Arizona softball’s 21-game winning streak finally came to an end Saturday in Berkeley where the Wildcats were upset by the California Golden Bears in extra innings.
It was Arizona’s first loss to a Pac-12 opponent this season, putting them in a tie with the No. 2-ranked UCLA Bruins atop the conference standings at 17-1.
The longstanding rivals still have to face each other in Westwood to round out the regular season on May 9-11, a three-game series that will all but determine the Pac-12 champion.
While Arizona and UCLA are dead even right now, the Wildcats could be facing an uphill battle by the time they arrive at Easton Stadium. That’s because Arizona has to host No. 4 Washington this weekend, while UCLA will be traveling to Palo Alto to face a good, but not spectacular, Stanford team.
Assuming the Bruins sweep the Cardinal (the most likely scenario), here is what Arizona would need to do against Washington and UCLA to claim its 12th conference championship:
- Sweep Washington and go 2-1 at UCLA
- Go 2-1 vs. Washington and sweep UCLA
- Go 2-1 vs. Washington and UCLA (UA and UCLA would be co-champions)
- Go 1-2 vs. Washington and sweep UCLA
- Go 0-3 vs. Washington and sweep UCLA to become co-champions with the Bruins. This scenario would also leave the door open for a three-way tie if the Huskies, who have four conference losses, win out.
Note that all these scenarios call for the Wildcats to win at least two games at UCLA, an extremely challenging feat considering Arizona is 3-17 against the Bruins since 2013.
It’s why Arizona’s loss to Cal was so devastating. There would have been a scenario in which the Wildcats only would have needed to win one game in Westwood to claim the conference outright, though that scenario could resurface if UCLA fails to sweep Stanford.
The good news is, no matter who wins the conference, Arizona is still in great shape to host Regionals and Super Regionals.
The top eight teams get the first crack at hosting Supers and Arizona is No. 3 in RPI heading into the Washington series.
So barring a total meltdown in the final two weeks of the season, Arizona’s road to the Women’s College World Series will go through Tucson.