The UCLA softball team swept Utah over the weekend and nearly swept the voters in the latest USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll released on Tuesday. The Bruins (33-2, 8-1 Pac-12), collected 31 of 32 first place votes with No. 2 Tennessee receiving the lone standout. Oregon, Arizona State, Washington and Arizona filled out the top 10 and here is a rundown how the Pac-12 teams fared over the past week.
UCLA hosted UC Santa Barbara for a doubleheader on Wednesday and made quick work of the Gauchos winning 5-1 and 9-1 in a five-inning game. Jessica Hall pitched eight innings in both games and surrendered only two hits and one run while striking out nine. Utah visited over the weekend and the Bruins had little trouble dispatching the Utes (12-14, 1-6 Pac-12) in the three-game set. Pitching ace Ally Carda won her 18th and 19th games on Friday and Sunday as well as pitching the final frame on Saturday.
Junior catcher/utility player Stephany LaRosa was awarded Pac-12 Player of the Week honors after knocking three home runs and finished the week witting 8-of-13 with eight RBI and four runs scored. The Bruins travel to Eugene this weekend to take on the rival Oregon Ducks.
The Ducks began the week with a double dip in Provo, Utah with an 8-0 run-rule game and were shocked in the late game taking a 6-5 loss to BYU. The Cougars took a big 6-0 and the Ducks rallied in the seventh with four runs but fell short. The loss dropped the Ducks (32-4, 6-0 Pac-12) to the No. 3 spot in the rankings. A top five showdown awaited the Ducks on their return to Eugene with the Huskies visiting Howe Field.
The teams would have to wait an extra day as Mother Nature rained out Friday’s matchup. Sophomore pitcher Cheridan Hawkins was lights out against the Huskies with back-to-back shutouts in Saturday’s doubleheader. Hawkins pitched 12 innings and recorded 11 strikeouts. Hawkins received her sixth career Pitcher of the Week award for her efforts.
Arizona State hosted in-state rival Arizona over the weekend in a Territorial Cup Series and took the series and a point in the year-long standings. The Sun Devils (32-6, 6-3 Pac-12) took the first two games over the Wildcats and jumped four spots to the No. 7 spot.
Arizona State senior pitcher Dallas Escobedo (14-5) won a nail-biting 2-1 victory on Friday and dropped a marathon 10-inning matchup on Sunday. Escobedo fanned 30 batters over the weekend and was drafted No. 1 overall in the National Pro Fastpitch League draft held on Monday. Senior righthanded pitcher Mackenzie Popescue went the distance and earned Saturday’s victory and advanced her record to 16-1.
Washington softball has fallen on hard times since Pac-12 Conference played has started. The Huskies were 20-4 and were ranked as high as No. 5 in the national rankings. Fortunately, for the Huskies (22-10, 2-6 Pac-12), the losses were to top-ranked teams in UCLA and Oregon.
Washington fell four spots to the No. 9 spot after being swept in Eugene. The Huskies hung tough on Sunday taking a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning before surrendering runs in the final frame. The Huskies are off this weekend and travel to Stanford for a Thursday-Saturday set April 10-12.
Arizona traveled to Tempe over the weekend and lost two heartbreakers before breaking the Sun Devils’ hearts on Sunday. The Wildcats (29-8, 4-5 Pac-12) dropped two spots to No. 10 after playing Arizona State with only a three-run scoring deficit over the series. Freshman second baseman Mo Mercado came up big on three separate with four go-ahead RBI including the eventual game-winning groundout in the 10th inning.
Mercado knocked what she thought would be the game winner with a two-run home run in the eighth inning but the Sun Devils responded with two runs of their own. Mercado and the Wildcats would get revenge in the 10th inning. The Wildcats host Stanford this weekend in Tucson.