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Pac-12 Softball: Teams Preparing to Swing into Conference Action

Pac-12 softball teams are ready for conference play.

Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

Last week most Pac-12 teams closed the first half of the regular season, ending non-conference play and gearing up for the toughness of facing one another.

No. 2 Arizona State (29-2) suffered just its second loss of the season as the Sun Devils went 4-for-5 over the weekend at the Judi Garman Classic. ASU fell to No. 15 Michigan 5-4, but beat Cal State Fullerton 9-0, No. 9 Texas 3-0, Virginia Tech 11-0 and Pacific 5-4 (8).

Mackenzie Popescue earned ASU's first road win against Cal State Fullerton while Dallas Escobedo helped with ASU's first win against a ranked opponent this season. Escobedo threw a complete game against Texas, striking out 13 and allowing three walks and three hits. Against Michigan, Escobedo retired 10 batters and in her 15th win of the season over Pacific, she again fanned 13. Escobedo is tied for fifth all-time at ASU in career wins with 76.

Next, Arizona State is opening its Pac-12 play at UCLA March 22-24.

No. 6 California's 22-game win streak was ended by Syracuse in an 8-1 loss in bracket play at the Chevron Spring Fling in Honolulu. Cal (23-3) won its three other games against No. 19 Baylor 3-0, No. 20 Hawai'i 1-0 and Syracuse 2-1.

The Orange scored five runs in five different innings with three home runs. Cal had only previously allowed three homers through 25 games. Nisa Ontiveros, who took the loss, and Nikki Owens, combined for five strikeouts. Breana Kostreba scored Cal's lone run in the bottom of the seventh.

In Cal's 2-1 win over Syracuse earlier in the tournament, Khala Taylor and LaRisa Jones scored.

Next, Cal will play a single-game against Northern Colorado on March 20 before opening Pac-12 play against Utah March 22-24.

The No. 10 Oregon Ducks (23-4) had a good home-opening doubleheader shutout of New Mexico 10-0 and 4-0, respectively, on March 13. In the first game the Ducks hit a season-high four doubles, Janie Takeda smacked a three-run homer and Jessica Moore held it to a one-hitter on the mound in her fourth complete game of the season. Then in the second, freshman Cheridan Hawkins (8-1) struck out 13 in 6.1 innings for the sixth-best total in Oregon history. Hawkins only allowed one hit and one walk.

"It was wonderful to finally pitch at home," Hawkins said. "I did my best to try and focus in Janell's zone, and not pay attention to anything else. The whole team is clicking in all phases, and we're excited for the Pac-12 games around the corner."

Next, Oregon will begin Pac-12 play against Stanford March 23-25.

No. 12 UCLA's (23-4) sophomore Ally Carda was a pistol for the team in its 7-1 single-game victory over North Dakota State on March 12. Carda earned career-highs with two home runs and five RBI, went 3-for-3 at the plate and struck out seven in five innings. UCLA tallied in its first at-bat and again in its second and third innings and four in the fifth.

The Bruins will start Pac-12 play against Arizona State March 22-24.

No. 16 Arizona (20-8) rounded out non-conference play at the Judi Garman Classic finishing 2-for-5. The Wildcats beat Notre Dame 2-0 and Penn State 10-2 (5), but fell to Virginia Tech 9-2, Michigan 9-1 (6) and No. 1 Oklahoma 4-0.

In Arizona's 2-0 win over Notre Dame, Nancy Bowling earned her first career complete-game shutout, allowing five hits, walking four and striking out three. Chelsea Goodacre tallied both runs, including her ninth home run of the year. She also earned an RBI single and has a team-leading 30 on the season, while no other Wildcat has 20. Against Penn State, Arizona scored 10 runs on 13 hits, including two homers. Goodacre was 3-for-3, nabbing her team-leading 10th homer of the season.

Next, Arizona will start Pac-12 play against Washington March 23-25.

No. 17 Washington (22-7) finished 3-for-5 at the Judi Garman Classic to close out non-conference play for the season. The Huskies beat DePaul 6-4, Penn State 13-2 (5) and Pacific 6-4, while losing its opener to Michigan 6-1 and another to Texas 4-1.

It was a perfect game for Bryana Walker until the fifth and a no-hitter until the sixth before Pacific started earning runs. Walker allowed four runs on six hits in 6.0 innings in the circle. Kaitlin Inglesby earned her first save on the year by throwing in the seventh. Inglesby also hit a two-run homer in the first.

Next, Washington will open Pac-12 play at Arizona March 23-25.

No. 24 Oregon State (21-5) split a pair against New Mexico on March 14, opening with a 5-3 loss before earning a come-from-behind 5-4 win.

Mollee Schwegler, who just completed her senior season as a women's basketball player, was put in the game by head coach Laura Berg to pinch run in the bottom of the sixth with runners in scoring position. Schwegler came from third for the 4-all tie and Ally Kutz's seventh-inning homer catapulted the Beavers for the 5-4 victory.

Next, Oregon State will play at UC Davis March 24 and a doubleheader at CSU Bakersfield March 25.

Utah (13-10-1) lost all four at the University of Hawai'i Tournament, suffering its first tourney losing-sweep of the season. The Utes lost to Syracuse 3-2, Hawai'i 1-0 (8), Baylor 5-2 and Syracuse 2-1.

The Utes play at Utah State March 20 and start Pac-12 at California March 22-24.