After beating up on some bottom-dwellers the past two weeks, No. 7 Arizona (33-8, 11-5) heads to No. 12 Oregon (31-13, 9-9) for a critical four-game series in Eugene starting Friday at 4 p.m. PT on ESPN2.
With two weeks left in the regular season, the Wildcats are on the bubble for one of those coveted top-8 national seeds.
How do they stack up against the Ducks? Let’s take a look.
Arizona leads the Pac-12 in batting average (.341) and on-base percentage (.425) while checking in at No. 2 in slugging percentage (.617). Oregon is fifth in the conference in BA (.301), OBP (.374) and .slugging (.492).
Arizona is by far the more powerful team, hitting 78 homers in 41 games with four players with 10 or more homers. The Ducks have hit 47 homers in 44 games. Allee Bunker and Alyssa Brito lead them with nine homers. No one else has more than six.
However, the Ducks have stolen twice as many as bases (52). Haley Cruse, who leads UO with a .362 average, is responsible for 16 of them. Arizona counters with Janelle Meoño, who leads the Pac-12 in batting average (.482) and has stolen 12 bases.
Altogether, Oregon is averaging 5.3 runs per game and 3.4 against ranked teams. Arizona is averaging 7.0 runs per game but only 2.6 against ranked teams.
When it comes to Pac-12 games, Arizona has scored 99 runs in 16 contests. Oregon has only scored 57 in 18.
Arizona is steadier, leading the Pac-12 with a .986 fielding percentage. They have committed 14 errors in 41 games. Oregon has committed 28 in 44 games. Arizona has also turned a league-most 20 double plays, twice as many as Oregon.
In the circle...
Arizona is second in the Pac-12 in ERA (1.91). Oregon is sixth (2.90). However, the Ducks are No. 2 in the Pac-12 in strikeouts per seven innings (8.91). Arizona is sixth (6.02).
Oregon ace Brooke Yanez has been struggling lately, allowing 16 runs over her last four outings. That’s raised her ERA from 1.96 to 2.50. Not all that different from Arizona’s Mariah Lopez, who has seen her ERA balloon to 2.81 after some rough outings.
The difference is Arizona has Alyssa Denham and, more recently, Hanah Bowen to lean on. Those two allowed have allowed four runs combined in their last six starts. Both have ERAs under 1.90.
Compare that to the Ducks’ No. 2 and 3 pitchers—Makenna Kilethermes and Samaria Diaz—who have ERAs above 3.00. (And ERAs well above 4.00 in Pac-12 play.)
Arizona has a 2.55 ERA in Pac-12 play. Oregon’s is 4.32, third-worst in the league.
How are they trending?
In different directions. Arizona has won six straight, albeit against Utah and Cal, two weak Pac-12 teams. Oregon has lost three straight, four of their last five and five of their last seven. The Ducks have lost four straight series—to UCLA, Washington, Stanford and ASU in that order. Their schedule has been brutal lately and this weekend offers no reprieve.
How do they fare against ranked teams?
Arizona is 2-8 against ranked teams. All 10 games were on the road. Oregon is 4-10 against ranked teams, including 1-3 at home (vs. UCLA). The Ducks dropped three of four in each of their last three series against ranked teams.
Timely hitting has been Arizona’s biggest issue on the road. The Wildcats only have 11 hits in 70 at-bats— a .157 average—with runners in scoring position against ranked teams.
How does Oregon fare at home?
Pretty well. They are 17-5 at Jane Sanders Stadium compared to 8-7 on the road. However, they hosted Stanford in their most recent home series and the unranked Cardinal managed to split the four-game set. That should give Arizona confidence heading to Eugene.
How does Arizona fare on the road?
Like a completely different team. They are 24-0 at Hillenbrand and 9-8 away from it. They average 8.8 runs per game at home compared to just 4.5 on the road. Strength of schedule has a lot to do with that. Arizona has only faced unranked opponents at home.
How many games does Arizona need to win against Oregon?
Well, the more games they win in Eugene, the more room for error they have against No. 2 UCLA next weekend. I think Arizona needs to go at least 4-4 against the Ducks and Bruins to secure a top-8 seed. So, unless you think Arizona can win three or four against UCLA, they probably need to win at least two games in Eugene to be in a manageable spot heading into the UCLA series.