This week in Pac-12 softball

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PREVIEWING THE WEEKEND: Conference play is upon us starting this weekend with ARIZONA hosting ARIZONA STATE beginning on Friday. The Utes will host Southern Utah on Wednesday before welcoming league opponent OREGON STATE. UCLA heads North to face California, while top-10 opponents OREGON and WASHINGTON will square off in Seattle.

BATTING PROWESS: Five Conference teams rank in the top-25 in batting average in the nation.  OREGON paces the nation at .388. WASHINGTON comes in at No. 5 nationally at a mark of .380. ARIZONA STATE (No. 15, .349), OREGON STATE (No. 17, .346) and UCLA (No. 23, .335) round out the Pac-12 presence.

RACE TO WRIGHT’S RECORD: Odds are Arizona head coach Mike Candrea will break Margie Wright’s NCAA record as the all-time leader in career victories at some point this season. Margie Wright won 1,457 games from 1980-2012 coaching for Illinois State and Fresno State. Candrea’s 1,446 career victories are 11 shy of Wright’s mark. However, Candrea will likely not be the only one to get there. Michigan’s Carol Hutchins holds 1,452 career victories, six more than Candrea.

PROGRAM MILESTONE: On March 12, the 21st-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils defeated the Georgetown Hoyas, 8-3, at the Louisville Slugger Invitational and earned the 1,600th victory in program history in the process.  ASU picked up win No. 21 of the season just 26 games into the year to improve to 21-5 overall and earn the milestone victory.

IN THE RANKINGS: Six league team make appearances in the national top-25 polls this week. OREGON ranks seventh and ninth in the USA Today/NFCA Division I poll and ESPN.com/USA Softball polls. WASHINGTON ranks No. 8 and No. 7 respectively, while UCLA is No. 14 and No. 17. ARIZONA comes into the rankings at No. 18 in both pollings , ARIZONA STATE at No. 21/21 and OREGON STATE at No. 25/23. 

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. 

THIS WEEK IN PAC-12 SOFTBALL

Tuesday, March 15      
BYU at Utah Salt Lake City, Utah 3 p.m. MT L, 5-4
       
Wednesday, March 16      
Southern Utah at Utah  Salt Lake City, Utah 3 p.m. MT PAC12/PACMT
Southern Utah at Utah Salt Lake City, Utah 5:30 p.m. MT PAC12/PACMT
       
Friday, March 18      
#18/18 Arizona at #21/21 Arizona State Tempe, Ariz. 5 p.m. PT PACAZ
       
Saturday, March 19       
#25/23 Oregon State at Utah Salt Lake City, Utah 1 p.m. MT   
#18/18 Arizona at #21/21 Arizona State  Tempe, Ariz. 3:30 p.m. PT PACAZ
#7/9 Oregon at #8/7 Washington Seattle, Wash. 3:30 p.m. PT PACWA/PACOR
#14/17 UCLA at California Berkeley, Calif. 3:30 p.m. PT PACBA/PACLA
       
Sunday, March 20      
#25/23 Oregon State at Utah Salt Lake City, Utah 1 p.m. MT  
#14/17 UCLA at California Berkeley, Calif. 3 p.m. PT PAC12/PACBA/PACLA
#18/18 Arizona at #21/21 Arizona State Tempe, Ariz. 5 p.m. PT PAC12/PACAZ
#7/9 Oregon at #8/7 Washington Seattle, Wash. 7 p.m. PT PAC12/PACWA/PACOR
       
Monday, March 21      
#25/23 Oregon State at Utah Salt Lake City, Utah 12 p.m. MT  
#14/17 UCLA at California Berkeley, Calif. 4 p.m. PACBA/PACLA
#7/9 Oregon at #8/7 Washington Seattle, Wash. 7 p.m. PACWA/PACOR
       
Tuesday, March 22      
Dartmouth at Stanford Stanford, Calif. 2 p.m. PT  
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