The Arizona Wildcats and UCLA Bruins played in the championship round of the Women’s College World Series last season … and they are favored to do the same again this season.
It’s a split decision, though.
Mike Candrea’s Arizona team is No. 1 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, receiving nine of 20 first-place votes. The Bruins are second.
UCLA is on top of the USA Today/NFCA poll, receiving 27 of 30 first-place votes. Arizona is second.
The Wildcats, who were swept by UCLA in last season’s best-of-three championship series, return all but shortstop K’Lee Arredondo from their lineup. That position, as well as the development of No. 2 pitcher Shelby Babcock — needed to supply effective innings behind Kenzie Fowler — will be key to UA’s success.
Arizona opens the season Feb. 10 against Indiana at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe.
The Pac-10 figures to be difficult, as usual. Seven of the eight Pac-10 teams that play softball are ranked in both polls.