Pac-12 softball boasts three top-5 teams, Civil War headlines league matchups
• Three Pac-12 softball teams rank in the top-5 of the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll with No. 2 UCLA (40-2, 14-1 Pac-12), No. 4 WASHINGTON (39-7, 14-4) and No. 5 ARIZONA (38-7, 15-0) after each team won it’s league series last week to earn a top-10 overall record in the country. The three powerhouse teams have preformed on the mound with stellar pitching talents this season as UCLA leads the country in strikeout-to-walk ratio (6.44) followed by Washington at No. 3 (5.37) and Arizona at No. 6 (4.37). Among Conference leaders, a pair of pitchers from the trio of schools composes the top-6 spots in strikeouts per seven innings.
• For the second-straight week, three teams rank in the top-5 of the ESPN.com/USA softball poll with UCLA, Arizona and Washington at Nos. 2, 4 and 5, respectively. The Wildcats hurdled the Huskies in the national standings after securing their fifth-straight series sweep over then-No. 24 Stanford (7-0, 9-1, 13-2) to maintain a perfect Pac-12 record and extended their win streak to 20 games. The Pac-12 is home to the top scoring offenses in the country with No. 3 UCLA (7.48), No. 4 Arizona (7.47) and No. 5 Arizona (7.43).
• At least two Pac-12 teams are ranked in the top-five in seven different NCAA statistical categories, including three national leaders. UCLA not only claims the best strikeout-to-walk ratio, but also tops the country in ERA (1.21) behind pitchers Rachel Garcia’s second-best ERA (0.68) and Megan Faraimo’s 18th national average (1.27). Arizona paces all teams in home runs per game (1.96) with contributions from some of the strongest bats in the nation as duo, Jessie Harper and Dejah Mulipola own the third and fourth-most home runs at 21 and 20, respectively. Harper’s dominant plate performance this season also leads the league in home runs per game (0.47), RBIs (55) and total bases (127) all of which rank in the top-10 nationally.
• Twenty-six finalists were named for the 2019 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award and seven hail from Pac-12 schools. Arizona’s three nominations are the most of any school in the country with Harper, Mulipola and Taylor McQuillin. Only six schools landed two selections on the list, including UCLA’s reigning national player of the year Rachel Garcia and teammate Kelli Godin and Washington’s Sis Bates and Gabbie Plain. The list will be narrowed to 10 finalists on May 8 and then the top 3 will be announced on May 22 with the big reveal occurring on May 28 before the Women’s College World Series.
• 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).
• No. 2 UCLA’s depth in the circle was utilized this weekend as Holly Azevedo tossed eight shutout innings, struck out three and allowed only six base runners in two games to help the Bruins’ sweep Oregon State (8-1, 10-2, 7-0). The sophomore threw her second complete-game shutout of the season on Saturday. No. 4 Washington clinched its fifth-straight Pac-12 series defeating Utah (13-0, 11-2, 4-5), but had its 16-game win streak snapped in the series finale. Sophomore Noelle Hee hit her 13th career bases-loaded RBI and Gabbie Plain tallied 10 strikeouts in series opener.
• No. 5 Arizona controls it’s destiny at the top of league standings with a blemish-free league mark that gives the Wildcats their second-best start in Conference history, just behind the 1994 (23-0) squad. Arizona has swept five-straight Conference series for the first time since the league moved to three-game series in 2010. The series finale marked the Wildcats’ 15th-consecutive Pac-12 victory for the program’s longest streak since winning 20-straight Pac-10 games from 2001-2002. Head coach Mike Candrea became the fastest coach in NCAA history of any sport, across any division, to reach 1,600 career wins on Friday and joined Michigan's Carol Hutchins, who won No. 1,600 last weekend, as the only two NCAA softball coaches in history to reach the milestone.
Upcoming: Stanford (31-10, 7-5) returns to action on Friday when it opens a three-game Pac-12 home series with Arizona State (25-17, 5-10). The series implications can impact the league standings as Stanford is currently fourth in the Pac-12 and is trailed by Arizona State in fifth; both teams have been ranked in the national polls this season.
Arizona ventures to California and Utah hosts UCLA for three-game series this weekend. The Civil War headlines the weekend slate when Oregon hosts Oregon State for a three-game tilt with each game broadcast on Pac-12 Oregon. Six games will be available via the Pac-12 Now app, Pac-12 Plus and Pac-12.com/now.
|Friday, Apr. 26|
|Oregon State at Oregon||P12O||2:30 p.m.|
|#5 Arizona at California||Pac-12 Now||3 p.m.|
|Arizona State at Stanford||Pac-12 Now||7 p.m.|
|Utah at #2 UCLA||7 p.m.|
|Saturday, Apr. 27|
|#5 Arizona at California||Pac-12 Now||1 p.m.|
|Arizona State at Stanford||Pac-12 Now||5:30 p.m.|
|Oregon State at Oregon||P12O||6 p.m.|
|Utah at #2 UCLA||6 p.m.|
|Sunday, Apr. 28|
|#5 Arizona at California||Pac-12 Now||12 p.m.|
|Utah at #2 UCLA||12 p.m.|
|Arizona State at Stanford||Pac-12 Now||1 p.m.|
|Oregon State at Oregon||P12O||5 p.m.|
CONFERENCE STANDINGS (Expanded Standings)
|Teams||Pac-12 Record||Overall Record|