By Andrew Bell
The Arizona softball program officially snapped a nine-year Women’s College World Series drought after the Wildcats defeated Mississippi in their best-of-three Tucson Super Regional.
Arizona won Friday’s contest against Ole Miss by a final score of 5-2, and they followed that with a 9-1 onslaught on Saturday evening.
“We have a lot of kids right now that I really think have come a long ways,” Arizona head coach Mike Candrea said. “We start in September and we work every year for this…I’m very happy right now for this group of young ladies and what they’ve done.”
𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐂𝐀𝐓𝐒 𝐀𝐑𝐄 𝐎𝐍 𝐓𝐎 𝐎𝐊𝐂!!
FOR THE 23RD TIME IN PROGRAM HISTORY, ARIZONA IS GOING BACK TO THE WOMEN'S COLLEGE WORLD SERIES!!
Final score from Hillenbrand: Arizona 9, Ole Miss 1 pic.twitter.com/sF6IYpq283
— Arizona Softball (@ArizonaSoftball) May 26, 2019
The Wildcats are led by junior All-American shortstop Jessie Harper, who led the Pac-12 Conference in home runs with 28. Among others, junior infielder Reyna Carranco was second in the league in batting average at a .420 clip, and redshirt junior outfielder Alyssa Palomino was among RBI leaders with 65 on the season.
“We have had some rough years but I think this year, we have definitely come together and we’ve worked together as a team,” Palomino said. “We have been here for each other through the whole thing and it’s just been incredible.”
As a team, Arizona has been an offensive juggernaut this season, batting .326 as a unit. In the pitcher’s circle, senior Taylor Mcquillin and junior Alyssa Denham both have held a sub-two ERA.
Arizona plays the winner of the Seattle Super Regional, which features Washington and Kentucky. A time for the matchup has yet to be determined, but the opening game will be played on Thursday, May 30.
Led by Candrea, the Wildcats softball program has the second most Division I national titles in the history of the sport, and they will go for their ninth trophy in Oklahoma City. A national power in softball that has been dormant from going to the World Series the last few years is now heading back to a familiar setting.
“The past couple of years that I have been here, we just haven’t meshed,” said Arizona junior catcher Dejah Mulipola. “I think this year, everyone truly bought into what coach was selling…I think we bought in and we worked as a unit. Our motto this year was ‘One team, one heartbeat,’ and it definitely showed on the field, which is why we finally broke the curse and we are going where we should be.”