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Michella Chester | NCAA.com | May 20, 2022

The 2022 NCAA softball regionals, previewed

The 2022 college softball regionals, previewed

The 2022 NCAA DI softball regionals are set. There are 64 teams competing for 16 spots in the super regionals — not an easy task. Here is a full preview of the regionals: 

FOLLOW ALONG: The bracket, schedule and more for the DI softball tournament

Norman Regional — May 20-22 at Norman, Oklahoma

The teams: No. 1 Oklahoma, Prairie View A&M, Texas A&M, Minnesota

  • Game 1: Minnesota (26-24-1) vs. Texas A&M (29-26) vs. —  5 p.m. Friday on ESPN2
  • Game 2: No. 1 seed Oklahoma* (49-2) vs. Prairie View A&M (20-28) — 7:30 p.m. Friday on ESPN+
  • Game 3: 2 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 winners
  • Game 4: 4:30 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 losers
  • Game 5: 7 p.m. Saturday between Game 4 winner and Game 3 loser
  • Game 6: 2 p.m. Sunday between Game 3 winner and Game 5 Winner
  • Game 7: 4:30 p.m. Sunday if necessary

What to watch for: If you're watching this regional, obviously you want to watch the No. 1 team in the nation in action. Sometimes their dominance is hard to believe. The question for the reigning champions in any sport is usually "can they repeat?" but for this team I think the question is, "Is anyone going to be able to beat them twice?" The Sooners lead the NCAA with a 0.81 team ERA, led by Jordy Bahl, who hopefully will have a healthy return in the tournament, and Hope Trautwein in the circle. Then there is an offense of your worst nightmares, with Jocelyn Alo, the home run queen, and you can't forget Tiare Jennings, Grace Lyons, Rylie Boone, Jayda Coleman, etc. Go up and down that lineup and they are all THAT good. They will likely, given there are no unforeseen circumstances or miraculous upsets, advance to the super regionals. But that's not to discredit the talent of the other teams. Watch out for Texas A&M, led by Haley Lee. The Aggies pulled off some big upsets of their own this season with a series win over Alabama. Minnesota is led by Natalie DenHartog — they have already played OU this year, so should have a good idea of what to expect. They too pulled off a series win upset over Northwestern at the end of the season. 

Orlando Regional — May 20-22 at Orlando, Florida

The teams: No. 16 UCF, Michigan, Villanova, South Dakota State

  • Game 1: South Dakota St. (40-11) vs. Michigan (36-16) — 3:30 p.m. Friday on ESPN+
  • Game 2: Villanova (32-22) vs. No. 16 seed UCF* (46-12)  — 6 p.m. Friday on ESPN+
  • Game 3: 11 a.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 winners
  • Game 4: 1:30 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 losers
  • Game 5: 4 p.m. Saturday between Game 4 winner and Game 3 loser
  • Game 6: 2 p.m. Sunday between Game 3 winner and Game 5 Winner

What to watch for: UCF is hosting a regional for the first time in program history. Out of the top 16 national seeds, UCF is the only team that was seeded outside of the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12. They had a great regular season, played a tough schedule and deserve this seeding. They have the wins over tough opponents to show for it. They won two out of three against Wichita State, took one game from Virginia Tech, the No. 3 seed, beat Nebraska, Texas and Georgia this season. Jada Cody leads the offense with a .369 average and 12 homers, and Gianna Mancha throws a lot of innings for the Knights with a 1.73 ERA. 

What I'd really want to watch out for here in this regional, though, is Michigan. The Wolverines entered the season with high expectations in the Big Ten with two incredible pitchers in Alex Storako and Meghan Beaubien. Storako ranks in the top 10 in the NCAA in strikeouts with 284 Ks on the year. She also boasts a 1.69 ERA, so this team's strongest asset is in the circle. But even more interestingly, Michigan and UCF already played this season, and the Wolverines walked away with a 6-0 victory. Storako got the win in the circle, shutting out the Knights at the St. Pete's Clearwater Classic. She struck out seven batters and allowed just three hits and two walks. Granted, this matchup was pretty early in the season in February. But we could see this rematch in the regionals, and this time it will be on UCF's home field and with UCF as the seeded team. The Knights got the No. 16 seed, but will now have to prove themselves over a team they lost to earlier this year. 

MORE PREVIEW: 1 thing to know about every team in the tournament

Evanston Regional — May 20-22 at Evanston, Illinois

Teams: No. 9 Northwestern, Oakland, Notre Dame, McNeese

  • Game 1: Notre Dame (39-10) vs. McNeese (38-19) — 2 p.m. Friday on ESPN+
  • Game 2: No. 9 seed Northwestern* (40-10) vs. Oakland (26-15) — 4:30 p.m. Friday on ESPN+
  • Game 3: 1 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 winners
  • Game 4: 3:30 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 losers
  • Game 5: 6 p.m. Saturday between Game 4 winner and Game 3 loser
  • Game 6: 4 p.m. Sunday between Game 3 winner and Game 5 Winner
  • Game 7: 6:30 p.m. Sunday if necessary

What to watch for: Northwestern will host this regional as the No. 9 seed after finishing on top of the Big Ten. Two big players to watch out for on the Wildcats are Danielle Williams, the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year, and Rachel Lewis, the Big Ten Player of the Year. Williams has a 1.53 ERA with 287 strikeouts which ranks in the top 10 in the NCAA, so she will be a lot for anyone to handle in this regional. Lewis smashed 20 homers this season and slugged over .800 with 52 RBI and an average above .350 at the plate. 

Notre Dame, though, could be the team to watch out for. They have some big wins this season with victories over Duke, LSU and Texas. And get this...they have a win over Northwestern. So yet again, we could have a rematch on our hands where the previous losing team from the regular season matchup now has the home-field advantage in the regionals and a national seed. Northwestern was Notre Dame's highest-ranked win on the season. Payton Tidd threw a complete game for the Irish in the win and lead-off hitter Leea Hanks finished 2 for 4 with the game-winning RBI and a double. Karina Gaskins typically leads the Irish with a .434 average with 13 homers to go along with it and an .822 slugging percentage. 

Tempe Regional — May 20-22 at Tempe, Arizona

The teams: No. 8 Arizona State, Cal State Fullerton, LSU, San Diego State

  • Game 1: LSU (34-21) vs. San Diego State (37-14) — 8 p.m. Friday on ESPNU
  • Game 2: Cal State Fullerton (36-20) vs. No. 8 seed Arizona State* (39-9) — 10:30 p.m. Friday on ESPN+
  • Game 3: 5 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 winners
  • Game 4: 7:30 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 losers
  • Game 5: 10 p.m. Saturday between Game 4 winner and Game 3 loser
  • Game 6: 6 p.m. Sunday between Game 3 winner and Game 5 Winner
  • Game 7: 8:30 p.m. Sunday if necessary

What to watch for:  If I had to pick one regional to watch out of them all, this would be my choice. This Regional is SO tough. Arizona State did everything they could this year, they even won the Pac-12 title and ended the season with series wins over Washington AND UCLA. But they received the No. 8 seed in the tournament and will host some really tough teams here. If there is a player to watch on ASU, it is Cydney Sanders. Sanders has been phenomenal all season long for the Sun Devils, leading them at the plate with a .417 average. ASU went on a 20-game winning streak this season, and during that time Sanders smashed nine home runs. She hit two bombs off of Washington's Gabbie Plain and won Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. So obviously, just a freshman, so I am excited to see how she performs on the big stage. 

LSU is not a team I would want to play in the regionals. No matter how many losses they have this season, they still have players like Taylor Pleasants and Georgia Clark, and they can be dangerous at any time. Especially if they get hot. This team has some serious upset potential. Then, there is San Diego State. Home of Mac Barbara, another freshman that burst onto the scene this season. She was already named the Mountain West Player of the Year, and is batting .395 on the season with 15 home runs, 56 RBI, 29 runs, 14 doubles, 33 walks and six stolen bases for a .783 slugging percentage. And then... don't forget about Cal State Fullerton, because guess what? The Titans played San Diego State earlier this season at the Mary Nutter Classic where they defeated them 7-3. 

Not one of these teams is an easy out, and it is going to make for one intriguing regional in Tempe. 

Los Angeles Regional — May 20-22 at Los Angeles, California

The teams: No. 5 UCLA, Grand Canyon, Ole Miss, Loyola Marymount

  • Game 1: Ole Miss (39-17) vs. Loyola Marymount University (36-15) — 7:30 p.m. Friday on ESPN+
  • Game 2: Grand Canyon (38-14) vs. No. 5 seed UCLA* (43-8)  — 10 p.m. Friday on ESPN+
  • Game 3: 5 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 winners
  • Game 4: 7:30 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 losers
  • Game 5: 10 p.m. Saturday between Game 4 winner and Game 3 loser
  • Game 6: 7 p.m. Sunday between Game 3 winner and Game 5 Winner
  • Game 7: 8:30 p.m. Sunday if necessary

What to watch for: The Bruins are a very large favorite of course in this regional. UCLA is led in the circle by Megan Faraimo, who missed out on the WCWS last season due to injury. She has 252 strikeouts with a 1.75 ERA. Briana Perez, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, is a seasoned vet and leader on this team who sports a .397 average with 10 homers. Top to bottom this lineup is consistent and experienced, but not bullet proof. Almost all of their eight losses are to ranked, tough opponents. There were only a few uncharacteristic losses where they failed to put up runs. If they can play their best, they should be smooth sailing. 

Grand Canyon is headed to the NCAA postseason for the first time in history, so it will be exciting to watch their debut, and LMU is making its third-ever appearance. And don't ever count out Ole Miss. The Rebels pulled off a series sweep over Missouri this season, and won two out of three against Tennessee and Georgia. Those are some big wins over really good softball teams. 

Durham Regional — May 20-22 at Durham, North Carolina

The teams: No. 12 Duke, Georgia, Liberty, UMBC

  • Game 1: Liberty (43-16) vs. Georgia (40-16) — Noon on Friday on ESPNU
  • Game 2: University of Maryland, Baltimore County (31-10) vs. No. 12 seed Duke* (41-8) — 2:30 p.m. Friday on ESPN+
  • Game 3: 1 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 winners
  • Game 4: 3:30 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 losers
  • Game 5: 6 p.m. Saturday between Game 4 winner and Game 3 loser
  • Game 6: 2 p.m. Sunday between Game 3 winner and Game 5 Winner
  • Game 7: 4:30 p.m. Sunday if necessary

What to watch for: The biggest storyline here is the rematch between Duke and Georgia. Last season, Duke was awarded a national seeding, but they still had to travel to Athens where UGA hosted the regional. The Dawgs ended up upsetting Duke to head to the super regionals to face Florida, and then advancing to the Women's College World Series. This year, they are paired in the same regional yet again. Duke is still the national seed, but this time they will host in Durham. Will the outcome switch this year? The Blue Devils have had a fantastic season in the ACC with a 41-8 overall record. Peyton St. George is an important name to know in the circle. She anchors their pitching staff with a 2.02 ERA and 171 strikeouts. But, she will likely go up against a powerful Georgia offense. The Dawgs are led offensively by Sara Mosley, who has a .430 average and 17 home runs this season. This Georgia team has a lot of power at the plate to watch out for ... SIX players have double-digit homers heading into the postseason. 

Liberty and UMBC will be interesting teams to watch as well. For one, UMBC has Courtney Coppersmith and Kya Matter. Coppersmith ranks second in the NCAA with a 0.26 ERA. Matter is in the top 10 as well with a 0.98 ERA. The two pitchers split time and have 107 innings pitched a piece this season. I am excited to see them against tough competition in Duke to open the regional. 

Then to make matters even MORE interesting, the Blue Devils were Liberty's best win of the season. The Flames beat the Blue Devils 8-3 on April 20, and Mary Claire Wilson went 3 for 3 in the win. They did it once and can do it again. Anything can happen here. 

Seattle Regional — May 20-22 at Seattle, Washington

The teams: No. 13 Washington, Weber State, Texas, Lehigh

  • Game 1: Weber State (38-10) vs. Texas (38-17-1) — 5:30 p.m. Friday on Longhorn Network
  • Game 2: Lehigh (30-18-1) vs. No. 13 seed Washington* — 8 p.m. Friday on ESPN+
  • Game 3: 5 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 winners
  • Game 4: 7:30 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 losers
  • Game 5: 10 p.m. Saturday between Game 4 winner and Game 3 loser
  • Game 6: 6 p.m. Sunday between Game 3 winner and Game 5 Winner
  • Game 7: 8:30 p.m. Sunday if necessary

What to watch for: Pac-12 Player of the Year Baylee Klingler leads the Huskies. She has had a monster season for the Huskies, hitting .433 with 22 home runs, 65 RBI and a .955 slugging percentage. Those numbers are pretty crazy, and she is the kind of player that can make headlines and take over a game. On top of that, Gabbie Plain is in the circle and has been one of the best pitchers in the NCAA for the past few years. Plain sports a 2.02 ERA but has been on fire late in the season.

They will have Texas to deal with. The Longhorns might have 17 losses this season, but they are no stranger to tough competition. They were right on the verge of a seeding to host a regional, and the first thing to know about the Longhorns is that they were the first (and just one of two teams) to beat Oklahoma this season. The Sooners were undefeated and in the midst of a historical start when the Longhorns defeated them on April 16. This shows just what they are capable of when it all comes together. Hailey Dolcini is the name to know in the circle. She has been so clutch this season and in the win over OU, she limited the Sooners to just two hits, marking the fewest hits for the nation's No. 1-ranked offense this season. 

PREDICTIONS: D1Softball's predictions for the WCWS

Fayetteville Regional — May 20-22 at Fayetteville, Arkansas

The teams: No. 4 Arkansas, Princeton, Oregon, Wichita State

  • Game 1: Princeton (27-15-2) vs. No. 4 seed Arkansas* (44-9) — 6 p.m. Friday on SEC Network
  • Game 2: Oregon (31-17) vs. Wichita State (33-16) — 8:30 p.m. on ESPN+
  • Game 3: 2 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 winners
  • Game 4: 4:30 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 losers
  • Game 5: 7 p.m. Saturday between Game 4 winner and Game 3 loser
  • Game 6: 2 p.m. Sunday between Game 3 winner and Game 5 Winner
  • Game 7: 4:30 p.m. Sunday if necessary

What to watch for: I am so excited to watch this Arkansas team in the regionals. The Razorbacks backed up their regular season SEC crown with the program’s first-ever SEC tournament title. There are a lot of players to know when watching the Razorbacks, too. Chenise Delce is their ace, who also won SEC Pitcher of the Year. KB Sides took home SEC Player of the Year after hitting .453 with 10 bombs. Danielle Gibson and Linnie Malkin are two more names to know — 10 homers apiece — and then you can't forget they have the SEC Coach of the Year Courtney Deifel, too. Every year the Razorbacks seem to add another piece as they get better and better and further cement themselves as a national power. 

They will have some fun teams to face with Princeton, Oregon and Wichita State coming to town. The Shockers have some impressive stats. Sydney McKinney leads the entire NCAA in batting average, while Addison Barnard leads the nation in home runs. Their offense has put up ridiculous numbers all season long, so I am excited to see them against this tough competition. Oregon is another one of those teams that racked up a large number of losses but can absolutely be a threat for an upset. 

Blacksburg Regional — May 20-22 at Blacksburg, Virginia

The teams: No. 3 Virginia Tech, Miami (OH), Saint Francis, Kentucky

  • Game 1: Saint Francis (Pennsylvania) (37-16)  vs. No. 3 seed Virginia Tech* (41-7) — 2 p.m. Friday on ACC Network
  • Game 2: Miami (OH) (39-15-1) vs. Kentucky (35-17) —4:30 p.m. Friday on ESPN+
  • Game 3: 3 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 winners
  • Game 4: 5:30 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 losers
  • Game 5: 8 p.m. Saturday between Game 4 winner and Game 3 loser
  • Game 6: Noon Sunday between Game 3 winner and Game 5 Winner
  • Game 7: 2:30 p.m. Sunday if necessary

What to watch out for: The No. 3 Hokies will be hosting a regional for the first time in program history. This team gave UCLA a run for it in the Los Angeles Regional last season, and they were just missing a few key pieces — another arm to help out Keely Rochard and some more offense. This year, they have both. Emma Lemley provided that help in the circle and has been phenomenal all season and the offense has been great, led by Emma Ritter hitting over .400. Rochard is the player to watch though, and she is in her last season at Virginia Tech. She has 293 strikeouts, which ranks in the top five in the NCAA, and a 1.73 ERA. 

Miami (Ohio), Kentucky and Saint Francis will play in this regional, which brings up some interesting storylines. Miami has already played two teams in the regional — Virginia Tech and Kentucky. They fell to the Hokies, but pulled off a big-time upset over the Wildcats, 7-5, on March 16. Another thing to know about Miami is Karli Spaid. She is second in the nation with 27 home runs.

The Wildcats are a strong team out of the SEC and there are at least two big names you should know: Kayla Kowalik and Erin Coffel. Both are having monster seasons at the plate, hitting above .400. Coffel has smashed 17 homers, too. 

Gainesville Regional — May 20-22 at Gainesville, Florida

The teams: No. 14 Florida, Wisconsin, Georgia Tech and Canisius

  • Game 1: Wisconsin (28-19) vs. Georgia Tech (37-16) — 2 p.m. Friday on ESPNU
  • Game 2:  Canisius (32-16)  vs. No. 14 seed Florida* (43-16)  — 4:30 p.m. Friday on ESPN+
  • Game 3: 3 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 winners
  • Game 4: 5:30 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 losers
  • Game 5: 8 p.m. Saturday between Game 4 winner and Game 3 loser
  • Game 6: Noon Sunday between Game 3 winner and Game 5 Winner
  • Game 7: 2:30 p.m. Sunday if necessary

What to watch for: The Florida Gators have hosted a regional for 17 consecutive tournaments, but this is the first time history that they will do it as the No. 14 seed. Kendra Falby has stood out for the Gators as just a freshman, so she will be a big name to watch. Hannah Adams, one of the leaders on the team, was out for a little while due to injury, but is back in the lineup ahead of the tournament. 

The Badgers could present a challenge for the Gators, given that they have secured some big wins this season, with a series win over Nebraska and an eight-inning win over Clemson. They took down Minnesota before they lost to Northwestern in the Big Ten conference tournament. A name to know on the Badgers is Kayla Konwent. She won 2019 Big Ten Player of the Year leads the offense with a .377 average and 10 home runs.  

Knoxville Regional — May 20-22 at Knoxville, Tennessee

The teams: No. 11 Tennessee, Oregon State, Campbell, Ohio State

  • Game 1: Oregon State (33-19) vs. Ohio State (35-15) — 4 p.m. Friday on ESPNU
  • Game 2: Campbell (37-17) vs. No. 11 seed Tennessee* (39-16) — 6:30 p.m. Friday on ESPN+
  • Game 3: Noon Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 winners
  • Game 4: 2:30 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 losers
  • Game 5: 5 p.m. Saturday between Game 4 winner and Game 3 loser
  • Game 6: 2 p.m. Sunday between Game 3 winner and Game 5 Winner
  • Game 7: 4:30 p.m. Sunday if necessary

What to watch for: The Vols have the No. 12 RPI from what was a really tough schedule this season. They played FSU, Washington, Clemson, UCLA, UCF and UCLA outside of the SEC, so they should be prepared for some tough competition in the tournament. This team has some power at the plate with five players already in double-digits in the home run column. Watch out for Kiki Milloy, who leads with a .355 average and 14 bombs. 

But Oregon State actually took down Tennessee, the host of this regional, at the Mary Nutter Classic earlier in the season. Mariah Mazon led the way in the 5-2 win. She threw the complete game and surrendered just five hits and struck out 11 against the ranked Vols as Oregon State had an undefeated weekend at the Mary Nutter Classic. At one point during the season, they were on a 17-game win streak, but the Beavers struggled late in the season against UCLA, Washington and Oregon. 

Tuscaloosa Regional — May 20-22 at Tuscaloosa, Alabama

The teams: No. 6 Alabama, Chattanooga, Murray State, Stanford

  • Game 1: vs. Chattanooga (29-25)  vs. No. 6 seed Alabama* (41-11)— 4 p.m. Friday on SEC Network
  • Game 2: Murray State (40-16-1) vs. Stanford (36-19)  — 6:30 p.m. Friday on ESPN+
  • Game 3: 3 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 winners
  • Game 4: 5:30 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 losers
  • Game 5: 8 p.m. Saturday between Game 4 winner and Game 3 loser
  • Game 6: 2 p.m. Sunday between Game 3 winner and Game 5 Winner
  • Game 7: 4:30 p.m. Sunday if necessary

What to watch for:  The Crimson Tide are led by Montana Fouts — a name that college softball fans have come to know all across the country. She is THE player to watch and can completely control this regional if she is on her game. Fouts threw a perfect game at the WCWS last season, and leads Bama this year with a 1.93 ERA and 259 Ks. The Tide have gotten great production out of the freshmen in their lineup, especially from Dallis Goodnight and Megan Bloodworth, so it will be fun to watch out they play on the big tournament stage. 

Stanford is headed to Tuscaloosa and the Cardinal should not be ignored. They finished fourth in the Pac-12, which is its highest finish within the conference since 2013. But what I am really paying attention to is the fact that they have won six games against national seeds this season, including five against teams in the top eight. An upset should never be ruled out. 

Also, watch out for Murray State in its NCAA tournament debut!

Stillwater Regional — May 20-22 at Stillwater, Oklahoma

The teams: No. 7 Oklahoma State, North Texas, Nebraska, Fordham

  • Game 1: North Texas (35-14) vs. Nebraska (40-14) — 6 p.m. Friday on ESPN+
  • Game 2: Fordham (30-20) vs. No. 7 seed Oklahoma State* (41-12) — 8:30 p.m. Friday on ESPN+
  • Game 3: 2 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 winners
  • Game 4: 4:30 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 losers
  • Game 5: 7 p.m. Saturday between Game 4 winner and Game 3 loser
  • Game 6: 4 p.m. Sunday between Game 3 winner and Game 5 Winner
  • Game 7: 6:30 p.m. Sunday if necessary

The teams: No. 7 Oklahoma State, North Texas, Nebraska, Fordham

What to watch for: The Oklahoma State Cowgirls have something that only one other team in the tournament has ... a win over Oklahoma. After getting swept by the Sooners in the Bedlam series, they took down OU for the Big 12 title. It was the Cowgirls' first Big 12 title in program history. That shows what they are capable of, and they are used to the best of the best competition. On top of that, they have Kelly Maxwell and Miranda Elish in the circle. Maxwell sports a 1.32 ERA and has struck out over 200 this season. Secondly, this team hits for power. Sydney Pennington, Julia Cottrill and Cheyenne Factor have 10 homers apiece. This is a well-rounded team with premiere level talent and they should be the clear favorite to make it out of this regional. 

Nebraska will likely be the toughest test in the regional for the Cowgirls. The Huskers won the 2022 Big Ten conference championship with a win over Michigan in eight innings. The win marked the Huskers' first Big Ten tournament title since joining the conference. Billie Andrews has hit 19 balls over the fence this season for the Huskers. 

Clemson Regional — May 20-22 at Clemson, South Carolina

The teams: No. 10 Clemson, UNCW, Louisiana, Auburn

  • Game 1: UNCW (32-13) vs. No. 10 seed Clemson* (39-15) — Noon on Friday on ACC Network
  • Game 2: University of Louisiana at Lafayette (45-11) vs. Auburn (39-15) — 2:30 p.m. Friday on ESPN+
  • Game 3: 1 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 winners
  • Game 4: 3:30 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 losers
  • Game 5: 6 p.m. Saturday between Game 4 winner and Game 3 loser
  • Game 6: Noon Sunday between Game 3 winner and Game 5 Winner
  • Game 7: 2:30 p.m. Sunday if necessary

What to watch for: This should be a fun regional to watch. Clemson earned the No. 10 seed and will host its first regional in just its third season in existence. That is insane, if you ask me, for a team to excel so quickly to this level. Hats off to Clemson. Watch out for Valerie Cagle. She is a two-way player for the Tigers — and a good one at that. 

Louisiana could be a team capable of an upset. I asked D1Softball's Tara Henry to pick one surprise team to make it to the WCWS after seeing the bracket and she picked Louisiana. This offense has the second best batting average in the nation as a team. On top of that, they are heading into the tournament on a hot streak. They are in the midst of a 13-game winning streak and they have won 22 of the past 23 games since April 8. 

Auburn is not a team to count out either, nor is any SEC team. They are used to high-caliber competition day in and day out. Plus, they have the SEC Freshman of the Year. Bri Ellis took home the award after blasting 18 home runs in the regular season, slugging .757, and knocking in 45 runs all while hitting .300. 

UNCW will be making its NCAA tournament debut. The Seahawks are known for their small ball — relying heavily all season long on the short game and stolen bases. They were 9 for 9 in stolen bases in the conference tournament. 

Columbia Regional — May 20-22 at Columbia, Missouri

The teams: No. 15 Missouri, Missouri State, Arizona, Illinois

  • Game 1: Missouri State (27-18) vs. No. 15 seed Missouri* (32-14) — 2 p.m. Friday on SEC Network
  • Game 2: Arizona (33-20) vs. Illinois (34-20) — 4:30 p.m. Friday on ESPN+
  • Game 3: 2:30 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 winners
  • Game 4: 5 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 losers
  • Game 5: 7:30 p.m. Saturday between Game 4 winner and Game 3 loser
  • Game 6: 4 p.m. Sunday between Game 3 winner and Game 5 Winner
  • Game 7: 6:30 p.m. Sunday if necessary

What to watch for: There were high expectations for the Tigers this season, but they had somewhat of a rocky start before going on a hot streak to close out the season. The Tigers took down Auburn, Alabama and Tennessee in the SEC tournament before falling to Arkansas in the championship. I will be very interested in seeing if this Tiger hot streak continues into the tournament. This Missouri team also brings a lot of experience, with almost all the same players as last year's tournament team. You might remember, Jordan Weber threw a no-no in last year's tournament. Watch out for performances like that again. 

Arizona comes in as a possible challenger. This postseason appearance marks Arizona's 35th straight selection. They picked up an at-large bid from the NCAA committee with a 33-20 regular-season record this year under first-year head coach Caitlin Lowe. It was an off season compared to their usual in the past, but could come up big in the postseason. Sophomore Allie Skaggs is the Pac-12's co-leader in home runs with 22 homers this season. This offense ranks in the top 10 in batting average as a team, as well, so watch out for the Wildcats. 

Tallahassee Regional — May 20-22 at Tallahassee, Florida

The teams: No. 2 Florida State, Howard, South Florida, Mississippi State

  • Game 1: South Florida (44-14) vs. Mississippi State (33-24) — 6 p.m. Friday on ESPNU
  • Game 2: Howard (31-22) vs. No. 2 seed Florida St.* (52-5) — 8:30 p.m. Friday on ESPN+
  • Game 3: 1 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 winners
  • Game 4: 3:30 p.m. Saturday between Game 1 and Game 2 losers
  • Game 5: 6 p.m. Saturday between Game 4 winner and Game 3 loser
  • Game 6: 4 p.m. Sunday between Game 3 winner and Game 5 Winner
  • Game 7: 6:30 p.m. Sunday if necessary

What to watch for: Last but not least, a great Regional to watch. First of all, the FSU Seminoles are incredibly fun to watch. They will be on a mission to make it back to the WCWS title series this year, and they have shown all season long that they can do it. This is a team that knows how to win, and claws out wins against tough, ranked competition left and right in clutch moments. A bunch of clutch hitters combined and then Kathryn Sandercock leading them in the circle. They pull some power from Kalei Harding and Michaela Edenfield, as well. Edenfield is a big player to watch behind the dish, she has been a special addition to this team this year. They have been consistent all season long and are a heavy favorite for the WCWS this year. 

But there is one other HUGE storyline to watch in this Regional — USF's Georgina Corrick. That name will go down in not only USF but NCAA softball history books as one of the most dominant pitchers. She leads the NCAA with 407 strikeouts. That is 50 MORE than the next pitcher to put it into perspective, Keely Rochard is fourth in strikeouts with 293, and we thought that was high. The four-time AAC Pitcher of the Year tossed two perfect games and no-hitter this season. This will be her last NCAA tournament, so you wont want to miss her performances in the circle for South Florida. 

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