#7 Arizona Softball 2018 Preview

Arizona Wildcats
Overall Rank: #7
Conference Rank: #4 Pac-12
Arizona had an amazing 2017 season, but it ended a little sooner than they had hoped. The Wildcats went 52-9 overall and earned the #2 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. After cruising through the regional, Arizona lost a three game thriller to Baylor in the Super Regional. This year the Wildcats need to replace ace Danielle O’Toole, who went 30-5 with a 1.21 ERA. Replacing O’Toole sounds difficult, but Coach Mike Candrea has a couple superb options. Junior Taylor McQuillin went 19-4 with a 1.92 ERA as Arizona’s secondary pitcher. She will compete for innings with Louisiana transfer Alyssa Denham. As a freshman last year, Denham was 15-2 with a 2.27 ERA.
2017: 52-9, 18-6
2017 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mike Candrea
Key Departed Players:
Mo Mercado, IF, .396 BA, 10 HR, 53 RBI
Mandie Perez, OF, .393 BA, 6 HR, 43 RBI
Katiyana Mauga, IF, .356 BA, 25 HR, 61 RBI
Danielle O’Toole, P, 1.21 ERA, 30-5 W-L, 219.0 IP, 210 SO
Key Returning Players:
Ashleigh Hughes, UTL, .386 BA, 1 HR, 16 RBI
Dejah Mulipola, C, .335 BA, 12 HR, 49 RBI
Jessie Harper, IF, .333 BA, 19 HR, 56 RBI
Alyssa Palomino, OF, .302 BA, 16 HR, 54 RBI
Taylor McQuillin, P, 1.66 ERA, 19-4 W-L, 139.1 IP, 186 SO
As good as Arizona was on the mound in 2017, they were even better at the plate. They ranked tops in the country in homeruns per game and slugging percentage and second in scoring with 7.23 runs per game. Some big time hitters are gone, but this group could be just as productive. Dejah Mulipola, Jessie Harper and Alyssa Palomino each hit at least a dozen homeruns in 2017 and all three of them will drive in plenty of runs again in 2018. Ashleigh Hughes and Reyna Carranco, who hit .386 and .340 respectively last year, will set the table for the power hitters. And then there is Aleah Craighton. The two-time All-American joins the team this season as another transfer from Louisiana. With the Ragin’ Cajuns last year she hit .345 with 18 homeruns and 53 RBIs. If there is a way to replace Katiyana Mauga, Craighton is the answer.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament