A week ago today, Arizona was still in it.
The Wildcats won the first game of their NCAA Super Regional against Baylor, putting them one win away from the Women’s College World Series.
Of course, that’s not what happened.
Arizona lost Game 2 and the Game 3, and was eliminated before the WCWS for the seventh straight year.
Now, much of the UA roster has left, back to their hometowns in California, Virginia, New Mexico and elsewhere in Arizona. Pitcher Danielle O’Toole will soon begin preparations for Team USA, which will play in the World Cup of Softball next month … in Oklahoma City, the site of the World Series.
“I thought throughout the year that this team would make a deep run,” UA coach Mike Candrea said, “because I thought we had all the pieces to the puzzle.”
And on paper, that was certainly true. Arizona ended its season first nationally in home runs, second in runs scored, fourth in batting average and seventh in ERA. It won a Pac-12 championship and posted a 52-9 record.
The Wildcats had one of the best pitcher-hitter combinations in the nation with 30-game winner O’Toole and third baseman Katiyana Mauga, who hit 25 home runs as a senior. Mauga finished her career with 92 homers, the second-most in NCAA history.
The UA had a a balanced lineup, a deep senior class and three freshmen — All-American Jessie Harper, catcher Dejah Mulipola and second baseman Reyna Carranco — who contributed far beyond expectations.
But that was not enough, and the season is over.
Here’s a look back at Arizona’s 2017 season: