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Pac-12 Softball: Arizona State Earns Best Start Since 2006; Lots of Sweeps

No. 3 Arizona State earned two walk-off wins at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, where many other Pac-12 teams earned shutouts and sweeps.


Let it be known that 2011 Women's College World Series Champion Arizona State is playing to win it all.

Ranked No. 3 in the USA Today/NFCA Division 1 poll after week 3 - with No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Oklahoma unchanged since the season-opener - Arizona State continued its domination in the Pac-12 this past weekend by earning its best start since 2006 (19-0) after sweeping Portland State 6-5 (12), 19-2 (5), 9-0 (5) and 4-3 to improve to a vicious 16-0.

In the final, tied 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh with gusts up to 30 miles per hour, freshman Jennifer Soria pinch hit for a walk-off single for the winning run by Cheyenne Coyle. This was Arizona State's second walk-off of the weekend. Mackenzie Popescue earned her third win of the weekend (7-0) after 1.1 innings to relieve Dallas Escobedo who struck out nine in 5.2 innings. Sam Parlich was 2-for-2 with two homers and two RBI.

Next, the Sun Devils will play North Dakota in a one-game series on Feb. 28.

No. 8 California swept at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, taking down Georgia Tech, Maryland, Illinois and Nebraska, outscoring 17-2 and earning three shutouts. The Golden Bears beat the Yellow Jackets 8-0 in six with the help of six doubles, two by Lindsey Ziegenhirt. And between the four competitions, ace pitcher Jolene Henderson struck out 24.

Against Nebraska, Cal head coach Diane Ninemire said of Henderson, "Jolene threw a great game. She kept the batters off balance and shut the game down with a big out with a runner at third and a full count with two outs. Those are the plays this team needs to see. We're going to have tight games and need to know that we can come through defensively with those types of plays."

Next, Cal will play in the DeMarini Invitational March 1-2 against Northwestern, Cal Poly, Indiana and Wisconsin.

Down one, No. 10 Oregon is on a six-game win streak after finishing the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic 5-0. Oregon beat Virginia 13-0 (5), Cal Poly 2-1, Nebraska 11-2, UNLV 4-2 and San Diego State 3-1.

Over the weekend the Ducks earned season highs in runs (13) and hits (14) in its match-up with Virginia, where Courtney Ceo led with three runs. Time on the mound was split between All-American senior Jessica Moore, sophomore Karissa Hovinga and freshman Cheridan Hawkins. Moore won against Virginia, Nebraska and SDSU where she combined for 18 strikeouts and in the latter pitched her second complete game of the season. Moore earned her first save of the season against Cal Poly, which Cheridan Hawkins won and struck out seven. Hawkins won her second game of the weekend against UNLV with eight strikeouts.

Moore moved into top position on the Ducks' all-time list for career appearances with 145 and became the first Duck to earn 80 wins in a career. She also moved to second all-time in innings with 750.1.

Next, Oregon will compete March 1-3 in the Citrus Classic in Orlando, Fla. The Ducks will face LSU, Long Island, Boston College, Temple, Michigan and James Madison.

Jumping four spots to No. 12, UCLA (13-2) was holding a 10-game win streak after sweeping the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, but fell 11-5 to Cal State Fullerton on Feb. 26. At the Classic, the Bruins closed with a 13-4 (5) win over Nevada and also beat Tennessee 2-0, Maryland 4-3, Oklahoma State 5-1 and LSU 2-0, allowing just eight runs in 33 innings.

The Bruins were tight against Nevada as they held them to just two runs in both the third and fifth innings as Ally Carda (8-0) earned the win in the circle, striking out seven and allowing just two runs on two hits. Jessica Hall also struck out two in one inning. At the plate, Kaelin Sprawls hit her first homer of the season and senior B.B. Bates smacked her 10th to lead. Bates is also the top dog with 41 at-bats, 25 RBI and is tied at first with 15 runs scored.

Next, UCLA will compete in the San Diego Classic I from March 1-3, facing Fresno State, Boise State, San Diego, New Mexico and San Diego State.

Also improving four spaces, the only loss No. 16 Stanford (14-3) suffered at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic was a 4-1 game to Oklahoma State after a 6-0 win over Georgia. The Cardinal followed with victories over Virginia, Florida State and Syracuse.

Hot off last weekend's performance, freshman pitcher Kelsey Stevens continued to show her strength. Against Georgia she earned her fourth shutout of the season, striking out three and allowing four hits, versus Virginia she recorded her first perfect game, leaving 10 at the plate, and she won her eighth game against Florida State striking out six.

In Stanford's loss to Oklahoma State, senior Sarah Hassman recorded her 87th stolen base to pass former Cardinal and Olympic-gold medalist Jessica Mendoza ('02) on the career stolen bases list.

Next, Stanford will play in the Easton Invitational March 1-3 against Iowa, Wisconsin, Cal State Fullerton, Northwestern and Indiana.

Down three, No. 17 Arizona (10-5) went 2-for-3 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, beating Long Beach State 4-3 and Loyola Marymount 5-3. The Wildcats were shutout by Oklahoma 5-0, LSU 3-0 and Ohio State 6-0. In its loss to LSU, Nancy Bowling and Shelby Babcock held the No. 11 Tigers (14-1) to just three hits with zero after the second inning.

Next, Arizona will host the Wildcat Invitational March 1-3. They'll compete in a single-game against UC Riverside and double-headers with Boston University and Portland State.

Moving up four, No. 18 Washington had been struggling early in the season but turned it around and swept at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, taking down Virginia, Florida State, Illinois and Georgia, outscoring 38-3. The Dawgs put up a season-high 15 runs in their five-inning shutout over Illinois, with Jennie McNeill leading the pack with three runs on one hit. Victoria Hayward and Hooch Fagaly followed with two apiece. Kylee Lahners led with five RBI and Kaitlin Inglesby had four. UW followed its double-header wins with a 14-2 tourney close-out rout of SEC opponent Georgia.

Next, Washington will play its first game in Seattle on Feb. 27 at Seattle University.

Oregon State (13-3) earned its 11th straight win and entered the rankings for the first time this season at No. 24 after finishing 5-0 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. The Beavers took down Colorado 11-0 (5), Maryland 8-0, Nevada 6-5 (11), Illinois 5-1 and Georgia Tech 9-1.

Marina Demore combined for 15 strikeouts on the mound against Colorado State, Nevada, Illinois and Georgia Tech while Tina Andreana had eight in a shutout against Maryland.

Oregon State's Lea Cavestany hit a home run to force extra innings against Nevada and the game was tied 5-all in the eighth. Nevada had runners in the top half on first and third with two outs against Demore, but Elizabeth Santana caught a grounder up the middle and threw to Ya Garcia to end the inning. Ally Kutz made the winning play on her third RBI on a sac fly to score Desiree Beltran.

Next, Oregon State will play in the Easton Invitational March 1-3 against Iowa, Northwestern, Cal Poly, Indiana and CSU Bakersfield.

Utah (8-6-1) is riding on a seven-game unbeaten streak after going 4-0-1 at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic where the Utes beat Colorado State, LIU Brooklyn, Nevada and Ohio State and tied Cal Poly 1-1.

The Utes tied for just the sixth time in school history and the first since a 5-5 draw with Cal State Northridge in 2007. Senior Kelsi Hoopiiaina scored Utah's lone run in the bottom of the third on a Mustang error. Hoopiiaina leads Utah with a .426 batting average, 20 hits, 16 RBI, 13 runs scored, six doubles and three homers.

Next, Utah will play at Utah Valley on March 5.