Pac-12 Softball Weekly Rundown – March 20, 2024

Top Pac-12 softball continues this week, with a pair of teams ranked in the top 10 of the USA Today/NFCA poll in No. 8 Washington and No. 9 Stanford.

No. 19 California hosts Sacramento State in a non-conference tilt on Wednesday, March 20. The Golden Bears have a dominating 69-23 all-time record against the Hornets. The Golden Bears then host No. 21 Arizona to cap off their seven-game homestand. Arizona holds that series advantage at 90-35, however California has won four of the last six.

Utah welcomes Boise State to Dumke Family Softball Stadium on Wednesday. The Utes are 15-6 in non-conference play this season, and have won three of the last five against Boise State. Wednesday’s clash will be the first meeting since 2016 between these two teams.

The ninth-ranked Cardinal hosts Utah this weekend. The Utes swept Stanford last season for their first season sweep of the Cardinal since 2017. Stanford is 8-1 at home this season.

Arizona State visits Oregon, who is receiving votes in the latest USA Today/NFCA poll, for a three-game series beginning this Friday. The series kicks off an eight-game road trip for the Sun Devils, who have only played three games away from Tempe, Ariz. this season. The Ducks swept Arizona State a season ago, which ended a six-game winning streak by the Sun Devils against Oregon.

No. 14 UCLA and No. 8 Washington, who are currently second and third in the Pac-12 standings, respectively, square off in a highly-anticipated three-game series in Seattle. These two programs have combined for 67 NCAA Tournament and 46 Women’s College World Series appearances. UCLA has won seven of the last eight matchups between these two squads, as well as six straight games in Seattle against the Huskies. Washington is 4-1 at home this season, and this weekend’s series will be the 10th game against a ranked team the Huskies will have faced this year.

Quick Hits

  • The Pac-12 is fourth nationally with 12.47 total bases per game, with 0.91 home runs per game, and with a .304 batting average.
  • Eight Pac-12 teams boast a winning record, and every team has at least one league win.
  • Stanford is No. 1 nationally in RPI. The Cardinal also has the toughest strength of schedule in NCAA DI.
  • Arizona State’s 50 doubles are the ninth-most nationally. The Sun Devils have hit one or more doubles in five straight contests.
    • The Sun Devils rank eighth in NCAA DI with .43 triples per game.
  • Oregon (.981) and Arizona (.981) continue to flash elite defense, ranking sixth and eighth nationally, respectfully, in fielding percentage. Washington (.978) ranks 15th nationally in the category.
    • The Wildcats have 18 errorless games this season, while the Ducks have 15 and Huskies have 13.
  • Stanford is one of the most dominant teams in the circle this season, posting the fifth-most shutouts nationally (11) while boasting the fourth-best strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.98). 
  • Arizona (Regan Shockey – .421 & Dakota Kennedy – .410) and Utah (Abby Dayton – .465 & Haley Denning – .457) are the only Pac-12 teams which have two players batting over .400 this year (minimum 2.5 plate appearances per game and played in 75% of team games or 2.7 plate appearances per team game played).

Rankings Rundown

  • Five Pac-12 teams are ranked in the latest USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Poll: No. 8 Washington, No. 9 Stanford, No. 14 UCLA, No. 19 California and No. 21 Arizona. Oregon is receiving votes.
  • 66.7% of the league (6/9) is either ranked or receiving votes in the top 25.
  • D1Softball: No. 4 Stanford, No. 9 Washington, No. 14 UCLA, No. 20 Arizona, No. 22 California.
  • Softball America: No. 6 Stanford, No. 9 Washington, No. 14 UCLA, No. 21 California, No. 24 Arizona.
  • Softball: No. 8 Stanford, No. 9 Washington, No. 13 UCLA, No. 21 California, No. 22 Oregon, No. 24 Arizona.
  • NCAA RPI Rankings (through 3/18): No. 1 Stanford, No. 14 UCLA, No. 16 California, No. 17 Washington, No. 21 Arizona, No. 36 Oregon, No. 55 Arizona State, No. 67 Utah and No. 94 Oregon State. 

Conference Notebook

  • ArizonaOlivia DiNardo hit a game-winning two-run home run to lift the Wildcats past Washington on Sunday. DiNardo has six homers this season, and Arizona is 6-0 when she goes yard this season.
  • Arizona StateMarissa Schuld tossed her third complete game of the season in the 5-1 win over Oregon State on Sunday, beginning the contest with three perfect innings. Schuld is holding opposing hitters to a team-best .277 average this year.
  • California: California leads the Pac-12 with 41 home runs, which is 12 more than Arizona and Washington who are tied for second with 29. Cal’s Elon Butler paces the league with 10 home runs this season, and her 0.36 home runs per game is t-22nd best nationally.The Golden Bears are 17-2 this season when hitting a home run.
  • Oregon: Oregon’s Kai Luschar is one of two players nationally (North Carolina’s Alex Coleman) who rank in the top-20 nationally in both batting average and stolen bases per game. Luschar is second in the Pac-12 with a .461 batting average and leads the Conference with 0.69 steals per game.
  • Oregon StateGrace Messmer has reached base in 13 of her last 14 games, including the last five straight. Messmer leads the Beavers with a .326 batting average and a .371 on-base percentage. 
  • Stanford: Nijaree Canady’s 18 strikeouts against Georgia on March 3 are still the most recorded in NCAA DI. Her 0.42 ERA is the third-best nationally, while her 12.1 strikeouts per seven paces the country. Stanford is 8-1 this season when Canady strikes out 10 or more.
  • UCLA: The Bruins have won nine straight, which is tied for the sixth-longest active streak in the country. UCLA is outscoring its opponents 69-16 during that nine-game stretch, and Sharlize Palacios is leading the way with a .435 batting average over those nine games.
  • Utah:  Dayton’s .465 batting average is the 14th best nationally, while teammate  Denning’s .457 is 22nd best. Utah is one of three NCAA DI programs (also North Carolina and Texas) with two players in the top-25 nationally in batting average.
  • Washington: Washington leads the conference and is 16th nationally with 6.68 runs per game, and 22nd with a 2.06 team ERA which is the second best in the Pac-12. Washington is 18-0 this season when scoring four-or-more runs.

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; Chelsea 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. 

Upcoming Schedule (Full Schedule

Wednesday, March 20Where to WatchTime 
Sacramento State at No. 19 CaliforniaPac-12 Plus3 p.m. PT
Boise State at UtahPac-12 Plus4 p.m. PT
Friday, March 22  
No. 21 Arizona at No. 19 CaliforniaPac-12 Network, Pac-12 Arizona, Pac-12 Bay Area3 p.m. PT
Arizona State at RV OregonPac-12 Arizona, Pac-12 Oregon5 p.m. PT
N. 14 UCLA at No. 8 WashingtonPac-12 Network, Pac-12 Los Angeles, Pac-12 Washington5 p.m. PT
Utah at  No. 9 StanfordPac-12 Plus6 p.m. PT
Saturday, March 23  
Arizona State at RV OregonPac-12 Oregon2 p.m. PT
No. 21 Arizona at No. 19 CaliforniaPac-12 Arizona, Pac-12 Bay Area2 p.m. PT
N. 14 UCLA at No. 8 WashingtonPac-12 Washington2 p.m. PT
Utah at  No. 9 StanfordPac-12 Plus2 p.m. PT
Sunday, March 24
Arizona State at RV OregonPac-12 Oregon12 p.m. PT
No. 21 Arizona at No. 19 CaliforniaPac-12 Arizona, Pac-12 Bay Area12 p.m. PT
N. 14 UCLA at No. 8 WashingtonPac-12 Network, Pac-12 Los Angeles, Pac-12 Washington12 p.m. PT
Utah at  No. 9 StanfordPac-12 Plus12 p.m. PT
Tuesday, March 26  
Southern Utah at UtahPac-12 Network, Pac-12 Mountain4 p.m. PT
RV Oregon at Cal State FullertonESPN+6 p.m. PT

Pac-12 Standings (Full Standings)

No. 9 Stanford3-0-022-5-0
No. 17 UCLA3-0-017-6-0
No. 8 Washington4-2-020-4-0
RV Oregon4-2-016-10-0
No. 21 Arizona3-3-020-7-1
Oregon State3-3-014-16-0
Arizona State2-4-017-11-0
No. 19 California1-5-021-7-0

Pac-12 Softball Weekly Awards

Feb. 12Ariel Carlson, ORENiJaree Canady, STANJadyn Glab, WASH
Feb. 19Elon Butler, CALRuby Meylan, WASHRegan Shockey, ARIZ
Feb. 26Maya Brady, UCLATaylor Tinsley, UCLARegan Shockey, ARIZ
March 4Jillian Celis, WASHNiJaree Canady, STANAva Gall, STAN
March 11Maya Brady, UCLANiJaree Canady, STANPaige Doerr, OSU
March 18Sharlize Palacios, UCLARegan Krause, STANKaitlyn Terry, UCLA

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