has stolen 100 bases this season, led by Kathy Shelton's 37 and Kaitlyn Thumann's 29. The Bears are led in the circle by Whitney Canion (23-7, 1.62 ERA, 250 Ks, 186.0 IP). The Bears, who ended the season on a two-game losing streak, hit .291 as a team, led by Thumann's .384 average.
Arizona traveled to Waco in 2012 to face Baylor for a three game series. The teams never met, though, as rain canceled the entire series. The two teams did meet in 2011 when the then-23rd-ranked Bears took 2-of-3 from Arizona in Tucson. Overall, Arizona owns a 14-4 record against Baylor, including a 1-0 record in NCAA action.
If the Wildcats want to get back to the Women's College World Series, they will have to do so by winning on the road. Arizona heads to the College Station Regional and would be likely to head to the Norman Super Regional to face top seed Oklahoma should it advance out of the first round.
UA is on the road for the eighth time in the tournament's first round and the first since 2009. The Cats are 12-17 on the road this year, including a 7-8 record in neutral site games.
All-time in NCAA action, Arizona has a 151-45 record, including a sparkling 78-6 record in regional play.
The Wildcats swept the 2012 regional with victories over North Dakota State and Notre Dame (twice). UA outscored its competition 26-5 in the three games.
UA has not lost a regional game since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 2005. Arizona's last loss in the first round came in 2004, when the Cats were eliminated by Louisiana Lafayette in the Tucson Regional.
Arizona has been led this season offensively by junior Chelsea Goodacre. The player the team calls "Goody" is third in the conference in home runs (17) and RBI (58) after recording just eight homers with 24 runs batted in as a freshman in 2012.
Goodacre has been able to supply the power while also hitting for a high average. The sophomore is batting .343, which ranks second on the team and just outside the top 10 in the Pac-12.
All the games in the College Station Regional will be televised live by ESPN2.
Friday, May 17
Game 1 2:30 p.m. CDT ARIZONA vs. Baylor
Game 2 5:00 p.m. CDT (16) Texas A&M vs. Penn
Saturday, May 18
Game 3 2:00 p.m. CDT G1 Winner vs. G2 Winner
Game 4 4:30 p.m. CDT G1 Loser vs. G2 Loser
Game 5 7:00 p.m. CDT G3 Loser vs. G4 Winner
Sunday, May 19
Game 6 2:30 p.m. CDT G3 Winner vs. G5 Winner
Game 7 (if necessary) 5:00 p.m. CDT G3 Winner vs. G5 Winner
Copyright 2013 Arizona Athletics. All rights reserved.
David Kelly contributed to this story.