Arizona Wildcats

Arizona Softball: Arizona, Arizona State Set For Top-20 Showdown at Hillenbrand

#11 ARIZONA vs. #18 ARIZONA STATE
MARCH 29-31 • TUCSON, ARIZ. (HILLENBRAND STADIUM)

Game Notes: #11/9 Arizona Wildcats (24-7, 6-0 Pac-12) • #18/13 Arizona State Sun Devils (25-8, 5-1 Pac-12)

THE GAMES (Times MST)
32 | Friday, March 29 (5 p.m.) | ​ vs. ​ | Pac-12 Arizona | Live Stats | Twitter Updates
33 | Saturday, March 30 (5 p.m.) | ​ vs. ​ | Pac-12 Arizona | Live Stats | Twitter Updates
34 | Sunday, March 31 (4 p.m.) | ​ vs. ​ | ESPN 2 | Live Stats | Twitter Updates

THIS WEEK: Eleventh-ranked Arizona (24-7, 6-0 Pac-12) returns home this weekend to host 18th-ranked Arizona State (25-8, 5-1 Pac-12) in a key three-game series at Hillenbrand Stadium. The two top home run hitting teams in the country get together to see which pitching staff can cool off the other’s red hot offense. The Wildcats will look to take the series from the Sun Devils for the fourth straight season after taking 2-of-3 each of last three seasons. UA and ASU are set to meet Friday (5 p.m.) and Saturday (5 p.m.) on the Pac-12 Networks and Sunday (4 p.m.) on ESPN 2. The games are sold out, but a limited number of standing-room-only tickets will be sold on the day of the game.

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LEADING OFF

It’s rivalry weekend at Hillenbrand Stadium, where the two top home run hitting teams in the country square off in a key three-game series. After hitting 19 home runs over the first six games of Pac-12 play, Arizona State took the lead (1.94 hr/game) over the now-second-place Wildcats (1.84).

Arizona owns a 95-45-1 all-time record vs. Arizona State and has won each of the last three series, including last season, winning games 2 and 3 against the eighth-ranked Sun Devils in Tempe.

The Wildcats are 6-0 in Pac-12 play after sweeping Oregon and Oregon State to open the conference season, outscoring the Ducks and the Beavers 48-8 in the process.

Dating back to last season, Arizona has won five consecutive Pac-12 series after its two sweeps to open conference play this season. UA is 6-0 for just the second time (2017) since 2004.

Arizona pitchers have posted a 0.76 ERA in conference play, led by Alyssa Denham, who has not allowed an earned run in 9.2 innings this Pac-12 season. Seven of those 9.2 innings came during her first career no-hitter last weekend at Oregon State, which came on Sunday, also her 21st birthday. Denham was named the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week.

Arizona has won 20 of its last 23 games, with its only three losses in that span coming to the current No. 2 (Oklahoma) and No. 3 (Florida State) ranked teams in the country by a combined four runs.

The Wildcats are seventh in this week’s NCAA RPI, a metric heavily relied on for NCAA Tournament seeding. UA is No. 11 in the NFCA Top 25.

Through 31 games, Arizona has played 10 games against ranked opponents and has a 5-5 record in those games. All five losses are to top-six opponents. Despite the 1-5 record, in six games vs. (current rankings) No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 Florida State, No. 4 Alabama and No. 6 Florida, UA has been outscored by just two runs (21-23) and has 11 more hits (40-29).

The Wildcats hit six home runs during their sweep of Oregon State, giving them 15 in six Pac-12 games this season. UA is second in the nation with 57 homers (1.84/game), its most through 31 games since 2010 (57).

Arizona is the only team in the country with three players with double-digit home runs; Jessie Harper leads the Pac-12 and is second nationally with 17 home runs, Dejah Mulipola is third in the Pac-12 and tied for eighth in the country with 13 home runs and Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza is fifth in the league and tied for 24th nationally with 10 homers.

Reyna Carranco has been one of the hottest hitters in the country over the last four weeks. The junior is on a career-long 13-game hitting streak and has multiple hits in 10 of them. She is hitting .566 during the streak, raising her average to a team-best .462, second in the Pac-12 and tied for 19th in the Pac-12.

Arizona’s offense has been heating up with the weather. In the month of March (16 games), Arizona is averaging 7.69 runs/game and is hitting 2.00 home runs per game after scoring 5.33 runs and hitting 1.67 homers per game in February (15 games).

Arizona head coach Mike Candrea enters the weekend four wins shy of Michigan’s Carol Hutchins for the most career wins in NCAA softball history. Candrea, who is in his 32nd year of coaching at Arizona, has won 1,587 wins while Hutchins has 1,591 over 36 seasons of coaching.

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NOTES ON THE SUN DEVILS (25-8, 5-1 Pac-12)

Arizona State is ranked No. 18 in the NFCA Top 25, No. 13 in the USA Softball Top 25 and No. 29 in the NCAA RPI.

Statistically, the Sun Devils have the top offense in the country, scoring 9.12 runs per game, more than a run more than the second most prolific offense in the country. As a team, ASU hits .355 (5th in the country), slugs .696 (1st in the country) and has hit 64 home runs (1st in the country).

ASU is led offensively by the Hackbarth twins; Kindra Hackbarth leads the team with a .449 average and has 14 doubles and 11 homers while Maddi Hackbarth, the reigning USA Softball Player of the Week, has 16 home runs and 43 RBI.

Arizona State has spent six of the seven weeks of 2019 at home and has only left Tempe one time this season. This series will be the first time the Sun Devils have played a true road game in 2019.

While ASU has boasted a powerful offense, it has struggled in the circle. ASU has a 3.74 team ERA, seventh in the Pac-12. They have just 122 strikeouts in 200 innings but have walked 100 batters.

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ARIZONA vs. ARIZONA STATE

Arizona is 95-45-1 (.677) all-time vs. Arizona State and has won each of the last three series.

Facing eighth-ranked ASU in Tempe last season, the 13th-ranked Wildcats took the series. The Sun Devils walked off in a pitcher’s duel in game 1 (2-1) before Alyssa Denham threw a two-hitter in a 4-1 Wildcat win in game 2 to even the series. In game 3, Jessie Harper hit a two-run double in the top of the eighth to lead the Cats to a series win.

Courtesy of Arizona Comminication Services

 

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