For the first time in a while, Arizona Wildcats softball had a lot of preseason hype, which was led by Mike Candrea himself.
And so far, this team has lived up to that and more.
After sweeping No. 6 Washington over the weekend and giving Candrea his 1,500th career victory, Arizona now has an overall record of 32-1, and are on a 17-game winning streak heading into Wednesday’s double header against Grand Canyon.
“We played very well,” Candrea said after completing the sweep of the Huskies. “We got great pitching, played good defense, and the timely hitting was unbelievable.”
A weekend like that spoke volumes about what this team could end up being as it looks to become the first Arizona team to reach the Women’s College World Series since 2010.
“We know that we can make it happen, but I think the big thing about this right now is they’re playing loose and they’re playing relaxed,” explained Candrea. “We have a saying that it’s just another wiffleball game today, because you don’t think when you play wiffleball, and we’ve got some great athletes right now.”
“We walk onto the field expecting to play the game at a very high level, and we’re doing that.”
The players themselves are starting to acknowledge that feeling as well.
“I’m having a little more fun because of the record we have right now,” senior pitcher Danielle O’Toole said. “It’s fun to be playing. It’s fun to be zero-zero, and know that it’s gonna happen at some point, you just gotta figure out when.”
“It feels, I know magical’s cheesy, but that’s kind of the word I’m using,” O’Toole continued. “It’s just a good atmosphere to be around. Everybody’s all on the same page; it’s really nice.”
“Even after our loss, we were like ‘It’s okay, we lost to the number one team in the nation 1-0’,” redshirt freshman Alyssa Palomino added. “We know we can beat this team and we just had to keep pushing forward and keep working. We know this is going to be a long journey but we know we can get there.”
After the doubleheader against GCU on Wednesday, Arizona will put its 6-0 Pac-12 record on the line in Berkeley when they face Cal in a three-game series Friday through Sunday. All three games will be on Pac-12 Network.