The Pac-12 is almost certainly the strongest softball conference in the country. Eight of the nine schools that field a softball team are in the RPI top 25, and those eight will be in the playoffs. And yet despite such incredible depth of talent, two teams have combined to go 36-4 so far.
Unsurprisingly, those two teams are now near unanimous first and second in both major polls and the RPI. The humans and the computers agree. Cal and Arizona State are the two best teams in the country. And they just so happen to be playing a three game series that will functionally decide everything that’s important about the regular season.
I’m not sure how much importance the Bears and Sun Devils place on the #1 overall seed in the playoffs. It’s certainly an honor, and hypothetically speaking the #1 seed would have an (undetectably?) easier playoff path. But both teams will be expected to return to Oklahoma City for the College World Series no matter the regional path they have to navigate. No, the bigger prize in my mind is the conference title. To earn that title the Bears will have to go through the defending champs.
Consider the following comparisons:
|On Base Percentage||.426||3||1||.453|
|Earned Run Average||1.22||1||2||2.09|
The two highest scoring teams in the conference, the two stingiest defenses in the conference. What more can a fan ask for?
As the table above indicates, ASU’s strength is their lineup. They score about a half a run more per game than the Bears, and their season stats are juuuust a little bit better than
Scouting the Sun Devils
The Sun Devils are led by Katelyn Boyd, there own version of Valerie Arioto. A slugging 1st baseman with 24 extra base hits and an on base percentage near .600, she’s the big challenge. But Alix Johnson, Bailey Wigness and Elizabeth Caporuscio are all good enough that you can’t constantly pitch around Boyd.
All games at Levine-Fricke Field,
Thursday, May 10, 2012, 3:00 pm
Friday, May 11, 2012, 3:00 pm
Saturday, May 12, 2012, 12:00 pm
It’s also worth noting that Saturday will be Senior Day for a particularly talented group of seniors: Valerie Arioto, Frani Echavarria, Elia Reid, Jamia Reid and Jace Williams. We can be optimistic that the group has a few more games at