Pac-12 Softball prepares for NCAA Tournament
Seven Pac-12 teams are set to compete in the 2018 NCAA Softball Championship. Five squads earned top-16 seeds – No. 1 OREGON, No. 3 UCLA, NO. 5 WASHINGTON, No. 8 ARIZONA STATE and No. 14 ARIZONA – and are joined by OREGON STATE and CALIFORNIA in the 64-team field. It marks the 23rd-straight season the Pac-12 has had five or more teams advance to the NCAA Tournament, and the fifth time in seven years that seven Conference teams earned bids.
In the final week of the regular season, Oregon claimed the Pac-12 title after sweeping then-No. 24 California in its three-game series. UO picks up its fourth fifth title in six year. The Ducks and UCLA went into the final week of the regular season tied at the top of the Pac-12 standings. UCLA went 2-1 against then-No. 6 Arizona State, earning second in the Pac-12.
The 2018 Pac-12 postseason awards were announced as voted on by the league’s coaches. UCLA’s Rachel Garcia was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year. OREGON junior Megan Kleist was voted Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year. WASHINGTON’s Sis Bates garnered Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. UCLA’s Aaliyah Jordan was tabbed Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and also was the Pac-12 Batting Champion. Arizona State head coach Trisha Ford was voted Pac-12 Coach of the Year.
Postseason play kicks off on Thursday, May 18 with No. 1 Oregon hosting Albany at 5:30 p.m. PT. The rest of the six teams play on Friday, May 18. California plays Northwestern at 9 a.m. PT, No. 8 Arizona State hosts New Mexico State at 6:30 p.m. PT and Oregon State plays Wisconsin at 4 p.m. PT. No. 3 UCLA hosts Sacramento State at 8 p.m. PT and both No. 5 Washington and No. 14 Arizona play at 8:30 p.m. PT, hosting Boise State and Saint Francis, respectively.
A Pac-12 team has topped the NFCA poll for 13-straight weeks. Oregon finished the regular season by taking the No. 1 spot from UCLA after the Ducks clinched the Pac-12 title. UCLA led the nation for three-straight weeks and took the No. 1 spot after sweeping Washington in its series on Apr. 20-22. The Huskies led the nation from Feb. 17-Apr. 17, previously.
UCLA comes in at No. 2 in the poll. Joining Oregon and UCLA in the top 10 is No. 5 Washington, No. 6 Arizona State and No. 10 Arizona. The five Pac-12 teams in the top 10 is the most of any conference. California receives votes. In the USA Softball/ESPN poll, five teams are ranked. Oregon is No.1, UCLA is No. 3, Washington is No. 5, Arizona State is No. 7 and Arizona is No. 9. California and Oregon State are receiving votes.
Oregon’s DJ Sanders and UCLA’s Rachel Garcia and Briana Perez received the final Pac-12 Player of the Week honors. Sanders picks up the Pac-12 Player of the Week award after knocking out two three-run homers and hitting .455 in Oregon’s three-game sweep of then-No. 24 California. Garcia is the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week after posting 21 strikeouts in 17 1//3 innings, recording a pair of victories against then-No. 6 Arizona State. Perez is the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week after recording hits in all three games of the series against then-No. 6 Arizona State, going 5-for-9 (.556) with three runs scored and a homer.
The Pac-12 tops the NCAA statistics in three categories, including two team categories and one individual category. Oregon is ranked first in earned run average (ERA) (1.12) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.81). Pac-12 teams appear in the top-10 in 12 of 14 NCAA categories.
In the individual categories, Oregon’s Megan Kleist is first in strikeout-to-walk ration (12.50). Pac-12 student-athletes appear in the top-10 in 18 categories in the individual statistics.
UPCOMING NCAA TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
|Thursday, May 17|
|Albany at No. 1 OREGON||ESPN3||5:30 p.m. PT|
|Friday, May 18|
|CALIFORNIA vs. Northwestern||ESPNU||9 a.m. PT|
|OREGON STATE vs. Wisconsin||ESPN3||4 p.m. PT|
|New Mexico State at No. 8 ARIZONA STATE||ESPN3||6:30 p.m. PT|
|Sacramento State at No. 3 UCLA||ESPN2||8 p.m. PT|
|Boise State at No. 5 WASHINGTON||ESPNU||8:30 p.m. PT|
|Saint Francis at No. 14 ARIZONA||ESPN3||8:30 p.m. PT|
CONFERENCE STANDINGS (Expanded Standings)
|Teams||Pac-12 Record||Overall Record|