No. 1 UCLA leads Pac-12 Softball into league play
• No. 1 UCLA claims the top spot in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll after posting a perfect 5-0 record last week to close out non-conference play with a 22-1 record. The Bruins are one of three teams in the country that has lost one or fewer games this season (Alabama, 25-0, Texas Tech, 24-1).
• No. 5 WASHINGTON continues to rank in the top 10 after earning six shutout-victories last week at the Huskies Classic. The Bruins and Huskies are joined in the national ranks by No. 12 ARIZONA and No. 17 ARIZONA STATE as both teams have been ranked every week this season. OREGON STATE, OREGON, and STANFORD are receiving votes.
• Pac-12 softball teams combined for a 31-10 record last week and have collectively posted a 153-57-1 mark for the second-best winning percentage among Power 5 conferences. Three schools boast a top-30 toughest schedule with Washington at No. 10, Arizona at No. 11 and Oregon at No. 30.
• Conference play starts this week with a thrilling league matchup between two 2018 NCAA Women’s College World Series participants, as No. 1 UCLA travels to No. 5 Washington for a three-game series. Other exciting series to keep an eye out for include No. 12 Arizona hosting Oregon, and No. 17 Arizona State versus Oregon State as all four teams have been ranked in the top 25 at some point this season.
• Pac-12 Network begins its extensive softball coverage this weekend, airing two of three games in the Bruins-Huskies series, as well as two contests between the Wildcats and Ducks.
• The top-10 league showdown will be a pitching showcase as UCLA and Washington own the No. 2 (1.08) and No. 3 (1.17) ERA in the country, respectively, while also leading the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio, UCLA (8.75) and Washington (4.49).
PAC-12 SOFTBALL NOTES: Two Bruins and two Huskies compose the league’s top four ERAs in UCLA’s Rachel Garcia (0.64), Washington’s Gabbie Plain (0.90), UCLA Megan Faraimo (0.94) and Washington’s Taran Alvelo (1.11). All four players rank nationally in the category, coming in at Nos. 7, 19, 21, and 24 in respective order.
IN THE RANKINGS: Four teams rank in this week’s ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate top 25 with No. 1 UCLA, No. 6 Washington, No. 12 Arizona and No. 10 Arizona State, while Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford and California are receiving votes.
PAC-12 PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week Washington’s Gabbie Plain became the first Husky in program history to throw back-to-back no-hitters as the sophomore led UW to shutout victories over Northern Illinois and Seattle. Plain recorded 37 strikes in her three wins last week and set a career-high 15 strikeouts against Northern Illinois, tied for seventh-most in a game in program history. She is the fifth Husky pitcher to record three or more career no-hitters, earning Louisville/Slugger NFCA Division I National Pitcher of the Week and College Sports Madness Player of the Week honors.
Cal’s Lindsay Rood dominated the plate last week, going 11-for-17 (.647) with eight RBIs to guide the Golden Bears to a 5-0 week. California has won seven-consecutive five-inning games for the longest in program history. Included in her 11 hits was a homer, triple, six doubles and nine runs, highlighted by back-to-back three-run and three RBI games against Niagara (14-3) and Hawai’i (14-0). The Pac-12 Player of the Week currently tops the Pac-12 in hitting percentage (.488), which also ranks 12th in the country.
UCLA’s Megan Faraimo collected her third Pac-12 Freshman of the Week honor after she went the freshman went the distance in both shutout victories over Robert Morris (11-0) and Boston University (12-0). The freshman limited opponents to six hits, and recorded 16 strikeouts and one walk over 12 innings of work.
WEEKLY RECAP: Washington is riding a seven-game win streak and has not conceded a run since dropping a narrow 4-2 loss to No. 25 Michigan on March 3. Washington recorded a perfect 6-0 week at the Huskies Classic over Ohio State (3-0), Northern Illinois (8-0, 2-0), Idaho State (6-0, 8-0) and Seattle (1-0).
UCLA went 5-0 last week, collecting wins over Robert Morris (11-0), BYU (8-2), Liberty (4-3), Boston University (12-0) and Long Beach State (5-3). Senior Taylor Pack hit a home run on Friday, Saturday and Sunday while redshirt junior Rachel Garcia struck out 30 batters in three appearances and allowing only two earned runs, 10 hits and one walk.
Arizona State freshman Abby Andersen won three games on the weekend – James Madison (6-4), New Mexico State (17-1) and South Dakota (12-0) – going the distance in two outings and finishing with a stellar 0.76 ERA in 18.1 innings pitched.
Oregon State won four-straight games to close out the LMU tournament. Sophomore pitcher Mariah Mazon led the Beavers in the circle, throwing 24 strikeouts in 19.0 innings to rank eighth in the league in ERA (1.49) and seventh in strikeouts (72). Arizona States hosts the Beavers in a three game series to open Pac-12 play.
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 Mar. 13||All Times PT|
|Fairleigh Dickinson vs CALIFORNIA||2 p.m.|
|Fairleigh Dickinson vs CALIFORNIA||4 p.m.|
|Friday, Mar. 15|
|California at Utah||3 p.m.|
|Oregon at #12 Arizona||6 p.m.|
|Oregon State at #17 Arizona State||7 p.m.|
|#1 UCLA vs #5 Washington||7 p.m.|
|Saturday, Mar. 16|
|California at Utah||1 p.m.|
|Oregon at #12 Arizona||P12N||2 p.m.|
|#1 UCLA at #5 Washington||P12N||2 p.m.|
|Oregon State at #17 Arizona State||5 p.m.|
|Sunday, Mar. 17|
|California at Utah||11 a.m.|
|Oregon State at #17 Arizona State||12 p.m.|
|Oregon at #12 Arizona||P12N||12 p.m.|
|#1 UCLA at #5 Washington||P12N||3 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|
|March 5||Teaghan Cowles, STAN||Taylor McQuillin, ARIZ||Emily Young, STAN|
|March 12||Lindsay Rood, CAL||Gabbie Plain, WASH||Megan Faraimo, UCLA|