This week in Pac-12 softball

Eric Evans

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PREVIEWING THE WEEKEND: STANFORD opens up its Conference action heading to Eugene to face the Ducks, who are on a 15-game winning streak. The series will be the first played at the renovated Jane Sanders Stadium. OREGON STATE hosts CALIFORNIA, both looking for its first Conference win. The Huskies head to Los Angeles to face UCLA, while the 3-0 (Pac-12) Utes travel to ARIZONA.  The Sun Devils hosts Texas Tech in a non-conference series this week.

AROUND THE LEAGUE: ARIZONA leads the Pac-12 in ERA with a 2.24, which would be the program’s lowest since 2010 (2.19). Danielle O’Toole leads all pitchers with a 1.69 ERA while Taylor McQuillin is fourth with a 2.65 ERA. CALIFORNIA’s SS Lindsay Rood is hitting a team-best .423, is tied for the lead in home runs with three and ranks second in RBI with 15. STANFORD will be the first team to take on the Ducks in its newly renovated Jane Sanders Stadium to open the Cardinal’s Pac-12 action. UTAH has won 18 of its last 24 contests after going 9-2 over an 11-day stretch (Mar. 11-21). Over the last five games, the Utes are averaging 10.6 runs per contests. Over the last week, Utah batted .365 with five starters hitting over .400. UCLA  senior Allexis Bennett leads the Bruins with 12 multiple-hit games, having posted seven two-hit contests, three three-hit affairs and a pair of games with four hits. WASHINGTON ranks in the top two of the league in just about every offensive category, leading the conference in on-base percentage (.462) and walks (112). 

BATTING PROWESS: Five Conference teams rank in the top-25 in batting average in the nation.  OREGON paces the nation at .383. WASHINGTON comes in at No. 3 nationally at a mark of .373.  OREGON STATE lands at No. 13 (.345), ARIZONA STATE (No. 19, .332) and UCLA (No. 24, .327) round out the Pac-12 presence.

RPI RELEASED: OREGON and WASHINGTON headline the Pac-12’s presence in the first RPI release of the season. The Ducks come in at No. 3, while the Huskies are at No. 4. ARIZONA lands at No. 16 with UCLA right behind at No. 17. OREGON STATE registers at No. 26, UTAH at No. 28 and ARIZONA STATE at No. 30. CALIFORNIA is No. 43 and STANFORD is No. 92.

RACE TO WRIGHT’S RECORD: 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 1,448 career victories are nine shy of Wright’s mark. However, Candrea will likely not be the only one to get there. Michigan’s Carol Hutchins holds 1,453 career victories, five more than Candrea.

NATIONAL HONORS: Pac-12 Player of the Week Gwen Svekis was also tapped as espnW’s National Player of the Week. After she homered in three consecutive at-bats over the first two games, she finished the series with a .700 on base percentage and slugged 2.000. It’s the first national weekly honor for a Pac-12 player this season.

IN THE RANKINGS: Six league team make appearances in the national top-25 polls this week. OREGON ranks fourth and seventh in the USA Today/NFCA Division I poll and ESPN.com/USA Softball polls. WASHINGTON ranks No. 10 in both polls. UCLA is No. 14 and No. 16, while ARIZONA stays at No. 18 in both pollings, ARIZONA STATE at No. 21/21 and OREGON STATE at No. rv/24. 

BERG TAPPED FOR JWNT: Oregon State head softball coach Laura Berg has been selected as the head coach for the 2017 USA Softball Junior Women’s National Team, the Amateur Softball Association of America and USA Softball announced on March 2. Berg, USA Softball’s only four-time Olympian and fourth-year skipper of the Beaver softball team, will lead the USA Softball JWNT at the World Baseball Softball Confederation Junior Women’s World Championship, slated to be held in Clearwater, Fla. in July of 2017.

SENIOR CLASS AWARD CANDIDATES: Seniors Allexis Bennett of UCLA and Kayla Bonstrom of STANFORD are two of the 30 candidates for the 2016 Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. 

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