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Arizona Wildcats ranked No. 3 in preseason softball poll

Arizona Wildcats ranked No. 3 in preseason softball poll

Arizona’s Rylee Pierce, left, and Izzy Pacho jump for joy during an NCAA Regional game at Hillenbrand Stadium. 

Last season, the Arizona Wildcats ended their eight-year drought of missing the Women's College World Series. Once again, the UA softball team is expected to have another season to remember. 

The inaugural preseason Top 25 poll for D1Softball was released on Tuesday and Arizona is ranked third in the nation. The Wildcats are only ranked behind Pac-12 rival Washington and top-ranked Alabama. Three other Pac-12 teams join Arizona and Washington in D1Softball's rankings: UCLA (4), Oregon (19) and Arizona State (23). 

Arizona will face six nonconference opponents before Pac-12 play, which includes Tennessee (14), Oklahoma (5), Florida (9), Missouri (25), Auburn (22) and Alabama (1). 

Despite losing ace pitcher Taylor McQuillin to graduation, the Wildcats return senior Alyssa Denham who went 13-6 over 23 appearances. Arizona also returns notable starters: Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza, Reyna Carranco, Jessie Harper and Carli Campbell among others. 

Arizona head coach Mike Candrea is entering his 35th season and holds a 1,611-481-2 (.794) record. 

The Wildcats open their season against Kansas on Feb. 7 at 12:30 p.m. at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe. 

Contact sports content producer Justin Spears at 573-4312 or jspears@tucson.com. On Twitter @justinesports

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Justin writes stories and produces digital content about UA football and basketball and high school football. A Tucson native, Justin graduated from the UA in 2017 and is the host of the Wildcast Podcast and a radio host on ESPN Tucson.

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