There’s nothing like your first time.
The Arizona Wildcats hope they’ll be able to say that about winning on the road after a trip to Seattle.
As far as TWIT-Pac, if you look at the national rankings it’s a three-team race this year, and the results of the opening weekend support that claim. ASU, UCLA and OSU are the front-runners, which makes this week’s series between the Bruins and Beavers the first huge showdown of the season.
What will also be interesting to watch is all three of these teams could end up with a resume worthy of hosting a regional. The thing is, the Pac-10 never gets three regionals. It’s a big deal when we get two. But with perennial host Fullerton having a down season could the Pac-10 hoard all the western regionals?
Wind, kick, and deal!
ARIZONA (20-8 / 2-4) at
Washington (14-11 / 2-1)
If the Cats can survive this weekend they’ll be in decent shape with 15 of their final 23 games back at comfy Kindall/Sancet. The UA game times are 6 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday and all three games will be on 1290 AM radio in Tucson.
ASU (26-1 / 5-1) at WSU (15-10 / 1-2)
Oregon was surprisingly competitive with ASU last weekend. I expect this one, however, to be a name-your-score series for the Devils.
Cal (17-10 / 3-3) at USC (14-14 / 2-4)
The Trojans are the Anti-Arizona: 4-7 at home but 10-6 on the road.
Oregon (19-10 / 2-4) at Stanford (13-10 / 3-3)
After winning their first Pac-10 series the Cardinal have lost five out of six games.
UCLA (23-1 / 2-1) at OSU (18-6 / 2-1)
The series of the week will decide who gets the inside track in chasing down Arizona State. Is the Bruins’ midweek loss to Fullerton a sign their momentum is starting to fade?
You can’t win a series in the first game but I think the Wildcats’ weekend could be lost if things don’t go well Friday night.
The big question mark is pitcher Kurt Heyer. Is his head OK? He says he won’t have any trouble bouncing back but if you get kicked off the horse you can’t know for sure if it’s going to affect you until you’re back in the saddle.
The other side of the equation if getting the UA’s league-leading bat attack back on track. Washington checks in with the worst team ERA in the Pac-10 (6.07) so you would think that’s a good sign, but the Huskies did just fine against WSU, allowing only 10 earned runs in 30 innings. The UW bullpen was especially tough, giving up two earned runs in 13 2/3 innings of work, a 1.32 ERA.
It’s a pretty simple formula. Jump out to an early lead, get Heyer deep into the game, get the road-win monkey of your back, and set yourself up for a strong weekend.
It’s never too late for your first time.