What You'll See in OKC: Pre-Tourney Analysis of the NCAA Women's College World Series
The Women's College World Series -- the most watched of the College World Series (yes, women attract more viewers than men!) -- is set to begin on Thursday. Here is what you need to know before the first pitch!
There are eight teams left in the Women’s College World Series, all of which battled hard this last weekend to secure their spots in Oklahoma City. The number one seed (Florida) was knocked out, three teams won their series after being down their first game, and the SEC -- despite Florida's loss -- has a chance to rule the final four.
To start, the Georgia Bulldogs pulled off a huge upset against the Florida Gators, who were the two-time reigning champs. The Bulldogs were able to win their first two games in the series, increasing their overall record to 45-18 while knocking out the tournament’s number one competitor. Georgia utilized their senior pitcher, Chelsea Wilkinson, who was credited with wins in both games. Georgia will now play Florida State in Oklahoma City.
Though some teams like Georgia were able to eliminate their competition in two games, there were a few others who struggled in the first game, only to come back and win the next two. UCLA and Auburn, who play against each other this week, were both teams who had to battle back in games two and three. UCLA had a brutal loss in game one of their Super Regional, but came back to beat Oregon 2-1 in both game two and game three. Auburn faced the same struggle against Arizona, losing the first game 5-3 but coming back to win 4-1 and 6-1, respectively.
Alabama and Oklahoma, the next match-up, both came out of their Super Regionals without a loss, though it was not easy for either. Oklahoma breezed through game one against Louisiana-Lafayette, but narrowly escaped game two. Alabama went into extra innings in game one against Washington, pulled out the victory, and then finished it all off with a 5-2 victory in game two.
The final match-up of the eight teams will highlight Michigan and LSU. Michigan beat Missouri with hardly any scratches, while LSU forced a game three to get to the final eight. Both teams only won with narrow margins, including Michigan who had a seventh inning comeback in game two (scoring four runs in the 7th to win). Despite the struggles, both teams seem to be ready to face each other this week. It will take both teams’ bats and senior leadership to help crown either of them as champions.
As one can see, the four matchups all include an SEC team, meaning it is possible for the SEC to have four undefeated teams in the World Series.
For those unfamiliar with the Women's World Series, the tournament is set up with the eight teams, two brackets, and a double-elimination scenario. The eight teams are split up in two brackets. Each bracket will produce one winner, with either one or no losses, and then both of those teams will meet in the finals for a 3-game, winner take all series (if you need more explanation, feel free to visit the NCAA website for more information).
So now that we have our final eight, we can look ahead to the next week and the highlights that should be expected. To start, Michigan is now the highest ranked team and the one to beat in the World Series. With Coach Carol Hutchins and senior Sierra Romero leading the Wolverines, the LSU Tigers will have tough competition ahead of them. It should also be noted that if both Michigan and Oklahoma win their next game, they will play against each other, pitting the Romero sisters (yes, Sierra's sister Sydney plays for Oklahoma) against each other on the biggest stage in college softball.
Let me close with my favorite team. The Alabama Crimson Tide made it the World Series, but they definitely need to figure out their pitching scenario. Sydney Littlejohn struggled in the Super Regionals, relying on Alexis Osorio (who has yet to give up a run in the post-season) to enter and save the game. Between the two of them, Alabama should be able to continue their legacy and find success in their 11th trip to the World Series. At least, that's the outcome I will be rooting for!
You can follow the author of this article on Twitter at @CamiMathews27.