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Top-10 matchup to open #Pac12SB

#6 Washington looks to continue success of recent years against #7 Arizona

Senior All-American Sis Bates is tied for the Pac-12 lead with a .500 batting average.
Red Box Pictures via UW Athletics

No cupcakes to open conference play here.

6th-ranked Husky softball (20-2) will open conference play with a key home series against #7 Arizona, including a national broadcast on ESPNU in the opener Friday night (full schedule at bottom of article).

Arizona (14-3) was supposed to play high-profile matchups against Texas and Alabama in week 1 but that tournament was cancelled due to the freezing weather in Texas. UA then took full advantage of an easier schedule for the next two weeks (something Washington has not really done) as the Wildcats run-ruled 10 of their first 12 opponents — only wins that went 7 innings were a 5-2 win over New Mexico and a 3-2, 8-inning non-conference win over Oregon State.

But the 12-0 start came to a fairly convincing end as the Wildcats offense sputtered dropped three of their next five on their trip to Florida: in four games against ranked foes (at #24 UCF, at #15 Florida State 3x), Arizona managed to score a combined three runs, with a terrific performance in the circle by Mariah Lopez helping the Cats at least salvage the middle game 1-0 at FSU.

The Huskies and Wildcats share three common opponents: Southern Utah, BYU and Seattle U. The results don’t paint a very good picture for UW: both teams are undefeated against those teams (UA 6-0; UW 5-0) but the games have gone rather differently. Arizona won by run-rule in all six, allowing a total of seven runs. UW did have one convincing win over SUU (8-0) but had to rally from five down to win a wacky 19-13 game vs SUU and scored no more than five runs in wins over Seattle U (twice) and BYU.

Series History

Arizona leads the all-time series 70-37. Washington has had much better success recently: the Huskies have won six of the past seven and the last five in a row played in Seattle. The only Arizona win in that stretch, though, was the 3-1, 8-inning win in the WCWS opener in 2019 that knocked 3rd-seeded Washington to the elimination bracket; both teams would go on to finish 2-2 as national semifinalists.

Pac-12 Standings, with NFCA rankings

  1. #4 Oregon (16-1)
  2. #2 UCLA (15-1)
  3. #6 Washington (20-2)
  4. #11 Arizona State (17-2)
  5. #7 Arizona (14-3)
  6. Stanford (14-4)
  7. California (11-4)
  8. Utah (9-5)
  9. Oregon State (10-6)

Other opening series in the Pac-12: Utah at #4 Oregon, California at Oregon State and another top-15 matchup with #2 UCLA at #11 Arizona State. Stanford has the first bye (as they always seem to, for some reason).

Weekend Schedule

  • Fri, 6 p.m., ESPNU
  • Sat, 3:30 p.m., Pac-12 WA
  • Sat, 6 p.m., Pac-12 WA
  • Sun, noon, Pac-12 Net/WA

All series in the Pac-12 this year are scheduled as four-game series with a doubleheader on the middle day. Assuming all games get played as scheduled, the second game of that doubleheader (third game of the series overall) will not count for the Pac-12 standings. If any of the other games doesn’t get played for any reason (weather, COVID, travel, etc.), then every game that did get played will count for the conference standings.

Don’t expect coaches to handle the extra game any differently, though. In smaller leagues where only the league champion makes the NCAA tournament, you certainly might see teams rest starters (or at least their ace) if a game like that was scheduled. But in the Pac-12, any team good enough to be in even remote league title consideration is making the tourney regardless. Sure, winning a Pac-12 title is nice, but I highly doubt any of the teams at the top of the Pac-12 will try any less hard to win that game. Plus, there’s always the possibility that the final game of the series gets cancelled and the non-conference game retroactively becomes a conference game after all.