#3 Arizona Softball 2021 Preview

Arizona Wildcats
Overall Rank: #3
Conference Rank: #3 Pac-12
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In 2019, the Arizona Wildcats returned to the Women’s College World Series for the first time since 2010 when they finished up a string of six straight appearances and 16 years out of 17. Arizona received the #6 seed into the NCAA Tournament for their record 33rd straight appearance after taking two of three games at eventual champs UCLA.  The Wildcats swept through their regional and super regional, the latter over #11 seed Ole Miss.  Arizona then defeated #3 seed Washington 3-1 in their opener at the WCWS, before losing to UCLA 6-2 and #8 Alabama 2-0.  The Wildcats were ranked #5 in the final NFCA Poll of 2019.
2019: 48-14, 19-5
2019 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mike Candrea
Key Departed Players:
Taylor McQuillen, LHP, 1.52 ERA, 24-8 W/L, 207.0 IP, 232 SO
Dejah Mulipola, C, .311 BA, 23 HR, 55 RBI
Rylee Pierce, 1B, .266 BA, 8 HR, 23 RBI
Tamara Statman, DP, .323 BA, 4 HR, 13 RBI
Key Returning Players:
Jessie Harper, SS, .333 BA, 29 HR, 70 RBI
Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza, OF, .386 BA, 19 HR, 67 RBI
Reyna Carranco, 2B, .416 BA, 5 HR, 40 RBI
Malia Martinez, 3B, .339 BA, 14 HR, 57 RBI
Hannah Martinez, OF, .280 BA, 2 HR, 20 RBI
Alyssa Denham, RHP, 1.94 ERA, 13-6 W/L, 108.1 IP, 112 SO
Dejah Mulipola, C, .311 BA, 23 HR, 55 RBI
Arizona lost Taylor McQuillen to graduation.  The lefty finished her career with 80 wins and 815 strikeouts in 697.1 innings pitched.  The Wildcats will fill her spot with senior transfer RHP Mariah Lopez.  In her three years at Oklahoma, Lopez went 51-2 with a 1.61 ERA, and 355 strikeouts in 295 innings.  She will join senior Alyssa Denham as a top tandem in the circle.  The Wildcats will offer up their version of “Murderers Row” with a senior-laden, power-hitting lineup. Dejah Mulipola will lead the way after crushing 23 homeruns in 2019. Senior Jessie Harper was tops in the nation with her 29 HR in 2019. She will be backed by senior Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza (19 HR) and senior Malia Martinez (14 HR).  Palomino-Cardoza was named to the first team of All-Americans last year, with Reyna Carranco and Harper as second teamers.  Arizona will also need to replace Rylee Pierce at first base.  Juniors Hanah Bowen and Ivy Davis are possible replacements with freshmen Sharlize Palacios and Alayna Hicks.  Legendary coach Mike Candrea will field an experienced team that is loaded with power hitting and pitching that could have enough to take the Wildcats to their twelfth Pac-12 title and ninth national championship. 
Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament