The Gophers play Arizona at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in their second game in the Tucson Regional
They haven't fared too well against the Wildcats over the years, going 2-20 to be exact.
Arizona is the regional host and the No. 12 overall seed. And they are a team oozing with NCAA tournament experience. The Wildcats are making their 29th NCAA appearance in a row, have been to 22 College World Series and won eight of them, the last time in 2006 and '07. They want that drought of national titles over.
But they are beatable. They are 39-17 overall, but only 13-11 in the Pac 12. They come into the regional 1-5 in their last six games, losing three times to UCLA and two of three to Oregon.
The Gophers are 6-0 vs. Pac 12 teams this season.
Arizona does have two big boppers. They are the only school in the country with two players in the top 10 in both home runs and RBI.
Chelsea Goodacre leads the country with 80 RBI while Katiyana Mauga is tied for seventh with 72 runs driven in.
Mauga is tied for third in the NCAA with 25 home runs while Goodacre has 23 long balls. They hit in the No. 4 and 5 spots.
Goodacre and two teammates hit homers in Arizona's 4-2 win over St. John's in the second first-round game on Friday. The Red Storm had two runners aboard in the seventh inning with nobody out but the potential rally fizzled.
"This team is very well tested," WIldcats coach Mike Candrea said. "We'll try to go as far as we can. ... It's a formidable field. ... [Minnesota] is a very talented team."
Actually, even though Arizona is the 12th overall seed, m any observers say the Gophers are the better team. Take a gander:
RPI 18 16
USA Softball/coaches poll 15 16
ESPN/USA Today 11 18
If the Gophers had not lost to Iowa 2-0 in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals and won another game perhaps at least, they might have had a regional in Minneapolis.
Coming off that loss to a very average Hawkeyes team, the Gophers scored 10 run and had 12 hits to bury New Mexico State 9-2 in six innings in their regional opener.
It was a feel good win because everyone contributed.Eight of nine starters had at least one hit, seven scored at least one run.
And the table-setters, Sam Macken and Danielle Parlich did their jobs batting Nos. 1 and 2. Macken was 1-for-2, walked twice and scored three runs. Parlich, a freshman second baseman from Arizona, was 2-for-4 with two RBI.
Deeper in the order, Hannah Granger and Taylor LeMay were both 3-for-4. Granger had two RBI, LeMay three.
The Gophers are 47-9, have won 20 games that ended early by the eight-run rule. (When one team is ahead by eight runs or more after the fifth or sixth innings, the game ends early.)
Sara Gronewegen is now 29-5 after beating the Aztecs on a three-hitter. She struck out 10.
If the Gophers can beat Arizona on Saturday afternoon, they advance to Sunday's title game.
If they lose to the Wildcats, they will play an elimination game against either New Mexico State or St. John's at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.