This week in Pac-12 Softball
USA SOFTBALL COLLEGIATE PLAYER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS: Three Pac-12 players were named finalists for the 2016 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, as announced by ASA/USA Softball. Amongst the 25 named included WASHINGTON’s junior Ali Aguilar, who currently ranks second nationally in RBIs per game (1.53) and fourth nationally in home runs per game (0.5). UCLA’s senior Allexis Bennett holds top-30 national marks in batting average (0.44) and runs per game (1.17, 13th). Rounding out the Pac-12 is OREGON’s senior Koral Costa, who averages top-30 national rankings in batting average (21st, 0.45) and slugging percentage (29th, 0.798).
NPF DRAFTEES: Five players from the Conference were drafted in the 2016 NPF Draft, representing three different schools. College seniors are eligible for the draft, which consisted of six rounds to select 40 players. OF Allexis Bennett of UCLA was selected in the second round at eighth overall to the Pennsylvania Rebellion. A trio of Ducks were drafted, including UT Geri Ann Glasco (No. 20, Akron Racers), LHP Cheridan Hawkins (No. 29, Dallas Charge) and OF Alyssa Gillespie (No. 38, Dallas Charge). OREGON STATE’s INF Mikela Manewa was selected No. 40 overall to the Scrap Yard Dawgs.
PREVIEWING THE WEEKEND: This week in Pac-12 softball California starts off the week with non-conference action against UCSB and Cal Poly. The No. 10/10 Huskies travel to Corvallis to take on Oregon State beginning on Friday. Stanford heads to Utah, where the Utes are on a five game winning streak. After a week off of competition for the Ducks, No. 5/5 Oregon heads to Tempe to matchup against Arizona State. The league’s top 25 showdown this week features No. 15/14 UCLA traveling to No. 17/16 Arizona. The Bruins and the Wildcats’ Saturday and Sunday games will be broadcast on ESPN2, while the Monday night tilt is the Pac-12 Network Game of the Week.
AROUND THE LEAGUE: ARIZONA’s Katiyana Mauga and WASHINGTON’s Ali Aguilar each rank in the top-20 nationally in home runs per game. Mauga ranks 19th with a .35 average, while Aguilar ranks fifth at .46. Aguilar is fourth nationally in RBI’s per game at 1.41 and her teammate Kimberlee Souza sits 13th at 1.22. OREGON’s Cheridan Hawkins ranks 18th in the country in K/7 (11.9) and fellow Duck Nikki Udria ranks 17th in slugging percentage at a mark of .843.
BATTING PROWESS: Four Conference teams rank in the top-25 in batting average in the nation. OREGON leads the nation at .366 and WASHINGTON comes in at No. 5 nationally at a mark of .351. OREGON STATE (No. 21, .327) rounds out the Pac-12 presence.
RPI RELEASED: WASHINGTON and OREGON headline the Pac-12’s presence in the latest RPI release. The Huskies come into the week at sixth, while the Ducks come in at No. 9. UCLA remains at No. 14, ARIZONA remains at No. 20. UTAH comes in at No. 26, ARIZONA STATE at No. 31, OREGON STATE lands right behind at No. 32, CALIFORNIA No. 34 and STANFORD at No. 106.
WEST COAST UPGRADES: 11-time NCAA National Champion UCLA Softball announced a generous donation that will be used to support improvements, including a new scoreboard, to Easton Stadium. Oregon opened Jane Sanders Stadium on March 24th, which seats 1,500. Washington unveiled its new center field videoboard in March.
HISTORIC WEEKEND: After taking the series sweep over Stanford last weekend, Arizona head coach Mike Candrea earned his 1,458th career victory. Candrea passes legendary Margie Wright, who won 1,457 games from 1980-2012 coaching for Illinois State and Fresno State. Candrea now only trails Michigan’s Carol Hutchins, who hit the mark on April 2. Utah softball celebrated its 40th anniversary last week in the series sweep of Arizona State.
IN THE RANKINGS: Five league teams make appearances in the national top-25 polls this week. OREGON ranks fifth in both the USA Today/NFCA Division I poll and ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. WASHINGTON ranks No. 10 in respective polls. UCLA slides to No. 15/14 while ARIZONA remains at No. 17/16. ARIZONA STATE ranks No. 25 in the USA Today/NFCA poll and receives votes in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. UTAH receives votes in both pollings.
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.