Pac-12 softball set for 2022 season
SAN FRANCISCO - Pac-12 softball is set to return as teams gear up for the start of the 2022 season, which begins Thursday.
A number of tournaments are set to take place during the opening week of action including Arizona State's annual Kajikawa Classic starting Thursday with several games aired on Pac-12 Networks. A total of 44 Pac-12 games will be played over four days with 18 games set to be televised on Pac-12 Networks and ESPN+, in addition to those available through livestream outlets.
Five teams are ranked in the USA Today/NFCA and ESPN.com/USA Softball preseason polls, with UCLA leading the league at No. 3 in both. The Bruins were voted the favorite to win the Pac-12 regular season by the league’s coaches.
The 2022 season is highlighted by top-returning talent in reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and Batting Champion Janelle Meoño of Arizona and 2021 Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year Gabbie Plain of Washington, in addition to eight returning NFCA All-Americans. Nine Pac-12 student-athletes also appear on the USA Softball Top 50 Collegiate Player of the Year watch list.
Last season, Arizona and UCLA advanced to Oklahoma City for the NCAA Women’s College World Series. The Wildcats advanced to their 24th WCWS — second-most only to the Bruins — while UCLA made its 30th appearance. The Pac-12 has won 24 of the 39 WCWS titles all-time.
THIS WEEK AHEAD: Talent will be on display as six top-25 matchups are in store for the opening week of Pac-12 softball.
On Thursday, No. 5 Oklahoma State will face off against No. 21 Arizona State at the Kajikawa Classic at 5:30 p.m. PT on Pac-12 Network and Pac-12 Arizona and on Friday No. 8 Arkansas will take on No. 7 Washington at 6:30 p.m. PT at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
On Saturday, No. 1 Oklahoma will travel west to visit No. 3 UCLA at the Mark Campbell Invitational taking place at Bill Barber Park in Irvine at 4 p.m. PT, while No. 2 Alabama and No. 9 Arizona will meet at the Candrea Classic at 5 p.m. PT.
Later that evening, No. 20 Duke will face off against No. 21 Arizona State in the Kajikawa Classic at 6 p.m. PT on Pac-12 Arizona, while a rematch between No. 8 Arkansas and No. 7 Washington will take place at 6:30 p.m. PT on the final day of the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge.
IN THE RANKINGS: UCLA leads five ranked Pac-12 teams in the USA Today/NFCA preseason poll at No. 3. The Pac-12 had the second-most teams in the top-25 (SEC - 8), as No. 7 Washington and No. 9 Arizona join the Bruins in the top-10. No. 18 Oregon and No. 21 Arizona State are also in the rankings and Stanford is receiving votes.
Five teams are also ranked in the ESPN.com/USA Softball preseason poll: UCLA is No. 3, Washington is No. 7, Arizona is No. 11, Oregon is No. 17, Arizona State is No. 21, while Stanford and Oregon State are receiving votes.
PRESEASON COACHES POLL: Defending Pac-12 Champion UCLA was voted by the Conference's softball head coaches as the league's preseason favorite for the second consecutive season as the Bruins collected a total of 63 points. The Bruins finished the 2021 season with a record of 47-7 (19-2 in Pac-12), a No. 5 ranking in the final USA Today/NFCA poll and made their sixth-straight appearance to the Women's College World Series. UCLA returns 10 student-athletes who appeared in at least 40 games and 17 total letterwinners who accounted for 63 percent of its hits and 82 percent of its runs from a season ago.
Washington came in second (55), while Arizona (45) and Oregon (45) are tied for third. Arizona State totaled 37 points to finish fifth, and Stanford (31), Oregon State (25), California (12) and Utah (11) rounded out the poll.
RETURNING ALL-AMERICANS: Eight NFCA DI All-America team members are returning for the 2022 season, including Arizona’s 2021 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and Batting Champion Janelle Meoño, Oregon’s fifth-year senior Brooke Yanez, UCLA’s Megan Faraimo, Maya Brady, Aaliyah Jordan and Briana Perez, and Washington's fifth-year senior Gabbie Plain and senior Baylee Klingler.
WATCH LISTS: Nine Pac-12 student-athletes appear on the USA Softball Top 50 Collegiate Player of the Year watch list. Arizona’s Janelle Meoño, Oregon’s Brooke Yanez, Stanford's Alana Vawter, UCLA’s Megan Faraimo and Aaliyah Jordan, Briana Perez, Utah’s Alyssa Barrera, Washington’s Baylee Klingler and Gabbie Plain.
OLYMPIANS MADE HERE: The Pac-12 boasted 20 Olympians on the rosters of five different countries at last summer’s Tokyo Games, including eight of the 15 on Team USA. Returning Olympians on campus this season include Arizona's Giulia Koutsoyanopulos (Italy), Washington's Gabbie Plain (Australia) and Oregon State's Tarni Stepto (Australia).
Oregon State head coach Laura Berg and Washington head coach Heather Tarr were Team USA assistants in Tokyo and in October, Tarr was named the new leader of the 2022 U.S. National Team. Since becoming UW's head coach in 2005, Tarr has become the winningest coach of any sport in Huskies' history.
UPCOMING SCHEDULE (Full Schedule)
|Thursday, Feb. 10|
|California Baptist vs. No. 21 Arizona State (1)||Pac-12 Network/Pac-12 Arizona||3:00 p.m. PT|
|Middle Tennessee vs. Stanford (2)||3:30 p.m. PT|
|Lamar vs. No. 7 Washington (3)||4:30 p.m. PT|
|Southern Utah vs. No. 15 Arizona||Live Stream||5:00 p.m. PT|
|No. 5 Oklahoma State vs. No. 21 Arizona State (1)||Pac-12 Network/Pac-12 Arizona||5:30 p.m. PT|
|Ole Miss vs. No. 16 Oregon||5:30 p.m. PT|
|California State vs. No. 3 UCLA||7:00 p.m. PT|
|Friday, Feb. 11|
|San Diego vs. California (7)||12:00 p.m. PT|
|Long Beach State vs. No. 7 Washington (3)||1:00 p.m. PT|
|No. 5 Oklahoma State vs. Utah (1)||Pac-12 Network/Pac-12 Mountain||1:00 p.m. PT|
|No. 18 Oregon vs. California State (5)||ESPN+||1 p.m. PT|
|Dixie State vs. California (7)||2:30 p.m. PT|
|New Mexico vs. Oregon State (4)||Livestream||2:30 p.m. PT|
|No. 18 Oregon vs. California State (5)||ESPN+||3 p.m. PT|
|UC San Diego vs. No. 3 UCLA||3:00 p.m. PT|
|Missouri State vs. No. 21 Arizona State (1)||Pac-12 Arizona||3:30 p.m. PT|
|Southern Utah vs. No. 9 Arizona (4)||Live Stream||5 p.m. PT|
|Nevada vs. No. 3 UCLA||5:30 p.m. PT|
|Missouri State vs. Utah (1)||6 p.m. PT|
|No. 8 Arkansas vs. No. 7 Washington (3)||6:30 p.m. PT|
|Stanford vs. SDSU (2)||7 p.m. PT|
|Saturday, Feb. 12|
|UC San Diego vs. No. 18 Oregon (5)||9 a.m. PT|
|Boise State vs. Stanford (2)||8 a.m. PT|
|No. 16 Oregon vs. LMU (5)||11:30 a.m. PT|
|Ole Miss vs. California (7)||12 p.m. PT|
|Oregon State vs. Southern Utah (4)||Live Stream||12 p.m. PT|
|Rutgers vs. No. 7 Washington (3)||1 p.m. PT|
|Mississippi State vs. No. 3 UCLA (6)||1 p.m. PT|
|Oregon State vs. No. 2 Alabama (4)||Live Stream||2:30 p.m. PT|
|No. 20 Duke vs. Utah (1)||Pac-12 Los Angeles||3:30 p.m. PT|
|No. 1 Oklahoma at No. 3 UCLA (6)||4 p.m. PT|
|Illinois-Chicago vs. Stanford (2)||4:30 p.m. PT|
|No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 9 Arizona (4)||Live Stream||5 p.m. PT|
|California at Cal State Fullerton (7)||5 p.m. PT|
|No. 20 Duke vs. No. 21 Arizona State (1)||Pac-12 Arizona||6 p.m. PT|
|No. 8 Arkansas vs. No. 7 Washington (3)||6:30 p.m PT|
|Sunday, Feb. 13|
|No. 20 Duke vs. Utah (1)||Pac-12 Network/Pac-12 Mountain||7 a.m. PT|
|California Baptist at Utah (1)||Pac-12 Mountain||9:30 a.m. PT|
|Colorado State vs. California (7)||10 a.m. PT|
|Texas State vs. Oregon State||10:30 a.m. PT|
|Cal Poly vs. Stanford (2)||11:30 p.m. PT|
|Missouri State vs. No. 21 Arizona State (1)||Live Stream||12 p.m. PT|
|New Mexico vs. Arizona (4)||Live Stream||1 p.m. PT|
|Oregon State vs. New Mexico State||1 p.m. PT|
- (1) - Kajikawa Classic, Tempe, Ariz.
- (2) - SDSU Season Kickoff, San Diego, Calif.
- (3) - Puerto Vallarta College Challenge, Puerto, Mexico
- (4) - Candrea Classic, Tucson, Ariz.
- (5) - UCLA Tournament, Northridge/Los Angeles, Calif.
- (6) - Mark Campbell Invitational, Irvine, Calif.
- (7) - Easton Classic, Fullerton, Calif.
CONFERENCE STANDINGS (Expanded Standings)
|Teams||Pac-12 Record||Overall Record|
|#21 Arizona State||0-0||0-0|
PAC-12 SOFTBALL WEEKLY AWARDS
|Player of the Week||Pitcher of the Week||Freshman of the Week|