Arizona Coach Mike Candrea has been with the Wildcats since 1986. He's won 10 Pac10/12 titles. At one point, his team was in the Women's College World Series in 16 consecutive seasons.
That streak ended in 2007. One year earlier, Clint Myers coached his first season at Arizona State, who he built into a power house.
These are two coaches who know each other very well. From 2006 to 2013 they faced each other in the Pac 10/12. Now they face each other with a trip to the Women's College World Series on the line.
Arizona comes in having knocked off 13th seed Tennessee in Knoxville during the Regional round. That's an impressive feat given Tennessee only had one loss at home until the game. Now they'll attempt to come in to Auburn and make the WCWS as an unseeded road team in both Regional and Super Regional. That's no east task, and it's only been done once since 2009.
Arizona finished 5th in the 2016 Pac12 standings with a record of 39-19 overall and 13-11 in conference. The teams who finished above them are all also still alive in the NCAA Super Regionals. All of them are on the road with the exception of 5th seeded Oregon, who is hosting 12th seeded UCLA.
Let's see how the Tigers and Wildcats compare in some statistical numbers. Both teams play in great leagues, so the competition that resulted in these stats should be fairly equal, overall.
So, if we just go by stats, this is like last week: Auburn is clearly the better team. Of course, Auburn also won the SEC Tournament, is ranked in the Top 5 in the nation, and is the 4th seed, so on paper the Tigers are the better seed.
That's on paper. On the diamond, Arizona comes in to this game on a hot streak. As noted above, knocking off Tennessee twice in Knoxville - even when Tennessee is down a major player - is a big accomplishment. Their ace pitcher Danielle O'Toole is one of the best in the nation, and they're no stranger to the long ball, either.
Auburn, of course, comes in with a pitching staff of 5, and a lineup that doesn't really feature a weak spot in any position in the field or at the plate. The Tigers will need the run production they're known for - 2nd in the NCAA this season - to get past the Wildcats.
Auburn is 1-3 in previous appearances against Arizona. The last meeting was a 20-2 thrashing by Auburn in an early season tournament. That's the type of performance the Tigers hope to get out of the team at home in Jane B. Moore Field.
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