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Pac-12 Softball: ASU Still No. 3, But Finally Stopped

In Pac-12 softball, Arizona State earned its best start of the year, while Cal, Oregon, Washington and Utah are all on a streaks.


After week four of competition, Arizona State (21-1) has remained unchanged at No. 3 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I poll. The Sun Devils earned their best start of the season at 21-0 before losing to their first ranked opponent of the year, No. 22 Baylor, 6-2 in the final game of the Wilson/DeMarini Invitational. Baylor smacked four home runs against ASU's Dallas Escobedo (11-1) and Mackenzie Popescue, including Linsey Hays' two-run homer in the opening frame for a 2-0 lead. Escobedo earned six strikeouts in three innings and Popescue had five in four. Baylor's Whitney Canion (9-2) earned her ninth win and has been a top performer since being out last season with a torn ACL. Arizona State did beat Binghamton, North Dakota, East Carolina and North Carolina, finishing the tournament 4-1.

Next, Arizona State will play in the Diamond Devil Invitational March 8-10 against UC Davis, Pittsburgh, New Mexico State and Notre Dame.

Rising two spots, No. 6 California (15-2) has won 14-straight and finished this past weekend 4-0 at the Easton Invitational, especially thanks to senior captain Lindsey Ziegenhirt. For the second time in three weeks, Ziegenhirt hit a grand slam and a home run in the same game to help Cal beat Cal Poly 11-3 in five innings. Ziegenhirt was 2-for-3 with seven RBI, leading the team with 23 in total. Jolene Henderson was also 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs while her sophomore sister Danielle Henderson went 2-for-2 with one RBI and two runs. The Golden Bears had 11 runs on 12 hits and 11 RBI.

Ziegenhirt and Jolene Henderson hit back-to-back home runs in Cal's 9-1 (5) win over Indiana and Victoria Jones hit a homer in each Indiana and Wisconsin victories. The Golden Bears took down Northwestern 2-0 and Wisconsin 5-3.

"We came out firing on all sides," Ziegenhirt said. "We're always confident on defense but getting those timely hits have been really helpful."

Next, California will play a single-game against Pacific on March 6.

Up one, No. 9 Oregon (19-3) not only was perfect for a second-straight weekend - 6-0 at the Citrus Classic - en route to a 12-0 streak, but the Ducks earned their first wins against ranked opponents, No. 11 LSU 10-2 and No. 14 Michigan 13-4. Oregon beat LIU Brooklyn 8-1, Boston College 8-0, Temple 11-4 and James Madison 12-1.

Over the weekend the Ducks set a few records and high figures in Orlando. Against James Madison the Ducks put up 15 hits and four homers. Senior Kaylan Howard hit her team-leading seventh long ball of the year, a two-out, two-run hit, in the sixth, while Alexa Peterson, Janelle Lindvall and Jamie Rae Sullivan hit their homers between five at-bats in the seventh inning. You thought that was impressive? Oregon was even stronger in its Michigan win, hitting 17 balls and a school record six home runs.

Next, Oregon will play in the Fresno State Classic March 8-9, facing San Diego State and Fresno State in double-header No. 1 and Iowa State and St. Mary's in No. 2.

Improving one to No. 11, UCLA (18-2) completed its third-straight 5-0 weekend at the San Diego Classic I, taking down Fresno State 7-1, Boise State 5-4 (11), San Diego 8-0 (5), New Mexico 14-3 (5) and San Diego State 7-0, outscoring 41-8. Against New Mexico, the Bruins had 14 runs on 12 hits with 13 RBI, three of the latter coming from both B.B. Bates and Ally Carda. In the fourth inning, the Bruins sent 16 batters to the plate and scored 12 runs, tying for the second-most runs plated in one inning in UCLA history and one off of the school record.

Next, UCLA will play a single game at Cal State Northridge on March 6.

Also up one, No. 16 Arizona (15-5) earned its second tourney sweep at the Wildcat Invitational, beating UC Riverside 12-2 (5), Boston University 6-3 and 4-1 and Portland State 12-3 (5) and 8-1. Arizona opened all five of its games with runs, scoring in the first inning after just three of its first 15 games. A gem for the Wildcats was sophomore Chelsea Goodacre who was 2-for-3, helping Arizona's total of eight runs on seven hits. She was .769 (10-for-13) in the tournament with a double, a home run and nine RBI.

In the circle, Shelby Babcock won three: UC Riverside and complete games over Boston University (game two) and Portland State (game two). Babcock struck out four in 3.0 innings over UC Riverside, struck out eight and allowed one run on three hits over BU and had two strikeouts and one earned run on six hits over Portland State. She grabbed her first save of the season against Boston University in game one. Estela Pinon won Arizona's first against Portland State with five strikeouts and two earned runs on six hits in five innings.

Next, Arizona will play a three-game series against Boise State March 8-9.

Down two, No. 18 Stanford (17-5) lost the first two against Iowa and Wisconsin at the Easton Invitational before winning its final three over Cal State Fullerton 14-1 (5), Northwestern 5-2 and Indiana 7-0. Senior Teagan Gerhart earned wins against both Cal State Fullerton and the close-out Indiana, while freshman Kelsey Stevens produced her ninth win of the season against Northwestern, striking out nine in 6.1 innings.

Next, Stanford will take on UC Davis in a single-game on March 6.

After No. 19 Washington's (14-5) single-game against Seattle University was rained out, the Huskies won back-to-back tournaments finishing 4-0 at the Colorado State Tournament. The Huskies, on a nine-game win streak, beat Brown 11-0 (5), Bradley 6-3, Nebraska-Omaha 10-2 (5) and host Colorado State 6-3.

"The trip to Colorado was successful in several ways," said head coach Heather Tarr. "We played four great teams and had a chance to play in higher altitude which will prepare us for Pac-12 play at Utah. We competed very well at the plate and found a way to win games in a variety of ways."

Washington and Nebraska-Omaha met for the first time ever and the Huskies totaled 14 hits, with junior Victoria Hayward leading the Huskies with three and two RBI. Junior Hooch Fagaly led UW with five RBI, two hits, two runs and two walks, including a double and a homer.

Next, Washington will play Ohio on March 6.

Up one in the ranks, No. 23 Oregon State (17-4) finished 4-1 at the Easton Invitational, losing only to Iowa 9-3 but beating Northwestern, Cal Poly, Indiana and CSU Bakersfield. The Beavers made school history on March 2 in its 11-2 (5) win over Cal Poly as senior Elizabeth Santana and sophomore Dani Gilmore each nabbed four-hit games, the 14th and 15th in school history, and the first time two Beavers did it in the same game. Senior Marina Demore surpassed her career high for wins in a season with her 11th in Oregon State's 2-1 victory over Indiana. Demore closed the 2012 season with a 10-7 record.

Next, Oregon State will play in the Fresno State Invitational March 8-10 against Saint Mary's, Fresno State, Iowa State and San Diego State.

Utah (9-6-1) is on an eight-game unbeaten streak after doubling at Utah Valley, 4-2, in 10 innings. The Utes had four runs on 10 hits, with sophomore Marissa Mendenhall scoring her second homer of the year to stand second on the team with 12 RBI. Senior Jackie Sweet was 3-for-4 at the plate, nabbing hits in her final three at-bats.

Next, Utah will play in the Mayfair Classic March 9-10 against Idaho State, Cal State Fullerton, South Alabama and Bethune Cookman.