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Arizona softball expecting to host NCAA Regionals

And it has an outside shot of hosting Super Regionals

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Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics

Arizona softball said farewell to soon-to-be-renovated Hillenbrand Stadium after its final regular season home game on Sunday, but the historic venue likely hasn’t seen its last action.

UA head coach Mike Candrea believes the Wildcats will host NCAA Regionals in a couple weeks, and the numbers back him up.

Arizona currently ranks ninth in the NFCA Coaches Poll and is 12th in RPI. The top 16 teams host Regionals.

Plus, the Wildcats’ final regular season series is at Stanford, which is in last place in the Pac-12 and has lost to 13 straight to Arizona.

So, really, the Wildcats probably have a better shot of hosting Super Regionals than they do of not hosting Regionals. The top eight teams host Supers, barring an upset.

But Candrea said winning out is all Arizona can do to control its postseason fate. The Wildcats (38-13, 11-10 Pac-12) are currently riding a nine-game winning streak heading into Palo Alto.

“Then it’s going to be in the hands of the committee,” he said. “I used to sit around as a young coach and worry about what they’re going to do and I figured out that I don’t know what they’re going to do anyway, so why worry about it? We’ll just kind of wait and see.

“But I would believe we would be in the Top 16 and we’ll host a Regional here. If we could just move up a few spots and get in the top eight, that would be nice, but I don’t know if we’ve helped ourselves enough as we played so poorly on the road there for that spurt. So take care of Stanford and let the chips fall.”

One projection places Arizona as the No. 10 overall seed, setting up a potential Super Regional series against No. 7 Tennessee in Knoxville.

Arizona State is projected as the No. 9 overall seed, which means an UA-ASU Super Regional isn’t out of the question.

“You’re protected from a conference opponent in the first round, but Super Regionals you’re not,” Candrea said.

ASU’s postseason outlook is more favorable than Arizona’s at the moment, but the Sun Devils (42-9, 15-6 Pac-12) are on the road at No. 1 UCLA this weekend.

Plus, Arizona won two of three vs. ASU in Tempe, so the Wildcats could earn a higher overall seed if their records wind up being similar.

The selection show is Sunday at 7 p.m. MST on ESPN2.

Arizona’s series at Stanford begins Thursday and runs through Saturday. All three games will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.

The Wildcats hosted Regionals and Super Regionals last year, where they were ousted by Baylor in three games. Arizona has not reached the College World Series since 2010.

Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire or help support his work via Venmo.