There’s a storm brewing between the baselines. A match-up between Arizona State and University of Arizona is just down the road and both softball teams are on course for a collision in the first few days of April.
You can see the early signs now.
Kenzie Fowler is one of the much-heralded young pitchers in the country. The freshman at UofA just threw her first career no-hitter in an 8-0 victory over New Mexico State, last year’s best-hitting college softball team. And then the Wildcats turned around in the second game of the doubleheader and pounded the Aggies again for a 9-0 win. Brigette Del Ponte, another Wildcat freshman, smacked two thee-run homes runs, one in each game.
UofA is 14-1, on a seven-game win streak, and ranked No. 2 in the NFCA Softball Top 25.
Down the highway, in Tempe, the Sun Devils have been idle for awhile, having two of their three weekend games against the University of South Florida rained out. But in the first game, junior outfielder Mandy Urfer belted two home runs and Katelyn Boyd, a sophomore infielder from nearby Horizon High School, went 4-for-4 at the plate to wrap up the Devils’ tenth win of the young season.
The week before, ASU won the Littlewood Classic tournament at Farrington Field, destroying a good Rutgers team, 14-0, in the finale. Sam Parlich, another freshman pitcher, no-hit the Knights, racking up her second collegiate shutout. Her sophomore teammate on the mound, Hillary Bach, is 4-0 so far this season, providing the Devils with a sound 1-2 pitching punch.
ASU is 10-2 on the season and ranked No. 9 in the Top 25.
By the time the three-game series between these two powerhouses rolls around April 1, the youngsters will have had a chance to mature a bit and become downright frightening, and each squad should be positioning for a conference title.
The games will be in Tempe. But that isn’t likely to be a significant advantage for the Devils.
The fences are just as far for both teams. But probably not far enough.
(Kenzie Fowler photo: UofA Athletics)