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Pac-12 Softball Update: Cal Ranked No. 1, Washington No. 3

For the first time this season and since Feb. 23, 2005, California ranks as the top softball team in the USA Today/NFCA poll after earning 20 of the 30 first-place votes. The Bears dethrone SEC opponent Alabama to the No. 2 spot after the Tide had previously held the crown for six consecutive weeks.

The Bears (29-1, 3-0) swept their Pac-12 opener March 23 to 25 at No. 13 Stanford, 9-0, 4-3 and 8-0, respectively, with nine homeruns contributing to the Bears’ victories, two from both Valerie Arioto and Breana Kostreba.

In the first matchup, the Bears slapped a season-high five homers, including a pair of two-RBI from Arioto. In the bottom of the seventh of game two, the Cardinal down by one run with runners at first and second, Jolene Henderson got Stanford’s Jenna Rich to pop up and end the game. Kostreba, Ashley Decker, Jace Williams and Jamia Reid all scored for the Bears. In the final game, Arioto scored two in the top of the fifth, the Bears went up 4-0 in the sixth and then doubled its score in the seventh when Arioto and Williams each homered, Elia Reid scored off a Danielle Henderson hit and Danielle Henderson scored off her sister Jolene’s single to third.

Cal will host Sacramento State on March 28 at 3:00 p.m. PT. The Bears will resume Pac-12 play when they host Washington March 30 to April 1.

No. 3 Washington (32-1, 3-0) continues to lead the Pac-12 and is off to its best start under current head coach Heather Tarr and best by a UW team since 2003 when they began 31-1-1. The Huskies improved to 32-1 by sweeping Utah in their Pac-12 opener, 5-1, 6-1 and 3-1, respectively.

Kaitlin Inglesby was once again a top performer for Washington. In the first game she pitched a complete game and had two hits and three RBI’s, in the second she again garnered two hits and three RBI’s and in the final matchup Inglesby nabbed her seventh homerun of the season.

Washington will travel to Berkeley, Calif. to play at Cal March 30 to April 1.

No. 5 Arizona State (31-3, 3-0) swept No. 19 Arizona this past weekend in Tempe.

Elizabeth Caporuscio catapulted the Sun Devils to a 4-2 win Friday night after hitting a walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth. Also hitting past the fence was Annie Lockwood and Alix Johnson hit a double to center.

In the second game, ASU scored seven runs on 10 walks, eventually taking the 9-6 edge. The Wildcats held a 3-0 lead in the fourth until ASU made it 3-2. Then in the fifth Katelyn Boyd nabbed her 14th homer of the season, Johnson scored on a wild pitch and pinch hitter Nikole Afusia had a two-RBI single, going 4-for-5 in her last five pinch hits. In the sixth, the Wildcats tied it 6-all, but Lockwood made a two-RBI base hit and Johnson scored her second run of the night to make it 9-6.

The Sun Devils finished off Arizona on Sunday with a 7-6 come-from-behind win. The Wildcats again jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the top of the fourth, but ASU rallied back in the fifth with six runs, including Haley Steele’s first career grand slam.

Arizona State travels to Eugene, Ore. March 30 to April 1 to play the Oregon Ducks.

No. 13 Stanford (25-6, 0-3) fell four spots in the polls this week after losing its Pac-12 opener last weekend to No. 1 California. The Cardinal broke its 19-game winning streak in the first matchup, where Stanford was shutout 9-0. In the circle, Teagan Gerhart threw five strikeouts and allowed nine runs on 12 hits.

In the first game of Sunday’s double-header, Jenna Rich cut Cal’s lead to 4-2 with a double, and in the bottom of the seventh pinch runner Caitlyn Pura scored on a Leah White double, but a pop up by Rich ended the game. Then in the final contest, Gerhart, while throwing six strikeouts in seven innings pitched, allowed 10 hits, eight runs and three walks.

The Cardinal postponed its game against Santa Clara on March 27. The team will travel to Tucson, Ariz. for play against Arizona March 30 to April 1.

No. 14 UCLA (21-6, 0-0), which improved from No. 16 in last week’s ranking, beat UC Santa Barbara in a one-game meeting on March 24. The Bruins won 10-6. B.B. Bates led the team with three runs, three hits and three RBI’s going 3-for-3. Both Andrea Harrison (three hits, one RBI) and Stephany LaRosa (one hit) had two runs. Talee Snow, Dani Yudin and Katie Schroeder all recorded one run.

The Bruins play a double-header at Cal Poly on March 27. They open Pac-12 play against Oregon State March 30 to April 1.

Tying for No. 17 with Baylor, the Oregon Ducks (19-6, 1-2) garnered one win and two losses at Oregon State March 24 to 26 in the Civil War Series presented by the Northwest Ford Dealers and PacificSource Health Plans and tied the year-long athletic battle between the two schools at 6-6. The Ducks won the first matchup 8-2, but fell in the final two games 5-4 and 7-1, respectively.

In Oregon’s win, Courtney Ceo led the Ducks with two runs and two hits. To open scoring, Kaylan Howard had her team-leading sixth homerun of the season in the fourth inning to plate Janie Takeda and Kailee Cuico. Kelsey Chambers also hit a homer, launching her fourth of the season in the seventh over the left field scoreboard to bring home Ceo. Chamber’s homerun was her 30th of her career, which leaves her one shy of the fifth-best mark of OU history. She also had three RBI’s on the day that increased her career total to 115, just two shy of OU’s eighth-best mark.

The Ducks will host Boise State March 28 and 29, with play scheduled for 3:00 p.m. and 12:00 p.m. PT, respectively.

No. 19 Arizona (19-8, 0-3) drops five places from last week’s ranking, after going 1-for-2 against New Mexico State on March 21 and being swept in its Pac-12 opener this past weekend against Arizona State.

Verses New Mexico State the Wildcats fell 9-5 in game one, but won the second of the double-header 6-3.

The Wildcats were trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth with two outs until Hallie Wilson singled two runs home to tie it 3-all. Chelsea Suitos then singled, Brigette Del Ponte gave AU the lead with a two-run RBI and then Jessica Spigner doubled Del Ponte home for the win. Wilson was 4-for-4 on the day, the first by a Wildcat all season.

The Wildcats host San Diego State March 27 and 28, with games scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. PT, respectively.

Oregon State (23-8, 2-1) opened Pac-12 play against Oregon March 24 to 26, where the Beavers lost the first meeting but came back winning the final two, with the back-to-back wins being the first against the Ducks since 2008 and secured only the Beavers’ third Pac-12 series victory since that year.

In OSU’s first win, a 5-4 eight-inning match, the Beavers jumped out to a four-run lead and held it until the Ducks put one on the board in the fourth and another three in the sixth to tie it 4-all and force extra innings. In the eighth with bases loaded, Oregon pitcher Jessica Moore earned the second out but hit Elizabeth Santana to force Isabelle Batayola home to give OSU the win.

The Beavers followed by winning the third and final game 7-1, plating seven runs on eight hits in the fourth and fifth innings.

Paige Hall hit a line-drive homer in the bottom of the fourth, her team-leading sixth of the season, and Lea Cavestany added an RBI single. In the fifth, Desiree Beltran knocked a three-run homerun, her fifth of the season, to bring in Santana and Hannah Bouska. Erin Guzy then doubled, scored on a Cavestany double and Mary Claire Brenner had a pinch-hit RBI single to plate Cavestany.

Oregon State plays a double-header at Cal State Northridge on March 28, with games scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. PT, respectively. OSU will get back in Pac-12 action March 30 to April 1 when they take on UCLA in Los Angeles.

Utah (21-8, 0-3) had its four-game win streak broken by No. 3 Washington this past weekend when they lost their Pac-12 opener, eventually being outscored 14-3. The Utes lost 5-1, 6-1 and 3-1, respectively.

Tia Palauni hit a homer in the top of sixth for the lone score of the first game, with Palauni recording a homerun in her third straight game.

Palauni again scored the Ute’s single run of the second matchup and Mariah Ramirez threw four shutout innings against the Huskies to close the game in her most successful outing of the season.

In the final meeting, Shay Wallace went 1-for-1 to score Utah’s run. In the circle Generra Nielson pitched her 11th complete game, throwing 6.0 complete innings (6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 5 SO, 1 WP).

Utah has a one-game stint against Utah State in Salt Lake City on March 28, scheduled for 4:00 p.m. MT.

Standings: Conference, Overall

Washington: 3-0, 32-1

California: 3-0, 29-1

Arizona State: 3-0, 31-3

Oregon State: 2-1, 23-8

Oregon: 1-2, 19-6

UCLA: 0-0, 21-6

Stanford: 0-3, 25-6

Utah: 0-3, 21-8

Arizona: 0-3, 19-8