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These Pac-12 softball players are having breakout seasons in 2022

Apr 1, 2022
Photo of Sydnee Huff courtesy Stanford Athletics

With the Pac-12 softball season in full swing, it's a good time to recognize some of the conference's rising stars.

Here are nine student-athletes — one from each program — who have taken their games to another level or burst onto the scene this season.

Carlie Scupin, 1B — Arizona

Scupin was already a fantastic first baseman for the Wildcats last season, making the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team after hitting .343 with nine home runs on the way to the Women's College World Series. But she has become one of the best hitters in the conference this season, already mashing 12 homers and upping her batting average to .429.

Scupin's 12 long balls and 40 RBI are second in the Pac-12, only behind Washington's Baylee Klingler.

Arizona has a storied history of elite power hitters, and Scupin, a Tucson native, appears to be next in line.

Yannira Acuña, OF — Arizona State

The Sun Devils have been one of the best stories in the Pac-12 this season, starting league play at 6-0 including a rare road sweep at Arizona that featured two run-rule victories and a perfect game. Acuña continued her hot hitting in that series, receiving Pac-12 Player of the Week honors after tallying six hits, including a homer and four doubles.

That boosted her batting average to a conference-best .481, while her eight homers put her in the top-10 in the Pac-12. Entering this season, Acuña, also from Tucson, was a .277 hitter with 11 homers across three seasons.

We also need to mention Jazmyn Rollin and Cydney Sanders, two first-year Sun Devils who have 10 homers apiece. Sanders, whose .458 average is the third-best in the conference, is a strong candidate for Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.

Tatum Anzaldo, SS — California

The sophomore shortstop leads the Pac-12 in hits (50), boasting a .427 batting average with four homers and 20 RBI. That's after she only had 16 hits in 29 games last season.

Anzaldo has done a wonderful job setting the table for sluggers Sona Halajian (11 homers) and Makena Smith (9 HR), a big reason the Bears have already matched last season's conference win total (3) and were able to pick up an impressive series win over then-No. 7 Washington to open Pac-12 play.

Halajian, by the way, is another breakout player, leading Cal in homers and innings pitched while hitting .391 in her second season in Berkeley.

Hanna Delgado, OF — Oregon

Delgado was a starter last season, but has emerged as one of the best outfielders in the conference this year, leading the Ducks in batting average (.433), on-base percentage (.509) and stolen bases (11). Her 42 hits are tied with teammate Allee Bunker for third-most in the Pac-12.

Thanks in large part to those two, Oregon is second in the Pac-12 in runs scored this season, three spots up from last season.

Kiki Escobar, INF — Oregon State

Everyone knows the Beavers are led by Mariah Mazon and Frankie Hammoude, but Escobar is quickly making a name for herself in Corvallis, hitting .367 in the leadoff spot for an improved Beaver offense. Her 47 hits are the second-most in the Pac-12.

In general, OSU's freshman class has been stellar this year. Right-hander Sarah Haendiges has been one of the top pitchers in the conference, with a 1.73 ERA in 68.2 innings of work. Outfielder Eliana Gottlieb has started every game and hit five homers.

Sydnee Huff, INF — Stanford

Now a two-year starter, Huff has raised her batting average more than 100 points to .367 this season, combining with Taylor Gindlesperger (.423 AVG) to give the Cardinal a formidable 1-2 punch at the top of the lineup.

Huff scored the game's only run in a big 1-0 win at Oregon State on Sunday after doubling down the right field line to lead off the game. She's also a dazzling defender, evidenced by this diving grab she made a few innings later.

Kinsey Fiedler, UTL — Washington

The freshman has made an immediate impact in Washington, starting 26 of 30 games and hitting seven homers, tied with Madison Huskey for the second-most on the team. Fiedler's versatility has come in handy for the Huskies, making starts at second base, shortstop and the outfield.

Holly Azevedo, P — UCLA

Azevedo was a solid pitcher in her first four seasons at UCLA, but she has found an extra gear in her fifth go-around, posting a career-best 1.12 ERA, almost a full run lower than last year. Only UCLA's Lauren Shaw (0.45 ERA) and Oregon State's Mariah Mazon (0.70 ERA) have been better run preventers.

Azevedo's strikeout rate has skyrocketed. She fanned 53 batters in 63.1 innings last year. This year? 93 Ks in 63 innings. Azevedo has been downright unhittable at times, tossing two no-hitters, including a 12-strikeout masterpiece against then-No. 9 Arizona.

Between her, Shaw and Megan Faraimo, the Pac-12's strikeout leader by a wide margin, the Bruins arguably have the best pitching staff in the country.

Sophie Jacquez, OF — Utah

After only receiving 15 at-bats last season, Jacquez has become a nice complement to the speedy Haley Denning and power-hitting Ellesa Bonstrom at the top of Utah's order, batting .380 with a team-high 11 doubles. Jacquez is currently riding a four-game hitting streak, the longest on the team, and has had eight multi-hit games in 21 starts.