Last year, the Bear Down Fiesta featured the return of former Arizona Wildcats Danielle O’Toole and Taylor McQuillin with the Mexican National Team. This season, it features the homecoming of another Wildcat. Former Arizona shortstop Kristie Fox will bring her UNLV Rebels to town.
UNLV and Arizona sport identical 15-4 records, although the Wildcats have faced a much tougher schedule so far. The Wildcats will be just the second ranked team the Rebels have faced so far this season. They lost to then-No. 7 Washington 6-1 last weekend.
The difference in schedules can be seen in the teams’ RPI. Arizona sits at No. 20 after last week’s games while UNLV is No. 54.
Fox spoke to Eric Lopez at the In the Circle podcast last week. She spoke about her team as well as the trip back to Tucson.
The Rebels aren’t the only team coming to town. The tournament includes Yale and Marist, as well. Arizona will face Yale on Friday, March 11 at 6 p.m. MST. On Saturday, they will play UNLV at 4 p.m. MST, then take on Marist at 6 p.m. The Wildcats will play Marist once again on Sunday at noon.
What should Arizona expect from each team?
Yale (2-3, 0-0 Ivy League)
The Bulldogs didn’t start their season at the same time as most of the country. They weren't scheduled to play until Feb. 25 at the North Texas Classic, and those games were postponed.
They finally took the field on March 4 at the San Diego Classic. They took wins over San Diego State and Stony Brook, and they dropped games against BYU, UC San Diego, and Utah State. That has them sitting at No. 91 in RPI.
Pitching: The Bulldogs have a staff ERA of 6.83. Most of their starts have been made by Maddie Latta and Nicole Conway.
Latta has an ERA of 2.80 and a 1.40 WHIP. Opponents are batting .262 against her. In 10.0 innings, she has allowed three home runs.
Conway has struggled. Her ERA sits at 5.09 over 11.0 innings, and she has a WHIP of 1.55. She has given up four homers in her 11 IP. Opponents are hitting .340 against her.
Hitting: Yale has scored 13 runs over five games. Three of those have come off home runs with Latta, Katie Donahey, and Carmen Muscolina each hitting one.
For players with at least 10 at-bats, SJ Mull leads the team with a .357 batting average. She has five hits—all singles—to lead Yale. Just behind her is Sam Goodcase, who has four hits and a .308 average.
UNLV (15-4, 0-0 MWC)
The Rebels have played three tournaments at home and two on the road. They started on a 5-0 run before dropping two straight against Weber State. They didn’t lose again until last weekend when they dropped games to Houston and Washington.
Pitching: UNLV has four pitchers, but they have primarily used two of them. Jenny Bressler is the obvious ace. She sports a 9-2 record and has pitched 65.2 innings. Her ERA stands at 2.47 and her WHIP at 1.13. She is holding her opponents to a narrow .193 batting average. She has given up three home runs and five doubles while striking out 55 in almost 66 innings.
Behind Bressler is Jasmine Martin who has pitched 39.2 innings to garner a 4-1 record. Martin has a 4.76 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP. Opponents are hitting .276 against her and have driven the ball out of the yard six times in just under 40 innings.
Hitting: Of those with at least 35 at-bats, the Rebels have three hitting over .400 and three more hitting above .385.
Sofia Morales leads in average with a .500 BA in 36 at-bats. She has 18 hits to go along with three walks, good for a .538 on-base percentage.
UNLV has made a dent by hitting the ball out of the park. They already have 25 home runs as a team. April Visser leads the group with eight homers, but four others have at least three home runs apiece. Five players have double-digit RBI, led by Visser’s 23.
Marist (7-8, 0-0 MAAC)
The Red Foxes have been up and down in the early going. They opened their first tournament with four straight losses before salvaging the final game to start the season 1-4. In the next tournament, it was just the opposite with four straight wins followed by one loss to close out the weekend. Last weekend, they went 2-3.
This will be a big step up in competition level for Marist. They have yet to face a ranked team so far this season. They currently sit at No. 154 in RPI due to the combination of their record and the strength of their schedule.
Pitching: The Red Foxes have three pitchers who have pitched a similar number of innings this season, but junior Kiley Myers is having the best season of the trio with a 3-0 record. She has a 1.06 ERA and 0.94 WHIP over her 33 innings pitched. She is holding her opponents to a .197 average and has allowed just one home run.
Meghan Haff has pitched 26 innings, giving up 15 earned runs on her way to a 3-1 record. She has an ERA of 4.04 and a WHIP of 1.42 while allowing her opponents to hit .221. Her issue has been walks. She has given up 14 bases on balls in her 26 innings.
The bases on balls have been an even bigger problem for Maddie Pleasants, who has walked 38 batters in nine appearances. Pleasants has pitched the most innings of the three, taking the circle in 35.1 innings. She has struggled mightily.
Pleasants has a 7.13 ERA and 2.46 WHIP. She has given up 49 hits, including four homers, 10 doubles, and two triples. Forty-eight runs have come around to score, 36 of them earned. It all results in a 1-7 record and makes it difficult to think that she will be facing the Wildcats.