1. Washington (25-7-1, 12-3 Pac-12)
Ranked No. 7 in Baseball America’s national poll, the Huskies have yet to lose a Pac-12 series and have only lost back-to-back games once all season.
You can bet that UW has two dates circled on its calendar: May 15, a trip to Corvallis, Ore., to face defending Pac-12 champion Oregon State, and May 23, when it hosts defending national champion UCLA.
These two series may be yet another proving ground for a team with an impressive 9-1 record away from Husky Ballpark, where the Huskies are 13-2.
2. Oregon State (27-7, 11-4 Pac-12)
National polls, including Baseball America, actually have the Beavers ranked No. 5 in the country, and with OSU and UW neck-and-neck in nearly every statistical category, they might have just based that on OSU’s 3-2 win over the the Huskies back in February in Surprise. If those two teams continue at their current pace, the showdown to decide the 2014 Pac-12 regular-season champion could come down to a three-game series at Goss Stadium next month.
3. ASU (19-14, 9-6 Pac-12)
The Sun Devils needed to separate themselves from the middle of the pack to cement themselves as a postseason contender. By winning their fourth-straight conference series and nine of their last 13 games, ASU has done just that. The Sun Devils begin their road trip, seeking their fifth Pac-12 series win in a row, at Stanford Thursday night. If they continue to accumulate wins, they should be back in the top 25 before season’s end.
4. Oregon (28-10, 7-5 Pac-12)
Consistency is key for the Ducks. Oregon looked to be within striking distance of a conference title, until ASU came out of nowhere and took its spot in the standings. Beginning May 9, the Ducks will play ASU in Tempe three times, in what could ultimately decide which teams, aside from UW, and OSU, still have a shot at the Pac-12 crown.
5. UCLA (19-15, 7-5 Pac-12)
The defending national champs have played well as of late and look to gear up for another title run. They’ll need to fend off Oregon at home next month, whose overall record gives them an edge in the Pac-12 standings, despite being deadlocked in league play at 7-5.
6. USC (17-17, 6-9 Pac-12)
Which Trojan team will we see in the second half? The one that streaked to a 7-0 start, or the one that has lost five of its last eight home games? USC would prefer the former, if the Trojans intend to compete in the postseason.
7. Washington State (17-16, 7-5 Pac-12)
A win over Gonzaga on Tuesday night brought the Cougars back above .500. A relatively soft nonconference slate may not have prepared them for the depth of the Pac-12 this season, but they can play spoiler to someone’s Pac-12 aspirations down the stretch. WSU has stolen wins from UCLA and Arizona on the road and even pulled off a 4-1 win against OSU at home.
8. Arizona (17-20, 6-9 Pac-12)
This team has largely disappointed since winning it all two years ago, but it defeated ASU in its last visit to Packard Stadium back on on April 9. The Wildcats have played uncharacteristically poor in home conference games. Their first home series win came against UCLA last Sunday, April 13.
9. California (15-17, 4-8 Pac-12)
Sometimes, if you play poorly enough, it doesn’t matter if you’re at home or on the road. Cal’s 5-6 record at Evans Diamond this year would seem to indicate that. The situation is slightly better than a few years ago, when it was practically on life support. They’ve come far since the time that Stanford donors helped fund the Golden Bear program so it wouldn’t be one of five sports Cal cut in 2010. But undoubtedly, there’s still a long way to go for this team.
10. Stanford (12-16, 4-8 Pac-12)
The Cardinal still have a lot of interesting baseball to look forward to, despite dwelling in depths of the Pac-12 cellar thus far. A home series win against ASU can help Stanford move in the right direction, and hosting Cal in the Battle of the Bay with bragging rights on the line could put a charge into this team and get it back into, or perhaps even over, .500 territory.
11. Utah (11-21, 2-13 Pac-12)
It’s been a long year for the Utes, and the worst of it may be yet to come, with an upcoming homestand that includes UCLA and Washington. Utah can clinch statewide supremacy by splitting its series with rival BYU and another win over Utah Valley.
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