Seventeenth-ranked Arizona (31-12, 8-4 Pac-12) rolls into the biggest six-game stretch of its regular season, taking a season-long eight-game winning streak into a meeting with 15th-ranked UCLA (28-12-1, 9-4-1 Pac-12) before heading to Eugene for a three-game series at No. 5 Oregon (32-6, 10-2 Pac-12).
The series with UCLA will feature the two most dominant programs in the sport’s history with just a half-game separating the two in the Pac-12 standings. The Wildcats and Bruins are jockeying for position in a crowd atop the conference standings; just one game separates the Pac-12’s No. 2 team (UCLA) and the No. 5 team (Washington). The crowd (UCLA, Arizona, Utah and Washington) is chasing the Ducks, whose lone two Pac-12 losses were to UCLA.
Arizona leads the conference in ERA at 2.38, which would be the program’s lowest since 2010 (2.19). Danielle O’Toole is second in the Pac-12, with a 1.97 ERA, which would be the lowest since Kenzie Fowler’s 1.96 figure in 2010.
Joelle Krist was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week last week after hitting .500 with a homer and three RBI in Arizona’s sweep of Stanford.
Arizona’s 3-4 hitters Katiyana Mauga and Mo Mercado both have more home runs than strikeouts. Mauga has 15 home runs and 14 strikeouts and Mercado has seven homers and four strikeouts.
UCLA holds a 74-55 advantage in the all-time series, dating back to 1982. UCLA is the only opponent to hold a winning record in a series vs. Arizona (minimum three games). The Bruins have won eight straight in the series and 11 of the last 13. UCLA swept the series in Westwood a season ago (full report on page 5).
Arizona has struggled defensively this season, posting a .963 fielding percentage thus far this season, which would be tied for the second-worst fielding percentage in 24 seasons at Arizona. However, the Wildcats have been significantly better recently, posting a .973 fielding percentage over the last six weeks, coinciding with a 16-4 record. When committing one or fewer errors, Arizona is 22-7; UA is 9-5 when committing multiple errors.
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