Pac-12 softball power rankings: Arizona must get its act together
Unless Arizona softball starts beating ranked teams, and fast, it won’t get a chance to win its ninth national championship, as conference play starts with nearly every Pac-12 team ranked.
Seven of the nine Pac-12 teams are ranked in the media poll, and eight are in the coaches’ rankings. The Conference of Champions has won the NCAA title 23 of the 30 times it has been contested.
Last season, eight teams made the NCAA tournament, five advanced to the Super Regionals and three went to the Women’s College World Series.
This week, Pac-12 teams finally start conference play after weeks of early-season weekend tournaments. Each team plays one three-game series against league rivals, home or away.
Tyler Baker / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA Softball hosted the Wildcat Invitational last weekend and won all of the 5 games that they played, beating UC Riverside, Boston University, and Portland State. They will finish the tournement next weekend.
Arizona has most of its big games at home, hosting No. 17 Washington, No. 5 California, No. 13 UCLA and No. 2 ASU and traveling to Utah, No. 10 Oregon, Oregon State and No. 16 Stanford.
USC, Washington State and Colorado don’t have teams.
The Golden Bears are 2-1 against ranked teams, beating No. 15 Baylor and No. 23 Hawaii, but they have only played one home game, winning 7-2 against Pacific.
Cal was the coaches’ pick to win the conference, earning seven of eight first-place votes, with the other one going to ASU, which was chosen to finish second.
Arizona State (29-2)
The Sun Devils are ranked the highest, No. 2 in both polls, but they only have two wins against ranked teams, going 2-2 against them, beating No. 9 Texas and No. 19 Virginia Tech.
ASU is 25-1 at home, only leaving home to go to Fullerton, Calif., for the Judi Garman Classic, where it went 4-1.
Not just about pretty uniforms, the Ducks have also looked good on the diamond. UO beat No. 12 LSU 10-2 and No. 14 Michigan 13-4 in the Citrus Classic in Orlando, Fla.
The Bruins are 3-1 against ranked teams, beating No. 8 Tennessee and No. 12 LSU both 2-0 and losing 7-6 to No. 4 Texas A&M in eight innings.
Despite L.A.’s attractive weather, the Bruins have only played six home games, going 4-2, losing in an extra inning affair to the Aggies and falling to Cal State Fullerton 11-5.
The Cardinal has mostly stayed in California, save for a trip to one of ASU’s tournaments. It beat No. 24 Georgia and then No. 25, but not unranked, Florida State at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Cathedral City, Calif.
The Huskies have played the most interesting schedule thus far, traveling to Hawaii, San Diego, Colorado, hosting a tournament in Washington in early March and going to the Fullerton and Palm Springs tournaments like the rest of the Pac-12.
UW beat No. 23 Hawaii 3-1 on the road and Florida State 2-0 and Georgia 14-2 at the Mary Nutter Classic.
Something has to give this weekend when the Wildcats host No. 17 Washington. Arizona hasn’t beaten a ranked team yet, going 0-6, but is undefeated at home, 13-0.
Freshman pitcher Nancy Bowling (4-3) tallied a career-high 10 strikeouts against No. 1 Oklahoma in a 4-0 loss last weekend, including six in a row at one point, through the heart of the Sooners’ lineup.
Arizona was picked to finish fifth in the preseason coaches’ poll.
Oregon State (21-5)
The only original Pac-10 team not ranked in the media poll, the Beavers are No. 24 by the coaches’ vote. OSU is 0-1 against ranked teams after losing 14-2 to Oklahoma in five innings via the mercy rule.
The Utes have the worst record in the conference, but haven’t played any home games yet, going 3-1 in road games and 10-9-1 in neutral-site games.