The Washington Huskies return to the top 10 and leapfrog the Arizona Wildcats while the top three teams in the nation represent the Pac-12 Conference. Here’s how the Pac-12 fared in the latest release of the USA Today/NFCA Division I softball poll:
No. 1 Oregon (47-6-1, 18-2-1 Pac-12)
Despite only winning once in their past three games, the Ducks managed to hold on to their first-place ranking for a fifth straight week. Oregon dropped the series opener to No. 3 Arizona State, 4-2 due to fielding errors in the sixth inning. Sophomore ace Cheridan Hawkins fanned 10 batters in 6.2 innings and was the hard-luck loser, dropping to 28-4 on the season. The Ducks roared back on Saturday and run-ruled the Sun Devils for the first time since 2010.
Catcher Janelle Lindvall powered a huge nine-run second inning with a 2-of-3 performance resulting in two RBI and two runs scored. Pinch hitter Stevie Joe Knapp threw the knock-out punch with her three-run homer in the sixth inning. Sunday’s game was declared a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning after rain delays of 34 and 36 minutes. Oregon ends the season on the road at Arizona on a Thursday to Saturday set.
No. 2 UCLA (46-5, 17-4 Pac-12)
Taking their cue from Oregon, the Bruins dropped their series opener to Stanford, 12-9. Trailing 12-4 entering the bottom of the seventh inning, UCLA rallied to score five runs, however that would not be enough to overcome the eight-run deficit.
Also following suit with Oregon, UCLA would run-rule its opponent on Saturday, 9-0 in five innings.
Junior Ally Carda continued her domination on both sides of the ball, knocking in a three-run homerun and pitching a three-hit shutout en route to her 26th win of the season. Carda roared back on Sunday, breaking a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning on a two-run homer and then improved to 27-4 after picking up the win in relief. UCLA sees its final opponent of the regular season in Tempe when it takes on Arizona State beginning Thursday night.
No. 3 Arizona State (42-7, 13-4 Pac-12)
The Sun Devils visited the top-ranked Oregon Ducks and only lost once, a remarkable feat in itself. In Friday’s matchup, shortstop Cheyenne Coyle shocked Oregon by knocking a solo homer off ace Cheridan Hawkins in the first inning. The Ducks would strike back, scoring two runs in the fourth inning before the Devils rallied for three runs in the sixth. Senior pitcher Dallas Escobedo proved once again that she is one of the best pitchers in the country, striking out eight Ducks batters and allowing only five hits.
Saturday’s game was an emotional letdown after topping the No. 1 team in the country and the Devils were shelled for nine runs in the second inning while only managing three hits in six innings. The rain-interrupted game on Sunday saw Escobedo return to the circle and second baseman Nikki Girard pace the offense. Girard hit 2-of-2 with two RBI and a run scored, and it was her two-run homer that put the Devils up 2-0 in the fifth inning. Arizona State hosts No. 2 UCLA this weekend to complete the 2014 regular season.
No. 8 Washington (30-13, 10-9 Pac-12)
The Huskies jumped three spots and returned to the top 10 after taking two of three from visiting Arizona.The Huskies battled on Friday as the teams were knotted at seven runs apiece heading into the bottom of the seventh inning. Senior first baseman Hooch Fagaly stepped up big, delivering a walk-off grand-slam home run. Fagaly hit 4-of-6 over the weekend with four RBI and five runs scored, and was namedPac-12 Player of the Week for her efforts.
Senior pitcher Bryana Walker picked up the win in relief of Kaitlin Inglesby. Saturday’s game was rained out, so Walker returned to the circle Sunday morning to shut out the Wildcats, surrendering only one hit in the mercy-rule five-inning game, 8-0.
Walker’s luck would run out in the second game of the doubleheader as she was a handed a 2-0 loss despite surrendering only four hits over three innings. Inglesby pitched the final four innings, but neither team would plate another run. The Huskies travel to Berkeley this weekend to finish their season against Cal.
No. 9 Arizona (40-11, 13-8 Pac-12)
The Wildcats dropped their third series of the year, losing two of three to Washington and remaining stagnant in the polls. On Friday, Arizona jumped out early on Washington starter Kaitlin Ingelesby with three runs in the first inning and three more in the fourth. First baseman Hallie Wilson fueled the Wildcat offense with 3-of-4 hitting and her 13th home run. Not to be outdone, catcher Chelsea Goodacre knocked a two-run shot, her 21st of the season to tie the NCAA lead with homers on the season.
After the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader, senior pitcher Estela Pinon took the circle for the second game and pitched a two-hit gem that moved her record to 15-5. Shortstop Kellie Fox hit 2-of-3, but it was Kelsey Rodriguez who was the hero with a two-run shot in the third inning. The ‘Cats host the top-ranked Oregon Ducks this weekend in Tucson.