Auburn, Ala.--Rolling through each of their respective regionals, No. 4 national seed Auburn (52-9) and perennial college softball powerhouse Arizona (39-19) will face off in this weekend’s super regional at Jane B. Moore Field with the teams led by Hall of Fame coaches Clint Myers of Auburn and Mike Candrea of Arizona.
Taking care of Tennessee in Knoxville, a place the Vols had only lost once this season, Arizona comes into the Saturday-Sunday series with a ton of confidence thanks to the pitching of Caitlin O’Toole.
Pitching in 40 of Arizona’s 58 games this season, O’Toole is 25-10 with an ERA of 2.04. In 202 2/3 innings she has allowed just 59 earned runs while striking out 185 and walking just 47.
Last weekend she was at her best at the Knoxville Regional, allowing just three runs on seven hits in 19 1/3 innings. She gave up all three runs and four of the hits in her third start after throwing back-to-back consecutive shutouts against Ohio State and Tennessee, giving up just three hits in 14 innings.
O’Toole has thrown more than half of Arizona’s innings this season with fellow left-hander Taylor McQuillan accounting for much of the rest. With a record of 12-8 and an ERA of 3.26, McQuillan has struck out 134 batters in 124 2/3 innings this year.
At the plate the Wildcats have a team batting average of .297 with Mo Mercado leading the charge at .387 with eight home runs and 42 RBI.
Much of the power is supplied by first baseman Katiyana Mauga. Hitting .331 this season, she has 21 home runs and 62 RBI to lead the team in both categories. Her 21 home runs are nearly half of the team’s total of 67 this season.
Perhaps the most complete of Arizona’s hitters is Mandie Perez. Third on the team in batting average (.331), Perez has 11 home runs and 34 RBI while also stealing a team-high 12 bases. Ashleigh Hughes is tied for the team lead with 12 stolen bases as well with the Wildcats only totaling 38 for the year.
As a team, Arizona has been challenged as much as any team left in the tournament because of the schedule the Wildcats faced this season. They played 17 games against teams currently in super regionals, going 5-12 in those contests. They also faced Central Florida, Texas A&M, BYU and Texas in out-of-conference games.
That should have Arizona well prepared to face Auburn this weekend in what should be one of the premier super regionals in the country.
Game times for the series are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. CDT on Saturday (ESPN2) and 1 p.m. on Sunday (ESPN). If a third game is necessary it is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Sunday (ESPNU).