Pac-12 Softball Power Rankings

Josh Worden Senior Beat Reporter

#1 No. 5 Oregon (35-6, 13-2 Pac-12). Last weekend: 3-0 at Arizona State. This weekend: vs. Arizona.

Another weekend, another sweep for the Ducks. It wasn’t all easy going, though: the momentum-less Arizona State Sun Devils gave Oregon all they could ask for in the second and third games, losing 5-4 on Saturday and then 7-4 on Sunday in extra innings. But a win (or three wins) is a win. The remaining Pac-12 teams on the schedule — Arizona, California and Utah — are all good teams but Oregon will likely finish 22-2 in conference and head to the NCAA Tournament with visions of the championship trophy dancing in their collective mind.

#2 Utah (30-13, 11-4). Last weekend: 3-0 vs. Stanford. This weekend: at Washington.

Utah was No. 5 in last week’s power rankings, but the Utes’ current eight-game winning streak is tied for the longest in the Pac-12 with (you guessed it) Oregon. Arizona, Washington and UCLA each lost one game this week, while Utah has been spotless. Utah, however, will not stay in the conference’s No. 2 spot for very long. With No. 10 Washington, No. 15 UCLA and No. 5 Oregon next up on the schedule, the Utes should enjoy their 15 minutes of fame while they can.

#3 No. 10 Washington (30-10, 11-7). Last weekend: 2-1 at Oregon State. This weekend: vs. Utah.

In the Cal series, both the Huskies and Golden Bears scored eight runs in the three games, but Washington used a pair of one-run wins to go 2-1. That’s huge for Washington, which jumped three spots upwards in the polls from No. 12 despite the one loss. Washington is also No. 6 in the RPI rankings, the highest mark in the Pac-12. With OSU on the docket this weekend, Washington could really use two or three wins to improve its chances to be one of the 16 NCAA Tournament Regional hosts and one of eight Super Regional hosts. Can the Beavers spoil the Huskies’ late season streak in Corvallis?

#4 No. 15 UCLA (29-13-1, 10-5-1). Last weekend: 1-1 at Arizona. This weekend: vs. Arizona State.

The only reason UCLA is at No. 4 and above Arizona right now is because the Bruins are the only team to have beaten Oregon this season — and they did it twice. Maybe the only way Oregon will lose another game in the regular season is if UCLA steals Arizona’s uniforms and heads to Eugene this weekend pretending to be the Wildcats. Why would they want to face Oregon again? I don’t know, but the only team UCLA did better against than Oregon is the conference’s cellar dweller Stanford. Maybe Oregon is UCLA’s good luck charm.

#5 No. 17 Arizona (32-13, 9-5). Last weekend: 1-1 vs. UCLA. This weekend: at Oregon.

The Arizona-UCLA series was supposed to decide which Pac-12 South team would ascend north to the top of the standings. Instead, they beat each other one time apiece and resolved nothing. Sounds like a Presidential debate, if you ask me. Now, Arizona earned the right to be the next team to get swept by Oregon, unless the Wildcats can hold the Ducks’ fiery offense in check. Arizona is no longer the conference’s leader in earned run average; Oregon currently sits atop the Pac-12 with a 2.50 ERA as well as a .363 batting average to boot.

#6 Oregon State (27-16-1, 6-12). Last weekend: 1-2 vs. Washington. This weekend: Bye.

How does OSU lose a series but move up one spot in the power rankings? Because going 1-2 against the No. 10 Washington Huskies still means the Beavers beat a Top-10 team. Next up is the almost-as-good Arizona Wildcats and then a potentially favorable home matchup with Arizona State is next. At 3-12 in conference this year, ASU is stumbling harder than a college student in a flimsy pair of Ugg boots, so OSU could finish out the regular season on a high note. But before that, OSU has a weekend off and then a road trip to Arizona. Sounds like summer vacation more than the most critical point of the softball season, but maybe OSU could use a mindset of relaxation. After that, OSU has its sights set on the NCAA Tournament starting May 20, which OSU will almost undoubtedly reach for the first time since 2013.

#7 California (23-18-1, 6-7-1). Last weekend: Bye. This weekend: at Stanford.

The Golden Bears have a somewhat odd schedule for a Pac-12 team, interspersing 10 nonconference games throughout the Pac-12 schedule. California started 6-0 before being shutout by Cal Poly on Thursday, epitomizing the Golden Bears’ overall performance this season: good, but not great. Luckily for Cal, Stanford is next up on the schedule, meaning the blue and gold should just about lock up an NCAA Tournament berth. With No. 5 Oregon and No. 17 Arizona on the end of the schedule, Cal shouldn’t wait longer than they have to before clinching that spot.

#8 No. 22 Arizona State (27-19, 3-12) Last weekend: 0-3 vs. Oregon. This weekend: at UCLA.

To think that ASU is 3-12 in the Pac-12 right now and could still make the NCAA Tournament — Stanford is still on the schedule, so there are at least three winnable games left — is astounding. NCAA Softball is a marathon, though, not a sprint. The Sun Devils seemed to have sprained their proverbial ankle back in March and floundered their way through the rest of the race. But, maybe ASU’s solid start to the season will be enough to push its wounded shell of a body into the postseason, where some top-ranked team can play piñata with their hapless foes.

#9 Stanford (13-26, 0-15). Last weekend: 0-3 at Utah. This weekend: vs. California.

Last in batting average. Last in earned run average. Last in fielding percentage. And worst of all, last in the Pac-12 standings. The Cardinal could have had a worse season — I’m sure their 5-3 win over then-No. 17 Missouri on Feb. 25 will highlight the memoirs of every fan in attendance — but not by much. Actually, even the Missouri win couldn’t be that big: the official attendance for that game was 101 people. Yikes. But hey, Arizona State is nearly as bad this season and Stanford will play the Sun Devils two weekends from now. That series could be this season’s ultimate don’t-be-last battle of Pac-12 softball. You won’t want to miss it, all 101 of you who still have hope in Stanford.

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