Archive for: April 2014

Pac-12 Softball Claims Top 3 Spots

Wild Thing


Arizona State joined Oregon and UCLA at the top of the polls after Florida and Michigan tumbled last weekend. Here’s how the Pac-12 fared in the latest release of the USA Today/NFCA Division I softball poll:

No. 1 Oregon (44-5, 17-1 Pac-12)


The top-ranked Ducks have won 12 straight games and 19 of its last 20 and show no signs of letting up. Oregon has swept its past three conference opponents and took two of three from then-No. 1 UCLA. The Ducks bats’ dominated Stanford at Smith Family Stadium outscoring the Cardinal 21-3 with sophomore pitcher Cheridan Hawkins hurling her NCAA-leading 11th shutout on Friday en route to her 26th victory.

Hawkins improved to 27-3 on Sunday with the 7-2 victory, striking out 15 batters in both games. Left fielder Janie Takeda hit 6-of-11 and first baseman Kailee Cuico collected four RBI in the three game series. Next up for the Ducks is a tough home series hosting No. 3 Arizona State.

No. 2 UCLA (44-4, 15-3 Pac-12)

Ally Carda

Ally Carda

Since dropping two games to Oregon in early April, the Bruins have reeled off 11 straight victories to keep a firm grip on the its No. 2 ranking. UCLA has swept two conference opponents in Oregon State and California along with midweek games over Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State.

Junior pitcher Ally Carda was a one-woman show over the weekend in Berkeley winning Friday’s and Sunday’s games and collecting the save on Saturday. Carda also hit 7-of-11, nabbing a stolen base on Friday, knocking a double on Saturday and a solo home run on Sunday. Third baseman Mysha Sataraka knocked her 14th and 15th home runs on Saturday hitting 6-of-12 with 4 RBI over the weekend. The Bruins host Stanford this weekend for a three-game set.

No. 3 Arizona State (42-7, 13-4 Pac-12)


The Sun Devils took a break from Pac-12 Conference play hosting the Southern Mississippi out of Conference USA. The Golden Eagles were shutout in three straight games and were outscored 19-0 including an 8-0 run-rule loss on Friday night. The Sun Devils’ senior pitchers Mackenzie Popescue and Dallas Escobedo swapped positions for the non-conference series with Popescue in the circle on Friday and Sunday and Escobedo with the lone start on Saturday.

Popescue was dominant over the weekend, pitching her third career no-hitter on Friday and two complete game shutouts earning her first career Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week. Escobedo fanned a career-tying 16 batters and picked up her 20th victory of the season, tied with Popescue. The Sun Devils saved the best for last traveling to No. 1 Oregon this weekend and hosting No. 2 UCLA the following weekend.

No. 9 Arizona (39-9, 12-6 Pac-12)

Hallie Wilson

Hallie Wilson

Arizona jumped a spot to the No. 9 position after a midweek doubleheader victory over New Mexico State and a weekend sweep of Utah. The Wildcats have won its past six games and 11 of its past 12. With the home sweep of the Utes, the Wildcats are now 27-0 at home with 21 of them coming as run-rule victories.

Arizona batters decimated Utah pitchers over the weekend with 13 home runs in three games including a school record eight home runs on Saturday. Rightfielder Katiyana Mauga hit three solo shots on Saturday but it was first baseman Hallie Wilson’s four home runs over the weekend that stood up and earned her the Pac-12 Player of the Week nod for the second time this season. Arizona travels to Washington this weekend to take on the No. 11 Huskies.

No. 11 Washington (28-12, 8-8 Pac-12)


Speaking of the Huskies, the Washington softball team is back home after sweeping Oregon State in Corvallis. The quick series was a dominant performance with the Huskies winning rule-rule victories on Saturday and Sunday with Mother Nature throwing an assist on Friday, ending the game after six innings.

Pitchers Kaitlin Inglesby and Bryana Walker were once again at the top of their games combining for 15 strikeouts and allowing only 13 hits. Inglesby won Friday’s and Sunday’s games with Walker relieving while Walker won on Saturday with Inglesby pitching the final inning in relief. Washington hosts Arizona this weekend.

USC’s Jake Hernandez, ASU’s Ryan Kellogg Earn Pac-12 Weekly Honors

Pac-12 POW


Rivalry weekend in the Pac-12 Conference over the weekend led to big games and even bigger performances from University of Southern California’s senior first baseman Jake Hernandez and Arizona State University’s sophomore pitcher Ryan Kellogg. This is the second consecutive week that a Trojan has been honored with a weekly award and the first time this season for the Sun Devils. USC has earned 57 all-time weekly selections while ASU has 63 overall. This is Hernandez’s first career selection and the second in Kellogg’s two-year college career.>>>Read more on College Baseball Central



Rams’ baseball, softball seasons come to a close

MHS Base

The Maricopa High School varsity baseball and softball teams have hit a wall.

After great starts from the boys (5-3) and girls (7-3), the teams have only one win apiece since April began. Both teams will miss out on the state playoffs and will try to end the season on a high note.

The baseball team will play its final home game under the “Friday Night Lights” and will honor the seniors in a pre-game ceremony at 6:30 p.m. with first pitch at 7 p.m.

Dallas Speer

Dallas Speer

The opponent will be Valley Christian High School from Chandler. The Trojans are from a lower division based on school population but look to be heading to the Division III playoffs with a 12-9 overall record and 6-3 in section 4.

Twelve seniors will be honored on Friday night including team batting-average leaders Noah Anderson (.333) and Tristan Hartley (.308). Bernardo Juarez, who is tied for the team’s best fielding percentage (1.000) will also be honored.

The biggest hit will be in the pitching rotation with starters Dallas Speer, Dillon Moran and the aforementioned Hartley bidding farewell to the red and black. Senior reliever Michael Gunter had a season-ending surgery on Monday; he is at home recovering and will likely miss the ceremony.

Jesus Orci-Vega, Michael Ashe, Derik Johnson, Eduardo Martinez, JJ Salaz and Colton Rosales will be honored as well.

Following Friday night’s game, the Rams travel to Yuma to take on Cibola High (5-12, 4-8 section 7) on Monday at 4 p.m. and then finish the season in San Tan Valley at Poston Butte High School at 6 p.m. The Broncos are 8-14 overall and 3-5 in section 6.

Seniors Trejo, Moncel, Naranjo & Byrd

Seniors Trejo, Moncel, Naranjo & Byrd

The softball team traveled to Tucson to take on the top two teams in the section and was dismissed unceremoniously in back-to-back, run-rule games. The girls will play their final two games at home hosting Cibola (13-10, 8-4 section) at 4 p.m. and Poston Butte (3-24, 1-6 section) on Wednesday night at 6 p.m.

The softball team will bid adieu to several starters including the heart of the team in catcher Madi Moncel, second baseman Chelsea Trejo and third baseman Madi Byrd.

Moncel leads the team in batting average (.456) and hits (31), while tied with the team lead for triples (3) and home runs (1). Trejo is team leader in runs scored (24) and tied for team lead with eight doubles also places second in batting average at (.412) and hits with 28.

Moncel signed a letter of intent in February to play at Colby Community College, a two-year college in Kansas. She previously told that if things go well in Kansas, she hopes to go to the University of Illinois to play ball.

Byrd closely follows Moncel and Trejo with a .397 batting average, 27 hits, 23 runs scored and is tied for Trejo with eight doubles and tied with Moncel with a home run.

Shortstop Rosie Naranjo, a 21-game starter will also finish her season along with outfielder Kaylee Darnall and utility player Sydnee Akers.

Pac-12 softball on TV viewer guide: April 25-27

Gracie Goulder

All five of the Pac-12 teams ranked in the top 11 of the latest USA Today/NFCA Poll can be found this weekend either on the Pac-12 Networks, ESPN U or via live stream.

No. 1 Oregon at Stanford


Friday: 7 p.m. PT, ESPNU

The top-ranked Ducks will be featured Friday under the lights on ESPNU when it visits Boyd & Jill Smith Family Stadium at Stanford. Oregon is the country’s No. 1 team in both polls for the third straight week and leads the all-time series over Stanford by a narrow 36-33 margin. The last time the teams met, both were nationally ranked at No. 10 and No. 15, respectively. Stanford has struggled of late losing seven of its last 10 games. The teams will face off at 1 p.m. PT on Saturday and noon on Sunday.

No. 2 UCLA at California


Sunday: noon PT, Pac-12 Networks

UCLA will take their No. 2 ranking upstate to Berkeley this weekend to take on Cal. The first game be will at 3 p.m. PT on Friday with Saturday’s game at 1 p.m. The Bruins have been on fire as of late, but can’t get close to the Ducks. Winners of its past eight games as well as sweeping the Pac-12 Pitcher and Player of the Week awards, UCLA should have no problem with the Bears who have lost five of its past six conference games.

No. 11 Washington at Oregon State


Kasey Stanchek

Kasey Stanchek

Friday: 4 p.m. PT, Pac-12 Networks

Sunday: noon PT, Pac-12 Networks

The Huskies will try to get more than one day of softball in this weekend in Corvallis. Rainy weather in Seattle last weekend prevented games from being played on Friday and Sunday. Washington was able to split Saturday’s doubleheader while Oregon State is looking to break its six-game losing streak. Friday’s game will be broadcast live on the Pac-12 Networks at 4 p.m. PT with Sunday’s first pitch airing at noon PT.

Southern Mississippi at No. 5 Arizona State


Friday: 7 p.m. PT, Live Stream

Saturday: 7 p.m. PT, Live Stream

Sunday: noon PT, Live Stream

Arizona State is taking a break from conference play as it hosts Southern Mississippi at Farrington Stadium this weekend. The Sun Devils lost a heartbreaking 10th-inning marathon in Seattle in the second half of Saturday’s doubleheader snapping its six-game winning streak. Arizona State has won 12 of its past 14 games and entered the top five of the USA Today/NFCA Poll this week. Southern Miss (22-25, 10-11 C-USA) makes its second trip to Arizona after being swept by the Wildcats on opening weekend. Friday and Saturday night’s games will be at 7 p.m. PT with Sunday’s game at noon.

Utah at No. 10 Arizona


Friday: 6 p.m. PT, Live Stream

Saturday: 6 p.m. PT, Live Stream

Sunday: noon PT, Live Stream

The Wildcats are happy to be back home in Tucson. After going 5-6 on the road in the past month, Arizona played a doubleheader on Wednesday and scored 26 runs, sweeping New Mexico State. The ‘Cats are 24-0 at home this season, with a jaw-dropping 21 run-rule victories. Utah has won seven of its last nine games including two from conference foe Stanford. Friday and Saturday night’s games will be at 6 p.m. PT with Sunday’s game at noon.

Pac-12 Baseball: Are Teams Putting Too Much Emphasis on Rivalry Games?

Will Ballowe-Washington COVER


Pac-12 rivalry games takes center stage across the conference this weekend and fan bases from Arizona to Washington couldn’t be happier. For many teams, it is the height of the regular season and fodder for state supremacy throughout the summer and into football season.

Unfortunately, the midweek games prior to the big weekend get lost in the shuffle. Are teams putting too much focus on the rivalry games or are they merely complacent against non-conference opponents?

Conference-leading Washington (27-8-1, 14-4 Pac-12) suffered a loss to neighboring Seattle University (18-18, 7-5 WAC) on Tuesday night and has now lost two straight. This is the Huskies’ first losing streak since week two in late February. Washington returns home on Friday where it is 9-2 to take on Washington State in the Apple Cup. >>>Read more on College Baseball Central


Pac-12 Softball Once Again Claims 3 of Top 5 Spots

Cheridan HawkinsThe Oregon Ducks and UCLA Bruins kept to their winning ways with sweeps over California and Oregon State last weekend. The teams kept the top spots in the latest USA Today/NFCA Poll released on April 22 with Arizona State joining the top five after splitting its series in Seattle.

No. 1 Oregon (40-5, 14-1 Pac-12)


Oregon had little problem defending their unanimous No. 1 ranking after sweeping California (22-20, 4-9 Pac-12) over the weekend. The Ducks exploded for 31 runs in only 17 innings played. Thursday’s and Friday’s games were run-rule victories while the Ducks needed the full seven innings to complete the sweep.

Sophomore pitcher Cheridan Hawkins picked up two victories to advance her record to 24-3 and senior right fielder Alexa Peterson hit 3-of-7 with six RBI and three runs scored. The highlight of the weekend was Friday’s 15-run fourth inning in which three players homered including a grand slam from Sammie Puentes.

The Ducks host Portland State on Tuesday night and travel to Stanford this weekend.

No. 2 UCLA (41-4, 12-3 Pac-12)


The No.2 Bruins hosted Cal State Northridge on Tuesday, Oregon State (13-26, 3-13 Pac-12) over the weekend and then traveled for a doubleheader at Long Beach State on Monday. UCLA breezed through its opponents and have won eight straight since dropping the series to Oregon. Bruins’ senior pitcher Jessica Hall and junior catcher Stephany LaRosa swept the Pac-12 Players of the Week awards announced on Monday.

Hall won all three games that she pitched in starting on Tuesday and Friday and in relief on Saturday. Hall fanned 21 batters in 15 innings including 11 against CS Northridge. LaRosa was a tour de force at the plate hitting 6-of-11 in four games including a pair of home runs, eight RBI and four runs scored. The Bruins travel to Berkeley to take on Cal this weekend.

No. 5 Arizona State (39-7, 13-4 Pac-12)

Freeman and Teammates

Freeman and Teammates

The Sun Devils traveled to Seattle over the weekend and were met with rain, a lot of it. The Thursday game was cancelled and a doubleheader on Friday was scheduled. The first game was an epic pitchers’ duel between Arizona State senior pitcher Dallas Escobedo and the Huskies’ Kaitlin Inglesby.

The Huskies took a 1-0 lead into the top of the seventh inning on an Inglesby home run in the fourth inning. Amber Freeman and Haley Steele had the only two hits of the game for Arizona State—and they were both home runs, giving the Devils a narrow 3-1 victory.

The second game saw the Devils’ bats wake up with 14 hits including Haley Steele’s 4-of-5 performance. Unfortunately, Arizona State also left 15 runners on base including the bases loaded for three consecutive innings.

The Devils looked to the seventh inning to once again play spoiler taking a 2-1 lead and needing only three outs to secure the win. It was Washington, however, that spoiled the Devils’ sweep when it scored once in the seventh and won in the 10th inning. Saturday’s game was delayed after an inning was played and was cancelled altogether.

No. 10 Arizona (34-9, 9-6 Pac-12)


Arizona was idle over the weekend but maintained its No. 10 ranking. The Wildcats face New Mexico State in a doubleheader on Wednesday and Utah (20-20, 5-12 Pac-12) this weekend in Tucson.

No. 11 Washington (25-12, 5-8 Pac-12)


The Huskies split the series with Arizona State over the weekend and maintained its’ current ranking at the No. 11 spot.

The Huskies have won four of its past six games and senior pitcher Kaitlin Inglesby had a perfect game in the first game of the double dip heading into the seventh inning.

Inglesby looked to do it all by retiring the first 18 batters she faced as well as scoring the only run on a solo home run in the fourth inning. Senior first baseman Hooch Fagaly secured the series split in the second game with a walk-off lead-off solo home run in the 10th inning.

Pat’s Run Commemorates 10 Years of Honor and Service

PatsRun1TEMPE, Ariz. — It was 10 years ago today that we lost a true American hero in Pat Tillman.

Today, the foundation named in his honor hosts the annual Pat’s Run this weekend in Tempe, Ariz., and over 34 locations nationwide in shadow and troop runs. The 4.2-mile Run/Walk is named for, and held in memory of former Arizona State and Arizona Cardinal football player Pat Tillman.

In its 10th year, the Foundation looks to raise more scholarship funds than ever before for Tillman Military Scholars. The scholars are former military members or spouses that are “The best-poised leaders, who show strength in character, academic excellence and incredible potential,” according to the foundation website.

Amazing stories are abound from all the military scholars from the first class in 2009 to the current class. From the inspiring story of Air Force Captain Ed Woodward’s path through medical school to an American Muslim born to Lebanese immigrants in Army Captain Khalil Tawil studying for his Master’s of Business Administration at Harvard, there is no shortage of courage, honor or hardship among the scholars.

tillmanSince the program’s inception, the Foundation has invested $4.6 million in scholarships for students that build on Tillman’s legacy, principles and commitment to service. Tillman earned his B.S. in Marketing, graduating Summa Cum Laude from the W.P. Carey School of Business in just three and a half years.

Tillman was a three-year consecutive selection to the Pac-10 All-Academic Team and also received the NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship for academic and athletic excellence. He was later drafted in the seventh round along with teammate Jake Plummer by the Arizona Cardinals and was considered a long shot to make the roster.

Not only did Tillman make the roster, he was named the starting safety and broke the franchise record for tackles in 2000, all while studying to get his Master’s degree in history from his beloved Arizona State. Much has been said, and unsaid, about the tragic incident wherein Tillman died in Afghanistan, but all that truly matters is that Tillman was due a big payday from the Arizona Cardinals, yet he chose to put his football career and the $3.6 million contract that went with it, on hold while he enlisted in the U.S. Army with his brother, Kevin

The run itself has become one of the more popular runs with over 30,000 participants nationwide, including over 23,000 in the Tempe race alone. The race begins on Packard Drive, just south of Rio Salado Parkway and winds through northern Tempe, crossing the Tempe Town Lake and ends inside Sun Devil Stadium at the 42-yard line, Tillman’s number while at Arizona State.

Pats_Run_mapOnline registration is now closed but those looking to run or walk to honor Tillman can still register at the north end of Sun Devil Stadium. The same area will be used for race packet pick-up from from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday.

All participants must pick up their race packet and bib by Friday, no race day registration will be held.

The event begins bright and early at 6 a.m. on Saturday, when the Finish Line Expo opens with entertainment, refreshments, an interactive Kids’ Corner with several vendor booths.

The Race Chair Start is at 7 a.m. and the 4.2 mile run begins at 7:05 a.m. The Kid’s Run is .42 miles long and starts at 9:45 a.m.

All registered participants  will receive a Dri-fit race shirt, a race number and timing tag, along with a virtual goodie bag. New this year, participants can upgrade their experience to receive an additional 10-year anniversary t-shirt, decal, performance socks and visor.

For those that want to honor Tillman and cannot make it to Tempe for the race, the race shirt, 10th anniversary shirt along with other merchandise can be purchased online here. Shadow runs span the country from Seattle to Atlanta and San Diego to New York City, for a list of shadow runs sponsored by Arizona State Alumni chapters, visit the website here.



Pac-12 Baseball: Ducks Sweep; Huskies, Bruins Win Series

AJ BaltaThe Pac-12 Conference saw eight teams earn wins over the Easter weekend while Oregon State was idle. The No. 5 Beavers travel to Sacramento State to take on the Hornets for a two-game set on Monday and Tuesday.

No. 11 Oregon (31-10, 10-5 Pac-12) hosted Washington State (16-19, 7-8 Pac-12) over the weekend and the Cougars battled every step of the way before coming up just short. Thursday’s game at PK Park was a blowout with the Ducks scoring early and often on Cougars’ starting pitcher Joe Pistorese. Freshman first baseman A.J. Balta was the star of the night for the Ducks hitting 3-of-5 with a double, a 2-run home run and three RBI.>>>Read more on College Baseball Central

Does Cal Poly’s Victory over Cal State Fullerton Signal Changing of Guard?

Titan Woes - COVERSAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. —  Cal State Fullerton has long ruled the roost in the Big West Conference. As the three-time defending conference champion, it has also garnered 10 championships in the past 15 years. The Titans not only ripped through the Big West Conference over the past two and half decades, but have dominated the national playoff landscape as well.

Cal State Fullerton has reached the postseason for the past 22 seasons and has made the trip to Omaha nine times in the past 20 years. The Titans have won a national championship at least once in the past four decades and are tied for fourth place overall with Arizona and Miami (Fla.) with four titles.>>>Read more on College Baseball Central

Rams baseball out of playoff contention; tough road for softball

BaseballThe Maricopa High School baseball and softball teams returned to the diamond Thursday with more than winning on their minds. The teams have both struggled of late and with only one section win apiece, their playoff hopes are quickly fading.

The Division II playoffs begin May 3 with the top team in each of the seven sections receiving an automatic bid. The bracket’s remaining 17 at-large bids will be given to the teams with the best overall ranking.

Division II in baseball has a total of 77 teams with seven sections of 11 teams each. The Rams (7-13, 1-7) are currently in 10th place in the section with five games remaining. Winning out against the remaining teams will provide great morale moving into the future but the state playoffs are out of reach for Coach Andrew Pollak’s squad.

The Rams lost a heartbreaking 7-6 game to South Mountain in Phoenix Thursday and are back home for their final home stretch. Maricopa faces section foe, Canyon del Oro from Tuesday at 3:45 p.m. The Dorados (15-5, 4-2 section VI) are currently in third place in section VI and 17th in Division II overall.

The final two home games will be held on Thursday and Friday hosting Ironwood Ridge (13-11, 4-4 section VI) from Tucson at 3:45 p.m. and Division III’s Valley Christian High (10-8, 5-2 section IV), under the Friday night lights at 7 p.m.

Rams SBDivision II in softball has 73 teams and section VI includes 17 teams. The Rams (11-11, 1-5 section VI) need to win the final five games of the season to move into discussions about receiving an at-large bid.

Coach Chris Ansley’s team is currently ranked at No. 30 overall in Division II and wins over three of the section’s top five teams will go a long way to convince the selection committee.

The final road top of the season sees the Rams travel to Tucson twice in the coming week. On Tuesday, it visits Canyon del Oro (17-6, 6-0 section VI) and Ironwood Ridge (20-7, 7-1 section VI) on Thursday. First pitch for both games will be 4 p.m.

Canyon del Oro has won 10 straight games and Ironwood Ridge is undefeated at home. Next week’s games are more than important – they are a necessity.

The regular season for the Rams ends at home with games April 28 and April 30. Cibola (12-8, 7-2 section VI) visits on April 28 at 4 p.m. and is in the same boat as Maricopa. It is on the fringes of the playoffs needing big wins to finish the season. Poston Butte (2-22, 1-5 section VI) from San Tan Valley is just hoping to be competitive in the 6 p.m. game on April 30.