Arizona baseball and softball each enter the final weeks of the regular season with much on the line.
Both programs want to host Regionals and hopefully Super Regionals in their respective NCAA Tournaments. To do so, they’ll more than likely need to be among the top eight national seeds.
This week’s national polls show both programs are right on the cusp of that territory.
Baseball is ranked No. 10 according to Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball, No. 11 by Perfect Game, No. 12 by D1Baseball and No. 13 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
Softball is ranked No. 9 in its USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll, No. 10 by D1Softball, and No. 11 in the ESPN/USA Softball rankings.
Then there’s the RPI, which is the only poll that that will play a role in postseason seeding. Arizona baseball ranks No. 9, while softball is No. 13.
The rankings come as the NCAA prepares to name 20 regional host sites for both softball and baseball postseasons. The NCAA will announce softball sites this week and baseball sites the week of May 10.
The NCAA will cut the number of host sites to 16 on the eve of each sport’s Selection Sunday to reflect the 16 regionals.
Justin’s World of Softball predicts Arizona as a “Sure-Thing” to host an NCAA regional, even when higher ranked Pac-12 foes UCLA and Arizona State are only considered “Fair Bets” to host.
That reasoning may be because Arizona’s Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium facilities are among the nicest in the country, and the Wildcats have one of college softball’s top fan bases.
Hillenbrand’s capacity of approximately 2,900 is more than double that of UCLA’s Easton Stadium’s 1,300. The NCAA is limiting regionals fan capacity to 50%, which means Arizona could theoretically bring in about 1,450 fans whereas UCLA could only allow around 650 fans.
That’s not to say Arizona will host a regional and UCLA won’t, but Hillenbrand gives the UA a significant advantage over other programs vying to host. The NCAA is also factoring in things like COVID testing capacity this year due to the pandemic.
Baseball, meanwhile, seems likely to earn a host site by way of the team’s merit. Baseball America projects Arizona as the No. 4 overall seed in their latest NCAA Tournament projections, which would ensure the Wildcats also host a super regional if they advance that far.
D1Baseball is a little less balmy on Arizona, putting the Wildcats as the No. 9 overall seed in their latest projections.
Baseball and softball can each solidify their host site ambitions by taking care of business this weekend against inferior. Baseball begins a three-game home series with Utah Friday at 6 p.m. MST. The Wildcats and Utes then play Saturday at 6 p.m. MST and Sunday at 11 a.m. MST.
Softball’s home series with Cal was modified to two games, Saturday and Sunday, due to Covid-19 protocols within the Golden Bears program. Saturday’s game is at 6 p.m. MST and the series wraps up Sunday with a 12 p.m. MST opening pitch.