Pac-12 Softball shines in first week of 2019 season
• Pac-12 Softball programs opened the first week of the 2019 season with a combined 37-8 record for the best winning percentage of any Power 5 Conference (.822). Five league teams competed in prestigious season-opening national tournaments with three going undefeated as No. 2 UCLA, No. 19 OREGON and OREGON STATE all went 5-0.
• OSU is off to its best start since opening 8-0 in 2003, first-year Oregon head coach Missy Lombardi has the Ducks out to an early blemish-free record, and No. 2 UCLA out scored its opponents 39-5 in the Hawaii Paradise Classic in Honolulu.
• Five Pac-12 teams combined for a 22-2 mark at ASU’s home-hosted Kajikawa Classic. The opening week also featured a pair of wins over ranked opponents as No. 3 WASHINGTON defeated No. 18 Baylor (8-2) and No. 7 Arizona topped No. 19 Michigan (2-1).
• The Pac-12 posted the second-most home runs (58) and third-most runs (303) and RBIs (277) among NCAA Division I conferences over the first week of 2019.
• This sets the tone for the second week of the season as ARIZONA hosts the annual Hillenbrand Invitational where six teams will compete for the tournament title, and ARIZONA STATE hosts its second-straight tournament with the Littlewood Classic. Three Pac-12 teams will compete in the inaugural St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational in ESPN Events’ first owned and operated softball tournament that will take place February 14-17.
PAC-12 SOFTBALL NOTES
Oregon, Oregon State and UCLA are among 28 remaining NCAA DI teams with a perfect W-L percentage. Pac-12 teams rank in the top-five of five different NCAA statistical categories after the first week of action. Arizona ranks third in home runs per game (2.20), Arizona State is fifth in slugging percentage (.731) and UCLA is tied for third in scoring (10.60). UCLA and Arizona tie for the best fielding percentage (1.000). Arizona State and Oregon rank Nos. 7 and 8 in batting average at .395 and .389, respectively.
Arizona’s Alyssa Palomino is tied for the most home runs in the country (0.80 per game) and California’s Lindsay Rood ranks fourth nationally in stolen bases (1.40 per game). Rood paces the Conference in on-base percentage (.667), batting average (.600) and tied for the most runs scored (9). Nine Pac-12 players are hitting .500 or better and three pitchers are throwing under an 0.80 ERA in Cal’s Alexa Perez (0.00), Washington’s Tara Alvelo (0.55) and UCLA’s Rachel Garcia (0.71).
Pac-12 Player of the Week Missy Nunes of Oregon State hit a three-run homer in the Beavers’ 6-4 victory against Seattle on Saturday morning and followed up with two crucial RBIs against Missouri to secure a 4-3 extra-innings win of the doubleheader. Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week Rachel Garcia struck out 22 batters in 12 2/3 innings, giving up only three hits, two walks and one run in three appearances for the Bruins last week. Pac-12 Freshman of the Week Rachel Cid hit .471 (8-for-17) with three home runs and a team-high 10 RBIs to help Oregon post a 5-0 record at the Kajikawa Classic.
IN THE RANKINGS: Five teams are ranked in the USA Today/NFCA poll, including three teams in the top-10 for the second most of any conference. UCLA leads the way at No. 2, followed by Washington at No. 5 and Arizona at No. 9. Also in the poll is No. 14 Arizona State and No. 19 Oregon, as the undefeated Ducks jumped six spots from the preseason poll. Oregon State is the first team listed as receiving votes along with Utah.
All four Pac-12 Women’s College World Series participants from 2018 are ranked in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 with No. 1 UCLA, No. 5 Washington, No. 16 Arizona State and No. 22 Oregon, while Super Regional participant Arizona is tied for No. 9 to stay in the top-10. California, Oregon State and Utah are receiving votes.
UPCOMING: Three Pac-12 teams will compete in the inaugural St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational in ESPN Events’ first owned and operated softball tournament that will take place February 14-17. The tournament is set to broadcast seven Pac-12 non-conferences games, featuring California, No. 19 Oregon and Utah. Of the 16-team field, nine rank in the USA Today top-25 with four in the top-10 (No. 1 Florida State, No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 6 Tennessee and No. 8 LSU).
This week’s Pac-12 softball slate features 13 games against ranked opponents, featuring marquee matchups between No. 5 Washington versus No. 12 Arkansas, No. 19 Oregon versus No. 8 LSU and No. 23 James Madison and No. 14 Arizona State versus No. 4 Florida. Five league teams boast a top-15 NCAA RPI with No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 UCLA, No. 5 Washington, No. 7 Arizona State, No. 12 Arizona.
RETURNING ALL-AMERICANS: Six NFCA D-I All-America team members are returning for the 2019 season, including the NFCA Player of the Year in UCLA pitcher Rachel Garcia. Four first-team selections headline Pac-12 rosters with Arizona’s Alyssa Palomino, Washington’s Sis Bates, and the UCLA duo of Garcia and Aaliyah Jordan. The Huskies lead all league teams with three total returning All-Americans including second-team member Taran Alvelo and third-team honoree Gabbie Plain.
RANKED NEWCOMERS: All nine teams appear in the top-34 of FloSoftball’s top 2019 recruiting classes. Oregon leads the league at No. 12 with five newcomers, followed by No. 15 California, No. 16 UCLA, No. 23 Oregon State, No. 25 Washington, No. 26 Arizona State, No. 27 Stanford, No. 31 Utah and No. 32 Arizona.
WATCH LISTS: Twelve Pac-12 student-athletes appear on the USA Softball Top 50 Collegiate Player of the Year Watch List for the second most of any Conference (SEC-13). Arizona and Washington lead all institutions with four representatives each, while UCLA is tied for the second most (Florida, Oklahoma) with three players on the Watch List. Reigning Player of the Year, UCLA pitcher Rachel Garcia, highlights the list.
Previous league recipients of the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award include Stacey Nuveman (UCLA, 2002), Danielle Lawrie (Washington, 2009 and 2010), Ashley Hansen (Stanford, 2011) and Rachel Garcia (UCLA, 2018).
|Thursday Feb. 14|
|#11 Texas vs. CALIFORNIA||10 a.m. PT|
|Illinois State at #14 ARIZONA STATE||Live Stream||11 a.m. PT|
|Mississippi vs. #5 WASHINGTON||4 p.m. PT|
|New Mexico at #9 ARIZONA||Live Stream||5 p.m. PT|
|Pacific at STANFORD||Live Stream||5 p.m. PT|
|#12 Arkansas vs #5 WASHINGTON||6:30 p.m. PT|
|Friday, Feb. 15|
|Fresno State vs. OREGON STATE||9 a.m. PT|
|#23 James Madison vs. CALIFORNIA||9:30 a.m. PT|
|#8 LSU vs. #19 OREGON||SEC Network||9:30 a.m. PT|
|#18 Kentucky vs UTAH||12 p.m. PT|
|Long Beach State vs OREGON STATE||2 p.m. PT|
|#23 James Madison vs #19 OREGON||ESPN3||2:30 p.m. PT|
|#20 Oklahoma State vs UTAH||2:30 p.m. PT|
|South Florida at #9 ARIZONA||2:45 p.m. PT|
|UCF vs. #5 WASHINGTON||4 p.m. PT|
|Cal Poly at #2 UCLA||4:30 p.m. PT|
|Iowa State at STANFORD||Live Stream||4:45 p.m. PT|
|Illinois-Chicago at #9 ARIZONA||Live Stream||5 p.m. PT|
|#4 Florida at #14 ARIZONA STATE||6 p.m. PT|
|North Dakota State vs. #5 WASHINTON||6:30 p.m. PT|
|Boise State at #2 UCLA||7 p.m. PT|
|Saturday, Feb. 16|
|FAU vs. #19 OREGON||7 a.m. PT|
|Cal Poly vs OREGON STATE||9 a.m. PT|
|Ohio State vs UTAH||10 a.m. PT|
|#20 Oklahoma State vs. CALIFORNIA||ESPN3||10 a.m. PT|
|Central Michigan at #14 ARIZONA STATE||Live Stream||1 p.m. PT|
|#18 Kentucky vs. #19 OREGON||ESPNU||1 p.m. PT|
|Mississippi vs OREGON STATE||2 p.m. PT|
|#7 Alabama vs #9 ARIZONA||Live Stream||2:45 p.m. PT|
|Notre Dame vs. CALIFORNIA||ESPN3||4 p.m. PT|
|#6 Tennessee vs. UTAH||4 p.m. PT|
|Mississippi vs. #2 UCLA||4:30 p.m. PT|
|Portland State at STANFORD||Live Stream||4:45 p.m. PT|
|New Mexico at #9 ARIZONA||Live Stream||6 p.m. PT|
|Colorado State at STANFORD||Live Stream||7 p.m. PT|
|Fresno State at UCLA||7 p.m. PT|
|Sunday, Feb. 17|
|Minnesota vs. CALIFORNIA||ESPN3||7 a.m. PT|
|Hofstra vs. UTAH||10 a.m. PT|
|Long Beach State vs. OREGON STATE||11:30 a.m. PT|
|Cal State Fullerton at #9 ARIZONA||Live Stream||12:30 p.m. PT|
|Utah State at #14 ARIZONA STATE||Live Stream||12:30 p.m. PT|
|UC Riverside at #2 UCLA||2 p.m. PT|
|San Diego at #14 ARIZONA STATE||Live Stream||3 p.m. PT|
|LMU at #2 UCLA||4:30 p.m. PT|
CONFERENCE STANDINGS (Expanded Standings)
|Teams||Pac-12 Record||Overall Record|
2019 PAC-12 PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
|Player of the Week||Pitcher of the Week||Freshman of the Week|
|Feb. 12||Missy Nunes, OSU||Rachel Garcia, UCLA||Rachel Cid, ORE|