Softball Power Rankings

#1 No. 6 Oregon (32-6, 10-2 Pac-12). Last weekend: bye. This weekend: at Arizona State.

Oregon had the weekend off after sweeping Oregon State on April 8-10, so the Ducks had plenty of time to savor their Civil War victories before being tested again by another Pac-12 foe. Luckily for Oregon, this weekend’s opponent is an ASU team that hasn’t gained its footing yet in the conference schedule and has slipped to 3-8 in Pac-12 games. Oregon currently has the highest batting average in the conference at .366 and the two top hitters in the conference are both Ducks: Koral Costa (.450) and Nikki Udria (.444).

 

#2 No. 17 Arizona (31-12, 8-4). Last weekend: 3-0 at Stanford. This weekend: vs. UCLA.

The Wildcats own the longest current winning streak in the conference at eight games, though only three of those wins were against Pac-12 teams and those three were against cellar dweller Stanford. Still, Arizona deserves to be second in the Pac-12 power rankings and could even make a case for No. 1: Oregon may have the best hitting, but Arizona has the best pitching with a 2.38 earned run average. But, for Arizona to stay this high in the standings, a series win versus UCLA is mandatory. Losing two or three games would send Arizona multiple spots downward in the log jammed Pac-12 standings.

 

#3  No. 9 Washington (28-8, 9-5). Last weekend: 2-1 vs. California. This weekend: at Oregon State.

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. 13 UCLA (27-12-1, 8-4-1). Last weekend: 2-1 vs. Oregon State. This weekend: at Arizona.

The Bruins lost the opener to the Beavers this weekend but managed to win the next two contests, salvaging the series win and staying in the upper echelon of the Pac-12. This Arizona series is troubling for UCLA, however: Arizona’s pitching has been stellar all season and UCLA has to travel to Tucson to face the streaking Wildcats. UCLA could be taking a step back this weekend.

 

#5 Utah (27-13, 8-4). Last weekend: 3-0 vs. Arizona State. This weekend: versus Stanford.

A game-winning hit to complete the sweep over No. 22 Arizona State? Yes, Monday’s win is another step on the ladder for the Utes, who have been on the rise ever since they left the Mountain West for the Pac-12 in 2012. To be fair, they had nowhere else to go but up, going 2-22 in conference games their first year. But then, Utah won seven games the next year, then eight games, then went 12-11 last year for the program’s first winning season in the Pac-12. The conference is already stacked with talent and loaded with postseason contenders, but Utah has thrown its hat into the ring to be a competitive Pac-12 squad.

 

#6 California (20-17-1, 5-7-1). This weekend: 1-2 at Washington. This weekend: Bye.

Cal hasn’t swept a conference team yet and won’t this weekend either with a bye. But, they’ll still get plenty of game repetitions with five games against UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly and UC Davis before the Stanford series starting April 29. If Cal can secure four or five wins in the nonconference matchups and sweep the Cardinal like they should on paper — insert comment about how Pac-12 games aren’t played on paper — then the Golden Bears’ record will look much better.

 

#7 Oregon State (26-13-1, 5-9). Last weekend: 1-2 at UCLA. This weekend: vs. Washington.

Losing the series to UCLA this weekend wasn’t great, but getting one win out of the ordeal was significant for OSU. With only nine games left in the regular season, the Beavers could lose out and still probably make the NCAA Tournament; only three teams in conference history have finished with a winning record and missed the postseason. Losing nine in a row wouldn’t be ideal, but the likelihood of making the postseason regardless is still comforting for an OSU team that hasn’t made the postseason since 2013. Even better: OSU only graduates two seniors this year, and eight of the nine starting position players will return for 2017. This weekend, the Washington Huskies loom on the horizon, but the purple and gold will have to travel to Corvallis for the third-to-last series of the year.

 

#8 No. 22 Arizona State (27-16, 3-9) Last weekend: 0-3 at Utah. This weekend: vs. Oregon.

Just when it seemed like ASU would get a win Monday over Utah, the Sun Devils blew a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the final inning, losing on a game winning hit. What happened to the ASU team that has been a pillar of dominance over the last couple of years? No longer are the Sun Devils a regular member of the NCAA’s top 10 teams. With the Utah loss, ASU has dropped six consecutive games. The Sun Devils have been remarkably mediocre all season, ranking fourth of nine Pac-12 teams in batting average, sixth in earned run average and fourth in fielding percentage.

 

#9 Stanford (13-22, 0-11)

If only Stanford’s do-it-all football star Christian McCaffrey could play on the softball team. But alas, he can’t, and Stanford has lost all 11 conference games with six of them coming by the eight-inning mercy rule. The Cardinal own the lowest batting average in the conference (.248, next closest is .306), the highest earned run average (5.38, next closest is 3.67) and the most errors (54, next closest is 43). But hey, Stanford does have one win in the last month. Okay, it was against the University of Pacific, which has gotten outscored 46-4 by four Pac-12 opponents. But still, Stanford has to take the victories where they come. Pacific also beat LSU when the Tigers were No. 3 in the nation, so therefore Stanford must be the best team in the country, right?