Senior Christie Zinanti and the Cougars travel to Arizona in the NCAA Super Regionals this weekend (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- For the first time in program history, BYU (46-11) will participate in the NCAA softball tournament’s second round, traveling to play Arizona (46-11) in a best-of-three series in one of eight NCAA Super Regionals.
The two teams will begin play on Friday at 4 p.m. local time with a second and third game, if necessary, scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium. Friday's game will be televised live on ESPN2 HD and simulcast on ESPN3.com while Saturday's contest(s) will be shown on ESPNU.
“They’re a great softball team and program,” said BYU coach Gordon Eakin. “They truly are the face of college softball and have a tremendous winning tradition. We’re going to have to play pretty much flawless softball to give ourselves a chance to win.”
Arizona is the No. 10-seed in the tournament and was ranked fourth in the country at the end of the regular season. The Wildcats defeated Cornell and then defeated Hofstra twice to move on. Arizona has four player with at least 16 home runs this season, including 21 by Brigette Del Ponte, who also leads the team with 75 RBI. Brittany Lastrapes is first on the team with a .408 batting average with 75 hits on the year.
Freshman Kenzie Fowler will likely start against BYU, a freshman with an ERA of 1.25 and a 33-6 record.
"We have great admiration for Coach Candrea and this Arizona softball team and we are honored to be able to compete in the Tucson Regional with a chance to advance to the College World Series," Eakin said.
The Cougars advanced with a sweep of the competition last weekend in Austin, Texas, defeating East Carolina, 1-0; No. 7-seed Texas, 9-8; and East Carolina again in the championship game, 8-3.
Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year JC Clayton led BYU by batting 8-for-10 with three runs and an RBI over the weekend. Sophomore Jessica Dugas was right behind, batting 7-for-9 with three runs.
The two slappers set up BYU’s top hitters, including MWC All-Teamers Angeline Quiocho, Jessica Fitu and Kristin Delahoussaye.
Quiocho, who will finish her career atop the BYU and MWC record books in every major hitting category, had six RBI, including a grand slam against Texas last weekend. Fitu added four RBI and hit for the cycle over the course of the Regional while Delahoussaye added a key double in the bottom of the seventh against Texas, finishing with four hits, two doubles, two runs and three RBI in Austin.