This week in Pac-12 softball

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Pac-12 softball teams enter March with an impressive record over non-conference foes with four teams getting wins over ranked opponents this last including both UCLA and UTAH with a victory over #7/8 LSU. OREGON remains the lone undefeated team, recording five wins at the Bank of Hawai’i Invitational... ARIZONA’s Mo Mercado was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week after leading the Wildcats with an .846 batting average in 13 at-bats at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic including hitting Arizona’s first grand slam of the year vs. Purdue. Fellow Wildcat Danielle O’Toole was named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week and Utah’s Alyssa Barrera was named Freshman of the Week...Tournament play continues with UCLA, ASU, WASHINGTON, and CALIFORNIA heading to the Judy Garmin Classic in Fullerton, Calif. STANFORD and OREGON head East to tournaments in Alabama and Missouri respectively. OREGON STATE is set to compete in the San Diego Classic and Arizona hosts a three game homestand against Texas... Seven Conference teams are ranked this week with California moving up to No. 23 and 18 in the USA Today/NFCA and the USA Softball/ESPN.com polls, respectively. Oregon leads at No. 4/4 followed by Arizona at No. 6/6, UCLA at No. 7/8, Washington at No. 8/7, Utah at No. 17/16, and Arizona State at No. 20/20. 

Arizona’s Mo Mercado picked up a trio of national awards this week after her performances at the Mary Nutter Classic, leading the Wildcats to four wins and a close loss to No. 1 Florida State. The senior picked up the Madness Softball player of the week, the NFCA Division I National Player of the Week and the USA Softball Collegiate National Player of the Week. 

• Washington’s Ari Aguilar, Utah’s Hannah Flippen, and UCLA’s Delaney Spaulding have been selected as candidates for the 2017 Senior CLASS Award in collegiate softball for their work both on and off the field. 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. The 30 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists later in the season. 

• The Wildcats’ 23 homers this season are rank third nationally and three freshman- Dejah Mulipola (5), Jessie Harper (5) & Alyssa Palomino (4) - have combined for more homers (14) than 241 DI teams.

• Oregon’s Megan Kleist recorded her first no-hitter of her career in the Ducks’ 17-0 victory over Hawai’I and remain as the only undefeated Pac-12 team. 

• California finished the weekend undefeated at the Mary Nutter Classic including a comeback win over Ohio State, 5-4, to extend its winning streak to nine. 

League teams outscored their opponents by more than double in the opening weekend, recording 308 runs while holding opponents to just 102. Seven of the nine league teams outscored their opponents by double digits this week: Arizona: 39-6; Arizona State: 37-7; California: 31-19; Oregon: 38-10; Oregon State: 12-3; UCLA: 48-2 ; Utah: 47-5

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. 

• Score Big: League teams outscored their opponents by more than double in the opening weekend, recording 308 runs while holding opponents to just 102. Seven of the nine league teams outscored their opponents by double digits this week: Arizona: 39-6; Arizona State: 37-7; California: 31-19; Oregon: 38-10; Oregon State: 12-3; UCLA: 48-2 ; Utah: 47-5

• National Recognition: UCLA’s Delaney Spaulding has been named the National Field Player of the Week by College Sports Madness for her performances at the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament that included multiple hits in four of her five games, and driving in a run in all five games with two home runs. The Bruins went a perfect 5-0 on the weekend.

• Poll Watching: The Pac-12 has five teams on the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll this week, and seven on the USA Today/NFCA poll. Arizona State and California joined the top 25 in the USA Softball polling, coming in at No. 21 and No. 22 respectively. UCLA continues to lead both polls at No. 6/5, Washington is at No. 8/9, Oregon is at No. 9/7, Arizona is at No. 10/11 and Utah remains at No. 16/15.

• 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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