Pac-12 softball in the polls: April 28
Arizona State joined Oregon and UCLA at the top of the polls after Florida and Michigan tumbled last weekend. Here's how the Pac-12 fared in the latest release of the USA Today/NFCA Division I softball poll:
No. 1 Oregon (44-5, 17-1 Pac-12)
The top-ranked Ducks have won 12 straight games and 19 of their last 20, and show no signs of letting up. Oregon has swept its past three conference opponents and took two of three from then-No. 1 UCLA. The Ducks' bats dominated Stanford at Smith Family Stadium, outscoring the Cardinal 21-3 with sophomore pitcher Cheridan Hawkins hurling her NCAA-leading 11th shutout on Friday en route to her 26th victory. Hawkins improved to 27-3 on Sunday with the 7-2 victory, striking out 15 batters in both games. Left fielder Janie Takeda hit 6-of-11 and first baseman Kailee Cuico collected four RBI in the three game series. Next up for the Ducks is a tough home series against No. 3 Arizona State.
No. 2 UCLA (44-4, 15-3 Pac-12)
Since dropping two games to Oregon in early April, the Bruins have reeled off 11 straight victories to keep a firm grip on their No. 2 ranking. UCLA has swept two conference opponents in Oregon State and California along with midweek games over Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State. Junior pitcher Ally Carda was a one-woman show over the weekend in Berkeley, winning Friday’s and Sunday’s games and collecting the save on Saturday. Carda also hit 7-of-12, nabbing a stolen base on Friday, knocking a double on Saturday and a solo home run on Sunday. Third baseman Mysha Sataraka knocked her 14th and 15th home runs on Saturday, hitting 6-of-12 with 4 RBI over the weekend. The Bruins host Stanford this weekend for a three-game set.
No. 3 Arizona State (42-7, 13-4 Pac-12)
The Sun Devils took a break from Pac-12 Conference play last week, playing host to Southern Mississippi out of Conference USA. The Golden Eagles were shut out in three straight games and were outscored 19-0, including an 8-0 run-rule loss on Friday night. Sun Devil senior pitchers Mackenzie Popescue and Dallas Escobedo swapped positions for the non-conference series with Popescue in the circle on Friday and Sunday and Escobedo with the lone start on Saturday. Popescue was dominant over the weekend, pitching her third career no-hitter on Friday and two complete-game shutouts, earning her first career Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week nod. Escobedo fanned a career-tying 16 batters and picked up her 20th victory of the season, tied with Popescue. The Sun Devils saved the best for last, traveling to No. 1 Oregon this weekend and hosting No. 2 UCLA the following weekend.
No. 9 Arizona (39-9, 12-6 Pac-12)
Arizona jumped to the No. 9 position after a midweek doubleheader victory over New Mexico State and a weekend sweep of Utah. The Wildcats have won their past six games and 11 of their past 12. With the home sweep of the Utes, the Wildcats are now 27-0 at home with 21 of them coming as run-rule victories. Arizona batters decimated Utah pitchers over the weekend with 13 home runs in three games, including a school record eight home runs on Saturday. Right fielder Katiyana Mauga hit three solo shots on Saturday, but it was first baseman Hallie Wilson’s four home runs over the weekend that stood up and earned her Pac-12 Player of the Week for the second time this season. Arizona travels to Washington this weekend to take on the No. 11 Huskies.
No. 11 Washington (28-12, 8-8 Pac-12)
Speaking of the Huskies, the Washington softball team is back home after sweeping Oregon State in Corvallis. The quick series saw the Huskies dominate with run-rule victories on Saturday and Sunday. Mother Nature threw an assist on Friday, ending the game after six innings. Pitchers Kaitlin Inglesby and Bryana Walker were once again at the top of their games, combining for 15 strikeouts and allowing only 13 hits. Inglesby won Friday’s and Sunday’s games with Walker in relief, while Walker won on Saturday with Inglesby pitching the final inning in relief. Washington hosts Arizona this weekend.