Post WCWS: A Team-by-Team Performance Analysis
Well folks, the Women’s College World Series (WCWS) has come to an end, but not before leading the cable sports TV ratings for the last day of the series. With 78,072 fans attending, attendance this year was only 6 fans short of the WCWS record. The ratings and attendance marks should come as no surprise. Women's softball is – as everyone who watches knows – immensely entertaining. And for this particular WCWS, all eight teams showed up, ready to play (though some seemed like they forgot there was a national championship on the line by the time the game started).
This championship series was one for the books. Let's review some of the highlights (and for season stats, click on the links).
To start, there was the brief Cinderella Story in Georgia (led by senior Tina Losefa who hit 23 home runs this year with a 0.803 slugging average), a team that was not supposed to make it to the top eight, let alone win once they got there. They faced Florida State in the first game of the tournament and narrowly clenched a come-from-behind victory. Though they won that game, they would go on to lose the next two.
Florida State (led on offense by Alex Powers and Jessica Warren) though they lost their first game, would make it to the final four and give Auburn a run for their money. Although they put up a tough fight, they did end up losing to the eventual second-place team, but not before proving that they were a force to be reckoned with. With top-notch pitcher Jessica Burroughs (29-5 this year with a 1.86 ERA) having one more year, I do expect to see the Seminoles make it just as far, if not further, next year.
As far as UCLA goes, they had a disappointing showing in the final eight. In fact, the Pac-12 had a disappointing season all together. Usually they have a good showing, considering the conference as a whole has been to and won the tournament more times than any other conference. The Bruins, the only Pac-12 team to make it to the final eight, ended up going 0-2, the first time in the history of UCLA softball. To be honest, their team didn’t show up to either game, they made costly errors, and ultimately don’t have anyone to blame but themselves.
Auburn – led by Jade Rose and Kasey Cooper -- the fourth ranked team leading up to the tournament, ended up taking second place. Although Auburn lost, Tiffany Howard provided the highlight of the tournament when she robbed OU’s Shay Knighten of a potential two-run home run. She had the sports media in a flurry after her heroic catch over the fence. This team exceeded all of my expectations. As an Alabama fan, it is extremely difficult to root for the rival team, but Auburn proved that their first time in the championship series would not be their last. In fact, they made it to Oklahoma City last year for the first time in school history, then made it to the championship series this year. If their momentum continues, they will be the team to beat in the 2017 season.
But enough about Auburn. Let's talk Crimson Tide. Alabama gave a good showing and had a decent set of players, but just couldn’t keep up with the better caliber teams. They put up a good fight in every game, only losing because of one home run in their first game against Oklahoma, but could not get their bats going enough to outscore their opponents. I also attribute their losses to Sydney Littlejohn’s inability to play in the post-season. If the Crimson Tide didn’t have Alexis Osorio able to step up, they would have been out of the tournament a lot sooner.
Another team that had a decent showing but fell short of making a statement was LSU. They lost their first game in Oklahoma City, battled back to play for a spot in the championship series, but fell short. Their game play was decent, but it needed to be superb to beat the Sooners and their bats (despite LSU having excellent pitching).
Oklahoma would go on to be the national champions - a good sign for Patty Gasso and the crew, considering their team is based off of younger players, including star freshman Sydney Romero and sophomore pitcher Paige Parker. In fact, Parker would end up pitching all but one of Oklahoma’s games in the entire championship series. The one game that Oklahoma lost, game 2 of the championship series, was the one game she did not pitch. Oklahoma proved that their team is good young, and should only get better in the coming years.
Sydney Romero of Oklahoma had a great tournament, while her sister Sierra and the Michigan Wolverines did not. They lost to both Florida State and Oklahoma in two games that they should have won. In the Oklahoma game, which ended 7-5 for the Sooners, Coach Hutchins of Michigan struggled to keep the spirits high for her team. In fact, she was seen a few different times in the game huddling her team together, trying to light a fire underneath them. Despite all of her efforts, the Wolverines just did not look like themselves and exited the tournament earlier than anticipated.
Though some teams did not show up to play the way I thought they would, the entire World Series – as it is each year – was amazing. The WCWS topped the cable sports TV ratings by giving us rain delays, extra inning thrillers, and jaw dropping plays, all within the presence of a lively near-record-breaking crowd.
You can follow the author of this article on Twitter at @CamiMathews27.