Pac-12 softball 2017 season preview

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Pac-12 teams will hit the ground running both locally and internationally during the first week of the 2017 season. CALIFORNIA and WASHINGTON head overseas as the Bears head to Puerto Rico and the Huskies head to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. OREGON STATE also travels across the ocean to Hawai’i to compete in the Paradise Classic. ARIZONA STATE, Stanford, Oregon and Utah are set to participate in the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. , hosted by the Sun Devils. UCLA stays local as it hosts the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament in Los Angeles... This year is highlighted by top talent and deep rosters. 2016 Pac-12 player of the year Hannah Flippen returns to Utah for her senior season, and All-Americans Delaney Spaulding of UCLA and Nikki Udria of Oregon return to their respective rosters as the league now has more than 200 All-Americans all-time...Preseason accolades already starting to come in for league teams with nine Pac-12 softball players named to the USA Softball Top 50 Watch List for the Collegiate Player of the Year, and five teams ranked in both the USA Today/NFCA and the ESPN.com/USA Softball preseason top-25 polls. UCLA headlines the polls at No. 8/8, followed by No. 9/9 Oregon, No. 10/12 Arizona, No. 13/13 Washington and No. 18/17 Utah. California revived votes in the USA Today/NFCA poll is tied for No. 24 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball ranking. Arizona State and Oregon State also received votes...Once again, Pac-12 softball will receive unprecedented exposure, thanks to 77 games to be televised on the Pac-12 Networks and five games on ESPN this season. 

• New Faces: According to FloSoftball, seven Pac-12 recruiting classes are ranked in the top 25 including Oregon bringing in the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation this year. Arizona has the third-ranked class, followed by Washington, UCLA and Arizona State with the No. 6, 8 and 12 classes. Utah brings in the 13th-ranked recruiting class and Stanford rounds out at No. 14. 

• Welcome Back to the Pac: Trisha Ford returns the Pac-12 in her first year at the helm of Arizona State’s program after spending the last four seasons at Fresno State and spending nine seasons at Stanford from 2004-2012. Hanson joins a rank of coaches that have a combined 112 years of Division I coaching experience and more than 4,000 victories with a .703 winning percentage (4,360-1,833-8). 

• Preseason Awards: The Pac-12 has five teams on both the USA Today/NFCA and ESPN.com/USA Softball preseason polls. UCLA enters the season at No. 8/8, Oregon is No. 9/9, Arizona at No. 10/12, Washington No. 13/13, Utah No. 18/17. California received votes in the USA Today/NFCA ranking and tied for the 24th ranking in the ESPN/USA Softball polling. There have also been at least four league teams ranked in every preseason poll, with at least five every year since 1997. In the USA Softball poll, this marks the 12th-straight year that the Pac-12 has had at least five teams ranked in the ESPN.com/USA Softball preseason poll.

2017 Watch List: Nine Pac-12 athletes were named to the ‘watch list’ for the 2017 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award. Arizona leads with three athletes including Katiyana Mauga, Danielle O’Toole, and Mandie Perez. Also included on the list are Oregon’s Kenna Lilley and Nikki Udria, Washington’s Ari Aguilar, Utah’s Hannah Flippen, California’s Jazmyn Jackson, and UCLA’s Nikki Udria. Previous USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award winners include UCLA catcher Stacey Nuveman (2002), Washington pitcher Danielle Lawrie (2009 and 2010), and Stanford shortstop Ashley Hansen (2011). 

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