It’s not unusual to have weather delays when playing softball against Washington. Those just typically happen when the games are held in Seattle. This year, the Huskies and the Arizona Wildcats will have to keep their fingers crossed that rain doesn’t disrupt the final Pac-12 home opener at Hillenbrand Stadium.

The opening game of the series will likely be held, but it would not be a surprise if first pitch is later than 5 p.m. MST when it’s scheduled. Rain and gusty winds up to 13 miles per hour are in the area and expected until at least early evening.

The rest of the weekend isn’t supposed to be rainy, but Saturday’s game will probably be played in cold, gusty, overcast conditions before things break on Sunday. It’s not what Arizona is used to playing in, but it’s been fairly common this season.

The Wildcats’ season opener was disrupted by rain. They also ran into rainy conditions on the road in Alabama, Kentucky, and Oregon on the recently completed 11-day road trip. By now, they should be used to it.

They are used to facing teams of Washington’s caliber. The Wildcats have faced strong competition in Alabama, South Alabama, Arkansas, and Indiana. In the circle, both Alabama and Indiana are in the top 10 in ERA. Arizona went 3-3 in those games, beating Indiana twice, splitting with Arkansas, and losing to Alabama twice.

Despite being much higher than the Wildcats in the rankings, the Huskies are behind the home team in a few metrics. The unofficial RPI has Arizona at No. 22, just like its NFCA ranking, but Washington is a few places back at No. 25. Arizona has played the tougher schedule, facing the bottom of Division I just four times compared to five for the Huskies. Arizona has also played a few more games against the very top of Division I, going 3-4-1 in those games versus UW’s 3-3. In UW’s favor, though, it has been on the road far more than the Wildcats have.

On the field, the Wildcats’ pitching staff—primarily Aissa Silva and Miranda Stoddard—has outperformed the Huskies’ staff as far as ERA. Arizona is ranked No. 22 with a 1.86 ERA. The only Pac-12 team ahead of it is Stanford, which is ranked eighth. UW, which has been relying primarily on Ruby Meylan and Lindsay Lopez, is ranked No. 26 with a 1.97 ERA.

Silva has made a huge stride forward in her sophomore season. The lefty is 11-1 in 65.1 innings. She sports an ERA of 1.18 and a WHIP of 0.90. She is striking out 0.87 batters per inning and has 57 strikeouts to 20 walks. Silva ended with a 4.80 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 54 IP as an early-entry freshman last season.

Arizona does not have a single pitcher with an ERA over Stoddard’s 2.42. Last season, the best ERA on the team was Devyn Netz at 3.88. It has been a huge difference for the team, which has been in every game this season.

The Wildcats are outscoring their opponents 163-55. Against the upper echelon of the schedule, they have a narrow 23-21 advantage in runs scored. Every game except the 6-3 victory over Indiana has been decided by one run or ended in a tie.

Although they didn’t have the record they wanted on their road trip, ending it 2-4-1, head coach Caitlin Lowe was pleased with how the Wildcats competed and ended on a two-game winning streak to open Pac-12 play.

“The good thing was we put ourselves in chances to win each one of those games, and it was the execution that wasn’t there,” Lowe said. “So we talked a lot yesterday about situational hitting and being able to execute in those moments when we’re on the road, but also we’ve got two strikes or two outs or situations that seem a little more uncomfortable and kind of just buying into that. So I talked a lot about that yesterday, and we’re trying to level up this week on that.”

It should have them in a good position to face the Huskies, who have won 8 of the last 10 games played between the two squads. Since it’s the last series between the two before they depart for different conferences, going out on a high note and improving on the 71-44 advantage in the all-time series would be a fitting farewell for UA.

Like the Wildcats, UW has used four pitchers this season but two are getting the bulk of the innings. Meylan has an ERA of 1.25 and a WHIP of 1.01 in 50.1 IP. Behind her is Lopez, who sports a 2.94 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP in 35.2 IP. Freshman Sidne Peters is not far behind Lopez with a 3.00 ERA. She’s having more success keeping runners off base than her older teammate with a 1.14 WHIP in 28.0 IP.

Injury notes

Arizona has three pitchers who are currently dealing with injuries or trying to come back from injury. The most recent addition is freshman Brooke Mannon, but Lowe doesn’t foresee her being out much longer.

“Brooke saw the doctor (on Tuesday),” Lowe said. “She was unavailable Friday for Oregon State. She was going through some stuff (at) Bama, Louisville. Got good news from the doctor as far as not being serious. We wanted to just keep the safe route…since we were still on the road, kind of come home and see our doctors. But she did get good news, so hopefully we can work her back into the rotation, as well.”

As for the other two—senior Netz and sophomore Sydney Somerndike—there are more questions about their status for the season. Somerndike has been throwing bullpens and is in uniform during games these days. Netz is still doing neither, and the question just over halfway through the regular season is whether it’s in her interests to try to return after missing most of her final year of eligibility. Should she just wait and try to come back next year?

“We want to make the best decision for her and for the team,” Lowe said about Netz. “So I think at the end of the day, it’s going to be a plan for her entire career versus just looking (at this season).”

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