Throughout the 2017 softball season, the NFCA will feature some of the sport's highest-profile contests in our "Featured Five" Games of the Week.
Each weekly installment will be released on Thursday, providing live stat links, game notes, team info, social media accounts and any available broadcast links in hopes of becoming another reason for fans to visit us during the season for information on some of collegiate softball's best games.
As the year continues, we will attempt to expand our focus to include matchups throughout as many divisions as possible. This week's featured games come from the NCAA Division I and II.
No. 6 Oregon (37-4, 10-4 Pac-12) at No. 3 Arizona (43-3, 13-2 Pac-12)
April 21-23 / 5 p.m. / 3 p.m. / Noon MST | Hillenbrand Stadium | Tucson, Ariz.
Series: Arizona is 82-27 all-time vs. Oregon, but the Ducks have had the upper hand of late, winning 14 of the last 18 meetings and the last six series, including a sweep in Eugene in 2016.
Oregon: The Ducks look to rebound from a Pac-12 series loss at home to Washington... Oregon picked up a win in game two, but dropped the opener and the finale... Pitcher Maggie Balint was named a finalist for the Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year... Balint ranks seventh overall and second in the Pac-12 with a 0.86 ERA, the best of any freshman in the country... She is 23rd in the NCAA, averaging 8.8 strikeouts per seven innings and leads the Ducks with 16 wins and 123 strikeouts... The Ducks are led offensivley by Nikki Udria, who is hitting .434 with 53 hits, eight doubles, nine homers, 43 RBI and 36 runs scored, ranking first or second on the squad in those categories.
Arizona (Preview / Notes): Arizona is off to its best 46-game start (43-3) and 15-game conference start (13-2) since 2004... Arizona's 43 victories already eclipse its last two seasons' win totals... The Wildcats are 22-0 at home in 2017... Through 46 games, Arizona has outscored its opposition by more than 300 runs (368-50). Its offense has hit more home runs (NCAA-most 78) than its opponents have total runs (50). UA has nearly 200 more hits (424) than its opponent has total bases (243)... A trio of rookies- Jessie Harper, Dejah Mulipola and Alyssa Palomino- were named finalist for the Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year award ... Individually, Arizona has the Pac-12's leader in slugging percentage (Katiyana Mauga - .910), runs scored (Mandie Perez - 54), hits (Mo Mercado - 57), RBI (Palomino - 51), home runs (Mauga - 19), total bases (Harper - 107), walks (Mauga - 34), ERA (Danielle O'Toole - 0.84), opposing batting average (O'Toole - .168), strikeouts (O'Toole - 161) and wins (O'Toole - 23)... UA leads the Pac-12 in batting average (.350), slugging percentage (.614), on-base percentage (.447), runs scored (368), hits (424), RBI (332), doubles (70), home runs (79), walks (202), ERA (1.01), opposing batting average (.168), strikeouts (328) and fielding percentage (.979).
No. 9 Washington (31-10) at No. 12 Alabama (37-9)
April 21-22 - 6 p.m. / 1 p.m. CST | Rhoads Stadium | Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Washington: The Huskies are coming off a Pac-12 series win on the road at then-No. 4 Oregon... Washington claimed the series with victories in games one and three... Sis Bates was named a finalist for the Schutt Sports/NFCA National Freshman of the Year award... Bates is batting .355 with 44 hits, including seven doubles, four triples and two home runs along with 25 RBIs and 25 runs scored... Taran Alvelo, the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week, played a key role in the series win over the Ducks... She picked up two complete-game victories, handing Oregon its first two home losses of the season... On the year, Alvelo is 19-6 with a 2.28 ERA, four shutouts and 136 strikeouts in 147.1 innings... Casey Stangel is tops with a .387 average, 46 hits, nine doubles and nine homers to go along with 37 RBI and 25 runs... Ali Aguilar is hitting .367 with nine double, eight dingers, 29 RBI and a team-best 36 runs scored.
Alabama: Alabama is coming of a 2-0 home win over Southern Miss on Wednesday... Prior to the victory, the Tide fell in both SEC contests at Tennessee with the game three being canceled due to a storm that interupted play in the fourth inning... Bailey Hemphill was named a finalist for the Schutt Sports NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year... The catcher/designated player is hitting .330 with five doubles, a triple, five home runs, 30 RBI and 23 runs... Additionally, she has walked 43 times attributing to her team-high .510 on-base percentage... Alexis Osorio leads the SEC and is fifth nationally with 225 strikeouts, one of two pitchers in the SEC over 200... Demi Turner leads the team with a .387 average and 43 hits, while Peyton Grantham has a team-high seven home runs and 39 RBI.
No. 15 Baylor at No. 8 Oklahoma
April 21-23 - 6:30 p.m. / 4 p.m. / noon CT | Marita Hynes Field | Norman, Okla.
Series: This weekend's crucial Big 12 series pits the undefeated Sooners (9-0) against the second-place Bears (8-1)... Baylor and Oklahoma are one/two in overall league hitting and pitching.
Baylor: The Bears have not played since April 12 when they fell at Texas State, 1-0... Prior to that contest, Baylor had won eight straight, seven in Big 12 play... At 8-1 in league play, the Bears lone blemish is a 6-4 10-inning defeat in game two at Kansas... Baylor has swept Iowa State and Texas Tech at home... BU leads the Big 12 with a .337 batting average and 1.60 ERA... Lindsey Carqill is leading the league in batting average at .480 with 61 hits, five doubles, three triples, 38 runs and 24 stolen bases... Kyla Walker is at an even .400 with 56 hits and 30 runs scored, while Jessi Scroggins is hitting .370 with nine doubles, three homers and 28 runs scored... Shelby Friudenberg is hitting .336 with a team-best 33 RBI and .513 slugging percentage... Shelby MGlaun was named a finalist for the Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year award.
Oklahoma: The Sooners are riding a 16-game winning streak into this weekend after run-ruling Texas State, 8-0, in their final non-conference game of the regular season... Oklahoma is 17-0 at home and have won 32 straight at home dating back to last season, the second longest home win streak in program history... Freshman Nicole Mendez ranks third in the league with a .409 average... She has recorded seven doubles, three triples, 16 RBI and 28 runs scored... Caleigh Clifton is hitting .397 with 50 hits, 12 doubles, four homers, 24 RBI and 50 runs scored... In the circle, Paige Lowery, Mariah Lopez and Paige Parker are 2,3 & 4 in Big 12 ERA and hold their opposition to a .178 and under batting average... Lowary is 10-1 with a 1.70 ERA and 80 strikeouts... Lopez is 13-1 with a 1.75 ERA and 75 strikeouts, while Parker is 15-5 with a 1.76 ERA, 159 strikeouts to just 20 walks in 123 innings... Lopez was named a finalist for the Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year.
No. 18 Ole Miss at No. 1 Florida
April 21-23 - 6 p.m. / 4 p.m. / Noon EST | Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium | Gainesville, Fla.
Ole Miss (Preview / Notes): After starting 0-6 in league action, the Rebels have since won six of their last nine, including a series win over then No. 16 Kentucky, a victory at No. 5 Auburn, and most recently a three-game sweep over No. 11 LSU last weekend... The Rebels are up to No. 30 in the latest RPI, their highest mark of the season, only three spots off tying the highest mark in school history, set in week 14 of last season... Head coach Mike Smith earned career win No. 850 in Tuesday’s win at UT Martin, and has led Ole Miss to its third-straight 30-win season, and fourth overall...
Florida: The Gators surged to No. 1, returning to the top spot for the first time since the first NFCA poll of the regular season... UF leads the country with a 0.76 ERA and a .986 fielding percentage... Kelly Barnhill leads the NCAA in ERA (0.19), hits allowed per seven innings (2.78) and strikeouts per seven innings (13.0)... She is 18-0 and has allowed just three earned runs over 110.2 innings... Barnhill owns a 205-23 strikeout-to-walk ratio and has held opponents to a .118 batting average... Delanie Gourley is equally as impressive, posting a 13-3 mark, 1.01 ERA (11th in the NCAA), seven shutouts and a .149 batting average against... Defensively, the Gators have committed just 16 errors... Offensively, UF averages 6.43 runs per game and owns a .436 OBP... Kayli Kvistad leads the way with a .380 average and is tied with Jaimie Hoover with 37 RBI.
Other Notable DI Games (All Times Eastern)
No. 15 Chico State (31-10, 21-9 CCAA) at No. 7 Cal State Monterey Bay (38-7, 26-6 CCAA)
April 21-22 | 1 p.m. (DH) / 11 a.m. (DH) PST | Otter Sports Complex | Seaside, Calif.
Chico State (Preview): The Wildcats rank fifth in the West Region and third in the CCAA entering this weekend... Chico State has dropped four of its last seven decisions and is coming off a 3-3 week that saw the Wildcats split a Monday doubleheader against Humboldt State and a four-game home series last weekend versus UC San Diego... The Wildcats are 20-5 on the road in 2017... The 'Cats are sporting a .296 team batting average while posting 4.6 runs and 7.7 hits a game... The pitching staff continues to put up impressive numbers, leading the CCAA with a 1.69 ERA and holding opposing hitters to a conference-low .234 batting average... Individually, Haley Gilham tops all CCAA hurlers in ERA (0.82), shutouts (9) and opposing batting average (.202), is tied for the conference lead in complete games (20), second in victories (18) and fourth in strikeouts (99)... Kristin Worley ranks sixth in the CCAA with a .378 batting average and is seventh in the conference with 23 stolen bases... Cailin Garmon is hitting .352 and tops the CCAA with 40 stolen bases, while Ari Marsh is batting .364 on the year and is tied for fifth in the conference with 37 runs batted in.
CSUMB: The Otters lead the West Region and rank No. 5 nationally in batting average at .362... CSUMB was ranked No. 1 in the first NCAA DII West Region rankings... The CSUMB lineup boasts the CCAA's top three hitters and five of the of the Top 6... Julia Garcia leads the CCAA with a .423 average followed by Jayme Stark in the No. 2 spot at .408, while Madison Casto is third at .404... In the circle, freshman Hayley Fein earned her second CCAA Pitcher of the Week nod after going 5–0 with a save last week... She leads the circuit with a 24–6 record and ranks in the Top 4 in ERA (1.61), strikeouts (116) and opponent batting average (.225).... CSUMB also ranks No. 6 nationally in win–loss percentage (.844), No. 12 in fielding percentage (.973), No. 13 in win–loss percentage (.879) and No. 13 in slugging percentage (.520), all tops in the CCAA.
Other notable DII Games (All times ET)
No. 12 Central (Iowa) (24-4. 6-0 IIAC) at No. 11 Coe (24-5, 6-2 IIAC)
April 15 | 2 p.m. CT (DH) | Clark Field | Cedar Rapid Iowa
Central (Iowa): The Dutch have won seven straight after Wednesday’s home Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference sweep of Buena Vista. Senior Abbie Voas’ fifth-inning homer broke a scoreless tie and Central added another run in the sixth on junior Paige Dickel’s two-out hit for a 2-0 win, followed a 10-5 triumph in the nightcap, a game in which the Dutch trailed twice, and was in danger of falling behind again in the sixth, until senior ace Karly Olson entered in relief to induce a popup and two strikeouts to escape a bases-loaded, no-outs jam. … On offense, Olson (.407, nine doubles, one homer, 26 RBI) is one of three players in the lineup batting over .400, led by freshman Sara Tallman (.457, 31 runs, five doubles, 10 RBI) and including sophomore Emily Wilson (.438, 21 runs, eight doubles, two triples, four homers, 30 RBI). … In the circle, Olson is 10-2 with a 2.25 ERA, four shutouts and 62 strikeouts in 81 innings, while sophomore Mariah Fritz (8-2, 1.21 ERA) and junior Annie DeVries (6-0, 3.16 ERA) have split the other half of the innings.
Coe: The Kohawks are also coming off a Wednesday conference sweep, 7-1 and 6-0 over Nebraska Wesleyan. In the doubleheader, Coe allowed a total of five hits, with sophomore Alyssa Olson (one-hitter, no walks, nine strikeouts) taking a perfect game into the seventh inning of the second contest. In the opener, senior Maliah Fligg allowed just four hits and Nebraska Wesleyan’s lone run came on a two-out, bases loaded walk in the first inning. … Fligg is the team’s second-leading hitter, with a .357 average, three homers and 17 RBI. Sophomores Maddy Ryan (.375, 18 runs, three doubles, 19 RBI), Allie O’Brien (.333, 19 runs, seven extra-base hits, 16 RBI) and Haley Jones (.329, 20 runs, seven doubles, six homers, 24 RBI) help fuel a balanced offense. … Both Fligg (1.36 ERA, 13-1, .201 opponent average) and Olson (1.60, 9-4, 4-to-1 strikeout-walk ratio) boast ERAs under two in the circle.
Other notable DIII Games (All times ET)