For the vast majority of non-revenue sports, Stanford is one of the best in the Pac-12, if not the best. The list is pretty extensive: baseball, women’s basketball, volleyball, water polo, and so on. But there is one notable exception to Stanford’s dominance: softball. It had been a long time since the Stanford softball team had even won a conference game - Sunday, May 3rd, 2015 vs. Arizona State - a 41-game losing streak stretching into 3 separate seasons.
There have been a number of times Stanford has gotten close to winning a game this year, so when they pushed Oregon State to extra innings on Sunday, I have to admit, I was not expecting a breakthrough. But freshman Teaghan Cowles (Ridgefield, WA) capped a four-hit day with a two-out, two-run triple in the top of the eighth.
Elsewhere, the highly-anticipated showdown between the #3 Wildcats and #6 Ducks in Tucson went as advertised, with Arizona winning the series 2-1 and a combined margin of victory in all three games of just six runs. Arizona’s Katiyana Mauga became Arizona’s career home-run leader with her 88th home run in a Wildcat uniform on Saturday. With two more regular season series left, plus the NCAA tournament after that, the NCAA record of 95 by Oklahoma’s Lauren Chamberlain is within reach, although it won’t be easy.
UCLA’s offense started sluggish against Cal, but a late rally to win game 1, and a stifled Golden Bear rally late in game 2 secured the series win behind the dominant pitching of Rachel Garcia. The bats then came alive for the Bruins in game 3 to get the Bruins the only sweep in conference play this week.
The most entertaining series of the weekend happened in Tempe, Arizona. 10th-ranked Utah took 2 out of 3 from #23 Arizona State in a matchup in which all three games were 1-run affairs AND all three games were won in the teams’ final at-bat. Arizona State rallied to win 9-8 on an odd play that should have been a walkoff 3-run homer (and therefore a 10-8 final score), but in the process of celebration, the ASU batter never actually touched home plate, so she was credited with a two-run triple instead, but it was still enough to win. Utah then rallied for 4 runs in T7 of game two and managed to hold off the subsequent Sun Devil rally to win 7-6, and then the pitchers arrived for game 3 and Utah prevailed 2-1 with a tiebreaking HR in the seventh.
#6 Oregon at #3 Arizona (Wildcats win 2-1)
Arizona 2, Oregon 0
Arizona 10, Oregon 7
Oregon 4, Arizona 3
#10 Utah at #23 Arizona State (Utes win 2-1)
Arizona State 9, Utah 8
Utah 7, Arizona State 6
Utah 2, Arizona State 1
Stanford at (RV) Oregon State (Beavers win 2-1)
Oregon State 6, Stanford 0
Oregon State 4, Stanford 3
Stanford 8, Oregon State 6 (8 inn)
(RV) California at #13 UCLA (Bruins sweep 3-0)
UCLA 3, California 2
UCLA 3, California 1
UCLA 8, California 1
#9 Washington was off of Pac-12 play, but picked up 3 wins in SEC country, including a pair from #12 Alabama in Tuscaloosa:
Washington 6, UAB 0
Washington 3, Alabama 2
Washington 3, Alabama 0
McKenna Arriola, Junior SS, Oregon State
7/13, HR, 2 SB, 4 RBI, 3 runs
Taran Alvelo, Sophomore P, Washington
12 2⁄3 IP, 11 H, 2 R (2 ER), 6 BB, 12 K, 2 wins
Katiyana Mauga, Senior 3B, Arizona
5/11, 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 runs
Rachel Garcia, R-Freshman P, UCLA
14 2⁄3 IP, 8 H, 2 R (0 ER), 4 BB, 16 K, 2 wins, 1 save
Hannah Flippen, Senior 2B, Utah
5/9, 2B, HR, SB, 5 RBI, 2 runs
Exciting stuff - NPF draftees and committee rankings!
Exciting thing #1: On Monday, the National Pro Fastpitch league (NPF) had its amateur draft. Due to our country’s unfortunate general disinterest with women’s professional sports, there are only five teams:
Chicago Bandits (Chicago, IL)
Akron Racers (Akron, OH)
Texas Charge (San Marcos, TX)
Scrap Yard Dawgs (Houston, TX)
USSSA Pride (Kissimmee, FL)
A five-team, five-round draft only allows for 25 athletes to be drafted at all. Seven of them came from #Pac12SB
(odd coincidence: four of the seven Pac-12 players drafted are from Arizona and went to teams besides the Scrap Yard Dawgs; the three NOT from Arizona all went to the Scrap Yard Dawgs)
6: Katiyana Mauga, 3B, Arizona -> Texas Charge
8: Danielle O’Toole, P, Arizona -> Chicago Bandits
9: Mo Mercado, SS, Arizona -> USSSA Pride
13: Ali Aguilar, SS, Washington -> Scrap Yard Dawgs
17: Hannah Flippen, 2B, Utah -> Scrap Yard Dawgs
18: Nikki Udria, SS, Oregon -> Scrap Yard Dawgs
19: Mandie Perez, OF, Arizona -> USSSA Pride
Exciting thing #2: on Saturday, the NCAA softball selection committee released an update of what the top 10 seeds would look like if the season had ended after Thursday’s games. Four Pac-12 teams were in the top 10, and two of them have to be thrilled with their ranking:
- Texas A&M
- Florida State
For Arizona, this was pretty much expected. Florida is a fairly agreed-upon best team right now, but the Wildcats have a significantly stronger resume than the two other candidates for #2, the Aggies and Seminoles.
The 2 teams that are ecstatic are UCLA and Washington. I didn’t expect to see UCLA in the top ten at all, although I had them close (11 or 12). The notable omission of Oklahoma in favor of UCLA is a tremendous sign for both the Bruins and the Pac-12 as a whole, showing the value of playing lots of tough opponents in both non-conference play (looking at you, Auburn and Tennessee) and in conference play (looking at you, Florida State, Minnesota, and Oklahoma), even if you suffer more total losses because of it.
Washington ahead of Oregon is interesting. There’s no argument as far as who has faced a tougher schedule; the Huskies have the toughest schedule in the country, while the Ducks had one of the easiest non-conference schedules in the Pac-12. But to put a Washington team that as of Thursday was 32-10, 8-7 Pac-12 ahead of the Ducks, then at 37-4, 10-4 Pac-12, seems like a bit of a stretch. There a lot of things in the Huskies favor: SOS, RPI, head-to-head series win in Eugene, and recent results. But the Ducks have to be a bit miffed at this. Oregon’s non-conference SOS isn’t great, but it’s not terrible, and for the committee to put a 10-loss team ahead of a 4-loss team from the same conference is really unusual. The gap has widened since this release, as the Huskies won twice at a very good Alabama team, while Oregon lost 2 of three in Tucson (not damaging by any stretch, but definitely a missed opportunity to gain ground in RPI). The committee will do one more release on Saturday, May 6th during an Alabama-Auburn broadcast on one of the ESPN networks before the NCAA tournament field is announced on Sunday, May 14th.
Standings, with new rankings
- #3 Arizona (45-4, 15-3 Pac-12)
- #10 Utah (30-9, 12-4)
- #6 Oregon (38-6, 11-6)
- (T4) #8 Washington (34-10, 8-7)
- (T4) #12 UCLA (33-12, 8-7)
- (T6) #23 Arizona State (27-14, 6-9)
- (T6) Oregon State (24-19, 6-9)
- (RV) California (26-16, 3-11)
- Stanford (18-24, 1-14)
This week’s schedule (all times PDT)
Featured series: #23 Arizona State at #3 Arizona
Friday, 6 PM (P12 Net/AZ)
Saturday, 6 PM (P12 AZ only)
Sunday, 5 PM (P12 Net/AZ)
#8 Washington at (RV) California
Friday, 4 PM (P12 Net/WA/Bay)
Saturday, noon (P12 WA/Bay)
Sunday, 1 PM (P12 WA/Bay)
Oregon State at #6 Oregon
Friday, 6 PM (P12 OR)
Saturday, 1 PM (P12 OR)
Sunday, 3 PM (P12 Net/OR)
#12 UCLA at Stanford
#10 Utah is off from conference play this week.