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Arizona softball: Scouting the Wildcats' first opponent, St. John's

Who will Arizona have to get through to advance to Super Regional play?

Arizona Athletics

The Arizona Wildcats (38-17, 12-9 Pac-12) open up Regional play at Hillenbrand Stadium on Friday evening against St. John's as the Cats look to advance to their first Women's College World Series since 2010.




The Tucson Regional is not on TV, so you'll have to get by with the live stream.

St. John's enters postseason play with a 28-17 overall record, but went 16-2 in the Big East in 2015. This is the first time in program history that they have made the NCAA Tournament.

Like you would expect from a northeast school, the team got off to a slow start, falling to a record of 6-13 on March 19th.

But they then won 15 in a row and 18-of-19 games. Only two teams finished above .500 in the Big East this season, with DePaul being the other team at 13-4.

The Red Storm rely heavily on two pitchers. Senior Francesca Carrullo and junior Tori Free get the majority of the work, pitching 101 and 108.1 innings this year respectively. Free is the more effective pitcher, checking in with an ERA of 2.00 and opponents are hitting just .210 against her. However, she is also a lot more wild than Carrullo, having hit 17 batters compared to Carrullo's one, and walking 18 more than her senior counterpart over the course of the season.

At the plate, St. John's hits .315 as a team, which doesn't seem so bad until you realize Arizona hits .360 as a team. Only two Red Storm players hit better than .360 individually, and they are senior catcher Erin Burner and freshman first baseman Krystal Puga. They'll likely be the 3-4 hitters in the SJU lineup, and are also the top two on the team in home runs and RBI. Arizona has four players (Hallie Wilson, Kellie Fox, Chelsea Goodacre and Katiyana Mauga) with at least 11 home runs, the same amount hit by Puga this year. Burner has 12.

The Wildcats should get through this game with relative ease, but St. John's certainly has at least a couple players both in the circle and at the plate that could give Arizona some issues. The winner of this game will take on the winner of the Minnesota/New Mexico State game, which takes place at 4:30 PT at Hillenbrand on Friday evening.