The NCAA Softball field has dwindled down from 64 teams to 16 in just one weekend of action.
And with the Super Regionals beginning Thursday, here is a recap of this past weekend's events.
16. Pac 10 is still the most dominant conference.
Oregon went in to the Georgia Tech Regional unranked. Georgia Tech boasted one of the top hitters in the country in Jen Yee and a No. 8 national ranking. Oregon was the lowest seeded team in the Pac 10.
They won in eight innings over Georgia Tech on Sunday to advance to the Super Regionals. The Ducks scored 11 runs on the weekend with two outs, proving they never give up.
15. Upsets still happen.
Without a doubt, the biggest story of the weekend was No. 7 Texas being eliminated at home. BYU beat Texas 9-8 on Saturday. Then, Texas lost to East Carolina.
BYU beat East Carolina 8-3 on Sunday to advance to their first Super Regional in school history. BYU has only been a Division I team for ten years.
14. Travel doesn't affect all teams.
The longest trip of the weekend belongs to No. 13 Arizona State, who went all the way to Amherst, Massachusetts for their Regionals. Some believed this was a diss, but that is what happens to teams that play almost 40 games at home.
The Sun Devils knocked off Boston University and Long Island twice en route to winning the Regional. They now travel to Florida to face the Gators.
13. Mercies happen, even in the Regionals.
The University of Michigan had 18 mercies in the regular season. That didn't stop them from dominating their regional. The Wolverines needed two days because of rain to mercy Wright State 11-2.
In the winner's bracket game, they mercied Notre Dame 8-0 in five innings. They faced Notre Dame in the Championship Game on Sunday, winning 12-2. While this wasn't a mercy, the score almost looks like it was. The Wolverines face a much tougher challenge when they host Tennessee.
12. 3-0 was the way to win the Regional.
Florida had arguably one of the easiest brackets. They faced all-natural Florida rivals and breezed through the bracket at 3-0.
The Gators beat Bethune-Cookman on Friday 6-0, Central Florida on Saturday 6-0, and mercied Florida International in the Regional Championship Game on Sunday 13-3. They face a tougher ASU team in the Supers.
11. No team is an easy win.
Arizona killed Cornell on Friday to advance to the winner's game on Saturday against Hofstra. They beat Hofstra 1-0, with Kinzie Fowler getting a one-hitter.
The Wildcats would face Hofstra again on Sunday for the Regional Championship. This time, they had a much tougher go-around. It took 12 innings and a grand slam by Lini Koria to knock off Hofstra on Sunday.
10. If you keep them off the board, you will win.
No. 11 California is another team that had to travel across the country. They went to Ohio State. Cal beat Bucknell in the first game 10-0, with Jolene Henderson throwing a perfect game.
Cal beat Kentucky 1-0 on Saturday. Then, they pounced Ohio State 7-0 on Sunday to advance to the Super Regionals. The Golden Bears pitchers allowed only six hits all weekend and shutout all three opponents.
9. It's better to survive your regional than kill your opponents.
In arguably the toughest regional, Missouri survived all three games to advance to the next round. The Missouri Regional boasted Missouri with the No. 10 RPI, Illinois at 19, DePaul at 20, and Creighton at 83.
Missouri battled with all opponents in their three wins. The Tigers beat Creighton 3-2, Illinois 3-1, then Illinois again 4-2. None of their wins came easily and this will prepare them even more for the rest of the postseason.
8. Consistency is key.
Georgia has been pretty consistent all season - good hitting combined with good pitching. This weekend was no different. The Bulldogs used three pitchers to combine for 27 strikeouts in three games.
The hits were abundant, as the Bulldogs got 38 hits on the weekend. They beat Elon 10-4, Florida State 5-2, and Radford 8-1. They will need hitters as they face No. 11 California.
7. Upperclassmen are needed to lead in the postseason.
Lousiana-Lafayette surprised the country, coming out of the Baton Rouge Regional. They were led by Junior Gabriele Bridges who was named the Baton Rouge Regional Most Valuable Player. Bridges hit a 3-run homerun in the fourth on Sunday to boost the lead to 4-0 over Texas A&M. This would prove to be the winning hit.
The Ragin Cajuns also had help from Senior pitcher Brittany Cuevas. She had one earned run in two games and eleven strikeouts. Cuevas also caused the Aggies to run into 12 groundouts on Sunday.
6. Errors kill teams.
No 14 Oklahoma scored two unearned runs on Sunday against Fordham to advance to the Super Regionals. On Friday, Oklahoma also scored two unearned runs, but those proved not to matter because they run-ruled Syracuse.
The Sooners won 1-0 on Saturday against Fordham off a homerun. While this is not an error, some claim that it is a pitching error to give up a homerun. Washington will be much more solid than these teams when Oklahoma comes to town.
5. Freshman can learn to lead a team.
No. 15 Tennessee relied on the arm of freshman Ivy Renfroe for the weekend. She had solid hitting behind her, but had to lead the team in to the Supers.
Renfroe earned two victories, beating Ball State 5-0 and Virginia 11-2. The Championship Game against Louisville went in to extra innings. Renfroe was called off the bench to sit down the hitters in the ninth inning.
4. Walk-off homeruns create for dramatic endings.
Arguably another easy bracket, No. 5 UCLA needed a walk-off homerun to continue in the winner's bracket. Pac 10 Player of the Year Megan Langenfeld hit a walk-off on Saturday against San Diego State to boost the Bruins into the Championship Game.
The Bruins would beat Fresno State on Sunday 7-2 to advance to the Super Regionals. They host Louisiana-Lafayette.
3. Pitchers still dominate the game of softball.
No. 3 Washington has the best pitcher in the Pac 10 and maybe the entire country in Danielle Lawrie. What no one expected was that another pitcher in the Regional would have better numbers than Lawrie.
Washington's ace had 39 strikeouts in their three victories. The Huskies beat North Dakota State 3-0, North Carolina 1-0, then North Carolina again 2-1.
North Carolina's ace Danielle Spaulding had two no-hitters on the weekend, both against Nebraska. In her second no-hitter, she fanned 18 batters. Spaulding finished the weekend with 50 strikeouts.
2. But hitters still win games.
The best hitting team in the country is No. 16 Hawaii. They have 149 homeruns on the season, including the eight they hit in the Palo Alto Regional. Every starter except one has double-digit homerun totals.
Hawaii beat UC Davis 10-2, Stanford 6-3, and Texas Tech 7-1 en route to their Regional Championship. This will be a great Super Regional match-up of batter versus pitcher, as they face Kelsi Dunne and Alabama.
1. The title is Alabama's to lose.
No. 1 Alabama is just that—number one. They have been consistent all season and have really come on as of late, winning 27 in a row. Kelsi Dunne has been solid, taking charge of the team. She had 26 strikeouts in two regional games.
Alabama mercied Alcorn State 9-0, then beat Lipscomb twice, 5-2 and 6-0. They are firing on all cylinders. They even have speed on the basepaths. The Crimson Tide stole nine bases in three regional games. They are the team to beat.
Photo Courtesy of rolltide.com
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