Pac-12 Softball Weekly Rundown

Pac-12 Softball Weekly Rundown

Arizona hosts the Bear Down Fiesta this weekend and is set to face No. 15 Arkansas this Friday and Saturday. The Wildcats are 4-2 all-time against the Razorbacks.

California looks to continue its strong start to the season at the Littlewood Classic. The Golden Bears will square off against No. 21 Virginia Tech on Saturday in the first-ever meeting between these two teams.

Three Pac-12 teams head to Clearwater, Fla. for the Shriners Children’s Clearwater Invitational. Stanford has three top-25 showdowns on deck versus No. 7 Florida State (Thursday), No. 2 Tennessee (Friday) and No. 3 Texas (Friday). The Cardinal played three top-25 matchups the first weekend of the season, going 1-2 in those contests. UCLA will also face top-25 competition at the Shriners Children’s Clearwater Invitational in No. 7 Florida State (Friday), No. 4 Georgia (Friday) and No. 2 Tennessee (Saturday). Washington kicks things off on Friday against No. 18 Kentucky before facing No. 12 LSU (Saturday).

Utah begins the Puerto Vallarta Challenge against No. 25 Auburn (Thursday) before battling No. 20 South Carolina (Thursday) and No. 8 Clemson (Friday). The Utes went 4-1 this past weekend at the NFCA Leadoff Classic.

Quick Hits

  • Pac-12 teams went a combined 31-14 (.689) the opening weekend, 10 of those losses came to top-25 teams.
    • Arizona won by run rule in all 5 games (outscored opponents 41-1).
    • Cal defeated then-No. 21 Louisiana, 3-1 in 8 innings.
    • Then-No. 3 Stanford shut out then-No. 24 San Diego State on the road, allowing just one hit.
    • Then-No. 7 Washington run-ruled then-No. 17 Nebraska, 8-0 (5) in its season opener.
  • Stanford’s NiJaree Canady’s 15-strikeout performance against San Diego State are the most strikeouts in a NCAA DI game this season.
    • Canady’s 14.1 strikeouts per seven innings is the second-best mark in the country.
  • Arizona is one of three teams nationally to boast a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage after the first weekend of play.
    • The Wildcats also rank t-fifth in NCAA DI with a team ERA of 0.27.
  • Oregon’s Ariel Carlson tied the Ducks’ single-game record with three doubles in the games against Army, while the team tied the program record with seven total doubles.
  • Three Pac-12 players rank in the top-10 nationally in stolen bases: No. t-1 Utah’s Haley Denning – 9; No. t-4 Washington’s Brooklyn Carter & Oregon’s Kai Luschar – 6.

Rankings Rundown

  • Once again the Pac-12 has five teams ranked in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Poll: No. 5 Washington, No. 9 Stanford, No. 13 Utah, No. 17 Oregon, and No. 19 UCLA; Arizona and California are receiving votes.
  • 77.8% of the league (7/9) is represented in the NFCA poll, with 55.6% (5/9) ranked in the top 25.
  • D1Softball: No. 6 Washington, No. 13 Stanford, No. 15 Utah, No. 19 Oregon, No. 22 UCLA
  • Softball America: No. 8 Washington, No. 9 Stanford, No. 14 Utah, No. 20 Oregon; RV UCLA
  • Softball: No. 6 Washington, No. 9 Stanford, No. 14 Oregon, No. 16 Utah, No. 20 UCLA; RV Arizona and California.

Conference Notebook

  • Arizona: The Wildcats lead the Pac-12 and rank 11th nationally with a .390 team batting average. Arizona is paced by Olivia DiNardo, who went 7-for-11 (.636) at the plate the opening weekend.
  • Arizona StateAlesia Denby is on a five-game hitting streak dating back to last season. Denby currently leads the team with a .500 batting average on the year after going 6-for-12 at the Kajikawa Classic.
  • CaliforniaAcacia Anders is the only player to rank in the league’s top five in batting average (.500) and RBI (8). Anders knocked in the game-winning run on Sunday to defeat then-No. 21 Louisiana, and has three multi-hit games already this season.
  • Oregon: Luschar has hit safely in six-straight contests, which ties her career long. Luschar was a perfect 6-for-6 in stolen base attempts over the weekend, and is tied for the fourth-most steals nationally.
  • Oregon State: Ellie Garcia is one of three qualified pitchers in the Pac-12 who boast an ERA of 0.00. Garcia tossed nine scoreless innings during the USF Rawlings Invitational, including a complete-game shutout of Illinois State in which she struck out six.
  • Stanford: Senior Caelan Kock had an impactful return to the diamond last weekend, going 5-for-14 (.357) at the plate with three RBI. Thursday’s opener was her first game since March 26, 2023 when injury ended her season.
  • UCLA: Catcher Alexis Ramirez hit a team-best .455 this past weekend, and hit her first career home run which came in the season opener against Maryland.
  • Utah: The Utes outscored their opponents 29-10 at the NFCA Leadoff Classic. Denning reached base in all five contests, including four multi-hit games, and was a perfect 9-for-9 in stolen base attempts. Her 1.80 stolen bases per game is the best in NCAA DI.
  • Washington: Three Huskies are batting over .400 in Carter (.438), Rylee Holtorf (.429) and Brooke Nelson (.417). Ruby Meylan picked up where she left off last season, striking out 12 over 11.1 innings and posting a 0.62 ERA in three appearances.

Watch List

  • 11 Pac-12 players are on USA Softball’s Top 50 “Watch List” for Player of the Year: Maya Brady, UCLA; NiJaree Canady, STAN; Megan Grant, UCLA; Stevie Hansen, ORE; Taryn Kern, STAN; Mariah Lopez, UTAH; Ruby Meylan, WASH; Sharlize Palacios, UCLA; Carlie Scupin, ARIZ; Allie Skaggs, ARIZ; Jordan Woolery, UCLA.

Additions & Returners

  • Every Pac-12 program was ranked in the top-45 of Extra Inning Softball’s 2023 team recruiting rankings: No. 7 Washington, No. 8 UCLA, No. 9 Arizona, No. 13 Oregon, No. 31 Stanford, No. 33 Arizona State, No. 34 California, No. 44 Oregon State, No. 45 Utah.
  • The Pac-12 returns 12 First-Team All-Conference members from a season ago: Tatum Anzaldo (CAL); Aliya Belarde (UTAH), Brady (UCLA), NiJaree Canady, (STAN), Abby Dayton (UTAH), Megan Grant (UCLA), Dakota Kennedy (ARIZ), Mariah Lopez (UTAH), River Mahler (STAN), Ruby Meylan (WASH), Allie Skaggs (ARIZ) and Jordan Woolery (UCLA).
  • Six 2023 NFCA All-Americans will suit up for Pac-12 teams this year: Brady, Grant, Taryn Kern, Lopez, Woolery & Meylan.
    • Stanford added 2023 NFCA Second Team All-American Kern this offseason, who transferred in from Indiana.

PowHER of the PAC

  • All nine Pac-12 softball programs are led by female head coaches.
  • Six of nine are leading their alma maters: Jessica Allister, STAN; Amy Hogue, UTAH; Kelly Inouye-Perez, UCLA; Caitlin Lowe, ARIZ; Chelesea Spencer, CAL; Heather Tarr, WASH.

Preseason Coaches Poll

  • Stanford received seven first-place votes and 63 total points to finish atop the 2024 preseason coaches poll for the first time in Pac-12 history. Reigning regular-season champion UCLA was second with 54 points, while Utah came in third with 49 points and one first-place vote. Washington grabbed the remaining first-place vote and 45 points to finish fourth. 2023 Pac-12 Player of the Year and Batting Champion Brady of UCLA headlined the 20-member Preseason All-Pac-12 Team.

2024 Pac-12 Softball Tournament

  • Stanford’s Boyd & Jill Smith Family Stadium will host the 2024 Pac-12 Softball Tournament, which takes place from May 8-11. The four-day event will begin with a play-in game between the eighth and ninth-place teams in the regular-season standings on Wednesday. That winner will advance to an eight-team, single-elimination bracket with the quarterfinals, semifinals and championship being contested on the following three days. The winner of the Pac-12 Softball Tournament will receive the Conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Historically Speaking

  • The nation’s most successful softball conference, Pac-12 programs have combined to win 24 of the 41 NCAA softball championships all-time, 17 more than the next closest league, and all nine Pac-12 teams have made appearances in the Women’s College World Series. Of the 13 different programs to have won an NCAA softball championship, five are from the Pac-12: UCLA (12), Arizona (8), Arizona State (2), California (1) and Washington (1). The Pac-12 sent six teams to the NCAA Tournament a season ago, with three teams advancing to the Women’s College World Series, the most of any other conference.

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