Arizona, UCLA and Washington punch tickets to Women’s College World Series

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23 – The Pac-12 has won an NCAA-best 23 out of 37 possible NCAA Softball titles.

5 – An NCAA-best five different Pac-12 programs have won a national crown (UCLA – 11; ARIZ – 8; ASU – 2; CAL – 1, WASH – 1).

37 – At least one Pac-12 team has advanced to the WCWS every year since the inaugural tournament in 1982 for a streak of 37 years.

3 - League teams own the top-three most Women’s College World Series appearances in NCAA history with No. 1 UCLA (29), No. 2 Arizona (23) and No. 3 Washington (14).

23 – The Pac-12 has sent at least three teams to the WCWS 23 times in NCAA history and has accounted for at least half of the WCWS field on nine separate occasions, including 2018 (ASU, ORE, UCLA, WASH).

12  – All-Pac-12 NCAA Championship Series with the last one coming in 2010 when UCLA defeated Arizona to hoist the Bruins’ 11th all-time national title.

6.04 – The Pac-12 has averaged 6.04 runs per game this postseason, outscoring its opponents 139-52 and posting an 18-5 overall record.

5 - Five 2018 WCWS All-Tournament Team selections will be action this weekend including UCLA’s Rachel Garcia, Bubba Nickles and Taylor Pack and Washington’s duo of Gabbie Plain and Sis Bates.

Three Pac-12 softball teams punched their ticket to the Women’s College World Series for the most teams of any conference (Big 10 – 1; Big 12 – 2; SEC – 2). No league has sent more teams to the WCWS in the last three years (10) after Pac-12 teams accounted for half of the field in 2018 and matched the SEC with three participants each in 2017. The Pac-12 has either sent the most or tied for the most teams in the WCWS six of the last 10 years and 15 of the last 20.

The Women’s College World Series begins on Thursday, May 30 with No. 3 Washington against No. 6 Arizona at 9 a.m. PT followed by No. 2 UCLA versus No. 7 Minnesota at 11:30 a.m. PT with both games set to air on ESPN. The winners of the two games will battle on Friday, May 31 at 4 p.m. PT on ESPN and the other two teams will square off in the elimination bracket starting on Saturday, June 1, at 9 a.m. PT, also on ESPN.

For the 19th consecutive season, ESPN will televise every game of the Women’s College World Series and will be available on the ESPN app. In addition, ESPN’s flagship MLB show Baseball Tonight makes its WCWS debut as the lead-in to every game of the championship series, hosted by Adam Amin and joined by Tim Kurkjian and Amanda Scarborough. ESPN’s primetime commenters include Beth Mowins, Jessica Mendoza, Michele Smith and Holly Rowe. Mendoza was a four-time First Team All-American at Stanford (1999-2002) and was a member of the United States Women's Softball National Team (2004-2010). Rowe graduated from Utah with a broadcast journalism degree.

PAC-12 IN THE WCWS: The three lac-12 teams in contention for the 2019 national crown boast top-5 WCWS series records, led by No. 1 UCLA (98-37), No. 2 Arizona (61-32) and No. 5 Washington (27-24). The trio has combined for 66 WCWS appearances while the 13-team SEC has totaled 44 appearances in conference history. At least one Pac-12 team has competed in 29 out of 37 Championship Series since the inaugural tournament in 1982. 

The Pac-12 went on a 10-year winning streak from 1988-1997 with Arizona and UCLA each winning five NCAA titles. The Conference recorded another title streak from 2006-2011 with four different squads sharing crowns. During the six-year span, Arizona claimed back-to-back titles (2006-07), Arizona State earned the program’s pair of national crowns (2008, 2011), UCLA added another to its record book (2010) and Washington captured the program’s first-ever NCAA title (2009).

UCLA makes its fifth-straight WCWS appearance and 29th all-time after sweeping the Los Angeles Regional against James Madison (6-1, 7-2). Washington is Oklahoma City bound for the third consecutive season after collecting its third and fourth postseason shutouts en route to sweeping Kentucky (3-0, 5-0) last week, marking the second-most postseason shutouts in Washington history (1999 – 5). Arizona dominated Ole Miss (5-2, 9-1) in the Tucson Super Regional to return to the WCWS for the first time since reaching the 2010 Championship Series. Arizona, Washington and Minnesota are the only three teams that have won every game this postseason.

All three Pac-12 teams swept their respective NCAA Super Regional to advance to the Women’s College World Series, marking the third-straight year at least three leagues teams reached the WCWS. There have only been three WCWS in history that have not included UCLA or Washington in the final eight teams.

Pac-12 student-athletes have accounted for 13 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player awards (ARIZ – 5; UCLA – 4; ASU – 2; CAL – 1; WASH – 1) for the most of any conference with the SEC in second (5) and the Big 12 in third (4). UCLA leads all teams with 88 all-time All-Tournament honorees followed by Arizona with the second-most at 61 and trailed by No. 3 Oklahoma (30), No. 4 Fresno State (25) and No. 5 Washington (24).

FAMILIAR FACES: There will be several familiar battles in OKC, especially for the Wildcats who have competed against the seven other WCWS teams at least once during the regular season. Arizona shutout Oklahoma State (3-0) and Minnesota (2-0) and dropped non-conference games to Florida (3-2), Oklahoma (2-1) and Alabama (6-1) early in the season. Arizona closed out the regular season with a series win over UCLA, but dropped all three contests to a red-hot Washington team earlier in the year.

UCLA swept Washington to open Pac-12 play, marking the second season in a row it took all three games of the series. However, the Huskies eliminated the Bruins in the 2017 WCWS. The two teams have competed seven times in the NCAA Tournament with each matchup occurring on the biggest stage at OKC.

POSTSEASON STATS: Arizona leads the NCAA Tournament with a .366 batting average, ranks second in on base percentage (.419) and is third in scoring (6.60). Washington’s pitching staff paces the postseason in ERA (0.20) and ranks second in strikeout-to-walk ratio (6.57) and shutouts with four. UCLA tops all teams in scoring (7.00) and ranks second in batting average (.324) and owns the fourth-best on base percentage (.413).

Washington Morganne Flores has been exceptional this postseason, boasting the best batting average (.667) and slugging percentage (1.750) and ranks second in home runs (4), on base percentage (.706) and total bases (21).

UCLA pitcher Rachel Garcia is expected to bring the heat as the back-to-back USA Softball Player of the Year has thrown the most strikeouts in the NCAA Tournament with 46 and has earned four wins in the circle. Bruins’ teammate Bubba Nickles is almost making an impact, tied for the most RBIs (11) and doubles (4) in the postseason.

Arizona’s Alyssa Palomino has led the Wildcats’ impressive offense with a .500 batting average off nine hits and notched nine RBIs while the team has outscored its opponents 33-8.

USA SOFTBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR: UCLA’s Rachel Garcia became the fourth player in history to earn back-to-back USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year honors and is the second Bruin to earn the honor after Stacey Nuveman won in 2002. The redshirt junior is the first player in Conference history to earn Pac-12 Player of the Year and Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year honors in the same season. Garcia continues to move up the UCLA record book as her 780 career strikeouts are the sixth-most in program history and 76 career victories ranks eighth all-time. The Palmdale, Calif., native has earned a win (24) or a save (4) in 28 of her 31 appearances this year and ranks third nationally in ERA (1.01) and strikeouts per seven innings (10.7), fourth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (.767), seventh in hits allowed per seven innings (3.80) and 15th in strikeouts (253).

PAC-12 IN THE NCAA REGIONALS: No. 2 UCLA looks to advance to its fifth-straight Women’s College World Series after winning the Los Angeles Regional. The Bruins opened their postseason run with a combined no-hitter from redshirt junior Rachel Garcia, who struck out 13 batters in six innings, and sophomore Holly Azevedo’s pair of strikeouts in the final inning to defeat Weber State, 6-0, on Friday. The Bruins continued to dominate the plate, besting Missouri, 9-1, with three home runs and a grand slam. In the winner take all match on Sunday, UCLA earned a triumphant 13-1, five-inning victory to advance to the supers.No. 3

Washington is now 33-1 when hosting NCAA Regional games with head coach Heather Tarr at the helm, including 28 consecutive wins in the Seattle Regional opening series. The Huskies advanced to the Super Regionals in historic fashion as star pitcher Gabbie Plain threw the sixth postseason no-hitter in program history over Mississippi State (8-0) on Sunday.

Arizona defended home turf and swept the Tucson Region for the third-straight season, marking its third time accomplishing the feat since 2005 (2010-2012; 2005-2007). The powerhouse hitters took down Harvard (5-1) and topped No. 24 Auburn (2-1, 12-3) to advance to the NCAA Super Regionals for the 14th time in the last 15 years. Jessie Harper led Arizona’s explosive offense in its regional-clinching match, blasting three home runs and collecting 14 total bases for the most in Arizona history and the most in a single game in NCAA Tournament history.

CANDREA’S CATS CONTINUE STREAK: Arizona extended its postseason streak to 33 consecutive appearances, the longest active streak in the country and longest all-time streak in the NCAA history, dating back to 1987 when head coach Mike Candrea was in his second year. On April 19, head coach Candrea joined Michigan's Carol Hutchins as the only two coaches in NCAA softball history to reach 1,600 career wins and he became the fastest coach of any sport in any division in NCAA history to reach the milestone. Candrea is an 11-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year honoree, was inducted to the NFCA Hall of Fame in 1996 and coached the U.S. team that won gold at the 2004 Athens Games.

PAC-12 IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: Along with the trio advancing to the WCWS, ARIZONA STATE and STANFORD received at-large bids in the 64-team field, marking the 24th-straight season that five or more Conference teams have participated in the NCAA Championship.

Arizona State made its 31st NCAA Tournament appearance and started its postseason run with a 4-3 victory over Lipscomb behind Jade Gortarez game-winning homer at the bottom of the sixth. ASU dropped its next match to host Alabama, 4-7, and stayed alive with a dominant 10-1 win over Lipscomb in the consolation bracket. The Sun Devils were eliminated in the Tuscaloosa Regional Final on Sunday afternoon in a back-and-fourth battle that was tied 5-5 in the fifth inning and knotted again at 8-8 in the sixth before the Crimson Tide slid away with a 9-8 victory.

Stanford made its 17th all-time NCAA appearance and first since 2013 under Pac-12 Coach of the Year, Jessica Allister. Stanford struggled in the first match against Boise State (9-1) and responded to defeat Boston University (13-2) behind Montana Dixon’s three RBIs. The Cardinal couldn’t fight off another elimination game and dropped a 2-0 decision to Boise State to close out the 2019 NCAA postseason. The Cardinal has reached the Super Regionals five times in program history and twice made the Women’s College World series with the last time coming in 2004.

PAC-12 CO-CHAMPIONS: The final week of the regular season highlighted the Conference’s talent and proved critical for the 2019 season as it ultimately determined the Pac-12 Champions the day before the NCAA Selection Show. UCLA competed in a hard-fought series against Arizona (3-5, 5-4, 1-3) and clinched the program’s 10th Conference crown after winning game two on Friday. The Bruins finished the regular season at 46-5 overall and 20-4 in league play.

Washington thrived under pressure, as the Huskies needed all three wins to remain in contention for the title and took care of business, sweeping Stanford (5-2, 8-0, 3-0) to win its fourth all-time Pac-12 title and first since 2010. The Huskies went 45-7 overall and reached the magic 20-4 league threshold, marking the second-most Conference wins in program history. This marks the second co-champions in Conference history, joining the 2005 season that saw Arizona, California, Oregon State and Stanford all finish with a 13-8 league record.

PAC-12 POSTSEASON HONORS: The 2019 Pac-12 postseason awards were announced as voted on by the league’s coaches. UCLA’s Rachel Garc ia collects her second-straight Player of the Year honor and becomes the first player in Conference history to win both Player and Pitcher of the Year in the same season. Bruins teammate Megan Faraimo was tabbed Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, marking their third consecutive rookie honor. Washington’s Sis Bates garnered Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive year. Stanford head coach Jessica Allister was voted Pac-12 Coach of the Year after leading the Cardinal to eight Conference wins, which are more than the previous four years combined (7). Arizona’s Reyna Carranco, who remains out with a broken left hand and broken right thumb, was crowned the Pac-12 Batting Champion with a .433 average during the regular season.

NCAA TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE - Click here for a live scoreboard

Women's College World Series
Thursday, May 30

Game 1: No. 3 Washington vs. No. 6 Arizona - 9 a.m. on ESPN
Game 2: No. 2 UCLA vs. No. 7 Minnesota - 11:30 a.m. on ESPN
Game 3: No. 5 Florida vs. No. 13 Oklahoma State - 4 p.m. on ESPN2
Game 4: No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 8 Alabama - 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2

Friday, May 31
Game 5: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner - 4 p.m. on ESPN
Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner - 6:30 p.m. on ESPN

Saturday, June 1
Game 7: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser - 9 a.m. on ESPN
Game 8: Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser - 11:30 a.m on ESPN
Game 9: Game 7 winner vs. Game 6 loser - 4 p.m. on ESPN
Game 10: Game 8 winner vs. Game 5 loser - 6:30 p.m. on ESPN

Sunday, June 2
Game 11: Game 5 winner vs. Game 9 winner - 10 a.m. on ESPN
Game 12: Game 6 winner vs. Game 10 winner - 12:30 p.m. on ESPN
Game 13 (if necessary): Game 11 teams - 4 p.m. on ESPN2
Game 14 (if necessary): Game 12 teams - 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2

Championship Finals (Best-of-3)
Game 1: 7:30 p.m. on Monday, June 3 - ESPN
Game 2: 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 4 - ESPN
Game 3: 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 5 - ESPN

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