Pac-12 softball in the polls: April 8
The nation has a new No. 1, but it still belongs to the Pac-12. After taking two of three from UCLA over the weekend, Oregon moves into the top spot with 30 of 32 first-place votes in this week’s USA Today/NFCA Division I softball poll. Here's how the Pac-12 fared in the latest rankings:
No. 1 Oregon (35-5, 8-1 Pac-12)
The Ducks hosted UCLA over the weekend in a marquee matchup of top-ranked teams and went to work on the then-No. 1 Bruins. Catcher Janelle Lindvall and centerfielder Koral Costa were a perfect 6-of-6 for the Ducks, and knocked in six RBI on two home runs in Oregon's 9-7 win on Friday. Senior Kailee Cuico did them one better by knocking in a team-high seven RBI on two home runs Saturday, leading to a 12-4 win in five innings. Cuico was named Pac-12 Player of the Week with three HRs and 12 RBI in five games played last week.
No. 2 UCLA (34-4, 9-3 Pac-12)
The Bruins were not ready for the offensive prowess shown by the Ducks in Eugene, but rebounded and captured the final game on Sunday to avoid the sweep. UCLA fell only one spot in the rankings due to Tennessee losing two of three to LSU. Junior pitcher Ally Carda (20-2) was the do-it-all girl for the Bruins with two hits, an RBI and 5.2 innings of relief pitched to earn the win. Last week’s hero for the Bruins, Stephany LaRosa, also chipped in with a three-run homer to secure the 6-1 victory.
No. 7 Arizona State (35-56 9-3 Pac-12)
The Sun Devils traveled to Berkeley and dispatched the Bears with little effort. Arizona State outscored California 27-4 in the three-game series with two run-rule victories to cap the weekend. Senior pitcher Dallas Escobedo (16-5) garnered wins on Friday and Sunday, striking out 23 batters over 12 innings to earn the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week award. Offensive firepower was on display as Elizabeth Caporuscio knocked a grand slam on Friday, followed by two each from Haley Steele, Bethany Kemp and Alix Johnson over the weekend.
No. 9 Arizona (32-8, 7-5 Pac-12)
The Wildcats hosted the Cardinal over the weekend and were met with a challenge Friday night that ended in a wild 18-12 victory. Freshmen Katiyana Mauga and Mo Mercado combined for five hits, 12 RBI and four runs scored – and that was just Friday night. Saturday’s game saw Mauga maintain a hot hand, going 2-for-2 with three RBI and two runs scored. First baseman Hallie Wilson was instrumental with her 3-of-4 performance supplying three RBI in the 12-3 run-rule victory. Stanford took Arizona to extra innings on Sunday, but Mauga’s walk-off two-run homer in the eighth secured the sweep and earned her USA Softball and NFCA Player of the Week honors.
No. 10 Washington (22-10, 2-6 Pac-12)
The Huskies were idle last weekend, swapping spots with Arizona. Last Tuesday, Washington crossed town to Seattle University and defeated the Redhawks 11-0 in five innings. Bryana Walker earned her 14th win of the season through four innings of shutout ball while Kaitlin Inglesby closed out the final frame. Victoria Howard and Hooch Fagaly combined for five hits, seven RBI and two runs scored.