With their regular season concluded, the Arizona Wildcats hope the playoff selection committee remembers Friday night and skips right on over Saturday afternoon.
One day after knocking off the No. 1-rated Oregon Ducks, the Wildcats got caught up in the celebration that was senior day. Only it was the Ducks who sent Arizona’s seniors off with a bang — and another, and another — out-hitting the Wildcats 16-4 in a 14-3 win at Hillenbrand Stadium.
Now Arizona waits to find out if its 11-8 win over the Ducks on Friday will help it host regional games.
“Last night we took a step forward, and today we took a few steps back,” Arizona coach Mike Candrea said. “It depends on the committee. I’d rather do it on the field and not have to worry about a committee. I’m very hopeful we host a regional and I’m very doubtful we host a super-regional.”
Last season, the Wildcats went 1-2 as an unseeded selection in College Station, Texas, where they beat Penn and lost to Baylor twice.
Arizona entered this weekend’s series ranked No. 9, and the players are confident they will play at home.
“We definitely expect to host,” pitcher Estela Piñon said. “This was not our last home game.”
That’s a good thing, because they want a chance to make up for it, Piñon especially.
With her workload increased in part because of the loss of Kenzie Fowler, a tired Piñon allowed four runs on three hits while registering just one out before being pulled for Shelby Babcock.
Babcock got out of trouble, but Oregon pounced again in the second, fourth and fifth innings, scoring at least three runs each time.
“I’m just disappointed overall,” Candrea said. “Not just the pitching, just everything. From our approach to the game, ability to play defense, lack of preparation — it looked like we were happy with a victory last night and just didn’t show up to play. I’m pretty disappointed.”
The game does give Candrea a teaching point, and that’s what the Wildcats are thinking about heading into the playoffs.
“We can definitely twist it around,” Piñon said. “We just beat the No. 1 team yesterday. That just gives us hope that we can beat anybody. Yeah, today didn’t go our way, but it happens, and I know we can come back.”
Added Chelsea Goodacre: “It shows us that we need to be ready to play at any time. Just because we beat them last night doesn’t mean that they’re going to come out and bow down to us. Going into the postseason we need to know we have some things to work on and that we have to be focused every pitch.”