5 pitchers to know for the 2022 Pac-12 softball season
The 2022 Pac-12 softball season is quickly approaching, with first pitch set for Feb. 10. To prepare for what should be another exciting year, Pac-12.com is highlighting some of the top student-athletes across the conference. Next up? Five of the Pac-12's top pitchers, in no particular order.
Gabbie Plain — Washington
The reigning Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year, Plain is coming off a stellar 2021 season in which she posted a 1.45 ERA and led the conference in innings (231.1), wins (32) and strikeouts (335).
That was nothing new for the Australian, who has been a workhorse for the Huskies ever since she debuted in 2018, tallying over 600 career innings and a career 1.43 ERA.
Plain's ability to spin the ball is second to none and her return alone makes Washington a Women's College World Series contender in 2022.
Megan Faraimo — UCLA
Former National Player of the Year Rachel Garcia graduated, making Faraimo the new No. 1 for the Bruins, who will be pursuing their seventh straight trip to the Women's College World Series.
There is a lot of pressure that comes with being the ace of a prestigious program like UCLA, but Faraimo should be up to the task. After all, she's done it before.
Faraimo was the 2020 Softball America National Pitcher of the Year when Garcia was touring with the U.S. National Team.
Garcia returned to UCLA in 2021 and Faraimo kept rolling, going 19-3 with a Pac-12-best 1.10 ERA while racking up 184 strikeouts in 133.1 innings. Faraimo held opposing hitters to a .143 average and only issued 13 walks all season.
Unfortunately an injury prevented her from pitching in the Women's College World Series, potentially robbing UCLA of its 13th national championship and surely lighting a fire under Faraimo for the upcoming season. Batters beware.
Alana Vawter — Stanford
Vawter carried the Cardinal last season, accounting for 22 of Stanford's 33 wins. The junior finished third in the Pac-12 in innings pitched (200.0) and fourth in ERA (1.54).
Most impressive of all? She hit her stride in conference play, logging a 1.39 ERA in Pac-12 games, second only to Rachel Garcia.
Vawter doesn't post gaudy strikeout numbers — she averaged 5.42 Ks per seven innings last season — but she keeps hitters off balance with her change of speeds, location and movement.
If she can take another step forward and/or the Cardinal can keep improving at the plate, it could make a third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament and finish in the top four of the Pac-12 for the first time since 2013.
Brooke Yanez — Oregon
A lefty with wicked spin, Yanez went 22-6 with a 2.11 ERA as Oregon's ace last season, the eighth-best ERA in the conference. She held hitters to a .185 batting average and racked up 268 strikeouts in 182.1 innings, a Pac-12-best 10.29 Ks per seven innings.
When Yanez is on top of her game, she's one of the best pitchers in the country. She posted seven shutouts last season, including two at Oregon State and one against Utah, UCLA and Arizona.
Yanez's most dominant stretch of the season came against the Wildcats when she allowed just one run in 18.2 innings while fanning 24 batters.
Now in her fifth season of college softball, the best is still yet to come for Yanez, who will try to lead Oregon to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season.
Hanah Bowen — Arizona
The graduations of Alyssa Denham and Mariah Lopez pave the way for Bowen to be Arizona's ace in her senior season.
It will be an adjustment, for sure. Bowen only has 173.2 career innings to her name, though that includes 102 last season when she posted a 2.06 ERA, the seventh-best mark in the Pac-12.
How she fares in an increased role could determine if Arizona reaches the WCWS for a third straight season. Bowen is by far the most seasoned hurler on a pitching staff that otherwise is comprised of underclassmen with minimal game experience.
A fiery competitor with crisp command and a deep repertoire of pitches, Bowen seems well-equipped for the challenge.
For more Pac-12 softball coverage, check out earlier installations of our season preview series: