Near unanimous No. 1 UCLA leads four ranked in Pac-12 Softball
• Fresh off a sweep of top-10 rival WASHINGTON, UCLA is a near unanimous No. 1 in the latest USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll. The Bruins, who topped the poll for the second consecutive week collected all but one of the 32 first-place votes and totaled 799 points. At 25-1 overall, UCLA is one of two teams nationally with fewer than two losses (No. 14 Alabama, 31-0).
• Despite the sweep against No. 1 UCLA, Washington remains in the top 10 at No. 7, while No. 11 ARIZONA is on the brink of the top-10 after a strong 3-0 start to league play, sweeping OREGON last week. No. 18 ARIZONA STATE slipped one spot after going 2-1 versus OREGON STATE. The Beavers have received votes each week this season while earning a No. 25 ranking for Week 3. STANFORD is receiving votes for the fourth consecutive week and returns to the diamond for its Pac-12 opening series this Saturday following a two-week hiatus.
• The NCAA released its first RPI rankings of 2019 this week with three Pac-12 teams in the top-five and seven total in the top-50: No. 2 UCLA, No. 3 Washington, No. 8 Arizona, No. 22 Stanford, No. 32 Arizona State, No. 34 Oregon State and No. 41 Oregon. Four league teams also own top-15 strengths of schedule with No. 1 Washington followed by UCLA, Oregon and Arizona at Nos. 10, 13 and 14, respectively.
THE WEEK AHEAD: 11 of the 17 Pac-12 games scheduled this week are set to air on Pac-12 Networks. Arizona travels to Corvallis to take on Oregon State for a three-game series with contests on Friday and Sunday live on Pac-12 Network and Saturday on Pac-12 Oregon. No. 1 UCLA faces a trio of non-conference foes in a Sunday doubleheader against Saint Mary’s and CSUN followed by a meeting with UC Santa Barbara on Monday.
No. 7 Washington travels for a three-game tilt versus Oregon starting Saturday on ESPNU at 1:00 p.m. PT while the remaining two meetings air on Pac-12 Networks. The Bay Area battle between California and Stanford visits Berkeley this weekend with the Saturday and Sunday matchups on Pac-12 Bay Area and Monday’s finale on Pac-12 Network. Pac-12 Networks is also set to air all three contests between No. 18 Arizona State and Utah in Tempe.
WEEKLY RECAP: UCLA is riding a nine-game winning streak after opening Conference action with a series sweep at then-No. 5 WASHINGTON (3-0, 4-2, 15-6).
No. 11 ARIZONA opened Pac-12 play with a strong start, taking all three games against OREGON (8-0, 8-0, 8-3). The Wildcats outscored the Ducks, 24-3, over the three games as they lead the country with 1.82 home runs per game and rank fifth in slugging percentage (0.595). Taylor McQuillin collected two wins, 12 strikeouts and allowed just one earned run over 10.1 innings as the senior ranks fourth in the country in shutouts.
No. 18 ARIZONA STATE took 2-of-3 games in its Pac-12 series-opener versus OREGON STATE. The Sun Devils dropped the first game, 5-1, but rebounded to close out the series with an 18-2 win on Friday and 12-4 clincher on Sunday.
NATIONAL STAT LEADERS: Four Pac-12 teams’ batting averages rank in the top-25 with UCLA in seventh (.347), Arizona State in 11th (.339), Arizona in 17th (.329) and California in 23rd (.317). Pitching staffs around the league continue to show the strength of one of the toughest conferences as four teams rank among the top-20 nationally in ERA with No. 3 UCLA (1.24), No. 14 Stanford (1.75) and tied-No. 20 Arizona and Washington (1.85). Three teams are among the fielding leaders with No. 7 Oregon (.979), No. 13 Washington (.977) and No. 18 UCLA (.976) in the top 20 in the country in fielding percentage.
Arizona State tops the nation in scoring (8.53) and slugging percentage (.650) and ranks second in home runs per game (1.73) and fourth in doubles per game (1.93). Freshman Kindra Hackbarth has been a driving force at the plate, ranking second in runs per game (1.43), fourth in doubles (12), third in total bases (81) and 11th in hits (41) while teammate Morgan Howe ranks third in RBIs (39).
Rachel Garcia of UCLA tops the nation in walk-to-strikeout ratio (11.64) and teammate Megan Faraimo comes in 12th (7.33). Washington’s returning All-American Taran Alvelo ranks fourth in total strikeouts (132), 13th in strikeouts per seven innings (10.2) and tied for 18th in victories this season (11).
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: UCLA swept the Pac-12 Players of the Week after its dominating performance last week. Junior Rachel Garcia is the third player in Pac-12 history to earn both the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week and Pac-12 Player of the Week in the same week (1998: Tarrah Beyster, OSU; 1993: Lisa Fernandez, UCLA) and is the only one to accomplish the feat twice in her career (April 16, 2018).
Garcia posted a perfect weekend in the circle, tallying 16 strikeouts without allowing a run to lower her season ERA to 0.54, which ranks fourth nationally. The pitcher and first baseman also hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth inning to help the Bruins secure a 4-2 victory on Saturday and clinch the series. Her well-rounded performance gained national attention as she was named the National Player of the Week by both the NFCA and USA Softball.
UCLA’s Pac-12 Freshman of the Week Kelli Godin went 5-for-9 at the plate with two stolen bases and three runs scored to help the top-ranked Bruins begin Conference action with an impressive road sweep versus Washington. She set a career high with three hits in the series finale as the slap hitter produced her second double of the season.
|Wednesday Mar. 20||All Times PT|
|CALIFORNIA vs. Sacramento State||4 p.m.|
|Friday, Mar. 22|
|#11 Arizona at Oregon State||P12N||5 p.m.|
|Utah at #18 Arizona State||P12N||7 p.m.|
|Saturday, Mar. 23|
|#8 Washington at Oregon||ESPNU||1 p.m.|
|#11 Arizona at Oregon State||P12O||2:30 p.m.|
|Stanford at California||P12BA||2:30 p.m.|
|Utah at Arizona State||P12N||2:30 p.m.|
|Sunday, Mar. 24|
|Saint Mary's vs. #1 UCLA||11:15 a.m.|
|#11 Arizona at Oregon State||P12N||12 p.m.|
|Utah at Arizona State||P12N||12 p.m.|
|#1 UCLA vs. CSUN||1:30 p.m.|
|Stanford at California||P12BA||3 p.m.|
|#8 Washington at Oregon||P12W||4 p.m.|
|Monday, Mar. 25|
|Stanford at California||P12N||2 p.m.|
|UC Santa Barbara vs. #1 UCLA||6 p.m.|
|#8 Washington at Oregon||P12N||6 p.m.|
CONFERENCE STANDINGS (Expanded Standings)
|Teams||Pac-12 Record||Overall Record|
2019 PAC-12 PLAYERS OF THE WEEK