Knowing Mike Candrea's distaste for midseason hype, one prefaces a question by not wanting to overstate the Arizona Wildcats' series at No. 1 Cal that starts today.
Candrea jumps in before the sentence ends.
"Oh," he said. "I do."
OK, then - let the hype begin.
How big is the series? Cal (37-1, 9-0) installed 704 more outfield seats, just for this weekend, to more than double the capacity at Levine-Fricke Field.
The No. 13 Wildcats (28-10, 7-5) have won seven of their past eight conference games.
"This weekend's going to be a challenge for us," Candrea said. "And I think it'll be an eye-opener to see where we're really at."
Here's why it matters so much:
The postseason. The top 16 teams in the NCAA tournament field, typically, are chosen to host the first round; the best eight usually host the super regional, too.
Entering this week, the UA's RPI was No. 13.
"This is an opportunity for us to really make a statement that can help us later on come postseason," Candrea said. "If you like to host - and I feel like we like playing here at Hillenbrand - you've gotta go out and earn it."
The need to improve. Candrea disliked the Wildcats' approach in Wednesday's win against last-place Utah.
"If we bring the same energy to the ballpark that we did (Wednesday)," Candrea said, "then we're going to get our (behinds) kicked. It's pretty simple."
Candrea said his team has to "make a choice: to start playing this game with some fight and drive and competitiveness, or it's gonna get tough."
Pitcher Kenzie Fowler thinks the UA could be peaking at the right time.
"We're so close, we're so close," she said. "It'd be a good time to put stuff together, and fight."
The challenge. The consensus No. 1 team's only loss was in extra innings to Hawaii.
"I, personally, want to bring them down," third baseman Brigette Del Ponte said. "I don't want them to be No. 1 anymore - and I want our rankings to come up."
Candrea said Cal has leadership, talent and is "hungry to prove something" this year.
"That's a nasty combination in athletics," he said.
It's rare the Wildcats are decided softball underdogs.
"No one's expecting the No. 1 team to lose a game," second baseman Kristen Arriola said. "We're going to go there and prove them wrong."
• What: Arizona at California
• Today: 3 p.m.
• Saturday: 1 p.m.
• Sunday: Noon