Pac-12 Softball Recap: Cal Holding Strong for Fifth Straight Week

For the fifth straight week California is No. 1 in the USA Today/NFCA poll released on April 24, 2012. The Golden Bears earned 29 first-place votes, but this time, Alabama is ranked fourth and the No. 2 team is Florida, receiving one first-place vote with a 41-5 record.

Last week PacificTakes asked its readers if they think Cal, which has four Pac-12 match-ups remaining in the regular season, will lose another game. Well, 72% answered "yes" and that percentage of people is correct.

The Golden Bears took out Santa Clara 10-2 in five innings during a single non-conference meeting on April 18 and followed up by going 2-for-3 at Oregon, losing just its third game all season, a 1-0 stint. The Golden Bears won the first 8-1 and the final 10-0 in six.

In the Golden Bears' 8-1 victory, Jamia Reid held a team-high three runs, with one hit and one RBI. Jace Williams (4 RBI), Danielle Henderson, Cheyenna Cordes, Ella Reid and Frani Echavarria (3 RBI) all had one run.

In the 1-0 decision, Oregon scored in the bottom of the sixth. Kaylan Howard singled off the right-center wall and ran to second on a Janie Takeda sacrifice bunt. Cal's Valerie Arioto threw a wild pitch and that allowed Howard to chase third and barely beat the out on a throw from home. On two outs and a 1-0 count, Howard scored from third on a Kailee Cuico single to right field.

In Cal's 10-0 win, the Golden Bears posted five runs in the top of the third and five in the top of the sixth, including three homers - with Arioto swinging her 20th of the season to break her own single-season record. Ashley Decker led the team with three RBI on a two-run homer and another hit.

"It felt great to come back with a big win today," Decker said. "Everyone came out strong with a lot of confidence, and that's all we needed."

Next Cal is set to travel to Berkeley to play UCLA for a series April 27 to 29.

Arizona State climbed one ranking to No. 3 after earning its third Pac-12 series sweep last weekend, taking down Stanford 11-9, 5-0 and 7-1 with two grand slams in the first match-up lifting ASU in a come-from-behind win.

Stanford held a four-run lead in the top of the third when Jenna Rich knocked a grand slam but the Sun Devils rebounded in the bottom with one run when Bailey Wigness scored on a Katelyn Boyd single to left.

In the top of the fourth Stanford added two more runs to take a 6-1 lead, but in the bottom of the fifth, again, Arizona State answered with runs - eight, including the two grand slams from Amber Freeman and Boyd. Freeman, a freshman, hit her first career grand slam and Boyd's hit to left-center gave ASU the 9-6 takeover.

One inning later Annie Lockwood nabbed her seventh home run of the season and Sam Parlich increased ASU's lead to 11-6 when her double to right-center brought home Breanna Kaye.

Stanford added three more runs in the top of the seventh but it wasn't enough.

Next Arizona State is scheduled to play at Washington April 27 to 29.

The Washington Huskies continue to struggle in the Pac-12 standing 7-10 after a 29-1 season before conference play. They fell two spots to No. 11 after going 1-for-3 at Oregon State last weekend, winning 7-6 in nine, but losing 4-3 and 3-2.

Nikia Williams hit the game-winning solo homer, her second of the matchup, in the top of the ninth with two outs to lift UW to its 7-6 victory over Oregon State.

"Our team is a big puzzle and we were able to put the pieces where they belong today," said Williams. "We competed faster and longer and that's what allowed us to finish."

Washington reached home plate first in the bottom of the opening inning when Victoria Hayward hit an RBI single sac fly to score Kaitlin Inglesby. OSU followed with three runs of their own in the bottom off of Inglesby, who started on the mound.

UW added two more runs in the top of the second to tie it 3-all after a Hooch Fagaly double and a homer by Shawna Wright. Oregon State answered by bumping up to 6-3.

Williams slapped her first homer in the third and in the sixth the Huskies tied it once again, 6-all, when Fagaly hit a two-run home run. Whitney Jones also added a run.

Next Washington will host Arizona State April 27 to 29.

Despite putting New Mexico runners in scoring position in all 12 offensive innings, No. 13 Arizona allowed just one New Mexico run in its non-conference double-header on April 18. The Wildcats won 8-1 and 5-0.

Arizona nailed as many home runs as New Mexico had hits in the two games - seven. Shelby Pendley hit three homers to boost her season total to 17 so far, just four away from the freshman season record of 21 set by Brigette Del Ponte in 2010.

In the 8-1 victory Pendley and Lini Koria each homered twice and Chelsea Goodacre once. In the 5-0 win Pendley added a third and Kristen Arriola hit one.

New Mexico's Stefanie Carramusa blasted the first pitch of the first game over the center field fence for New Mexico's single run, but besides that, Babcock only allowed four hits and three walks and earned three strikeouts.

Arizona came back in the bottom of the first to tie it 1-all and then took the lead from there. Pendley led off the second with a homer, Jessica Spigner was driven home on Goodacre's fifth home run of the season and Wilson singled in a run to give Arizona a 5-1 lead after three.

In the bottom of the fourth frame Pendley and Koria hit back-to-back homers and in the sixth Koria drilled her 11th homer of the season for an 8-1 lead.

Next Arizona will host Oregon April 27 to 29.

No. 15 UCLA took a single non-conference game and a Pac-12 series sweep in its last two meetings. On April 18 the Bruins beat Cal State Northridge 10-3 and followed by holding Utah to yet another round of losses, with the Bruins winning 5-0, 11-8 and 9-1 in six.

In the closest result, UCLA held a 10-0 lead over Utah going into the top of the fourth frame when Utah scored two on Whitney Holm's single up the middle to bring home Marissa Mendenhall and Jackie Sweet.

In the bottom of the fourth the Bruins increased their lead to 11-2 when Andrea Harrison homered to right-center, her 12th of the season, moving into fourth on UCLA's all-time list. Utah fought back to score three in the fifth and sixth, respectively, but fell short.

Next UCLA is set to play at California April 27 to 29.

The Oregon Ducks took down Portland State in a non-conference double-header on April 18, winning 10-4 and 1-0 and despite losing 8-1 and 10-0 against California following, the Ducks did give Cal just its third loss of the season by winning the second game of the series 1-0. Oregon improved two spots to No. 16.

Oregon beat its second top-ranked opponent under head coach Mike White and junior pitcher Jessica Moore had a lot to do with it.

Earning her 22nd win of the season and seventh over a top-25 this year, Moore moves into sixth all-time for Oregon for wins in a campaign. Moore allowed just one walk and four hits and nabbed eight strikeouts for 175 total on the season - fifth-most for Oregon.

"The difference for me today was that I got ahead of the hitters much better," Moore said," and my pitch counts were low. Yesterday I was a little bit out of the strike zone, but today I was able to control the game better. Even though we had an error, it wasn't that big of a deal, and our teammates picked each other up."

White added, "Jess did a better job of getting ahead today, and that made it easier on the defense. Today proved that we can beat good teams and that we have a pitcher who can lead the way."

Oregon scored the lone run in the bottom of the sixth. Kaylan Howard singled off the right-center wall, Janie Takeda's sacrific bunt moved Howard to second and a wild pitch allowed Howard to third, just narrowly beating the catcher's throw. Then, Kailee Cuico hit a single to right field for her fifth game-winning RBI of the season - third-most on Oregon.

Next Oregon travels to Tuscon, Ariz. to play against the Wildcats April 27 to 29.

Stanford dropped three rankings to No. 19 after losing its last four games. The Cardinal fell 2-1 in a non-conference match-up at San Jose State on April 17 and were swept at Arizona State April 20 to 22, 11-9, 5-0 and 7-1.

In its 11-9 loss, Stanford was leading 4-0 in the top of the third after Jenna Rich hit a grand slam to right-center field that brought home Hanna Winter, Leah White and Ashley Hansen. It was Rich's eighth homer of the season and Stanford's fourth grand slam in just five games.

Arizona State scored its first run in the bottom of the third, but Stanford challenged with two more for a 6-1 lead in the top of the fourth. That didn't last long, however, as Arizona State's Amber Freeman and Katelyn Boyd hit the day's second and third grand slams for a 9-6 lead in the bottom of the fifth.

Arizona State added its 10th and 11th runs in the bottom of the sixth when Annie Lockwood hit a solo homer to right field and Sam Parlich scored pinch runner Breanna Kaye with a double to right center.

Stanford scored three in the top of the seventh but it wasn't enough. Jenna Becerra scored Rich from third, Winter plated Becerra and with bases loaded White singled up the middle to bring home pinch runner Alyssa Lombardo. But, a base-running mistake by Tegan Schmidt ended the game.

Next the Stanford Cardinal will play two single non-conference games, hosting UC Davis on April 25 and Santa Clara on May 1. The Cardinal will get back in Pac-12 action when they host Washington May 4 to 6.

Oregon State beat Washington in two of three games, 4-3 and 3-2, but fell 7-6 in nine innings during their series April 20 to 22.

The two wins marked the Beavers' 28th and 29th of the season, which passes its highest total in any of the last five years and also gives them their first winning season since 2007 - the last year OSU advanced to the NCAA Regional. With the sixth conference win this season, the Beavers have more than in any of their previous three seasons.

Oregon State came from behind in the 4-3 contest, with Mary Claire Brenner driving in the game-tying run and Isabelle Batayola scoring the fourth run from third in the bottom of the sixth. Washington's catcher attempted to throw Batayola out but instead the ball went long and she got to the plate.

Washington held a 3-0 lead in the top of the third after a pair of sacrifice flies and a wild pitch. But OSU's Hannah Bouska put the Beavers on the board in the bottom when she scored on a Desiree Beltran RBI groundout.

The fourth and fifth were scoreless and it wasn't until the bottom of the sixth frame that OSU's bats were hot again, scoring three for the eventual win as Washington wasn't able to score in the seventh.

Next Oregon State hosts Portland State in a non-conference double-header on April 24. They'll resume Pac-12 play April 27 to 29 when they travel to Salt Lake City to face Utah.

The Utah Utes have yet to win a Pac-12 game and are 0-15. Last weekend they were blanked at UCLA, 5-0, 11-8 and 9-1 in six.

Utah was outrun 25-9 against UCLA and in its 15 Pac-12 games the Utes have been outrun 113-24.

In its 9-1 loss, Sandi Bowles scored for Utah on an RBI single in the fourth inning by Kate Dickman. Dickman earned her 16th RBI of the season.

The Utes combined for five hits. UCLA was double, nabbing five off Mariah Ramirez in 1.2 innings pitched, two off Generra Nielson in 2.0 innings of relief and three off Naomi Amu in the final 2.0 innings.

UCLA scored two in the first, one in the second, three in the fourth, two in the fifth and one in the sixth.

Next Utah plays a non-conference double-header at Weber State in Ogden, Utah on April 25. The Utes will play Pac-12 again April 27 to 29 when they host Oregon State.

Standings: Conference, Overall,

California: 13-2, 42-3

Arizona State: 11-2, 39-5

UCLA: 9-6, 33-12

Oregon: 9-7, 32-11

Arizona: 8-7, 31-12

Oregon State: 6-8, 29-15

Washington: 7-10, 36-11

Stanford: 6-12, 32-16

Utah: 0-15, 23-21

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