Almost every week, Arizona softball head coach Caitline Lowe talks to the media about how her team needs to be itself. As the Wildcats head into their Pac-12 home opener against rival Arizona State, the message was no different this week.
“I don’t think (we feel) pressure for our first (Pac-12 win),” Lowe said. “I think we’re trying to find ourselves and what this team looks like one through 18 competing together. And we’ve found our pitching in some weekends, we’ve found our hitting in some weekends, our defense in some weekends, and it’s really about how can we put all those pieces together to become a great team.”
The Wildcats will be doing it without at least one of those pieces and likely without two. Starting centerfielder and lead-off hitter Janelle Meoño will be out for several more weeks with a stress fracture in her foot. Starting shortstop Sophia Carroll has been in concussion protocol and is day-to-day.
Sophomore Giulia Koutsoyanopulos has been filling in admirably for Meoño. Koutsoyanopulos has spent most of her time at Arizona backing up Carlie Scupin at first base, but she has played centerfield at the international level.
Freshman Amber Toven has taken over at shortstop. The elite defender has shown why she came in with that reputation.
“I expect competitiveness and I think they’re ready to right the ship,” Lowe sad. “And I think they know that. It almost felt like we were attacking UCLA separately instead of as one unit, and I think we’re ready to get on the same track and really be a team and be nine on one against whoever we’re facing.”
Arizona State (22-5, 3-0 Pac-12) @ Arizona (19-7, 0-3 Pac-12)
When: Game one will be played on Friday, March 25 at 6 p.m. MST/PDT. Game two is on Saturday, March 26 beginning at 5 p.m. MST/PDT. The series concludes with game three on Sunday, March 27 at 2 p.m. MST/PDT.
Where: Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium in Tucson, Ariz.
TV: Pac-12 Arizona
Rankings: Arizona is ranked No. 14 in the USA Today/NFCA coaches poll. Arizona State is No. 20 in the same poll. ASU is ranked No. 17 by D1 Softball, which has UA at No. 22. The Wildcats stand at No. 17 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll and the Sun Devils are No. 20. Softball America has UA at 15 and ASU at 20.
When it comes time to figure out the postseason berths, RPI is queen. ASU is No. 18 in RPI, while UA is No. 31.