Pac-12 softball in the polls: March 4
Several games in California and Arizona were postponed or canceled altogether over the weeekend after rainstorms and lightning persisted throughout. No. 4 UCLA had its entire slate of games in the Long Beach Louisville Slugger Invitational canceled, while No. 7 Arizona and No. 10 Arizona State missed out on three games combined.
Here's how the Pac-12 fared in the latest release of the USA Today/NFCA Division I softball poll:
The No. 2 Oregon Ducks (18-2) traveled cross-country to the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic in Orlando, Fla., and took four of five games, losing an extra-inning heartbreaker to top-ranked Florida 2-1 in eight innings. In the four victories, Oregon outscored its opponents 17-2, including three shutouts and a run-rule defeat of Maryland. Sophomore Cheridan Hawkins, who was named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week for her efforts, pitched all three complete-game shutouts and registered 44 strikeouts against No. 25 Auburn, Bradley and Maryland.
The No. 6 Washington Huskies (16-2) recovered a spot in the polls after dropping four spots last week. Washington traveled to Stockton, Calif., to participate in the Libby Matson Tournament. Pitching ace Bryana Walker came in for the final two innings against San Jose State and gained her ninth win on the year, surrendering only two hits.Walker would return to the mound on Sunday to blank the UTEP Miners 9-0 in five innings, once again giving up only two hits. Junior pitcher Kasey Stanchek was in a pitcher’s duel with Cal State Bakersfield on Saturday until the Husky bats woke up and scored eight runs in the sixth inning.
The No. 7 Arizona Wildcats (18-1) jumped in the rankings for the third straight week on the heels of three straight run-rule victories over the weekend. The Wildcats hosted the Wildcat Invitational and dominated Longwood and Valparaiso in Friday’s doubleheader. Saturday’s games against Texas-Arlington and Iowa were canceled due to rain, so the ‘Cats returned to the diamond on Sunday to dismantle Indiana 9-1 in five innings. Senior catcher/designated player Kelsey Rodriguez was honored with Pac-12 Player of the Week, the Pac-12-leading 138th all-time for Arizona.
The Louisville Slugger Invitational in Tempe, Ariz., was not kind to the No. 10 Arizona State Sun Devils (20-3) that fell seven spots from last week. The Sun Devils lost their first game of the season to South Carolina, 3-2, in the back half of Thursday’s doubleheader. The Devils would finish the tournament going 3-3 with losses to Minnesota and Ball State. Mackenzie Popescue improved her record to 11-0 and Dallas Escobedo took two losses over the weekend, bringing her record to 7-2.
The No. 4 UCLA Bruins were idle over the weekend due to inclement weather, but still managed to jump a spot from last week. The Bruins were slated to take on current No. 5 Michigan, Long Beach State, Louisville and Northwestern. UCLA and Michigan will face off on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the latter being broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks at 7 p.m. PT. The Bruins face a brutal stretch of eight games over the next six days, with the UCLA/CSUN Invitational taking place at Easton Stadium this weekend.
The No. 22 Stanford Cardinal dropped seven spots from No. 15 after losing two of five games in Florida over the weekend. The Cardinal participated in the Under Armour Invitational with games in Tampa and Clearwater. Both losses for Stanford came in the back end of doubleheaders on Friday and Saturday to South Florida and Central Connecticut State. Freshman phenom pitcher Madi Schreyer improved to 14-3 with a complete-game shutout of Kennesaw State on Sunday.