USA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City will host the granddaddy of college softball this weekend as eight teams will fight for college softball royalty and the right to call themselves national champions.
The eight participants are Arizona, Florida, Northwestern, Oregon State, Texas, UCLA, and two familiar faces and in-state powerhouses, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
The Wildcats (38-20) come out of the Pac 12 and are one of the three unseeded teams in the WCWS.
After legendary Mike Candrea retired and seven seniors, including home run hitter Jessie Harper everyone expected Arizona to have a down year. They were right for most of the season. The Wildcats were up and down all year and struggled in conference play finishing 8-16 overall.
Arizona proved they belonged when they went to Missouri and upset them in their regional and then went to Mississippi State and beat them in a super-regional to make it to the WCWS series and prove all the doubters wrong.
The Gators (48-17) are members of the SEC and are the 14th seed in WCWS.
Florida won their regional and then upset number three seed Virginia Tech to advance to the WCWS and are looking to win their first title since 2015.
At the plate, Florida is led by superstar Alabama transfer Skylar Wallace who leads the team in batting average, runs scored, OPS, and slugging percentage. She has postseason experience, and if Florida wins it all, she will be a big reason.
The Wildcats (45-11) are the first matchup for Oklahoma. They reside in the Big 10 and are making their third appearance in OKC under coaches Kate and Caryl Drohan and first since 2007. Former Sooner Graduate Michelle Gascoigne is also on the staff.
They are known as “the cardiac cats” around the country because of the close games they have been in and the number of comebacks they have completed.
They won their regional and then beat Arizona State in a grueling three-game super regional where they were down 5-0 and had to battle their way back.
The Wildcats are led by superstar pitcher Danielle Williams who has been a workhorse since she stepped foot on campus, and if the Wildcats want any chance to beat OU, she will have to find a way to stop the record setting sooner offense.
The Beavers (39-20) come out of the Pac 12, known for the last couple of years as the toughest conference in softball. This is only the second appearance in program history for Oregon State.
No one expected the Beavers to be in Oklahoma City at any point this season. It was not looking good heading into the postseason after a ten-game losing streak and getting swept three straight times in April.
It looked even worse when they lost to Tennessee in the regional and were one loss away from their season-ending. Still, they didn’t give up and beat Tennessee twice to advance to the super regional and then beat Stanford in the super regional to advance to OKC.
Oregon State is led by all-American pitcher Mariah Mazon who will try to shut down the Florida Gators in their first-round matchup.
The Longhorns (43-19-1) are making their first trip since 2013 and are the last Big 12 teams in the field of eight fighting for the title. They are also one of only two teams that beat the reigning champions and title favorites Oklahoma.
The Longhorns were unseeded coming into the postseason, so they had to travel to 13 seed Washington and win that regional, then travel to 4 seed Arkansas and beat them twice. After losing the first game in supers, they bounced back to win two in a row and punch their ticket to OKC.
Texas is led by the spark plug and four-time all-American Janae Jefferson, who does it all for them. She is the career leader in batting average and hits at Texas. If Texas wants to make a big run, it will be on the back of Jefferson.
UCLA (48-8) is one of the most dominant programs in college softball history and is making its seventh straight trip to the WCWS. The Bruins lead the nation with 12 NCAA championships and have been a college softball staple.
The Bruins lost one of the greatest players of all-time last year in Rachel Garcia, who played her final game against Oklahoma in the WCWS the previous year.
After losing a lot from last year and then losing Aaliyah Jordan for the rest of the season in a game against Texas early in the year, it looked like UCLA might not make it to OKC, but they proved everyone wrong and made it back again.
The tournament is double-elimination until the last two teams are standing, and they will battle it out in a winner-take-all best-of-three series. The first game will kick off on June 2nd at 11:00 pm central time, and the championship series will begin on June 8th.
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