Arizona Softball

Arizona Wildcats begin best-of-three Super Regional today at Auburn

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Arizona pitcher Danielle O’Toole has faced three of the SEC’s top teams this season (Alabama, Tennessee and LSU). In 32 2/3 innings pitched, she has posted a 0.64 ERA. In those five games, O’Toole is 4-1 with three shutouts, a .145 batting average against, 33 strikeouts and just eight walks.
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Information from the Arizona media relations department contributed to this report

Arizona is two wins away from reaching its 23rd Women’s College World Series, but those two victories will be hard to come by. The Wildcats (39-19) travel to fourth-seeded Auburn (52-9) to play in the best two-of-three series for the right to advance to Oklahoma City. The Wildcats have not been an unseeded underdog in a Super Regional since the program’s first national championship in 1991.

The Wildcats have now advanced to super regionals of the tournament for the 11th time in the 12 seasons since the NCAA Super Regional round was created in 2005. Arizona is attempting to become the second unseeded team since 2009 to advance to the Women’s College World Series while winning on the road for both regionals and super regionals. The Wildcats swept the Knoxville, Tenn., regional last week, beating Ohio State and then host Tennessee (seeded No. 13) twice.

Arizona is trying to become the first team to win at SEC-hosted regionals and super regionals to advance to the WCWS. Since 2009, just four unseeded teams have made it to the Women’s College World Series.

Both Arizona and Auburn went 3-0 in the regional, although Auburn had a less treacherous road, defeating Jacksonville State twice and USC Upstate at home to advance to the super regionals.

The Wildcats advanced past Ohio State and Tennessee posting a 0.95 team ERA behind the pitching of ace Danielle O’Toole, a .989 fielding percentage and the scoring 10 timely runs, nine of which occurred in the fourth inning or later, in three close, low-scoring games.

O’Toole pitched 19 1/3 innings of Arizona’s 22 innings, 16 of which occurred in a 31-hour stretch between Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon. She threw a two-hit shutout vs. Ohio State to open the regional before throwing a one-hitter vs. Tennessee in Game 2 in which she retired the final 21 batters of the game. O’Toole posted a 1.09 ERA and a .109 opponent batting average.

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NCAA SUPER REGIONAL
ARIZONA (39-19) AT AUBURN (52-9)

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Game 1: Today (3:30 p.m.)/ESPN2


Game 2: Tomorrow (11:00 a.m.)/ESPN


Game 3 (if necessary): Tomorrow (2:00 p.m.)/ESPNU

QUICK HITS:

— The Wildcats have advanced to 11 of the 12 super regionals since they began in 2005, with their only miss coming in 2013. Arizona is 12-11 in the round and has advanced out six of its previous 11 trips, but none since 2010.

— Arizona is 0-8 in its last four super regional appearances.

Mandie Perez has double digit doubles (11), home runs (11) and stolen bases (12). She is the first Wildcat in the 10-10-10 club since Brigette Del Ponte in 2012.

— Fifth-ranked Auburn (52-9, 16-7 SEC) is coached by former ASU coach Clint Myers, who was an assistant under Mike Candrea at Central Arizona College.

— The Tigers rank second in the NCAA in scoring (8.31 runs/game) and 16th in ERA (2.15) \

— Auburn’s 79 home runs are eighth most nationally and the Tigers have three players with more than 10 homers

Kasey Cooper (.431 avg, 17 2B, 19 HR, 75 RBI), Emily Carosone (.406 avg, 11 2B, 12 HR, 58 RBI) and Tiffany Howard (.404 avg, 11 SB) lead one of the nation’s top offenses.

— Auburn lost four of its final five regular season games, including two run-rule defeats to Tennessee, which was swept in two games last week by Arizona at the Knoxville Regional. The Tigers rebounded from the poor finish to win the SEC Tournament Championship.

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Baseball-card theme of Arizona coach Mike Candrea and some of the Wildcat standouts:

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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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