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Everything to know about the Pac-12 softball teams in the NCAA Tournament

May 19, 2022

Mayhem is here!

The 2022 NCAA Division I Softball Tournament begins Friday, May 20 as 64 teams vie for a trip to the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City. 

The Pac-12 traditionally dominates this event, winning a combined 24 national titles over the years, 19 more than any other conference.

Seven of the Pac-12's nine teams made the NCAA Tournament field this season, and here is what to know about them as they head to Regionals — plus some analysis from Pac-12 Networks' Kenzie Fowler, a former All-American pitcher at Arizona, and Jenna Becerra, a former infielder at Stanford who also hosts the Bleav in Softball Podcast.

(The full postseason schedule can be found at Pac-12.com/Softball/Schedule.)

No. 5 UCLA (43-8, 19-5 Pac-12)

Where is UCLA playing?

The Bruins are hosting the Los Angeles Regional at Easton Stadium.

Who is in UCLA's Regional? 

Ole Miss (39-17, 12-12 SEC), Grand Canyon (39-14, 19-5 WAC) and Loyola Marymount (36-15, 13-2 WCC). UCLA opens against Grand Canyon on Friday at 7 p.m. PT on ESPNU.

How did UCLA get here? 

The Bruins fared well in the non-conference season despite a difficult schedule, logging wins against NCAA Tournament teams like Mississippi State, Auburn, Texas, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Missouri. UCLA then opened Pac-12 play with a program-record 10-0 start before finishing second with a 19-5 conference record, only dropping road series to Arizona State and Stanford. UCLA's success stems from the circle. The Bruins have posted a 1.41 ERA, the best in the Pac-12 and second-best in the country. They lead the Pac-12 in strikeouts (429) and hits allowed (203). Their offense is solid too, ranking third in the Pac-12 in batting average (.319) and runs scored (319).

How has UCLA fared in the NCAA Tournament historically?

UCLA is making its 37th NCAA Tournament appearance and 23rd in a row. The Bruins have 12 NCAA national championships, the most in the country, with their last coming in 2019. UCLA has reached six straight Women's College World Series and 29 appearances all-time.

Which UCLA players should you keep an eye on? 

In the circle, the Bruins are led by the three-headed monster of Megan Faraimo (20-4, 1.75 ERA), Holly Azevedo (17-2, 1.15 ERA), and Lauren Shaw (6-2, 0.89 ERA), the lefty of the trio. Shortstop and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Briana Perez (.397 AVG, 10 HR) spearheads a lineup that also features veterans like Delanie Wisz (.396, 13 HR), Maya Brady (.321 AVG, 12 HR) and Kinsley Washington (.355 AVG, 5 HR) and a fantastic freshman in Savannah Pola (.351 AVG, 5 HR).

What stands out about UCLA's Regional?

Kenzie Fowler: "My biggest takeaway in this Regional is that there's a lot of new faces. Grand Canyon is one of those new faces. Very exciting when you can host a team that's playing in their first-ever Division I tournament, I think that just adds a lot of excitement to welcome them to the Mayhem. Also, LMU first time in over a decade, really exciting for that Southern California rivalry as well as their head coach being a UCLA alum in Coach (Tairia) Flowers. And then of course, you also have the Pac-12, SEC matchup with Ole Miss coming in, who has been trending up in the last month and has looked really good the last couple of weekends."

What will be the key(s) to UCLA advancing to Supers? 

Kenzie Fowler: "UCLA has had one of the best pitching staffs if not the best pitching staff in the nation. I expect them to continue to lead the way with the arms of Megan Faraimo and Holly Azevedo and Lauren Shaw. I think their offense started to turn a corner the last two weekends and for Coach (Kelly) Inouye-Perez, that's great news for them because that was a key that they were missing in terms of all phases of the game."

No. 8 Arizona State (39-9, 20-4 Pac-12)

Where is ASU playing? 

The Sun Devils are hosting the Tempe Regional at Alberta B. Farrington Stadium. 

Who is in ASU's Regional? 

LSU (34-21, 13-11 SEC), San Diego State (37-14, 20-4 Mountain West) and Cal State Fullerton (36-20, 20-7 Big West). ASU opens against Cal State Fullerton on Friday at 7:30 p.m. PT on ESPN+

How did ASU get here? 

The Sun Devils had quality wins over Duke, Minnesota, Texas and Texas A&M in the non-conference season before capturing their first Pac-12 title since 2011, also the last time they won the Women's College World Series. ASU went 20-4 in conference play, winning (or sweeping) every series except a road series at Stanford. ASU has a powerful lineup that leads the Pac-12 in homers (94) and is fourth in the entire country in slugging percentage (.627). The Sun Devils' pitching staff is much improved from a year ago, posting a 2.47 team ERA.

How has ASU fared in the NCAA Tournament historically?

This marks the 17th straight year that ASU has reached the NCAA Tournament and 33rd appearance all-time. The Sun Devils have hosted a Regional eight times since 2007 including last season when they were defeated by BYU in Tempe. They have reached the Women's College World Series 12 times, with their last appearance coming in 2018. ASU has won two NCAA national championships (2007, 2011), tied with Florida and Texas A&M for fourth-most in the country.

Which ASU players should you keep an eye on?

First baseman Cydney Sanders, the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, leads the Sun Devils with 20 homers, the third-most in the conference, and i batting average (.420). Yannira Acuña (.413 AVG, 12 HR), Alynah Torres (.360 AVG, 14 HR), Jazmine Hill (.333 AVG, 13 HR), Emily Cazares (.320 AVG, 7 HR) and Jazmyn Rollin (13 HR) give ASU plenty of deep threats. ASU equally leans on Lindsay Lopez (12-3, 1.75 ERA), Marissa Schuld (9-2, 1.96 ERA) and Mac Morgan (16-3, 2.69 ERA) in the circle.

What stands out about this Regional?

Jenna Becerra: "The Pac-12 influence all throughout that Regional. Obviously you have ASU being the host, but in addition to that, Stacey Nuveman, a UCLA alum, being the head coach at San Diego State. Rachel Garcia is on that coaching staff....and then you also have Victoria Hayward on the coaching staff. I think that Pac-12 influence truly has actually made a difference and an impact with the success that San Diego State has had as the Mountain West champions and making it to postseason. Then you look at Cal State Fullerton, who has some influence as well with Danielle O'Toole as an Arizona alum."

What will be the key(s) to ASU advancing to Supers? 

Jenna Becerra: "Obviously almost 100 home runs on the season, they can hit. That keeps them in the game at all times. If they can continue that, that'll be great. I think Lindsay Lopez has been fantastic in the circle too and has gotten better and better and peaking at the right time right now too as the lefty (of the pitching staff). They have a lot of swag, and they'll need it, but I think they're gonna bring it."

No. 13 Washington (35-15, 14-10 Pac-12)

Where is Washington playing? 

The Huskies are hosting the Seattle Regional at Husky Softball Stadium. 

Who is in Washington's Regional? 

Texas (38-17-1, 12-6 Big 12), Lehigh (30-18-1, 15-3 Patriot League), and Weber State (38-10, 13-1 Big Sky). Washington opens against Lehigh on Friday at 5 p.m. PT on ESPN+.

How did Washington get here? 

The Huskies admirably navigated a tough non-conference schedule, picking up big wins against Arkansas (x2), Tennessee, LSU and Oklahoma State. The Huskies got off to a slow start to conference play, going 1-5 through their first six games, but turned it on from there, finishing 14-10 in the Pac-12, good for third place.

How has Washington fared in the NCAA Tournament historically?

The Huskies have made 28 consecutive tournaments since 1994 and have hosted Regionals each of the last six seasons. They have reached the WCWS 14 times — including three straight appearances from 2017 to 2019 — and won a national championship in 2009. They lost to eventual-national champion Oklahoma in Super Regionals last season.

Which Washington players should you keep an eye on?

Senior shortstop Baylee Klingler is the Pac-12 Player of the Year and one of only three finalists for the USA Softball National Player of the Year award. She leads the Pac-12 in batting average (.433) and RBI (65) and is tied with the lead in homers (22) with Arizona's Allie Skaggs. Madison Huskey (13 HR) and freshmen Olivia Johnson (11 HR) and Kinsey Fiedler also provide some pop. Senior outfielder Sami Reynolds (.333 AVG, 5 HR) is one of the top hitters in the Pac-12 when healthy. Fifth-year Gabbie Plain (18-6, 2.02 ERA) is one the top pitchers in the country and has as much postseason experience as anyone.

What stands out about this Regional?

Kenzie Fowler: "Very tough regional in Seattle for sure. I'm excited that the Huskies were able to stay home this year after last year. I think it's very deserved for the body of work that they put in for the entire season. And hosting Texas is a big deal. I know a lot of eyeballs will be on that matchup if we get to see it because [Texas] was a bubble team in terms of hosting. So you're kind of looking at Washington, the No. 13 team, hosting what could be the No. 17 team in the nation. And it's Gabbie Plain's senior year, so you know that she's gonna go out with everything she has, she's gonna get the ball, and opponents are going to have to go through her to get through Washington."

Jenna Becerra: "You have the familiarity that (Texas coach) Mike White has with the Pac-12 from his Oregon days, and there's some of that crossover. It's not the first time these two teams have faced each other and I think that's going to be really, really fun to watch. And then when you look at these other teams too, the conference champions that they are, and I would apply this to all the regions too, they can compete. In general, I think we're always going to see some surprises in Regionals."

What will be the key(s) to Washington advancing to Supers? 

Kenzie Fowler: "I look to their young hitters. I look to their freshmen, their sophomores. Baylee Klingler and Sami Reynolds are going to be pitched carefully and you need those youngsters in the middle and end of the lineup to step up and deliver. We've seen them do that all season long, but now is when it counts and they're very capable of scoring a ton of runs. It's just, can they get it done and get it done when it matters? And of course they can."

Stanford (36-19, 11-13 Pac-12)

Where is Stanford playing? 

The Cardinal is heading to the Tuscaloosa Regional. No. 6 Alabama is hosting at Rhoads Stadium, the largest on-campus softball venue in the country.

Who is in Stanford's Regional? 

No. 6 Alabama (41-11, 16-8 SEC), Murray State (40-16-1, 21-7 Ohio Valley) and Chattanooga (29-25, 9-9 Southern Conference). Stanford opens against Murray State on Friday at 3:30 p.m. PT on ESPN+.

How did Stanford get here? 

The Cardinal picked up signature wins over Oklahoma State, Missouri and Minnesota in the non-conference season before going 11-13 in Pac-12 play, good for fourth place, its best finish since 2013. Stanford was the only Pac-12 team to win series against Arizona State and UCLA, with both triumphs coming at home in Smith Family Stadium. The Cardinal ended UCLA's 25-game hitting streak and ASU's 20-game winning streak. Stanford posted the second-best ERA in conference play (2.71) and top fielding percentage (.971). It scored the fewest runs in the conference, too, but is known for coming up with the timely hits that it needs to win close games.

How has Stanford fared in the NCAA Tournament historically?

The Cardinal is making its 19th trip to the NCAA Tournament and third straight since 2019. Stanford has advanced to Super Regionals five times, with its last appearance coming in 2011. The Cardinal have twice played in the WCWS (2001 and 2004). They lost to Arkansas in Regionals last season.

Which Stanford players should you keep an eye on?

Junior right-hander Alana Vawter is the ace of Stanford's stellar pitching staff, leading the Pac-12 in wins (21) while posting a superb 1.91 ERA. Regan Krause is an outstanding No. 2, boasting an 11-4 record and 1.83 ERA. Kaitlyn Lim (7 HR) provides the power in the lineup while Taylor Gindlesperger (.354 AVG) and Sydnee Huff (.317 AVG) set the table at the top. Defensively, Huff and shortstop Emily Young are one of the best double play duos in the country. The Cardinal defense regularly makes highlight plays.

What stands out about this Regional?

Jenna Becerra: "I think it's going to be one of the most exciting regionals in terms of pitching. Just thinking about the Montana Fouts vs. Alana Vawter potential matchup that we could see coming that early in postseason — two of the best pitchers in the country going at it — is something that could be really special. ... It's possible for the Cardinal to (win). It's impossible for me to not think back to 2011 when I was there for Super Regionals and we took the first game and then we lost the next two the next day. We were so close to the World Series. So for me, this is a little bit of a full circle moment in some ways. but it's a totally new era for the game and I'm excited to see how these two teams match up."

Kenzie Fowler: "I think this is a very pitching-heavy regional, with Stanford and Alana Vawter and their staff being able to hold down top teams like we've seen in the Pac-12. So it's no different for them, although this time it will be on the road, so that's the X-factor. They're going to play in one of the most hostile environments, if not the most hostile environment, of all of college softball. Alabama also has one of the best pitching staffs in the nation, if not the best pitching staff in the SEC. So I like this matchup, it's going to be a potential pitcher's duel, which in that type of environment could be one of the most exciting and electric matchups to watch."

What will be the key(s) to Stanford advancing to Supers? 

Jenna Becerra: "I think they have to stick with the formula that works for them, which is sort of the basic fundamentals. I've talked to Coach Allister about this before where it's that solid pitching, rock solid defense and having timely hitting — because some of the key matchups that they've been able to win this season, that's exactly what they did. I think that's what the Stanford will have to do against an Alabama team that not only has Fouts, but Lexi Kilfoyl is healthy too."

Oregon (31-17, 10-14 Pac-12)

Where is Oregon playing? 

The Ducks are heading to the Fayetteville Regional, hosted by No. 4 Arkansas.

Who is in Oregon's Regional? 

No. 4 Arkansas (44-9, 19-5 SEC), Wichita State (33-16, 14-4 AAC) and Princeton (27-15-2, 17-4 Ivy League). Oregon opens against Wichita State on Friday at 5:30 p.m. PT on ESPN+.

How did Oregon get here? 

The Ducks picked up quality wins over Ole Miss and Baylor (x2) in the non-conference season before going 10-14 in the Pac-12, one game behind fourth-place Stanford. Oregon's best performances were a series win at Stanford and home sweep of Oregon State. The Ducks are fourth in the Pac-12 in homers (62) and batting average (.299) and second in fielding percentage (.976).

How has Oregon fared in the NCAA Tournament historically?

The Ducks are making their 21st NCAA Tournament appearance, second straight and 10th in the last 11 seasons (not including the COVID-shortened 2020 season). Oregon advanced to Super Regionals every year from 2010 to 2018 and reached the WCWS in 1989, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018. The Ducks lost to Texas in the Austin Regional last season.

Which Oregon players should you keep an eye on?

All-American Brooke Yanez has missed the entire season with an injury, opening the door for freshman Stevie Hansen (13-8, 3.10 ERA) and junior Makenna Kliethermes (9-5, 3.79 ERA) to lead the pitching staff. Right fielder Ariel Carlson leads the team in homers (13) while second baseman Allee Bunker and designated player Vallery Wong have each blasted 10 apiece. Bunker also leads the team in RBI (39) and is one of the toughest players in the country to strike out (six Ks in 167 at-bats). Sophomore Hanna Delgado has emerged as one of the best outfielders in the conference, hitting .372 with three homers. Catcher Terra McGowan missed much of the season with an injury, but is back now and hitting .400 with two homers.

What stands out about this Regional?

Kenzie Fowler: "I think this Regional we could see the most home runs hit because of the firepower in all of those teams. Arkansas, one of the best home run hitting teams in the SEC. Wichita State, we've watched their numbers and their star power all season long. And then Oregon has been one of the best home-run-hitting teams throughout the Pac-12. So I expect the ball to fly out there in Fayetteville and I know Coach Lombardi and Arkansas coach Coach (Courtney) Deifel are really good friends and Coach Deifel used to play for Cal. So, two West Coast coaches out there in Arkansas."

What will be the key(s) to Oregon advancing to Supers? 

Jenna Becerra: "The thing that I will say about Oregon and talking with Coach (Melyssa) Lombardi is the way that she describes her team is that they are prizefighters. There's been a lot of adversity that they've had to overcome this season. From losing Brooke Yanez, their All-American, early on, to them having injuries throughout the entire season. They didn't really have everyone healthy until the last series of Pac-12 when they played at Stanford. ... And because they don't quit, it's gonna be tough for Arkansas even though they've been had such a great season. They definitely are going to have to bring their A-game to go up against the Ducks."

Kenzie Fowler: "I think Oregon's offense will look to lead the way — and you gotta swing it to win it."

Oregon State (33-19, 9-15 Pac-12)

Where is Oregon State playing? 

The Beavers are heading to the Knoxville Regional, hosted by No. 11 Tennessee. 

Who is in Oregon State's Regional? 

No. 11 Tennessee (39-16, 15-8 SEC), Ohio State (35-15, 13-9 Big Ten) and Campbell (37-17, 21-6 Big South). Oregon State opens against Ohio State on Friday at 1 p.m. PT on ESPNU.

How did Oregon State get here? 

Highlighted by a win over Tennessee, the Beavers went 23-4 in non-conference play before going 9-15 in Pac-12 play, tied with Utah for sixth place. They took series against Stanford and Arizona, their first series win over the Wildcats since 2013. Oregon State has leaned on its pitching, posting a 1.86 ERA this season, the second-best mark in the Pac-12. Beaver pitchers fanned the second-most hitters in the Pac-12 (414) while allowing the fewest homers (27). 

How has Oregon State fared in the NCAA Tournament historically?

The Beavers are making their 15th NCAA Tournament appearance and first since 2018. They have reached the NCAA Super Regionals (2016) and Women's College World Series (2006) once.

Which Oregon State players should you keep an eye on?

Senior Mariah Mazon is an elite two-way player, logging 14 wins, nine homers, a 1.90 ERA and a .376 batting average. Junior first baseman Frankie Hammoude is one of the best sluggers in the country, batting .391 with 13 homers. Freshman shortstop Kiki Escobar has burst onto the the scene, hitting .349 with 67 hits, the third-most in the Pac-12. So has freshman pitcher Sarah Haendiges, sporting a 2.24 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 120.2 innings.

What stands out about this Regional?

Kenzie Fowler: "I'm very excited that Oregon State made the tournament. I think they're very deserving to have a spot and it's worth reminding how young this team is and so it's a big deal for Coach (Laura) Berg to get her team in this position in first time since 2018 and first time since Mariah Mazon was a freshman. I think it's so exciting that the nation is going to get another look at her because I've just been such a fan of her her entire career. She deserves so much recognition and praise for the work that she's put in all four years in Corvallis. It's very exciting to see this young team get some experience and build off of this for the years to come."

What will be the key(s) to Oregon State advancing to Supers? 

Kenzie Fowler: "I think the pitching for Oregon State will keep them in ballgames and be a sleeper pick because I think they have one of the best pitching staffs on the West Coast. It's a new season, I know they've had a couple of games where they've lost by one run, so they have been right there where their record could have been much better than it shows. So you look at a team like that that could come into a Regional and make some noise as a dark horse."

Arizona (33-20, 8-16 Pac-12)

Where is Arizona playing? 

The Wildcats are heading to the Columbia Regional, hosted by No. 15 Missouri.

Who is in Arizona's Regional? 

No. 15 Missouri (36-20, 12-11 SEC), Illinois (34-20, 15-7 Big Ten) and Missouri State (27-18, 18-7 Missouri Valley). Arizona opens against Illinois on Friday at 1:30 p.m. PT on ESPN+.  

How did Arizona get here? 

While the Wildcats did not beat any NCAA Tournament teams in the non-conference season, they also did not suffer any bad losses, going 18-0 against teams ranked 100 or worse in RPI. Arizona had a tough Pac-12 schedule to start, and it took a toll on them as it went 0-8 to begin league play. However, the Wildcats finished strong to cap the conference season at 8-16, including a series win over Oregon. Arizona is led by an explosive offense that leads the Pac-12 in hits (446) and batting average (.329), while only trailing ASU in homers (86).

How has Arizona fared in the NCAA Tournament historically?

The Wildcats have reached the NCAA Tournament 35 straight seasons, the longest streak in NCAA history. Arizona has reached Super Regionals in 15 of the 16 seasons since they began in 2005 and has advanced to the Women's College World Series 24 times, including in 2019 and 2021. Arizona has won eight national championships, the second-most in the nation, only behind UCLA. UA's last titles came in 2006 and 2007.

Which Arizona players should you keep an eye on?

Sophomore second baseman Allie Skaggs is hitting .370 with 22 homers, tied with UW's Baylee Klingler for the conference lead. Redshirt sophomore catcher Sharlize Palacios surged in the second half of the season, raising her average to .333 to go along with 17 homers. Sophomore first baseman Carlie Scupin also has 17 homers, while freshman outfielder Paige Dimler is hitting .311 with 10 long balls. Speedy outfielders Janelle Meoño (.311 AVG) and Jasmine Perezchica (.393 AVG) are on-base machines. The Wildcats amassed a league-worst 6.10 ERA in conference play, but fifth-year senior Hanah Bowen (10-10, 4.10 ERA) has plenty of postseason experience, pitching in Regionals, Super Regionals and the Women's College World Series last season.

What stands out about this Regional?

Kenzie Fowler: "Missouri is a team that can swing it, they have a lot of power, very similar to Arizona. It's going to come down to the pitching because the bats are the reason that those teams are where they are and it's going to be fun to see Arizona's best hitters compete against Missouri's best hitters. It comes down to the star power. You got to have your stars deliver, and so you look to the top of the lineup of the Wildcats to lead the way."

What will be the key(s) to Arizona advancing to Supers? 

Kenzie Fowler: "I feel like there was so much talk and pressure on this team the last couple of weekends because of the streak and because of it coming down to the wire. You hope that pressure is lifted off this young team and they can turn a corner and play free and play as an underdog, which sounds funny because Arizona in the postseason is rarely the underdog. So you just hope for this young team and these new faces that are playing for the first time this year that they can embrace the NCAA Tournament and really play with nothing to lose."