Pac-12 softball kicks off 2016 campaign
• Pac-12 softball is back and stacked with talent as the 2016 season begins this week. Measured by national championships, awards and honors, the Pac-12 has the most impressive legacy in collegiate softball and looks to 2016 for another banner season.
• Preseason accolades are already pouring in for the league, with nine Pac-12 softball players named to the USA Softball Top 50 Watch List for Collegiate Player of the Year and six teams ranked in the USA Today/NFCA and the ESPN.com/USA Softball preseason top-25 polls. OREGON headlines the polls at No. 4/6, followed by No. 7/7 UCLA, No. 13/15 ARIZONA, No. 20/19 WASHINGTON, No. 21/22 California, No. 22/20 ARIZONA STATE. UTAH comes in at No. 23 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll.
• Once again, Pac-12 softball will receive unprecedented exposure, thanks to a record 80 games to be televised on the Pac-12 Networks, along with ESPN’s coverage of the Women’s College World Series.
|Thurs., Feb. 11||Game||Tournament/Location||Time||TV|
|Arizona State vs Utah State||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||4:30 p.m. MT|
|Arizona vs Southern Utah||Hillenbrand Invitational, Tucson, Ariz.||6 p.m. MT|
|Arizona State vs San José State||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||7 p.m. MT|
|Fri., Feb. 12||Game||Tournament/Location||Time||TV|
|Oregon vs Cal Poly||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||11:30 a.m. MT|
|Utah vs Notre Dame||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||12 p.m. MT|
|UCLA vs Colorado State||Aggie Classic, College Station, Texas||12:15 p.m. CT|
|UCLA at Texas A&M||Aggie Classic, College Station, Texas||3 p.m. CT|
|Oregon State vs San José State||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||3:45 p.m. MT|
|Washington vs Texas Tech||UNLV Sportco Kick Off Classic, Las Vegas||3:45 p.m. PT|
|Arizona vs Southern Utah||Hillenbrand Invitational, Tucson, Ariz.||5 p.m. MT|
|Washington vs Oklahoma||UNLV Sportco Kick Off Classic, Las Vegas||6 p.m. PT|
|Arizona vs North Texas||Hillenbrand Invitational, Tucson, Ariz.||7 p.m. MT|
|Oregon vs Georgia State||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||7 p.m. MT|
|Arizona State vs Tennessee||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||7:30 p.m. MT|
|Oregon State vs Kentucky||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||8:15 p.m. MT|
|Stanford vs Portland State||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||8:30 p.m. MT|
|California vs Wisconsin||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||9 a.m. MT|
|Sat., Feb. 13||Game||Tournament/Location||Time||TV|
|Arizona vs Nebraska-Omaha||Hillenbrand Invitational, Tucson, Ariz.||5 p.m. MT|
|Arizona State vs East Carolina||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||7:30 p.m. MT|
|California vs Notre Dame||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||1:30 p.m. MT|
|California vs CSU Northridge||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||4:45 p.m. MT|
|Oregon vs Maryland||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||9:30 a.m. MT|
|Oregon vs Kentucky||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||2:30 p.m. MT|
|Oregon State vs. CSUN||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||7:30 p.m. MT|
|Stanford vs New Mexico||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||3:30 p.m. MT|
|Stanford vs Cal Poly||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||6 p.m. MT|
|UCLA vs Wichita State||Aggie Classic, College Station, Texas||12:15 p.m. CT|
|UCLA at Texas A&M||Aggie Classic, College Station, Texas||5:15 p.m. CT|
|Utah vs Georgia State||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||6 p.m. MT|
|Utah vs Portland State||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||8:15 p.m. MT|
|Arizona vs Purdue||Hillenbrand Invitational, Tucson, Ariz.||6 p.m. PT|
|Sun., Feb. 14||Game||Tournament/Location||Time||TV|
|Washington vs South Dakota||UNLV Sportco Kick Off Classic, Las Vegas||9 a.m. PT|
|Arizona State vs Portland State||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||1:30 p.m. MT|
|Arizona vs UC Santa Barbara||Hillenbrand Invitational, Tucson, Ariz.||1 p.m. MT|
|Oregon vs Boston College||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||1:30 p.m. MT|
|Oregon State vs New Mexico||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||1:30 p.m. MT|
|Utah vs Fresno State||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||1:30 p.m. MT|
|UCLA vs Colorado State||Aggie Classic, College Station, Texas||10 a.m. CT|
|Oregon vs Northwestern||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||11:15 a.m. MT|
|Oregon State vs Cal Poly||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||11:15 a.m. MT|
|Washington vs Minnesota||UNLV Sportco Kick Off Classic, Las Vegas||11:15 a.m. PT|
|Stanford vs CSUN||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||2:30 p.m. MT|
|Arizona State vs San Diego||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||3:45 p.m. MT|
|Utah vs Boston College||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||3:45 p.m. MT|
|Stanford vs Seattle U||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||4:45 p.m. MT|
|California vs Indiana||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||9 a.m. MT|
|Mon., Feb. 15||Game||Tournament/Location||Time||TV|
|Arizona State vs Kentucky||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||3 p.m. MT||PACAZ|
|Utah vs Kentucky||Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.||12:30 p.m. MT||PACMT|
|Washington vs UNLV||UNLV Sportco Kick Off Classic, Las Vegas||10 a.m. PT|
LEAGUE QUICK HITS
• No. 13 ARIZONA kicks off the 2016 season by hosting the Hillenbrand Invitational, Feb. 11-14 at Hillenbrand Stadium. The Wildcats welcome Southern Utah, North Texas, Nebraska Omaha, Purdue and UC Santa Barbara for the four-day, 16-game event.
• Odds are Arizona head coach Mike Candrea will break Margie Wright’s NCAA record as the all-time leader in career victories at some point this season. Margie Wright won 1,457 games from 1980-2012 coaching for Illinois State and Fresno State. Candrea’s 1,428 career victories are 29 shy of Wright’s mark. However, Candrea will likely not be the only one to get there. Michigan’s Carol Hutchins holds 1,432 career victories, four more than Candrea.
• ARIZONA STATE welcomes 31 teams to Tempe, Ariz., for the annual Kajikawa Classic. Eleven of the 32 teams in this year’s field advanced the the NCAA Tournament in 2015 and six enter the season ranked in the top 25 nationally in the NFCA Preseason Top-25 Coaches Poll. Including the Sun Devils, six Pac-12 teams will compete in the Kajikawa Classic.
• The Sun Devils will match up against six preseason top-25 teams in non-conference action this year.
• This weekend CALIFORNIA heads to the Kajikawa Classic. The Golden Bears will face 10 teams in the preseason top 25 this season. Cal returns its entire pitching staff as well as All-Pac-12 second teamer Jazmyn Jackson and Pac-12 All-Freshman selections Kobie Pettis and Taurie Pogue.
• OREGON, the reigning Pac-12 champion and preseason Pac-12 coaches pick to win the league, also heads to Tempe this weekend. Oregon returns eight players who made 40 or more starts in the field last season and pitcher Cheridan Hawkins. Hawkins and sophomore third baseman Jenna Lilley were both All-Americans a season ago; Hawkins finished in the final three for national player of the year, as did Lilley in national freshman of the year voting.
• OREGON STATE is off to the Kajikawa Classic, facing the first of nine teams that the Beavers will play in their non-conference slate that reached the NCAA Tournament in 2015. Oregon State returns six players from last year and two pitchers in junior Taylor Cotton and senior Bev Miller.
• STANFORD returns 12 letterwinners and six starters under second year head coach Rachel Hanson. The Cardinal topped five NCAA Tournament teams in 2015, recorded single-season top 10 numbers in multiple offensive categories and saw one of the best single-season individual performances in program history by Kayla Bonstrom.
• UCLA head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez enters her 10th season just two victories away from 400 for her career (398-128; .757). The Bruins are coming off back-to-back, 50-win seasons for the first time since 2002-2003 and return 14 letter winners, six starters and three pitchers from last year’s team. Two of the Bruins’ four All-Americans from a year ago are back in 2016 in senior Allexis Bennett and junior Delaney Spaulding.
• UTAH opens the 2016 season at the Kajikawa Classic. The Utes' No. 25 2015 ranking marked the second time in school history that it finished a season in the Top 25. The Utes return 11 letterwinners and six starters including junior Hannah Flippen and sophomores Katie Donovan and Heather Bowen.
• WASHINGTON heads into 2016 with the bulk of last season's squad back. The Huskies return 14 letterwinners and six starters from a year ago. Washington will compete in five tournaments that will matchup against six ranked opponents, including defending national champion Florida and runner-up Michigan.
CONFERENCE STANDINGS (Expanded standings)
|Teams||Pac-12 Record||Percentage||Overall Record||Percentage||Streak|
IN THE PRESEASON