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Preseason polls: Arizona-UCLA headed for softball rematch

Kenzie Fowler hugs coach Mike Candrea after the Wildcats beat Tennessee to advance to the 2010 championship series against UCLA.
ESPN3.com screenshot

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.

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