Arizona’s undefeated league record tops Pac-12 softball
• Pac-12 softball teams continue to rise on the national level as three upper-echelon league teams rank in the top-10 of the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll with No. 2 UCLA, No. 3 WASHINGTON and No. 7 ARIZONA.
• For the first time this year, three teams rank in the top-5 of the ESPN.com/USA softball poll with UCLA, Washington and Arizona at Nos. 2, 3 and 5, respectively. At least two Pac-12 teams are ranked in the top-five in eight different NCAA statistical categories, including three national leaders as UCLA leads the country in strikeout-to-walk ratio (6.76), Stanford owns the most triples per game (0.57) and Arizona paces all teams in home runs per game (1.93).
• Coming into the stretch run of the Pac-12 slate, Arizona (35-7, 12-0 Pac-12) sits atop the league standings with a blemish-free league mark that gives the Wildcats their third-best start in Conference history, just behind the 2017 (13-0) and 1994 (23-0) squads.
• UCLA (37-2, 11-1) slipped to No. 2 in the country after owning the top spot for five-straight weeks despite claiming a 2-1 series over OREGON (3-4, 8-3, 8-1) to stay in second place. Washington (35-6, 12-3) completed its fourth-consecutive Pac-12 series sweep against then-No. 24 ARIZONA STATE (8-4, 9-2, 6-0) to place third in the Pac-12 standings. Fourth-place Stanford (30-7, 7-2) earned its fourth Pac-12 series, taking two-of-three from Utah (1-2, 6-3, 6-2) at home last week.
• League pitching has proven its dominance on the mound throughout the course of the season as three teams rank in the top-10 nationally in ERA with No. 2 UCLA (1.22), No. 5 Arizona (1.46) and No. 9 Washington (1.58) leading the Conference. In turn, it only makes Arizona’s offensive numbers more impressive as the Wildcats rank No. 2 slugging percentage (0.627), No. 6 scoring (7.31) and No. 7 in batting average (.347) in the country.
PAC-12 SOFTBALL NOTES: Three league teams with a top-10 NCAA RPI ties for the most of any conference as Washington jumps to No. 2, UCLA is at No. 3 and Arizona holds at No. 7 for the second week in a row. Seven of the league’s nine members rank in the top-50 including No. 26 Stanford, No. 32 Arizona State, No. 34 Oregon and No. 46 Oregon State, followed by No. 65 California and No. 106 Utah.
WEEKLY RECAP: No. 5 Arizona extended its winning streak to 17 games and improved its overall record after sweeping Grand Canyon (6-0, 2-0, 8-1) during their Pac-12 bye week. Arizona has swept Oregon, Oregon State, then-No. 17 Arizona State and Utah in Pac-12 play this season. Head coach Mike Candrea has won 1,598 games during his 32-year tenure the program and is only two wins back of Michigan’s current head coach Carol Hutchins for the most-career wins in NCAA softball history.
UCLA dropped its second loss of the season and first defeat on home turf last week, which snapped a 19-game win streak. Pitcher Rachel Garcia led the rally, tossing 12 strikeouts over 10 innings of work to collect back-to-back wins against Oregon (8-3, 8-1). The victories clinch UCLA’s 11th-straight Pac-12 series, dating back to March 25, 2018. Garcia’s strong pitching outings were equally met at the plate as she hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning in the rubber match Sunday. The Bruins scored 16 runs in the remaining two matchups to rank fourth in the country in scoring (7.41).
No. 24 Stanford (30-7, 7-2) matches its best start since 2010 (30-7), recording the most wins in a season since 2014 (30-25). Second-year head coach Jessica Allister looks to guide the Cardinal to another milestone this week as one more victory would equal its best record since the 2009 season when the team went 36-4 through 40 games. The Cardinal rebounded behind Kristina Inouye’s home run, three RBIs and .500 batting average to claim the final two games versus Utah.
Washington carries a 13-game win streak into a five-game road trip to Utah this week. Washington leads the Conference with 15 shutouts this season, which also ranks eightth in the NCAA behind pitcher Taran Alvelo’s Pac-12-leading 18 victories this year. The All-America is 11 strikeouts away from reaching the 800 mark, which has only been accomplished by three other pitchers in school history.
OREGON (17-21, 2-10) handed then-No. 1 UCLA its first Conference loss of the season as the Ducks took game one (4-3) of a three-game series. Jasmine Sievers went 5-for-10 at the plate with three doubles and three RBIs over the week, including an RBI double in Oregon’s victory on Friday. The freshman did not commit an error at shortstop and leads the Ducks with a .344 batting average, 10 doubles and 14 extra-base hits this season.
Utah (14-25, 3-9) topped No. 25 Stanford in the series opener, 2-1, to end an 11-game skid. Hailey Hilburn controlled the circle to record her first seven-inning complete game of the season and second of her career, allowing just four hits and tossing a season-high four strikeouts. Ally Dickman hit her team-leading seventh homer of the season to score the Ute’s two runs at the top of the sixth.
UPCOMING: Six Conference matchups are set to air on Pac-12 Networks and an additional six games will be available via the Pac-12 Now app, Pac-12 Plus and Pac-12.com/now. All three games of the weekend series between Washington and Utah will be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks. The Huskies also face BYU on Wednesday and Utah Valley on Monday to close out its non-conference schedule.
The softball “Game of the Week” features game one between No. 2 UCLA at Oregon State on Thursday at 5 p.m. PT live on Pac-12 Networks. One winning streak will come to an end this weekend as Stanford hosts Arizona for a three-game tile starting on Thursday.
Oregon hosts California for a three-game series before facing local foe Portland State in a doubleheader on Tuesday. Tuesday’s midweek matchups also includes Stanford versus Fresno State, Utah versus Weber State, and a doubleheader between California and Nevada.
NATIONAL STATS LEADERS: Four pitchers rank in the top 20 in ERA with UCLA’s Rachel Garcia at No. 2 (0.65), Washington’s Gabbie Plain at No. 10 (1.10), Bruin freshman Megan Faraimo at No. 18 (1.18) and Arizona’s Taylor McQuillin at No. 20 (1.28).
UCLA’s reigning national player of the year Rachel Garcia has drawn attention on the mound and continues to be a defensive threat as the junior ranks second nationally in ERA (0.65), strikeout-to-walk ratio (9.00), fourth in strikeouts per seven innings (11.2) and seventh in hits allowed per seven innings (3.91).
Arizona State outfielder Kindra Hackbarth also owns one of the hottest bats in the nation, ranking fifth in runs per game (1.21), 14th in doubles (15), and 16th in total bases (108). Arizona shortstop Jessie Harper is tied for NCAA lead with a single-season career-best 21 home runs and 124 total bases (124) as the junior ranks 10th in program history with 58 career homers, two away from becoming the fourth Wildcat to hit the 60 home run threshold.
In a battle for the top spot in the league standings, UCLA and Arizona are both ranked in the top-10 in seven different national statistical categories. UCLA owns the second-best win-loss percentage (0.949) in the nation and ranks second in earned run average (1.22), third in batting average (.347) and seventh in on base percentage (.422).
Arizona ranks second in slugging percentage (0.627), fifth in ERA (1.46), sixth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.39) and eighth in on base percentage (0.421), and ninth in winning percentage (0.833).
SENIOR CLASS AWARD: Washington pitcher Taran Alvelo has been named 1-of-10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award. Alvelo leads the Pac-12 in strikeouts (172) and victories (15) and ranks second in shutouts (5). Her 2.09 career ERA is the seventh-lowest in UW history while the American Ethnic Studies major is a three-time All-Pac-12 honoree and was a 2018 second team All-America selection.
|Wednesday Apr. 17||All Times PT|
|WASHINGTON vs. BYU||5 p.m.|
|Thursday, Apr. 18|
|California vs Oregon||P12BA||5 p.m.|
|#1UCLA vs. Oregon State||P12LA||5 p.m.|
|Washington at Utah||P12N||5 p.m.|
|Stanford at Arizona||Pac-12 Now||6 p.m.|
|Friday, Apr. 19|
|UCLA at Oregon State||P12LA||5 p.m.|
|Washington at Utah||P12N||5 p.m.|
|Stanford at Arizona||Pac-12 Now||6 p.m.|
|California at Oregon||P12N||7 p.m.|
|Saturday, Apr. 20|
|Washington at Utah||P12N||11 a.m.|
|California at Oregon||P12N||12 p.m.|
|Stanford at Arizona||Pac-12 Now||12 p.m.|
|UCLA at Oregon State||12 p.m.|
|Monday, Apr. 21|
|WASHINGTON at Utah Valley||10 a.m.|
|Tuesday, Apr. 22|
|Nevada at CALIFORNIA||Pac-12 Now||1 p.m.|
|Weber State at UTAH||Pac-12 Now||3 P.M.|
|Nevada at California||Pac-12 Now||3:30 p.m.|
|Portland State at OREGON||4 p.m.|
|Portland State at OREGON||6 p.m.|
|STANFORD at Fresno State||6 p.m.|
CONFERENCE STANDINGS (Expanded Standings)
|Teams||Pac-12 Record||Overall Record|