Arizona Wildcats softball
Wildcat softball faces tough challenge in Tigers
Missouri won opening series at Alabama
The No. 2 Arizona softball team is off to a 6-0 start, but the Wildcats will get a true test this weekend when they take on Missouri in a three-game series at Hillenbrand Stadium.
The teams play at noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and at noon Sunday.
The Tigers are No. 6 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll and No. 5 in the USA TODAY/National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll.
The Tigers are 2-1, posting a series victory at No. 2 ranked Alabama to open their season.
Missouri took the first game Saturday 2-1, then lost the second 9-0. But the Tigers bounced back on Sunday with a 9-0, run-rule victory in five innings.
That was the first time the Crimson Tide has ever been run-ruled in the Alabama Softball Complex, which began in 2000. Chelsea Thomas (2-0) limited the Crimson Tide to two hits in the shutout and two hits in the opener.
No. 16 Northwestern was the only preseason ranked team UA faced in its six games in the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, and UA had to rally to win 4-3. Northwestern, though, got a couple of fluke runs when a ball bounced off Brittany Lastrapes for a two-run homer.
Former Canyon del Oro High School star Kenzie Fowler is off to a great start for the Cats. The highly touted freshman has four of UA’s wins and a 1.25 earned run average. Sarah Akamine is 2-0 with a 1.34 ERA.
Here’s what veteran scribe Jack Magruder, who covered UA during the tournament for the Arizona Daily Star, said via e-mail about the Cats.
Freshman Kenzie Fowler is going to return the Wildcats to the very elite level this season. She looks to be in the Jennie Finch/Danielle Lawrie (of Washington) class. I know that is saying a lot, but she dominated the opponents she faced in the Kajikawa Classic last weekend, overmatching most of the hitters, and that was in her first experience at the college level. Her fastball is her best pitch, but she also mixes in a wicked change-up.
The series against Missouri this week should be interesting, since the Tigers made the College World Series last year, too. UA is very young – only two seniors played in the Kajikawa Classic, shortstop K’Lee Arredondo and pitcher Sarah Akamine – and it will be enlightening to see how the youngsters reacts after their early success up here.