Arizona Softball

Auburn and Arizona Wildcats Will Have Rematch in Tucson Regional Championship Round

AU vs. UA, Part II.

Auburn came one run short of Arizona in the Tucson Regional semifinal game Saturday at Hillenbrand Stadium. The Tigers will get another opportunity against the Wildcats in the championship round Sunday.

Reyna Carranco is one of the top 15 batters in the nation with a .442 batting average (Arizona Athletics photo)

If No. 6 seed Arizona (44-12) beats Auburn in the game that starts at 4 p.m., the Wildcats will move on to the Super Regional at Hillenbrand next weekend.

Auburn (39-20) must beat Arizona twice to advance. The Tigers lost to Arizona 2-1 earlier Saturday before run-ruling Colorado State 8-0 in an elimination game later in the evening.

Taylor McQuillin is 22-7 this season with 78 career victories (Arizona Athletics)

Arizona has won four of its last five games since getting swept at home by Washington two weeks ago. In that series, top batter Reyna Carranco suffered broken bones in each hand when she was hit by a pitch while swinging the bat.

Carranco went 2 for 3 in Saturday’s win over Auburn, improving her batting average to .442, which ranks in the top 15 nationally and tops the Pac-12.

Arizona’s pitching situation is solid with Taylor McQuillin (22-7, 1.53 ERA) posting two complete-game wins over Harvard and Auburn in the postseason. Arizona coach Mike Candrea also has reliable pitchers Alyssa Denham (9-5, 2.08) and Gina Snyder (5-0, 1.95) available if he decides to keep McQuillin for a winner-take-all game if Auburn beats Arizona in the first meeting.

Auburn’s pitching is not as deep with Nos. 1 and 2 pitchers Makayla Martin (11-2, 1.32) and Ashlee Swindle (11-8, 2.96) out with injuries. Auburn’s starter against Arizona on Saturday — southpaw Lexi Handley (6-4, 3.21) — will likely start against the Wildcats in the first game Sunday.

If there is a second game, another lefty, Chardonnay Harris, will likely pitch. Harris (11-6, 2.60) was the winning pitcher in Auburn’s victories over Colorado State on Friday and Saturday nights. Harris allowed only three hits, struck out three and walked one in a complete game against the Rams Saturday night.

Arizona has posted better hitting numbers with team batting average (.322 to .287 for Auburn), home runs (99 to 64) and slugging percentage (.578 to .478). The Tigers, however, have shown better speed with more doubles (73 to 69 for Arizona), triples (11 to 7) and stolen bases (69 to 14).

Jessie Harper is Arizona’s top home run hitter with 25 while batting .335. Kendall Veach leads Auburn with 20 home runs and is batting .296.

Alyssa Rivera, who hit her 10th home run in the win over Colorado State Saturday night, leads Auburn with 18 steals. She is batting .335.

Arizona has four batters with at least 13 home runs and all are batting at least .313. In addition to Harper, there is cleanup hitter Dejah Mulipola (.313 with 21 home runs). Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza (.386 with 15 home runs) and Malia Martinez (.324 with 13 home runs).

Arizona has a 5-3 series record against Auburn. The Tigers beat Arizona two games to one in the 2016 Super Regional at Auburn. The Wildcats are 2-0 against Auburn in regional games at Hillenbrand. In 2006, Arizona beat Auburn 4-2 in the regionals en route to a national title that season.

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! 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, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, 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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