Last June, the University of Washington won their first-ever Softball National Championship. They were led by junior pitcher Danielle Lawrie, who had also played for the Canadian National Team.
Who will come in first this year? Here is a look at how college softball season will go this year.
ACC - North Carolina
Florida State has long been the champion of the ACC and the only ACC team to make the tournament. In recent years, North Carolina has stepped up their game. This year they are led by senior pitcher Danielle Spaulding.
Big East - Louisville
This was a tough one to predict as DePaul is usually on top. Louisville has really improved these past couple of years, beating some top 20 teams. Senior pitcher/infielder Kisten Wadwell was a third-team All-American last year and will lead the team this year.
Big Ten - Michigan
The Big Ten is usually won by Michigan or Northwestern. With senior pitcher Nikki Nemitz and junior pitcher Jordan Taylor, this is Michigan's best tandem pitchers since Marissa Young and Nicole Motycka. Michigan is also senior-strong with Dorian Shaw, Maggie Veifhaus, Angela Findlay, and Roya St. Clair.
Big 12 - Oklahoma
Yes, Oklahoma lost Samantha Ricketts, but that is all they lost. They also gained Ricketts's little sister, pitcher Keilani. Sophomore pitcher Allee Allen got some great experience last year and senior Amber Flores has the potential to be Big 12 Player of the Year.
Pac -10 - Washington
This was a tough call, but Danielle Lawrie will take the Huskies on her back to eke out the Pac-10 Championship this year. Lawrie had a great season last year, but will have an even better one this year, as she does not have the support she did last year at the plate.
SEC - Alabama
Florida lost their No. 1 pitcher and will be tough, but Alabama has too many weapons returning from last year. Junior pitcher Kelsi Dunne leads the team, with support from senior Charlotte Morgan. Morgan is a high impact player.
Teams in the Tournament from each Conference
ACC - North Carolina, Florida State, Georgia Tech
Big East - Louisville, DePaul, Notre Dame
Big Ten - Michigan, Northwestern, Iowa, Penn State, Ohio State, Purdue
Big 12 - Oklahoma, Nebraska, Baylor, Missouri, Texas A&M
Pac-10 - Washington, Arizona, Arizona State, California, UCLA, Stanford, Oregon State
SEC - Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, LSU, Auburn, Kentucky, Arkansas
Super Regional Teams
10. North Carolina
12. Arizona State
Women's College World Series
This will be the year of the pitchers for the WCWS. Each team that will make it will be led by a great pitcher with a decent supporting class. The only exception is California.
Here are the teams that will make the WCWS, with their pitchers listed:
1. Washington - Danielle Lawrie
2. Alabama - Kelsi Dunne
3. Michigan - Nikki Nemitz, Jordan Taylor
4. Arizona - Sarah Akamine, Kenzie Fowler
5. Oklahoma - Allee Allen
6. Georgia - Sarah McCloud
7. DePaul - Becca Heteniak
8. California - Jolene Henderson
Five years ago, Michigan became the first National Championship east of the Mississippi. This year, the trophy will come back east.
DePaul will be one of the first teams eliminated in the WCWS. They have experience and a senior pitcher, but just not enough depth to win. Oklahoma will be out early, as they have the same problem as DePaul.
California and Georgia will each win a game, but be eliminated early. Cal has not been back in so long. They have a tough team, but just not tough enough. Georgia lost a few key players from last year, including their ace pitcher.
Washington's Lawrie cannot do it all on her own. They will be eliminated because teams will figure out Lawrie and she does not have the hitters to support her. Alabama just does not have the experience.
They will go far, but come up just short.
This leaves Michigan and Arizona. Arizona does not have the caliber pitchers they had when they won their National titles. They also lost three big hitters from last year in Sam Banister, Janae Leles, and Laine Roth.
Michigan has the best pitching combination in the country. Nemitz is a hard, come right after you pitcher with a killer riseball. She's also a lefty. Taylor is a righty, with a slower ball that moves. She has a killer dropball.
This combination, along with senior leadership, will bring the trophy back east.
Besides pitchers, who will be impact players in the WCWS this year?
Washington: Niki Williams, Jenn Salling, and all the freshmen
Alabama: Charlotte Morgan, Amanda Locke, Whitney Larson, Cassie Reilly-Boccia
Michigan: Dorian Shaw, Angela Findlay, Maggie Viefhaus, Amanda Chidester
Arizona: K'Lee Arrendondo, Stacie Chambers, Brittany Lastrapes, Lauren Schutzler
Oklahoma: Amber Flores, Haley Nix, Karolyne Long
Georgia: Alisa Goler, Kristyn Sandberg, Taylor Schlopy, Breanna Hesson, Megan Wiggins
DePaul: Lynsey Ciezki, Katelyn Braget
California: Elia Reid, Jamia Reid, Shannon Houston, Frani Echavarria
photo courtesy of mgoblue.com