Pac-12 Softball: Arizona State Continues Undefeated, Four Others Boost in Rankings

Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

Arizona State dominated as it hosted the Littlewood Classic this past weekend and is on its run to its best start since 2006.

If you thought a 7-0 start was impressive, tack on five more wins. No. 3 Arizona State (12-0) – ranked in the February 19 USA Today/NFCA poll after the second week of competition – hosted for the second straight weekend and finished victorious with five additional home wins at the Littlewood Classic.

ASU shutout Illinois Chicago 15-0 (5) and Minnesota 8-0 (5) and took down Northern Iowa 5-3, Michigan State 9-2 and Illinois State 7-1.

Arizona State, one of eight undefeated teams in the top 25, is chasing its best start in seven years. In 2006 the Devils went 19-0 in Clint Myers’ first season at ASU and began 2007 with a 15-0 record.

Against Minnesota in the closer, ASU scored in the third inning after Cheyenne Coyle bunted to reach first on two outs and Amber Freeman followed with her fifth home run of the year. Lucy Aubrecht also added a homer in the fourth for a 3-0 lead. Arizona State continued its home run streak to four straight games.

The 8-0 mercy rule came into effect in the fifth inning when ASU scored five on five hits.

Freeman and Haley Steele each recorded two RBI’s, while Coyle, Aubrecht, Elizabeth Caporuscio, and Bethany Kemp each had one.

On the mound, Dallas Escobedo put away the Gophers from the beginning, striking out Minnesota’s first two at-bats and finishing with nine total and only one hit and walk.

Next, Arizona State is set to host Portland State in a four-game series Feb. 22-24. ASU’s Strikeout Cancer games are a double-header on Saturday, Feb. 23, with the pink game-worn jersey’s to be auctioned after the nightcap.

No. 8, up one spot from last week, California’s (7-2) Lindsey Ziegenhirt smacked a grand slam and two RBI’s in Cal’s 9-2 win over Portland State to close out its sweep of the Easton Desert Classic. Cal also beat Nevada 5-0, Utah Valley 12-4 (5) and San Jose State 6-0. They beat UC Davis 7-0 on Feb. 13 in a single-game.

Ziegenhirt has hit five home runs in the last five games and against Portland State her runs were back-to-back at-bats.

"I feel like I'm hitting my stride,” Ziegenhirt said. “I have been working really hard hitting at practice and hitting all week so it's great to see that it's paying off. Even though the results isn't always going to be a home run, I'll enjoy it while it lasts. I know now that I have that potential and I won't be doubting myself."

Down 1-0 in the bottom of the first, Cheyenne Cordes walked and advanced to third on a fielding error that put Breana Kostreba on base. Then both Danielle Henderson and Victoria Jones walked, forcing Cordes home for the 1-all tie. Ziegenhirt then hit on a 1-2 count past the left-field fence for the clearing and Cal’s 5-1 advantage.

In the second inning Britt Vonk’s triple drove home Cordes.

The Vikings scored in the top of the third, but Ziegenhirt once again helped lift Cal with a back-to-back home run to bring in Jones. Cal’s final run was scored in the bottom of the fourth and the Golden Bears won 9-2.

In the circle, Jolene Henderson earned the win, tossing 5.0 innings and striking out two. She allowed one walk and one hit. Freshman Nisa Ontiveros threw 2.0 innings, allowing two earned runs on seven hits.

"We met our goals this week coming away with four wins. There was good growth throughout the weekend, and our defense remains strong overall," head coach Diane Ninemire said.

Next, California will play in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic Feb. 22-24 in Palm Springs, Calif. The Golden Bears will face Georgia Tech, Maryland, Illinois and Nebraska.

Down two spots, the No. 9 Oregon Ducks (8-3) finished 4-1 this past weekend at the Easton Desert Classic, losing only to Hawai’i 6-5. Oregon beat Long Beach State 10-1, Utah Valley 9-1, Louisiana-Monroe 4-0 and Cal State Fullerton 6-0.

Against the WAC champions, Oregon put up a 4-0 lead in the first after Kaylan Howard homered and Alexa Peterson hit a two-run double.

But the Rainbows reacted by scoring three in the second, one in the third and two in the fifth. The Ducks made a season-high two errors. The first occurred in Hawai’i’s three-run second inning and the other infield error allowed an unearned run in the fifth.

Oregon scored its fifth and final run in the seventh when Howard hit an RBI single, but a line-out to third ended the game and Hawai’i won 6-5.

Jessica Moore took the loss, striking out five, walking one and allowing nine hits. Three of her total six runs were earned. Freshman Cheridan Hawkins threw the final inning and struck out all three batters.

Howard led the Ducks with three RBI’s, two hits and one run. Peterson had two RBI’s and three hits and Janie Takeda hit three and scored once.

Next, Oregon will play Virginia, Cal Poly, Nebraska, UNLV and San Diego State at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic Feb. 22-24 in Palm Springs, Calif.

Improving two, No. 14 Arizona (8-2) won all five games this past weekend at the Hillenbrand Invitational, beating Nebraska 1-0, Drake University 5-3, Southern Utah 6-3, Purdue 5-4 and Utah State 13-1 (5).

After a three-run rally in the fifth inning to earn a 6-3 come-from-behind win over Southern Utah, the Wildcats grabbed their bats and gloves for the second game of the day, beating Purdue in a close 5-4 contest.

Down 2-0 in the first, the Wildcats clawed back in the bottom after a Purdue pitching change. Chelsea Goodacre hit a two-run homer to left-center and Kelsey Rodriguez walked and scored after Nancy Bowling’s double to left-center.

Purdue fought back in the top of the third and held a 4-3 lead until the sixth when Estela Pinon singled to tie the game 4-all. Courtney Rodriguez then scored when Alex Lavine stole second causing a throwing error. Shelby Babcock completed the seventh with three groundouts and a Boilermaker was left in scoring position.

Next, Arizona will travel to Palm Springs, Calif. for the Cathedral City Classic Feb. 21-23. UA will play Oklahoma, Long Beach State, Ohio State, Loyola Marymount and LSU.

UCLA (8-1) improved three spots to No. 16 after sweeping the Easton Desert Classic Feb. 15-17. The Bruins trumped Hawai’i 11-1 (5), San Jose State 8-4, Seattle University 9-0 (5), Louisiana-Monroe 9-1 (6) and finished with an 11-2 (6) beating of Ohio.

The Bruins, especially B.B. Bates, were busy on Saturday with a double-header of San Jose State and Seattle University.

In UCLA’s doubling of San Jose State, Bates homered twice and had five RBI’s for the second straight game to tie career bests in both categories.

The Bruins plated first in the top of the second with a Jessica Hall home run; her second of the season. San Jose State fired back with a single, a home run and back-to-back two-out homers to take a 4-1 lead. But Bates drilled her first home run in the fifth and UCLA added six more in the sixth, including Bates’s first-career grand slam for the 8-4 victory.

In the circle, Ally Carda earned the win in relief allowing just two hits in 3 1/3 innings, striking out four and walking five. Hall tossed 3 2/3 innings, allowing four runs and five hits. Hall struck out her first three batters.

In the night game against Seattle University, Bates blasted two more homers, went 3-for-3 with four RBI and freshman pitcher Paige McDuffee threw the 102nd no-hitter in UCLA history.

McDuffee struck out six in her second straight, five-inning shutout performance. She allowed just two baserunners on a one-out walk in the first and a one-out error in the third. McDuffee struck out the final eight batters and tossed 1-2-3 innings in the second, fourth and fifth.

Next, UCLA will play the Toyota Women’s Softball Team (Japan) on Feb. 19 at Easton Stadium.

Also jumping two spots to No. 20, Stanford sits 10-2 after an 8-0 (5) victory against Santa Clara on Feb. 13 and a sweeping shutout at the Stanford Nike Invitational. The Cardinal took down Cal State Northridge 9-0 (5) and 8-0 (5), CSU Bakersfield 7-0 and 12-0 (5) and UC Davis 8-0 (6).

Adding to the good pitching category in the Pac-12, freshman Kelsey Stevens tossed her third shutout of the year in Stanford’s final game of the Invitational against UC Davis. Stevens threw a one-hitter, earning eight strikeouts, totaling for 49 on the season. She did not allow a walk.

Leah White put a score on the board in the bottom of the fourth, hitting a solo shot to center. Kaitlin Schaberg followed with a bases-loaded walk to plate Jenna Rich for a 2-0 lead. In the bottom of the fifth Sarah Hassman scored on Rich’s single to left and in the sixth the Cardinal scored five drawing the run-rule win.

Next, Stanford will play in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs, Calif. Feb 22-24. The Cardinal will face Georgia, Oklahoma State, Virginia, Florida State and Syracuse.

The Washington Huskies (6-5) fell four spots to No. 22 after going 2-for-5 at the Campbell Cartier Classic. UW won its opening game against Notre Dame 5-2 and its closing against UC Riverside 8-0 (5), but lost 3-2 to Kentucky and 2-0 against both Oklahoma and Cal Poly.

In game one against Oklahoma, ace Lauren Chamberlain hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the third, scoring Brianna Turang. Washington tried to rally in the top of the seventh inning, with Kaitlin Inglesby and Hooch Fagaly both singling, but Sooner Michelle Gascoigne struck the Dawgs out for the shutout.

Gascoigne had 10 strikeouts and three hits.

Washington’s Bryana Walker struck out five Sooners, but walked two and allowed two earned runs on six hits.

In the nightcap, a run wasn’t scored until the top of the sixth but it was Cal Poly. Celine Lafrades singled up the middle and drove in Cal Poly’s first run and Mariah Cochiolo singled up the middle as well for Cal Poly’s winning run.

Next, Washington will play at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic Feb. 21-23. They’ll face Virginia, the professional USSSA Pride, Florida State, Illinois and Georgia. Former 2009 National Champions at Washington, Ashley Charters, Danielle Lawrie, Jenn Salling and Nikia Williams, play for the USSSA Pride.

Oregon State (8-3) swept its first road invitational of at least five games since the Beavers won all five at the 2006 Worth Tournament in Fullerton, Calif. during a 28-game winning streak. This past weekend the Beavers were perfect at the Easton Desert Classic Feb. 15-17, outscoring its opponents 42-15. They beat Cal State Fullerton 9-5, BYU 7-3, Idaho State 3-2, Long Beach State 17-3 and Seattle University 6-2.

Tina Andreana and Marina Demore combined for a one-hitter against Seattle University, where Andreana struck out six and Demore pitched two perfect innings for the save.

Seattle scored two in the top of the second inning, but Oregon State battled back with two of its own. Ashley Sanchez’s grounder to second was bobbled so Desiree Beltran and Lea Cavestany scored from third and second, respectively.

Beltran and Cavestany plated again in the fifth when Ya Garcia singled home Beltran and Cavestany scored on Sanchez’s RBI. Hannah Bouska and Natalie Hampton closed the game in the bottom of the sixth with two straight homers to center for the 6-2 win.

Next, Oregon State will play in Palm Springs, Calif. at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, facing Colorado State, Maryland, Nevada, Illinois and Georgia Tech.

The Utah Utes (4-6) broke their six-game losing streak when they beat Long Beach State 3-1 and host UNLV 14-6 (5) on their final day of the Easton Desert Classic. But Utah did lose to Idaho State 9-8, Seattle University 10-0 (5) and Cal State Fullerton 8-0 (5).

Against Long Beach State, the 49ers scored first in the top of the opening frame, but Marissa Mendenhall put the Utes on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth, knocking a double down the left-field line for her seventh RBI of the season, bringing home Chalese Fankhauser.

Utah then followed in the fifth with bases loaded. Jackie Sweet singled to left and both Kate Dickman and Fankhauser walked to load bases. Mendenhall hit her second single of the game to right-center and Utah scored for the 3-1 win.

In the nightcap against UNLV, Mariah Ramirez (3), Sweet (2), Dickman (2), Katelyn Elliot (2) and Shelby Pacheco (2) had multi-hit efforts as Utah performed a season-high 14 runs and 19 hits. Utah put up one run in the top of the first, four in the second, six in the third and three in the fifth.

Sweet was 2-for-2 with two RBI’s and Dickman was 2-for-2 with one RBI.

Ramirez earned the win. In 4.0 innings pitched, she allowed two walks and all four runs on seven hits were earned.

Next, Utah will compete in the Mary Nutter Classic Feb. 22-24 in Palm Springs, Calif. The Utes will face Colorado State, LIU Brooklyn, Nevada, Ohio State and Cal Poly.

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