Eighteenth-ranked Arizona (20-9, 2-1 Pac-12) welcomes Utah (21-9, 3-0 Pac-12) for the Pac-12 home-opening series, which will be held Thursday-Saturday at Hillenbrand Stadium. All three games will be televised by the Pac-12 Networks.
Both the Wildcats and Utes are coming off series victories to open the conference slate; Arizona took two of three from No. 21 Arizona State in Tempe and Utah swept No. 25 Oregon State in Salt Lake City.
The Cats and Utes get the series going on Thursday, March 24 at 7 p.m. MST.
Arizona leads the Pac-12 in ERA with a 2.24 clip, which would be the program’s lowest since 2010 (2.19). Danielle O’Toole leads all pitchers (min. 60 innings) with a 1.69 ERA while Taylor McQuillin is fourth with a 2.65 ERA.
After losing 53% of its hits, 58% of its home runs and 58% of its RBI from one of the nation’s best offenses in 2015, the bats were a major question mark entering 2016. As Arizona continues to find its offensive identity, the long ball remains a big part of the picture. UA is sixth in the NCAA in home runs (37), led by Katiyana Mauga’s 10, tied for 11th in the country.
Odds are head coach Mike Candrea will break Margie Wright’s record as the all-time leader in career victories at some point this season. Margie Wright won 1,457 games from 1980-2012 coaching for Illinois State and Fresno State. Candrea’s 1,448 career victories are nine shy of Wright’s mark. However, Candrea will likely not be the only one to get there. Michigan’s Carol Hutchins has 1,453 career victories, five more than Candrea.
The Utes feature a dominant pitching staff led by Katie Donovan (11-6, 1.84 ERA, 88 Ks, 95.0 IP). As a staff, Utah is second in the Pac-12 behind Arizona with a 2.34 team ERA.
Hannah Flippen (.396 avg, 8 HR, 20 RBI, .736 slg%) leads an offense that has outscored its opposition 177-74 this season.
Arizona is 30-9 all-time against Utah, including 9-3 since the Utes joined the Pac-12 in 2012. Arizona dropped its first ever series to the Utes last season when Utah took 2-of-3 from Arizona in Salt Lake City last season (full recap on page 5). The two teams first met in 1983.
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