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Arizona softball: Mo Mercado to face sister, Danica, for final time when Wildcats host the Oregon Ducks

There’s a family connection in this weekend’s Arizona-Oregon series

mo mercado
Mo Mercado
Photo by Jason Bartel

If you know one Mercado sister, you know the other.

“They’re funny. They’re very competitive against each other. They’re the same person,” said UA third baseman Katiyana Mauga, who has played with both since she was 13.

“If you know Mo, you know Danica.”

Mo Mercado is Arizona’s do-it-all shortstop. Danica Mercado is Oregon’s versatile right fielder.

And this weekend, the two seniors — Danica is a redshirt senior — will compete against each other on the diamond for the final time when No. 3 Arizona hosts a three-game series against No. 6 Oregon.

“She couldn’t let me go out on my own,” Mo joked about her older sister’s redshirt year. “She had to find a way to be there with me.”

Mo’s glad she did.

“It definitely makes it more fun,” she said. “[Playing against each other] was weird at first because we grew up playing together all the time, but now it’s a little friendly competition around the house.”

Well, it’s friendly until Danica brings up Oregon’s Pac-12 championships. The Ducks have won the conference every year since 2013.

In 2014 and 2015, Oregon reached the College World Series. Mo was a mere spectator.

“I was in the stands at the World Series, so that’s definitely motivation for me to want to beat them this year because it’s my last year,” Mo said.

And Danica wouldn’t mind beating Mo again (Oregon swept Arizona in three games last season in Eugene). The sisters embrace competition — and in all forms.

“It could be her pinning me in the corner just to make me mad or it could be board games.” Mo said. “It could be anything.”

Their board game of choice is backgammon, a game they learned to play from watching their parents.

“Sooner or later it became a best-of-three series all the time,” Mo said of her battles with Danica.

The sisters would play before dinner and the loser would have to do the dishes. It would usually end up being Mo’s job.

“I have to admit she beat me a lot of the time,” Mo said. “I’m not going to lie about it, but it’s a big reason why I compete harder today in everything in life.”

That competitive nature has evidently translated into success on the diamond, as both sisters are shining in their final collegiate seasons.

Mo leads a high-scoring Arizona team in batting average (.425), hits (57), and doubles (12), plus has nine homers and 45 RBIs — all while providing stellar defense at shortstop.

UA pitcher Danielle O’Toole says Mo is a “wall” in the infield.

“I think Mo Mercado has been, to me, very impressive this year,” UA head coach Mike Candrea said. “The better the pitching is, the better she is. She sees the ball deep. She’s very quick from point A to point B, does a lot of good things that you have to do in fast pitch softball to be effective. I think she has really developed nicely as a hitter and has been an MVP for me.”

Meanwhile, Danica is hitting a team-best .411 with a .465 on-base percentage and leads Oregon in runs scored (43), while only making one error all season.

“We talk a lot about the game and weekend to weekend,” Mo said. “We’re always helping each other succeed and we talk when we’re struggling.”

Those conversations will be limited this week, though.

“Obviously we’re not going to get too in-depth when we play each other,” Mo said. “But we’re excited. She’s excited to see me and come down [to Tucson].

“I always want her to do well, she always want me to do well even when we play each other.”

Several other family members will be making the trip to Tucson this weekend to take in a series that has major implications in the Pac-12 title race — not that they will be pulling for either school.

The Mercado family will be donning ‘Mercado’ shirts with the ‘A’ in the name being the Arizona logo and the ‘O’ being the Oregon logo.

And who knows where they’ll sit for the sisters’ final matchup.

“Previously they’d sit one time on [Danica’s] side and one day on my side and then one day in the middle,” Mo said. “We both tell them that honestly we don’t care. We know they’re here for both of us, but you know parents are always trying to be fair.”

Candrea is a bit more partial.

“Both of them are having great years, so I think it will be fun that they get to face one another,” he said. “But I’m definitely pulling for Mo. No doubt about it.”

You can follow this author on Twitter at @RKelapire