No. 2 UCLA leads six Pac-12 softball squads into Regionals in road to the 2021 Women's College World Series
The Pac-12 Conference dominated the Women’s College World Series at the beginning of the century, with a Pac-12 team winning the tournament ten times between 2001-2011. But no Pac-12 program claimed the top prize until 2019 when UCLA won its NCAA-leading 12th title. With 2020’s cancellation, the Bruins are still the defending champions and will lead six Pac-12 programs into the 2021 postseason. Four Pac-12 teams (UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State and Washington) earned top-16 rankings, meaning they get to host regionals, while two (Stanford, Oregon) will look to advance on the road.
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No. 2 UCLA
One of the top teams in the country for the entire year, the Bruins have been especially hot of late, winning 15 of their last 16 games. During their final eight games, UCLA outscored their opponents by a combined score of 46-10 to clinch the 2021 Pac-12 title and head into the playoffs with a full head of steam.
Rachel Garcia picked up her third Pac-12 Player of the Year award for her spectacular two-way season. The senior had an otherworldly season on the mound, going a perfect 14-0 with a NCAA-leading 0.60 ERA. And she more than held her own at the plate, hitting .362 with 11 home runs en route to being named a USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year finalist.
The Bruins title defense starts on Friday, May 21st with a primetime matchup against Long Beach St. at 7:30 p.m. PT / 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
Bruins Earn No. 2 Seed, Will Host Regionals 👇
Tickets will not be available to the general public. A limited number of team guests are permitted at UCLA outdoor sporting events.
— UCLA Softball (@UCLASoftball) May 17, 2021
No. 11 Arizona
All eyes will be on Wildcats shortstop Jessie Harper as she continues her home run chase. Harper currently sits fourth all-time with 89 homers and needs just seven big flies to break the NCAA record. Harper has exhausted her NCAA eligibility so she and the Wildcats will look to see if Arizona can play deep enough into the postseason for her to have a chance at claiming the record.
The Tucson Regional gets started on Friday, May 21st, with the Wildcats hosting UMBC at 5:30 p.m. PT / 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN3. The University of Arizona recently announced that they have increased capacity for the games to 100 percent so expect Hillenbrand Stadium to be rocking on Friday night.
No. 15 Arizona State
The Sun Devils owe their success this year to star catcher Maddi Hackbarth, who led the Pac-12 Conference in home runs (20) and RBIs (58). Her twenty homers tied Arizona State’s single-season record. She also caught a pitching staff that went 32-14 with a 3.36 ERA overall this season.
The Tempe regional kicks off the NCAA tournament with the Sun Devils facing Southern Illinois on Thursday, May 20th at 7:00 p.m. PT / 10:00 p.m. ET on ESPN3.
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) May 3, 2021
No. 16 Washington
Washington is hungry to break through this year, having finished second or third in each of the past three tournaments. The Huskies have relied heavily on star pitcher Gabbie Plain, who earned Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year honors after going 29-2 with an NCAA-leading 302 strikeouts. The senior tossed three no-hitters this year including a perfect game in the season-opener. Like Garcia, Plain is a USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year finalist.
Washington will host the Seattle Regional and start the Tournament against Portland St. on Friday, May 21st at 7:30 p.m. PT / 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN3.
After her second career perfect game, Gabbie Plain has been named the @pac12 Pitcher of the Week!
— Washington Softball (@UWSoftball) February 16, 2021
The Ducks were ranked as high as No. 3 at points this season, but will have to win on the road in the Austin Regional. Brooke Yanez enjoyed a scorching start to the season, going a perfect 14-0 to open the year including a complete game shutout over No. 2 UCLA.
Oregon gets started against Texas State on Friday, May 21st at 4:30 p.m. PT / 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN3.
After not qualifying for the postseason since 2013, Stanford has made it in back-to-back years under Head Coach Jessica Allister who has led the Cardinal for just three full seasons. In her sophomore campaign, starter Alana Vawter pitched her way to a 21-9 record and a marvelous 1.21 ERA, fourth-best in the Pac-12 Conference.
Stanford will face South Dakota St. in the Fayetteville Regional on Friday, May 21st at 12:30 p.m. PT / 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN3.