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Arizona softball embarks on 10-game road trip

by Staff

It was nice to be at home for the first 17 games of the season, but those times are over for the No. 19 Arizona Wildcats. Now, it’s time to see what can be learned from a long, tough road trip.

Last year, Arizona head coach Caitlin Lowe said she likes long road trips to help the team bond. She specifically talked about the 2022 postseason when the ‘Cats were sent to Missouri for regionals and Mississippi State for super regionals before ending their season at the Women’s College World Series. Beginning in 2023, she started building those into the earlier part of the season.

Arizona is on its way to face No. 10 Alabama, South Alabama, and Northern Iowa at the Crimson Classic in Tuscaloosa from Friday through Sunday. On Tuesday, they’ll make a two-day stop in Lousiville, Kent. to play Louisville and Miami (FL). Then, the following Friday it’s time to jump into the final Pac-12 season with the opening series at Oregon State.

The Wildcats have already made an impression. They started the season unranked, something Lowe called “appropriate,” but busted into the rankings after the second week of the season. They now sit at 16-1 with three wins over teams that were either ranked or receiving votes when they met. It has them at No. 8 in the early season unofficial RPI.

The human voters may not be as impressed as the mathematical formulas, but they are pretty impressed. Arizona is No. 19 in the latest USA Today/NFCA poll, No. 21 according to ESPN.com/USA Softball, No. 15 in Softball America’s rankings, and No. 17 by D1 Softball’s estimation.

They will try to defend their newfound status this season against a field that’s more dangerous than fans might suspect.

Everyone knows Alabama. The Crimson Tide have established themselves as a softball power. They’re not the only team Arizona needs to worry about in Tuscaloosa, though.

South Alabama has established itself as a program that can hand any team a loss. The Jaguars are 10-4 and gave No. 17 South Carolina a loss in Columbia last week. They handed former Stanford ace Alana Vawter her first loss of the season on their way to a 5-2 victory.

Northern Iowa is also having a strong start, including dropping a close 1-0 game against Alabama on Thursday night. The Panthers split two road games against No. 24 Auburn last week.

It’s not inconceivable that Arizona could go 0-4 in Tuscaloosa. If the Wildcats’ first game against UNI had not been canceled due to rain, it was even a possibility to go 0-5 this weekend.

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