Every year, eight softball teams travel to Oklahoma City for the Women's College World Series. Only one team east of the Mississippi River has won the National Championship. The University of Michigan won it back in 2005.
Will this be a year another team east of the Mississippi breaks through? Florida comes in to the scene ranked No. 1, but will they make it through?
Here are my predictions for how the teams will finish. I put a bracket at the end in case you don't know how the bracket works. Enjoy!
The University of Georgia has the youngest team in the bracket. They only have two seniors and no juniors. This inexperience spells disaster for them this year, but will help in the years to follow.
The Bulldogs will lose their opening game to Washington, then get eliminated by Arizona State.
Yes, the University of Arizona has one of the most prolific offenses this year. With well over 100 home runs, they broke the record this year. But, is this conceiving?
This year the Pac-10 has one of the worst groups of pitchers - they are not bad pitchers; however, they are not the caliber of Jennie Finch and Anjelica Selden.
While Arizona has a great offense, they have to hope they don't get outhit. This will happen against Florida. Arizona will lose the first game to Florida behind Stacey Nelson. They will then face Alabama and have trouble with Kelsey Dunne.
Arizona State is the defending National Champions. This year, however, they don't have five key players they had during their title run. The Sun Devils graduated the most important person in Katie Burkhardt.
Arizona State will win a game at the tournament, but have trouble. They are not the same team they were last year. Home runs and hits are down and the fielding is not as sharp.
The Sun Devils will lose their opening round to Missouri, eliminate Georgia, then lose to Michigan to get eliminated.
Missouri is the feel-good story of this year. They came in unranked and beat number two UCLA in Los Angeles to advance to the WCWS. Missouri has a tough team that never gives up—they have some of the biggest bats in the country.
The Tigers are led by a freshman pitcher, which will hurt them in their title run. The inexperience will cost them in the end.
The Tigers will beat Arizona State before losing to Washington. Then, they will face and get ousted by Alabama.
Alabama is led by Brittany Rogers and power hitter Charlotte Morgan. They have speed on the basepaths and are aggressive. Kelsey Dunne is coming off back-to-back no hitters against Jacksonville State.
Alabama also lacks experience in the WCWS. They face a tough hitting team in Michigan in the opening game. Michigan will beat Alabama. Alabama will then beat Arizona and Missouri in elimination games.
They will have to win two against Florida, but will lose the first one, sending Florida to the best-of-three championship series.
Michigan is coming off a Super Regional which saw them pummel Baylor. Dorian Shaw had three home runs on Friday and everyone hit on Saturday. Angela Findlay quietly hit two-for-six with three RBI against Baylor.
As far as pitching, this is one of the toughest duos in the country. Led by ace junior Nikki Nemitz with a 0.89 ERA, sophomore Jordan Taylor comes in with a 1.38 ERA. Both pitchers have experience playing on the road and under pressure.
Michigan will beat Alabama before losing to Florida. They will then beat Arizona State and Washington once before being eliminated by Washington. This will propel Washington to the championship series.
Washington is led by their junior pitcher and player of the year Danielle Lawrie. They have some good hitters and fielders. The Huskies will ride Lawrie as long as they can, which will be to the championship series.
They will face Florida and won't be enough to beat the Gators. Washington will start with wins against Georgia and Missouri. They will lose one game to Michigan before eliminating Michigan.
The Huskies will play the Gators in the best-of-three, winning one, but losing two.
Florida was basically untouchable this year, losing only three games. They have the experience needed to stay in the tough games and the team to back it up. The Gators have two outstanding pitchers who both have under 1.00 ERA.
They also have hitting. The Gators don't go down without a fight. They rarely strikeout, fighting off pitches until there is something near the zone. The Gators also have defense, ranking tied for second in fielding percentage.
The Gators will beat Arizona, Michigan, and Alabama on their way to the championship series. They will lose one to Washington, but win two for their first national title.
Thursday, May 28
Session 1 - Washington vs. Georgia at Noon
Game 2 - Missouri vs. Arizona State at 2 p.m.
Game 3 - Michigan vs. Alabama at 6 p.m
Game 4 - Arizona vs. Florida at 8 p.m.
Friday, May 29
Game 5 - Arizona State vs. Georgia at 6 p.m. (UGA eliminated)
Game 6 - Arizona vs. Alabama at 8 p.m. (Ariz eliminated)
Saturday, May 30
Game 7 - Washington vs. Missouri at 11 a.m.
Game 8 - Michigan vs. Florida at 1 p.m.
Game 9 - Arizona State vs. Michigan at 6 p.m. (ASU eliminated)
Game 10 - Alabama vs. Missouri at 8 p.m. (Miss eliminated)
Sunday, May 31
Game 11 - Michigan vs. Washington at Noon
Game 12 - Alabama vs. Florida at 2 p.m. (ALA eliminated)
Game 13 - Michigan vs. Washington at 6 p.m. (Mich eliminated)
Monday - Wednesday
Session 8 - Championship Series - Florida vs. Washington 7 p.m.
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