The Huskies figured out just how good Giselle "G" Juarez is this weekend.
Juarez came into the weekend with an ERA a bit over 1.00, and it just went down from there. She threw complete game shutouts on both Saturday and Monday.
Three examples of how dominating Juarez was this weekend:
- Sis Bates had struck out just twice all season coming in to the series. In 6 plate appearances against Juarez, Bates went 0-for-5 with 3 strikeouts and a sacrifice.
- When the teams met last year, Juarez had good stuff. The velocity and movement were there. To senior left fielder Julia DePonte, the difference for Juarez was her control: "Last year she wasn't throwing a lot of strikes, so she got taken out early. This year, she attacked the zone and threw a lot of strikes."
- I'll let ESPNW's Graham Hays take this one:
Softball No. 1 Washington is 29-0, averaging 8 runs per game vs everyone not named G Juarez. UW now 0-2 and scoreless against ASU's ace.— Graham Hays (@grahamhays) March 20, 2018
One continued bright spot, even with the rough series for most of the team offensively: although Kelly Burdick had her hitting streak snapped at 8 games, she still went 3 for 7 in the series. After UW beat Long Beach State 4-0 to close out their time in Palm Springs, Burdick was hitting just .282. Since then, she's gone 17 for 32 to raise her average by over 100 points and is now holds the 4th-best average on the team (trailing just Taylor Van Zee, Kirstyn Thomas, and Bates).
Due to utter chaos at the top, the Huskies actually stayed at #1 in both polls this week. The top 3 teams in the polls last week —Washington, Florida, and UCLA — all lost 2 out of 3 on the road. #4 Tennessee went undefeated, but against a really weak schedule. #5 Oklahoma earned a solid win over #17 Ohio State, but then mysteriously struggled with a pretty poor Cal State Northridge team yesterday.
Pac-12 standings (rankings are NFCA coaches poll/USA Softball media poll)
9/9 Arizona (24-3, 3-0 Pac-12)
12/10 Arizona State (24-4, 2-1)
5/3 Oregon (25-5, 2-1)
RV/24 Oregon State (19-10, 2-1)
Stanford (19-8, 0-0)
1/1 Washington (29-2, 1-2)
4/4 UCLA (25-2, 1-2)
20/20 California (24-5, 1-2)
Utah (15-11, 0-3)
The road ahead doesn't get much easier, as Washington now hosts conference leader #9 Arizona in a 3-game set. Last year the series in Tucson was a rough one. The Huskies got shut out for almost the entire series, with a 2-run homer by Thomas in the 7th inning of game 3 the only blemish for UA pitching. The good news for UW? For one, this series is at home, rather than in the state of Arizona, which UW athletics would just like to remove from the Pac-12 at this point. But also, Arizona super-ace Danielle O'Toole has graduated as have a number of their top hitters.
The resident ace for the Wildcats is 5-8 junior #18 Taylor McQuillin. McQuillin pitched 17 innings against Utah last weekend, picking up 2 complete game wins and a save. She wasn't as dominant in those games as she has been most of the year, as the 9 hits issued vs Utah in game 3 was a season-high, and the 3 runs allowed was her worst since her only truly rough outing of the year back on opening day, a 3-inning, 5-run, 2-homer game against #24 Oklahoma State. She's still very good, but she's not on the same kind of roll that Juarez was.
The biggest key to beating Arizona is keeping them in the ballpark. The Wildcats crank out nearly 1.5 homers per game, third in the nation (behind OK State & Georgia). But they're noticeably lower in total scoring, ranking 14th. If you can keep UA from round-trippers, you have a good shot to win. SS Jessie Harper leads Arizona with 10, while 1B Alyssa Palomino and C Dejah Mulipola have 8 each. Palomino is the best all-around hitter of the bunch, hitting about .480.
Fri, 5 PM (Pac-12 WA/AZ)
Sat, 3:30 PM (Pac-12 WA)
Sun, 1 PM (Pac-12 National/WA)
If you have access to one or more Pac-12 Network feeds but not the right one, you should be able to use the login from your TV provider at pac-12.com/live to watch the game online.
Utah split a DH at Grand Canyon Tuesday in the only non-conference games for the Pac-12 this week.
#9 Arizona at #1 Washington (Fri-Sun, listed above)
#12 Arizona State at #20 Cal (Fri-Sun)
(RV) Oregon State at #4 UCLA (Sat-Mon)
Stanford at Utah (Sat-Mon)
#5 Oregon has the week off.