Oregon and UCLA held strong over the weekend and both received No. 1 votes this week in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll released on March 11. The Bruins (23-1) received three top votes and the Ducks (18-2) received two. There are now five Pac-12 teams in the top seven in the country.
Here’s how the best from the Pac-12 fared is this week’s USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll:
The No. 3 Bruins easily swept their competition in the joint UCLA/Cal State Northridge Invitational after suffering their first loss to Michigan on Wednesday 9-4. Friday’s doubleheader against UNLV and Loyola Chicago were both called due to the mercy rule, while Saturday’s double dip saw the Bruins outscore their opponents 11-2. Sunday’s games were much closer, but UCLA prevailed over CSU Bakersfield and Georgetown, 4-2 and 3-1, respectively.
The No. 2 Ducks traveled to Orlando, Fla., to participate in the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic with top-ranked Florida, No. 24 Auburn, Maryland, Illinois State and Bradly University from Peoria, Illinois. Sophomore standout pitcher Cheridan Hawkins delivered her fourth shutout of the season and struck out 12 batters in the opener against Auburn,but picked up her second loss in an extra innings battle with No. 1 Florida. Oregon (18-2) would win the next three games by outscoring its opponents 14-2.
No. 7 Arizona State, along with several other nationally-ranked teams, was invited to the 20124 Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif., over the weekend and the Sun Devils (26-3) absolutely dominated the competition. Senior righthanded pitcher Dallas Escobedo was the star of the tournament as she swept the national awards. Escobedo notched four wins in the week along with a 0.26 ERA and 38 strikeouts. Numerous accolades were showered on Escobedo including the Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I Player of the Week, the USA Softball Player of the Week and Pac-12 Conference Pitcher of the Week.
The No. 6 Arizona Wildcats hosted Ball State for a doubleheader on Tuesday night and decimated the Cardinals in consecutive run-rule games. The Wildcats (23-3) also played in the Judi Garman Classic over the weekend, but didn’t fare as well as the rival Sun Devils. Friday’s double bill saw Arizona drop back-to-back games to Big Ten schools in previously-No. 5 Michigan and Wisconsin. The Wildcats would come roaring back with three straight victories, outscoring their opponents 29-6. Junior first baseman Hallie Wilson was named Pac-12 Player of the Week, hitting 13-for-20 with three triples and 14 RBI.
The Washington Huskies jumped a spot from No. 6 to No. 5 this week even though it dropped two of five games in the Judi Garman Classic. Pitching sensation Bryanna Walker dispatched Michigan 7-1, winning her 11th game on Friday night and then picked up her first save of the season Saturday night in relief against Texas. Washington (19-4) lost two one-run games over the weekend, 2-1 to Nebraska and 1-0 to Fresno State.
No. 21 Stanford hosted a tournament of their own in Palo Alto, welcoming BYU, Portland State, North Dakota State and UC Davis. The Cardinal finished 5-1 with two run-rule victories over Portland State. Stanford lost a 4-0 heartbreaker to North Dakota State in the Friday night nightcap despite a complete game from Madi Schreyer who fanned 10 batters and only walked one. The Cardinal defeated BYU twice over the weekend and finished the tournament with a 3-2 win over UC Davis, fueled by Erin Ashby’s 2-for-3 performance with a triple and a RBI.