The NCAA announced Friday that Arizona softball is one of 20 programs that has been approved to host Regionals and Super Regionals this postseason.
The NCAA predetermined the host sites this year to give them extra time to prepare for the additional responsibilities that come with hosting during a pandemic, like ensuring there is enough COVID-19 testing capability.
Normally, the postseason sites are determined on Selection Sunday, with the top 16 teams in the country hosting Regionals and the top 8 that advance hosting Super Regionals.
Finishing with a top ranking should still be the goal for Arizona, though, because the NCAA effectively dished out hosting rights to the top 20 programs in the country. The only exception is that No. 13 Louisiana was left out and No. 21 Georgia was put in.
Arizona (31-8, 9-5 Pac-12) is currently ranked No. 9 in the NFCA Coaches Poll and No. 11 in RPI—good enough to host Regionals but a bit short to host Supers. They can make up that ground by finishing the regular season strongly against Cal, No. 8 Oregon and No. 2 UCLA.
“Once you get into postseason, you just have to play well,” head coach Mike Candrea said Thursday. “Yeah, we’d like to be at home, we have a comfort level that we have here and play well here, so without a doubt, I want to be at home. But at the end of the day if we’re not and you have to go somewhere, then you gotta find a way to make it happen. And from here on out it’s going to be playing your best softball at the right time.”
The Wildcats are 22-0 at home this season and have won 28 straight at Hillenbrand Stadium dating back to last season. Meanwhile, they are just 9-8 on the road, including a 2-8 record against ranked teams.
“Playing at Rita is just a different feeling,” said redshirt freshman catcher Sharlize Palacios. “I mean, you love playing at home, you have your fans there, you have people that support you there and I think we just go in with a different type of swagger when we’re at home. And we practice there, you get all your reps in there, so it’s kind of a comfortable place for us, but I think we’re on the way of learning how to work on the road.”
The NCAA is allowing host sites to have up to 50 percent fan capacity. Arizona has been operating around 12 percent in accordance with local health guidelines.