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The Daily Wildcat

Arizona softball to play ASU for a spot in the inaugural Pac-12 Tournament

Also: Previewing the Pac-12 Tournament


Nathanial Stenchever

Blaise Biringer, an infielder on the Arizona Softball team, looks to hit the ball during her at-bat on Friday, April 15, at Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium. The Wildcats lost 11-3 in five innings.

Mason Duhon, Assistant Sports Editor

Arizona’s Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium was designated as the site for the inaugural Pac-12 Tournament. The winner will earn the conference’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. Fittingly, the host Arizona softball team will compete in the first ever game of the tournament in a play-in game against ASU on Wednesday, May 10, at 6 p.m.

No. 8 Arizona vs. No. 9 ASU: Wednesday, May 10, at 6 p.m.

ASU and Arizona both finished at 6-18 in Pac-12 play, settling them in last place in the conference standings. Arizona took the No. 8 seed due to a better record (28-24) than ASU (22-25).

Arizona ended the season on a high note, blowing out the University of California Berkeley 9-4 on Senior Night on Sunday, May 7. Pitcher Devyn Netz had a stellar weekend with 14.2 IP, 195 pitches and 11 strikeouts

Netz is a force both on the mound and in the batters’ box. She has the most starts on the team at pitcher, with 28. Astonishingly, the ace is also tied with Allie Skaggs for the team lead in home runs with 13 and is second in RBIs with 38. No matter where she is on the field, Netz is a playmaker that poses a serious threat.

ASU’s season ended with dropping back-to-back games against Oregon State University. With these losses, ASU replaced Oregon State in last place in the conference and fell into play-in position. The Sun Devils were shut out in two games against the Wildcats earlier in the season before taking the final matchup 4-3

Relief pitcher Kenzie Brown has a record of 10-2, while Marissa Schuld claims five saves on the season. However, the biggest threat lies in slugger Jordyn VanHook, who leads the team with 19 home runs and 35 RBIs this season.

No. 3 University of Utah vs. No. 6 Cal: Thursday, May 11, at 10 a.m.

Utah finished at 15-9 in conference play on the season, while Cal finished at 9-14-1 in conference play. However, this is still a competitive Cal squad that won 33 games on the season, just one fewer than the 34-win Utah team.

Cal ended their season by taking the series against Arizona 2-1, but the lone loss came on the final day of the series and sent the Bears into the tournament without momentum. Tatum Anzaldo is coming off a series where she posted two of her four home runs onn the season, while Makenna Smith remains the main batting threat with 14 home runs and 43 RBIs on the season. The Cal bullpen is also well-rounded, with no pitchers having a losing record.

Utah finished their regular season with a sweep over then-No. 13 University of Oregon to jump up to No. 17 in the top-25 poll. Utah saw a season with quite a few wins over ranked opponents including a sweep of then-No. 5 Stanford and a win against then-No. 9 University of Washington. The Utes lean heavily on a strong pitching rotation with two starters posting season ERAs below 3.00. The two ace pitchers will look to give batters fits.

No. 2 Washington vs. No. 7 Oregon State: Thursday, May 11, at 12:30 p.m.

Washington ended their season on a two-game win streak to take the series against No. 7-ranked Stanford. The Huskies went 16-8 in the conference over the season and finished at 37-11. They also took the series 2-1 against then-No. 19 Oregon

Oregon State struggled throughout the season but narrowly avoided last place in the conference with a two-game win streak over ASU. This was the only Pac-12 series Oregon State won. They failed to notch a series sweep or any other series wins in the conference. The Beavers, alongside ASU, are the only other team entering the tournament with a record under .500. 

Washington enters the series on a two-game win streak after taking the 2-1 series win over No. 6 Stanford, and they also stole a win from UCLA in March. They finished the season ranked No. 5 in the top-25 poll. Pitchers Kelley Lynch and Ruby Meylan both have season ERAs under 3.0, while four batters have at least seven home runs this season. Two players, Baylee Klingler and Madison Huskey, have each posted at least 40 RBIs as well.

No. 1 UCLA vs. No. 8 Arizona/No. 9 ASU: Thursday, May 11, at 4 p.m.

No matter who makes it out of the play-in round, they will be facing an uphill battle in the No. 1-seeded, No. 2-ranked 50-4 UCLA Bruins.

UCLA has been a buzzsaw lately, boasting a 23-game winning streak and last losing on Friday, March 24. The Bruins swept both Arizona and ASU in a nine-day period, and have won every series they have played.

UCLA’s 21-3 record in the Pac-12 is due to an extremely talented roster. On the offensive side, Maya Brady and Megan Grant have produced greatly. Brady leads the team with 16 home runs and 56 RBIs, while Grant has 12 home runs and 54 RBIs – both second best on the team. 

On the mound, Megan Fairaimo has been dynamite with a 1.11 ERA, 215 strikeouts and a 28-2 record. Her ERA is eighth best in the nation, she has the 11th-most strikeouts, and she leads the nation in individual wins. Whichever Arizona-based team wins will be facing one of the best pitchers in the country.

No. 4 Stanford vs. No. 5 Oregon: Thursday, May 11, at 6:30 p.m.

Both Stanford and Oregon finished at 14-10 in conference play. This is the only matchup of the opening rounds between two teams ranked in the Top-25.

Stanford had a strong season highlighted by three conference series sweeps and a No. 6 ranking in the Top-25 Poll to end the regular season. Their season ended unceremoniously after dropping the series against Washington, but they earned the No. 4 seed with a 39-12 record. Their bullpen holds two ace pitchers with season ERAs under 1.85 and 90 IP in Alana Vawter and NiJaree Canady.

Oregon pulled back-to-back sweeps of Arizona and Cal in late April and finished the season ranked No. 18. They were swept by Utah in the final series and finished the season at 35-14, placing them at the No. 5 seed. Terra McGowan and Allee Bunker lead the team with 12 and 10 home runs on the season, respectively. They also each have at least 49 RBIs on the season.

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