This week in Pac-12 Softball

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PREVIEWING THE WEEKEND: UCLA heads to Eugene to face the Ducks, who are on an 18-game winning streak. The Bay Area schools square off against local foes on Wednesday before heading back to Conference play. STANFORD hosts OREGON STATE at the Farm beginning on Saturday, while CALIFORNIA welcomes ARIZONA STATE also on Saturday. The Wildcats and the Huskies will square off on Montlake beginning on Saturday.

AROUND THE LEAGUE: ARIZONA’s Katiyana Mauga and WASHINGTON’s Ali Aguilar each rank in the top-15 nationally in home runs per game. Mauga ranks 11th with a .38 average, while Aguilar ranks second at .57. Aguilar is the national leader in RBI’s per game at 1.75. OREGON STATE’s Natalie Hampton sits 11th at 1.32. Fellow Beaver Meehra Nelson ranks third in the country in saves at 4.0.

NATIONAL HONORS 2X: Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week Cheridan Hawkins was also tapped as Louisville/Slugger NFCA Division I Pitcher of the Week. Hawkins posted three wins last week, two as a starter and one in relief. The senior left-handed hurler did not allow a run, struck out 24 and surrendered just five hits (.096 opp. BA) in helping the fourth-ranked Ducks earn four Pac-12 wins and an 18-game win streak.

Utah’s Hannah Flippen was honored as the espnW National Player of the Week after wrapping up the home series against Oregon State on Monday and a weekend road trip to Arizona, the Utah junior second baseman registered 17 plate appearances and made just two outs.

BATTING PROWESS: Four Conference teams rank in the top-25 in batting average in the nation.  OREGON ranks second in the nation at .376 and WASHINGTON comes in at No. 4 nationally at a mark of .371.  OREGON STATE lands at No. 13 (.338), ARIZONA STATE (No. 19, .330) round out the Pac-12 presence.

RPI RELEASED: OREGON and WASHINGTON headline the Pac-12’s presence in the latest RPI release. The Ducks come in at No. 3, while the Huskies are at No. 5. ARIZONA holds steady at No. 16 with UCLA at No. 21. ARIZONA STATE registers at No. 25 with UTAH right behind at No. 26. OREGON STATE comes in at No. 31, CALIFORNIA No. 40 and STANFORD at No. 95.

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 1,450 career victories are seven shy of Wright’s mark. However, Candrea will likely not be the only one to get there. Michigan’s Carol Hutchins holds 1,456 career victories, six more than Candrea.

IN THE RANKINGS: Five league team make appearances in the national top-25 polls this week. OREGON ranks fourth and fifth in the USA Today/NFCA Division I poll and ESPN.com/USA Softball polls. WASHINGTON ranks No. 11/13 in respective polls. UCLA is No. 16 and No. 17, while ARIZONA improves to No. 18/17 and  ARIZONA STATE at No. 20/21. UTAH receives votes in both pollings, while CALIFORNIA does so in the USA Today/NFCA and OREGON STATE in the ESPN.com/USA Softball.

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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