#12 Arizona Softball Preview

Arizona Wildcats

Overall Rank: #12
Conference Rank: #4 Pac-12
Arizona College Softball Top 44 Team Preview
Arizona Team Page


The Arizona Wildcats come into 2013 in uncharacteristic fashion, missing the WCWS for two consecutive seasons.  Head Coach Mike Candrea is a living legend and has been at the helm of this perennial power since 1986.  Candrea has won eight national titles, made 21 trips to the WCWS and earned 1,310 career wins.  The 2012 Wilcats had outstanding power at the plate and were, as usual, solid on defense.  The club was sixth in the NCAA in home runs per game (1.4), 12th in slugging percentage (.504) and ranked sixth in fielding percentage at .977.  Coach Candrea returns seven letter winners and eight newcomers including two transfers and six freshmen.

2012: 38-19, 12-12
2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mike Candrea, 28th Season

Field Players:
Senior third baseman Brigette Del Ponte was All-Pac-12 in 2012.  The 2011 NFCA All-American started all 57 games last season, blasted 15 home runs, drove in 56 and slugged .678, second on the team.  All Pac-12 Freshman outfielder Hallie Wilson led the club hitting .346.  Redshirt sophomore Chelsea Suitos made the Pac-12 All-Freshman team.  The shortstop hit .310 and started 55 games in four different positions last season.  Kelsey Rodriguez, a transfer from Pacific, was the 2011 Big West Freshman Player of the Year and led her team with a .381 batting average.  The catcher was All-Conference in 2012.  

Junior Shelby Babcock went 21-10 in 2012, making 39 starts.  She finished with a 3.02 ERA.  Senior Kenzie Fowler is still recovering from off season surgery and should be back in action mid-season.  In 2012 she led the club with a 2.85 ERA.  She was 15-9, tossing 154.2 innings and fanning 180.  Junior Estela Pinon, a transfer from Yavapai College, was the 2012 Conference Player of the Year, an All-American and won the 2011 NJCAA National Championship.

Who to Watch:
Nancy Bowling will join the pitching staff.  Bowling, a freshman from Simi Valley, California comes in ranked number three on the 2012 College Sports Madness Recruit List.  Darcy Taylor was the 2012 Oklahoma Gatorade Player of the Year.  The 6’0” first baseman was number 44 on the Madness Recruit list.  She set numerous school records and was a key member of the 2012 ASA Gold National Champion AZ Thunder.  

Final Projection:
The Wildcats will look to return to their usual form in 2013, but questions about the pitching staff’s effectiveness in the Pac-12 and post season will need to be answered.  Last year’s bullpen was sixth in league play, posting an uncharacteristically high 4.21 ERA.  In the two Super Regional games against OU, the Arizona arms allowed 13 runs.  Coach Candrea’s team is sure to score plenty of runs and reach the post season, but competing for the conference crown or making his 22nd WCWS will be quite a challenge.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Hallie Wilson, OF, 188
Hits: Hallie Wilson, OF, 65
Home Runs: Brigette Del Ponte, 3B, 15
RBIs: Brigette Del Ponte, 3B, 56
Runs: Brigette Del Ponte, 3B, 45
Stolen Bases: Brigette Del Ponte, 3B, 14

Wins: Shelby Babcock, P, 21
Innings Pitched: Babcock, P, 197
Strikeouts: Kenzie Fowler, P, 180
Saves: Kenzie Fowler, P, 2

Madness 2013 NPF Draft Rankings:
#14 Brigette Del Ponte
#23 Kenzie Fowler

Madness 2013 Softball Recruit Rankings:
#3 Nancy Bowling
#16 Lauren Young
#44 Darcy Taylor
#66 Mandie Perez
#70 Gabrielle Sandstedt


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