This week in Pac-12 softball

Washington Athletics / UCLA Athletics / Oregon Athletics

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USA SOFTBALL COLLEGIATE PLAYER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS: Three Pac-12 players were named finalists for the 2016 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, as announced by ASA/USA Softball. Amongst the 25 named included WASHINGTON’s junior Ali Aguilar, who currently ranks second nationally in RBIs per game (1.53) and fourth nationally in home runs per game (0.5). UCLA’s  senior Allexis Bennett holds top-30 national marks in batting average (0.44) and runs per game (1.17, 13th). Rounding out the Pac-12 is OREGON’s senior Koral Costa, who averages top-30 national rankings in batting average (21st, 0.45) and slugging percentage (29th, 0.798).

PREVIEWING THE WEEKEND: This week in Pac-12 softball California and UCLA kick off the week with non-conference action against Santa Clara and Cal St. Northridge. Conference action starts up again on Friday with No. 16/17 Arizona squaring off against Stanford on the Farm, with the series airing on Pac-12 Network. The Golden Bears head to Seattle to face No. 9/11 Washington and Oregon State is off to No. 13/14 UCLA. 

AROUND THE LEAGUE: ARIZONA’s Katiyana Mauga and WASHINGTON’s Ali Aguilar each rank in the top-20 nationally in home runs per game. Mauga ranks 11th with a .38 average, while Aguilar ranks fourth at .50. Aguilar is second nationally in RBI’s per game at 1.53 and OREGON STATE’s Natalie Hampton sits 13th at 1.22. OREGON’s Cheridan Hawkins leads the country in strikeouts (11.9) and fellow Duck Nikki Udria ranks 16th in slugging percentage at a mark of .843.

BATTING PROWESS: Four Conference teams rank in the top-25 in batting average in the nation.  OREGON ranks second in the nation at .366 and WASHINGTON comes in at No. 4 nationally at a mark of .358.  ARIZONA STATE lands at No. 18 (.329), while OREGON STATE (No. 19, .328) rounds out the Pac-12 presence.

RPI RELEASED: OREGON and WASHINGTON headline the Pac-12’s presence in the latest RPI release. The Huskies catapulted to third, while the Ducks come in at No. 6. UCLA remains at No. 15, ARIZONA lands at No. 20 and ARIZONA STATE registers at No. 25. UTAH comes in at No. 29, OREGON STATE lands right behind at No. 30, CALIFORNIA No. 35 and STANFORD at No. 102.

WEST COAST UPGRADES: 11-time NCAA National Champion UCLA Softball announced a generous donation that will be used to support improvements, including a new scoreboard, to Easton Stadium. Oregon opened Jane Sanders Stadium on March 24th, which seats 1,500. Washington unveiled its new center field videoboard in March.

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 1,455 career victories are two shy of Wright’s mark. While Michigan’s Carol Hutchins holds 1,461 career victories, each of Candrea’s 1,455 career victories have come at Arizona.

IN THE RANKINGS: Five league team make appearances in the national top-25 polls this week. OREGON ranks sixth in both the USA Today/NFCA Division I poll and Softball poll. WASHINGTON ranks No. 9/11 in respective polls. UCLA jumps to No. 13 and No. 14, while ARIZONA improves to No. 17/16 and ARIZONA STATE moved to No. 22/24. UTAH  and CALIFORNIA receive votes in the USA Today/NFCA poll.

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. 

California at Santa Clara Santa Clara, Calif. 4 p.m. PT  
Cal St. Northridge at #13/14 UCLA Los Angeles, Calif. 7 p.m. PT  
FRIDAY, APRIL 15      
#17/16 Arizona at Stanford Stanford, Calif. 5 p.m. PT PACAZ/PACBA
California at #9/11 Washington Seattle, Wash. 5 p.m. PT  
Oregon State at #13/14 UCLA Los Angeles, Calif. 7 p.m. PT  
California at #9/11 Washington Seattle, Wash. 1 p.m. PT  
#22/24 Arizona State at Utah Salt Lake City, Utah 4 p.m. MT PACAZ/PACMT
#17/16 Arizona at Stanford Stanford, Calif. 5 p.m. PT PACAZ/PACBA
Oregon State at #13/14 UCLA Los Angeles, Calif. 6 p.m. PT  
SUNDAY, APRIL 17      
California at #9/11 Washington Seattle, Wash. 12 p.m. PT  
Oregon State at #13/14 UCLA Los Angeles, Calif. 12 p.m. PT  
#17/16 Arizona at Stanford Stanford, Calif. 4 p.m. PT PACAZ/PACBA
#22/24 Arizona State at Utah Salt Lake City, Utah 7 p.m. PT PACAZ/PACMT
MONDAY, APRIL 18      
#22/24 Arizona State at Utah Salt Lake City, Utah 7 p.m. PT PACAZ/PACMT
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