ASU Baseball: Pac-12 proving strong in Sun Devils’ playoff push

OMAHA, NE - JUNE 23: Travis Buck
OMAHA, NE - JUNE 23: Travis Buck /

With ASU baseball entering conference play Friday, the strength of the Pac-12 will test their will en route to the postseason.

Arizona State will open Pac-12 play Friday night as they take on the Washington State Cougars at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. With the Devils entering conference play a perfect 16-0, they will have a tough road ahead in making it to an NCAA Regional, playing in one of the strongest leagues in college baseball.

Including the Sun Devils, the Pac-12 has four teams ranked going into the weekend with UCLA, Oregon State and Stanford all ranked within the top five. These schools have proved that the road to the Pac-12 title runs through them, but the Sun Devils check into conference play as one of only two undefeated programs in the nation and could give them a run for their money.

With the talent all three possess, however, every matchup against them will feel like a playoff game.

Also ready to make a run at the postseason are Oregon, Washington and Arizona. All three schools are chocked full of talent and narrowly missed out on this week’s rankings, with Oregon being named the 30th-best program by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and both Washington and Arizona receiving votes.

While those teams might not be at the level UCLA, Oregon State and Stanford are, they will certainly prove to be a thorn in everyone’s side during conference play.

Cal seems to be the odd man out in the standings, but it is certainly talented enough to break into the postseason with strong conference play. Led by last season’s Golden Spikes award winner Andrew Vaughn, the Golden Bears have sputtered to an 8-6 record out of the gate.

But with a hitter like Vaughn – one who may may be selected within the first 10 picks of the 2019 MLB Draft – it’s tough to write them off as a non-threat.

Utah is already looking like an improved squad from their 2018 campaign where they went 2-13 going into Pac-12 play, hanging in with a 6-6 record to open this season. While they still have a long way to go to make it to a regional, they could be a spoiler team in conference play and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Rounding out the conference are USC and Washington State, both of which have gotten off to slow starts this year. The two schools are the only sub-.500 programs in the Pac-12 and already have 10 losses apiece this season. Unless they can turn it around in a tough conference, the road ahead is looking bleak for them.

More. ASU Baseball: Undefeated Devils begin Pac-12 play against Washington State. light

Much like Utah though, both squads can steal some important wins away from the top teams and just maybe make a Cinderella run at the Pac-12 title.