Top-10 matchups highlight this week's Pac-12 Softball slate
Pac-12 Softball added a sixth team to the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll after the Conference combined for 34 wins, including six over ranked opponents, last week to improve to 97-35 overall (.735) this season. No. 2 UCLA remains undefeated at 14-0 through three weeks of competition, as the list of unbeaten teams in the country narrowed from 10 to six. No. 5 WASHINGTON collected six wins at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, including two victories over ranked opponents, to extend its winning streak to 13 games.
No. 12 ARIZONA, No. 15 ARIZONA STATE and No. 20 OREGON continue to hold a spot in the Top 25, while No. 25 OREGON STATE makes its first appearance of the season after receiving votes in the previous three polls. STANFORD is also receiving votes after knocking off tournament host and then-No. 9 LSU (7-5) at the LSU Invitational last week.
UPCOMING: No. 2 UCLA (14-0) opens the Judi Garman Classic with a two-game series against No. 3 Florida (18-0) in a matchup of undefeated teams on Wednesday and Friday. Three Pac-12 teams are set to compete in the Classic with Oregon and Washington in the 14-team field that also features No. 22 Auburn and No. 7 Tennessee. Of the 45 Pac-12 softball games scheduled this week, 14 are against ranked opponents and nine are versus top-10 teams.
Non-conference tournaments continue to draw in top competition as No. 12 Arizona, No. 15 Arizona State and Stanford all host tournaments over the weekend. No. 15 Arizona State takes on No. 9 Texas and No. 25 Oregon State faces No. 4 Oklahoma twice this weekend in other ranked matchups.
IN THE RANKINGS: Six teams rank in this week’s ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 with No. 2 UCLA, No. 6 Washington, No. 12 Arizona, No. 17 Arizona State, No. 20 Oregon and tied-No. 23 Oregon State while California is receiving votes.
RECAP: UCLA pitching duo of Rachel Garcia and Megan Faraimo repeated as the Pac-12 Pitcher and Freshman of the Week, respectively. Garcia tied a season-high 15 strikeouts in a complete-game, four-hit performance against No. 4 Oklahoma (7-1) and threw six innings of relief versus No. 16 Kentucky (12-4). Freshman Faraimo threw her second no-hitter of the season in UCLA’s 3-0 victory over Colorado State on Sunday.
Washington has won 13 consecutive games to improve to 14-1 - its lone loss an extra-innings defeat to Notre Dame in early February - and boasts the seventh-best win percentage nationally (.933). The Huskies earned their fourth and fifth wins over a ranked team this season, besting then-No. 16 Kentucky (4-2) and No. 23 Texas Tech (4-1).
Stanford went a perfect 5-0 at the LSU Invitational last week as sophomore Maddy Dwyer pitched in wins over CSUN (2-0) and Memphis (5-1), and recorded a save in the Cardinals’ 7-5 win over #7 LSU on Thursday.
Oregon State moved into the Top 25 after collecting wins over Nevada (5-1), Pacific (12-3/8-0) and California Baptist (2-0) in the Libby Matson Tournament. Meehra Nelson pitched two complete games, tallying 18 strikeouts in 14 innings and earned a shutout with eight strikeouts against Pacific on Sunday.
Oregon picked up four wins last week, defeating New Mexico State (3-1), Army West Point (11-0), Texas A&M (7-5) and UC Santa Barbara (6-1) at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. Sophomore Shaye Bowden led the Ducks with seven RBIs, a double and one home run to earn Pac-12 Softball Player of the Week.
PAC-12 SOFTBALL NOTES: Pac-12 Softball programs have combined for a 97-35 record (.735) for the second-best winning percentage among all NCAA Division I conferences.
Pac-12 teams rank in the top five of seven different NCAA statistical categories. No. 14 ARIZONA ranks fifth in home runs per game (1.57), UCLA is third in strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.71), seventh in ERA (1.11) and batting average (.370) and tied for first in win-loss percentage (1.000).
Pac-12 star pitchers continue to shine as three have an earned-run average under 1.00 in UCLA’s Rachel Garcia (0.71), Oregon’s Nerissa Eason (0.72) and UCLA’s Megan Faraimo (0.83).
Oregon State’s Frankie Hammoude ranks sixth in home runs (7) and eighth in RBIs (21). UCLA’s Rachel Garcia ranks fifth in strikeouts per seven inning (12.0) and seventh in strikeout-to-walk ratio (13.60). Cal’s Lindsay Rood ranks fourth in hits (25) and triples (3). Oregon’s Jordan Dail is tied for the national-best 9 victories this season and ranks fourth in strikeouts (74).
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 Pac-12 teams appear in the top-34 of FloSoftball’s 2019 recruiting class rankings. 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).
|Wednesday Feb. 27||All Times PT|
|#3 Florida vs. #2 UCLA||6 p.m.|
|Thursday Feb. 28|
|#3 Florida vs. No. 20 OREGON||12 p.m.|
|#20 OREGON vs. Cal State Fullerton||2:30 p.m.|
|Drake vs. #12 ARIZONA||4 p.m.|
|Friday, Mar. 1|
|#2 UCLA vs. #3 Florida||9:30 a.m.|
|#22 Auburn vs. #20 OREGON||10 a.m.|
|Iowa State vs. UTAH||10:30 a.m.|
|Bowling Green vs. CALIFORNIA||11 a.m.|
|#2 UCLA vs. Michigan||12:p.m.|
|#22 Auburn vs. #5 WASHINGON||12:30 p.m.|
|#4 Oklahoma vs. #25 OREGON STATE||1:30 p.m.|
|Princeton vs. #15 ARIZONA STATE||1:30 p.m.|
|Grand Canyon vs. UTAH||3:30 p.m.|
|UC Santa Barbara vs. CALIFORNIA||3:30 p.m.|
|#9 Texas vs. #15 ARIZONA STATE||4 p.m.|
|Northwestern vs. STANFORD||4:45 p.m.|
|#3 Florida vs. #5 WASHINGTON||5 p.m.|
|Kent State vs. #12 ARIZONA||5:15 p.m.|
|Montana vs. STANFORD||7 p.m.|
|Saturday, Mar. 2|
|Northern Colorado vs. UTAH||8 a.m.|
|#22 Auburn vs #2 UCLA||9:30 a.m.|
|ULL vs. #25 OREGON STATE||10:30 a.m.|
|South Dakota State vs. UTAH||10:30 a.m.|
|LIU vs. CALIFORNIA||11 p.m.|
|LMU vs. #2 UCLA||12 p.m.|
|#4 Oklahoma vs. #25 OREGON STATE||1 p.m.|
|UC Santa Barbara vs. CALIFORNIA||1:30 p.m.|
|Princeton vs. #15 ARIZONA STATE||2 p.m.|
|Fresno State vs. #5 WASHINGTON||3 p.m.|
|#23 Minnesota vs. #12 ARIZONA||3 p.m.|
|Wisconsin vs. #15 ARIZONA STATE||4:30 p.m.|
|Montana vs. STANFORD||4:45 p.m.|
|Michigan vs. #20 OREGON||5 p.m.|
|Kent State vs. #12 ARIZONA||5:15 p.m.|
|North Dakota State vs. STANFORD||7 p.m.|
|#7 Tennessee vs. #20 OREGON||7:30 p.m.|
|Sunday, Mar. 3|
|Michigan vs. #5 WASHINGTON||9 a.m.|
|North Dakota State vs. STANFORD||11:15 a.m.|
|#5 WASHINGTON VS. Cal State Fullerton||11:30 a.m.|
|#9 Texas vs. #15 ARIZONA STATE||11:30 a.m.|
|#2 UCLA vs. UCONN||11:45 a.m.|
|#19 James Madison vs. #12 ARIZONA||12:30 a.m.|
|Cal Poly vs. STANFORD||1:30 p.m.|
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|
|Feb. 19||Kindra Hackbarth, ASU||Rachel Garcia, UCLA||Megan Faraimo, UCLA|
|Feb. 26||Shaye Bowden, ORE||Rachel Garcia, UCLA||Megan Faraimo, UCLA|
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