NCAA softball: Arizona will see familiar faces against Texas at Women’s College World Series
OKLAHOMA CITY — For the fifth time this postseason, the Arizona Wildcats (39-21, 8-16 Pac-12) will face another unranked team when they take to the field at the Women’s College World Series on Sunday. . Texas (44-20-1, 12-6 Big 12) fell into the losing streak with a 7-2 loss to Oklahoma on Saturday, setting up a matchup against Arizona.
The Longhorns and Wildcats have ties that will create some interesting storylines. Until June 2018, Texas head coach Mike White was building a powerhouse in Oregon. When Texas came calling with a raise, the Ducks didn’t make the kind of offer needed to keep him in Eugene. White left and many of his players followed him to Austin, but he has a long history of training against Pac-12 teams.
Former Oregon players who went to Texas are mostly gone now, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some familiar faces on the field. Former Arizona outfielder Bella Dayton left even later in the year than her coach four years ago. The redshirt sophomore waited until after the fall ball to put her name on the transfer portal this college year, making the decision to leave the Wildcats in November 2021. She eventually landed closer to her home in Wiley, in Texas, and started 53 games for the Longhorns this year.
“I have a lot of respect for (Arizona) and I like seeing my former teammates because I was very close to them,” Dayton said. “But I’m delighted to play with the team I’m on now. I know they support me in everything we do. We’re just motivated to keep moving forward.
Dayton is hitting .271 this year with five homers. One of those home runs helped send UCLA into the losing streak when the Longhorns beat the Bruins 7-2 in their first WCWS game. Dayton also hit a home run in Game 2 of the Seattle Regional where the unranked Longhorns sent Washington home for the season.
She was an important transfer for Texas, but she was not the most important addition to the portal. He would be a fifth-year senior pitcher Hailey Dolciniwho joined the Fresno State Longhorns.
Mountain West’s 2021 pitcher of the year has carried a heavy load for Texas this season, throwing 202 innings during the year. No one else on the Longhorns has pitched more than 86.1 innings. With their season on the line, it’s likely Dolcini will take the circle for the Longhorns.
Dolcini is a pitcher who has put up Ks against 212 batters this season. That’s an average of 1.05 per round.
That would have been a bigger concern for the Wildcats earlier in the season. However, they showed they could score runs against an at-bat when they faced Oklahoma State. Kelly Maxwell in their first WCWS match.
Arizona also has a good chance to score points against Dolcini. Despite her number of strikeouts and a 0.95 WHIP this season, she allows 2.18 earned runs per seven innings. She will face a team that averages six points per game.
The Wildcats are hitting .261 as a team in the playoffs. That’s well above the .175 batting average that Dolcini’s opponents have hit her against this season. The Arizona batters have also walked 17 in seven games.
Perhaps more importantly, the Wildcats always find a way to get the ball out of the park despite not playing in the desert climate of Tucson. Arizona hit 10 combined homers at Columbia, Starkville and Oklahoma City. The only game where they failed to hit at least one home run was the win over Oregon State on Friday night.
White has kept Dolcini out of games this post-season, however. If he were to make that pick again on Sunday, the Wildcats would likely face Sophie Simpson. Simpson has a 3.63 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP this season. The Longhorns’ other option is Estella Czech which sports an MPM of 3.41 and a WHIP of 1.44.
The Arizona pitchers have won since the start of the playoffs. They no longer present a reason for observers to say that Arizona can score but is unable to prevent opponents from scoring. That’s why the Wildcats are playing their third game in Oklahoma City.
“A lot of work has gone into our relationship, both in the bullpen and off the field,” Devyn Netz said about another starter Hanah Bowen. “It’s something we had to work on because we faced a lot of adversity in conference games. When we arrived here, we knew we had wiped the slate clean. Knowing this is quite amusing. It was fun playing with you, Bow.
Even when Bowen wasn’t throwing as much early in the season, his presence was still with Netz. When Netz was asked how she was handling the increased workload of her second season, Bowen was the first person she credited with helping out.
“It’s fun and, you know, I worked with Bow a lot and learned from her, so I have to give her a lot of credit,” Netz said after Arizona’s loss to Yale on the 11th. March 2022. .
The Wildcats are looking to continue to put their name on the Arizona books as the most unlikely winners in program history. They also enjoy the ride with Caitlin Lowetheir freshman head coach.
“It’s super fun to play for Cait,” Netz said. “It’s great, I would say, laid back, knowing that she trusts all of us to do our jobs. I think that’s what she brings to the game… and to our team, it’s that quiet confidence, that calm confidence that we can do it. Just knowing that she trusts us is pretty awesome.
The Wildcats and Longhorns are scheduled to play at 4 p.m. MST on Sunday, June 5. The match will be broadcast on ESPN2.