Pac-12 softball in the polls: Feb. 25
The No. 3 ranked Arizona State Sun Devils (17-0) hosted and swept the Diamond Devil Invitational over the weekend, while seven Pac-12 schools competed in the 35-team Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Cathedral City, Calif. The USA Today/NFCA Division I softball poll was released on Tuesday with five teams ranked in the top 10 and six in the top 15.
The No. 4 Oregon Ducks and the No. 5 UCLA Bruins swept their opponents this weekend in the Classic. The No. 10 Arizona Wildcats suffered their first loss of the season yet still skipped up four spots. The No. 7 Washington Huskies lost two at the Classic while the No. 15 Stanford lost three of five.
The Sun Devils jumped one spot after an utterly dominant performance in the Diamond Devil Invitational over the weekend. In five games, the Sun Devils notched run-rule victories four times and Dallas Escobedo (7-0) threw a complete-game shutout in the other. Escobedo’s 0.45 ERA and Mackenzie Popescue’s (8-0) 0.62 ERA are second and third in the conference, respectively (minimum five starts).
The Bruins squeaked by the defending national champion Oklahoma Sooners on Friday and the Missouri Tigers on Saturday by a run in the Mary Nutter Classic. UCLA would have no trouble the rest of the way, compiling 29 runs against its opponents and securing a run-rule win against New Mexico in the finale. Ally Carda improved to 9-0 on the season and owns the conference’s best ERA at 0.40.
The Ducks also took advantage of their weekend sweep at the Mary Nutter Classic and moved up to No. 4. Oregon’s 14th consecutive win after its season-opening loss shows how short the poll voters’ memories can be. The Ducks defeated two ranked teams over the weekend in No. 23 LSU and No. 24 Notre Dame, the latter coming in a nine-inning pitchers’ duel. Oregon topped the aforementioned Tigers and Fordham in regulation, while collecting run-rule wins over Virginia and UC Davis.
The Huskies' trip to the Mary Nutter Classic was less than memorable and the poll voters noticed by dropping Washington four spots to No. 7. The Huskies started and ended the tournament well with shutouts, but it was the in-between games that gave them the biggest challenges. Washington lost the back end of doubleheaders on Thursday and Friday nights to LSU and Northwestern, 6-3 and 4-2 respectively.
The Wildcats had a successful weekend outscoring its opponents 34-4, but lost a 2-0 decision on Thursday night to Missouri. Not only was that Arizona’s first loss, but also its first shutout loss since May 17, 2013. Arizona then went on to shut out Fresno State 8-0 in five innings and Nebraska 7-0. Saturday’s game saw the 'Cats dismantle UNLV 14-1 in five innings.
The Cardinal faced three ranked teams in Baylor, LSU and Tennessee at the Mary Nutter Classic and lost every one of those matchups. Stanford even needed eight innings before dispatching Syracuse 11-5. The opening game against Maryland proved to be a harbinger of silent bats over the weekend. Other than the nine runs scored in the final two innings against the Orange, the Cardinal only scored six runs in four games.