Arizona softball is in the postseason once again, keeping its NCAA tournament streak alive since 1987, Mike Candrea’s second season as head coach.
The Wildcats, in their first season with alum Caitlin Lowe as head coach, finished the regular season 33-20 overall and 8-16 in the Pac-12 — the worst conference record in the program’s history — but their resume was enough to get in after a nerve-wracking day.
Arizona’s name was not announced until the No. 15 Missouri regional.
The Wildcats will open against Illinois (34-20) in the opening round of that regional on Friday at 1:30 p.m., Tucson time. Missouri (36-20) will play Missouri State (27-18) in the other side of that regional.
Tucson ➡️ Columbia #BearDown pic.twitter.com/jumcY66fQI
— Arizona Softball (@ArizonaSoftball) May 15, 2022
Lowe was given the difficult task of taking over a program that lost a legend as a head coach in Candrea and multiple “Super Seniors” from last year — standouts who exhausted their eligibility after an extra year provided by the NCAA after COVID-19 canceled the 2020 season.
The list of players includes U.S. Olympic team catcher Dejah Mulipola, slugger Jessie Harper and veteran leaders Malia Martinez, Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza and Reyna Carranco, and top pitchers Alyssa Denham and Mariah Lopez.
Lowe was asked after Saturday’s 4-3 loss to Stanford on Saturday her thoughts on her first season as head coach.
“Figuring out how to be consistent is going to be the biggest thing moving forward,” she said. “We don’t lack the talent. It’s just showing up every day and being the same team.”
Qualifying for the NCAA tournament out of the Pac-12 are No. 6 UCLA, No. 8 ASU, No. 13 Washington, Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State and Arizona.
UCLA and ASU are in contention to host a Super Regional if they win their regionals next week.
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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. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.