As the No. 3 Arizona Wildcats clinched a series victory against the No. 6 Oregon Ducks on Saturday, the NCAA Championship Committee released its first top-10 ranking of the season.
The Wildcats come in at No. 2, only behind the Florida Gators.
“That’s good,” said UA head coach Mike Candrea after receiving the news. “That’s better than being 16.”
This was Mike Candrea finding out in real time that Arizona Softball is currently ranked second by the selection committee pic.twitter.com/EPrrZ6DuHe— AZ Desert Swarm (@azdesertswarm) April 23, 2017
Here is the entire Top 10:
- Texas A&M
- Florida State
The NCAA will release its second — and final — top-10 ranking on May 6.
"While there is still a lot of softball left to be played, this ranking was a great exercise for the committee,” said Keisha Dunlap, chair of the committee and Senior Associate Commissioner at Conference USA. “We had a robust discussion surrounding several selection criteria and were able to utilize dialogue from the eight regional advisory committees to rank the teams who we feel have already built impressive resumes.
“These rankings are a chance to spread awareness and exposure, and provide education and engagement to fans, media and the general public. We had great discussions regarding the teams and look forward to our next ranking in a few weeks.”
Arizona is 45-3 this season with a 15-2 record in a loaded Pac-12 conference.
The Wildcats have nine wins against top-25 teams, while their three losses were to No. 1 Florida State in Palm Springs and No. 14 Utah (twice) in Salt Lake City.
“It’s an honor and I think it’s exciting for our team that we’re playing really well and up to the potential that we can play,” said pitcher Taylor McQuillin of UA’s preliminary ranking. “I’m really happy about it and I think our team will be too when they find out.”
Generally, the top 16 teams in college softball are given the opportunity to host a regional, which the Wildcats weren’t fortunate enough to do last season.
Barring late-season struggles, that will likely change this season.
“I think it’s really cool,” McQuillin said, “but last year it didn’t matter where we were placed. We weren’t even in the top 16 last year and we went out to Tennessee and got our stuff done and we gotta keep moving. We’re not going to take any teams lightly.
“We’re not going to slow down, we’re going to keep stepping on the gas roll right through it.”
Playing part of the postseason at home would certainly help them do that.
“It’s nice to play at home with all of your fans, all the people supporting you,” the sophomore said. “Obviously going to someone else’s house is a bit harder because everyone is against you.
“It’ll be cool to be at home and have all the support, and it just gives you a whole nother level of energy that you wouldn’t realize until you’re hosting at home.
“We’re just trying to stay at home as long as possible before we get to [Oklahoma City].”
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