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2023 Pac-12 Softball Tournament

May 10-13, 2023 | Tucson, AZ | Hillenbrand Stadium

The best moments from the Pac-12 Softball Tournament quarterfinals

May 11, 2023
Photo by Mike Christy

TUCSON — The semifinals of the inaugural Pac-12 Softball Tournament are set after an exciting day of action on Thursday.

No. 2 Washington and No. 3 Utah will square off Friday at 4:30 p.m. PT on ESPNU, followed by No. 1 UCLA vs. No. 4 Stanford at 7:30 p.m. PT on ESPN2.

The quarterfinals opened with Utah's 6-2 win over California and Washington shutting out Oregon State 1-0 before UCLA rallied to beat Arizona 4-3 in the third tilt and Stanford capped the night with a dramatic 4-3 walk-off victory over Oregon.

Here were the biggest moments from Thursday's games.

Utah's 5-run first fuels win over Cal

The Utes wasted no time jumping on the Golden Bears, plating five runs in the first inning thanks to some timely knocks by Sophie Jacquez, Abby Dayton and Shelbi Ortiz. Jacquez's two-run double was the first of her three hits on the day.

"We were ready from pitch one, ready for the hard stuff and looking for a pitch to drive, so I think that's what we were doing offensively and being disciplined at the plate," Jacquez said. 

The early outburst provided more than enough run support for Sydney Sandez, who pitched a complete game for the Utes. She allowed two runs on seven hits while striking out six.

"Our goal is to start hot," said Utah head coach Amy Hogue. "I didn't necessarily ask for five (runs) but getting five in the top really helped. Sydney didn't throw last weekend so she was fresh and it's a good matchup, so it's a pretty easy call for us (to stick with Sandez) there."

When asked what the Utes have to prove in the inaugural Pac-12 Softball Tournament, Jacquez said "a lot."

"I feel like we're the underdog a lot," she said. "I feel like we're always trying to prove something but we're trying to open everyone's eyes and show them how good the Utes are."

Meylan's gem powers Huskies past Beavers

Ruby Meylan didn't disappoint in her postseason debut, pitching a three-hit shutout as Washington edged Oregon State, 1-0. The freshman was super efficient, throwing only 85 pitches, 54 for strikes.

Meylan entered the day second in the Pac-12 in strikeouts but only fanned one Oregon State batter. Instead, she thrived by generating plenty of weak contact, inducing 11 groundouts. It was Meylan's seventh shutout of her young career.

"It’s amazing being in center working behind her, seeing her enthusiasm, and it kind of fires you up too," said Jadelyn Allchin, whose second-inning solo homer yielded the game's lone run. "She’s been doing a great job in the circle for us."

Brady blasts continue in Tucson

Maya Brady can't pinpoint exactly why she always crushes the ball in Hillenbrand Stadium, but she reckons it has something to do with the UCLA-Arizona rivalry.

"Whenever two historic programs like this compete in a postseason type of environment, it's going to bring out the best out of everybody," she said.

Whatever it is, Brady's stats in Tucson are gobsmacking. In 13 career games, she is hitting .500 with seven homers and 14 RBI. Five of those long balls have come this season.

Brady's latest heroics helped the Bruins avoid an upset in the Pac-12 quarterfinals. She belted a game-tying two-run homer in the bottom of the third, then the game-winning homer in the fifth. Arizona pitcher Devyn Netz otherwise did an admirable job of quieting the Bruins' lineup, holding it to five hits.

"Devyn's an amazing pitcher," Brady said. "Her changeup was extremely effective against us and I think that I was seeing the changeup well. But once I saw that pitch, I wasn't really gonna miss that opportunity. That's a pitch that I know that I can be aggressive on."

Megan Grant was the other standout for the Bruins. The freshman ranged into the right-field gap to track down a line drive to save two runs in the fifth, then clubbed the game-tying homer in the bottom half of the frame. Brady gave UCLA the lead in the very next at-bat, just enough cushion for ace Megan Faraimo to work with.

"She's been so clutch all year, she has been such a solid player for us," Brady said of Grant. "She's one of the most unexperienced players in our lineup, but has literally calmed some of the returners' nerves and she's just constantly producing for us. Nobody works harder than her."

Stanford rallies from two deficits to walk off Oregon

A drama-filled game capped the quarterfinals. Stanford faced deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 in the late innings but rallied twice to walk off the Ducks, 4-3.

Emily Young halved Oregon's lead to 2-1 with a sixth-inning homer. Two batters later, Emily Schultz laced a double into the gap to plate Kyra Chan from first. Both hits came with two outs.

Oregon briefly regained the advantage in the seventh with an RBI single by Tehya Bird, but Stanford's Kylie Chung immediately responded with a pinch-hit homer to bring the game level.

The rally was only beginning. Chung's blast brought up the top of the order and River Mahler promptly singled and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Taylor Gindlesperger for the game-winning run. Mahler ambitiously rounded second to take an extra base and an airmailed throw allowed her to score all the way from first.

It was the first time all season Oregon didn't win a game it led through the sixth inning.

"Oh my gosh, when I was coming around second base I thought it was going to be close so I was freaking out," Mahler said. "I knew I had to be safe because she laid down a perfect bunt, and I felt my eyes pop out of my head. I just knew I had to make it."

With the victory, Stanford reached 40 wins for the first time since 2013. Up next is a UCLA team that swept the Cardinal earlier in the season, but Stanford won the series last season.