2015 Women's College World Series Breakdown

2015 Women’s College World Series Breakdown

The Southeastern Conference took care of business and got five teams to Oklahoma City, further illustrating that it’s the premier conference in college softball. But don’t think for one second that Oregon, Michigan and UCLA are going to lay down and not compete. All three non-SEC schools in the eight team field are more than capable of winning it all. In fact, it could be argued that whoever survives the bottom half of the bracket will be in the best position to win it all as Florida, Tennessee, Auburn and LSU are going to beat each other up and then some. Here is a quick look at the eight teams that will be battling it out in Oklahoma City starting on Thursday afternoon.


#1 Florida Gators

Florida has been absolutely brilliant in the circle during the postseason. They have yet to allow a single run to the opposition. Lauren Haeger was once again found a way to rise up and get the job done even when she did not have her best stuff on Sunday against Kentucky. When the Gators are on top of their game in all three phases, they are the clear cut best team in the sport. They have a run differential of plus 304 heading into the Women’s College World Series. Kelsey Stewart sets the tone at the plate who is hitting.448 along with Bailey Castro, Taylore Fuller, and Kristi Merritt who have combined for 39 homeruns, 138 runs batted in, and 20 stolen bases. This trio, along with Lauren Haeger, will make it very difficult to pitch around. Haeger has hit 16 homeruns on the season. For anyone to beat Florida it’s going to come down to execution offensively when you get those limited scoring chances against their pitching staff.


#2 Oregon Ducks

Oregon made very quick work of North Carolina State in the Super Regional after they finally got rolling against Wolfpack ace Emily Weiman. The Ducks were disciplined at the plate, which is going to serve them well in Oklahoma City as they are more than capable of winning the national championship. But they will have to execute and try not to score three or four runs on one swing of the bat. Cheridan Hawkins will have to do what she has done in the circle all year long and that is dominate the opposition. Hawkins is 30-3 with a 1.43 earned run average, with 269 strikeouts and only 50 walks. The offensive attack is deep as six players are hitting over .350 that play on a regular basis and three are hitting over .400. Jenna Lilley leads the way hitting .433 and Koral Costa paces a balanced power hitting attack with 15 homeruns. Oregon, without question. if they start fast in Oklahoma City can get to the Championship Series and win the national championship.


#3 Michigan Wolverines

The Wolverines are an intriguing team as their tough schedule early on in February paid serious dividends for them as the number three seed. They took Georgia’s best shot and stepped up when it counted to get back to the Women’s College World Series. Offensively, Michigan is loaded as Sierra Romero is hitting .472 with 21 homeruns and 80 runs driven in, and Kelly Cristner has hit 20 homeruns this season to pace an offense that has scored 515 runs heading into the Women’s College World Series. The matchup with Alabama will be an entertaining rematch from earlier in the season when the Wolverines beat the Crimson Tide twice down at the Easton Bama Bash back in February.


#4 Auburn Tigers

Auburn’s investment in Clint Myers as head coach paid off this season as they outlasted Louisiana-Lafayette in the Super Regional to punch their first ticket to Oklahoma City. The Tigers have a great mix of power and speed offensively that will test LSU in the opening round match-up. They will be looking for their third win against the Tigers this season. With five players hitting double-digit homeruns, led by Jade Rhodes with 19, this Auburn team is an opposing pitching coach’s nightmare to deal with every night. Emily Carosone is hitting .453 with 18 homeruns and 80 runs batted and sets the tone for one of the most entertaining offenses in college softball.


#5 LSU Tigers

LSU finally got some of their early season mojo back in the Super Regional against Arizona as they run-ruled the Wildcats in game one and scored ten runs in game two to move on to Oklahoma City. Now that the Tigers are back in the Women’s College World Series, they should be able to play loose and give Auburn a great battle in the opening round match up as both teams are evenly matched. LSU will be very aggressive offensively and they can beat you with their power, led by Sahvanna Jaquish and Bianka Bell who have hit 17 homeruns each. Landry Bailey is hitting .431 and A.J. Andrews controls things on the bases with her 25 stolen bases in 26 attempts. The wild card is going to be pitching and whether or not head coach Beth Torina can get strong performances in the circle from Carley Hoover and Allie Walljasper. If so, the Tigers could make a run to the Championship series.


#6 Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama had their backs against the wall in the Tuscaloosa Super Regional against Oklahoma as they were down 3-1 in the bottom of the 6th in Game three. Outfielder Marisa Runyon had been struggling at 0 for 8 in the Super Regional but she stepped up when it counted the most with a grand-slam homerun off Paige Parker. This ability to step up and get the clutch hit or make tremendous defensive plays like Haylie McCleney did against the Sooners is what championship programs like Alabama do. They find a way to get it done. The rematch against Michigan should provide plenty of motivation for the Crimson Tide to try and atone for the two losses at home to the Wolverines. If Alabama can get to the Sunday semifinals they will be difficult to knock out.


#7 UCLA Bruins

The Bruins finally return to Oklahoma City for the first since 2010 and head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez can exhale a little bit by getting that Super Regional monkey off her back. Ally Carda has been very strong in the circle as she is 31-6 with a 2.27 earned run average and has limited opponents to a .194 batting average. Allexis Bennett is leading UCLA with a .514 batting average and has great speed that could give Cheridan Hawkins and Oregon some issues in opening round on Thursday in Oklahoma City. Delaney Spaulding and Stephany LaRosa are a great 1-2 punch that has combined for 39 homeruns and will be difficult to slow down. If Ally Carda can dial up a performance against the Ducks like she had on April 3rd when she struck out 14 in an 8-1 win over Oregon then the Bruins will have a shot to pull the upset and go on a big run.


#8 Tennessee Volunteers

Tennessee has just gotten better and better as the postseason has gone along and they will not be intimidated by Florida since they did beat the Gators 2-1 in the SEC Conference Tournament Semifinals. The Lady Vols are loaded with power and have hit 99 homeruns. Taylor Koenig leads the way 17, followed by Annie Aldrete with 15. Pitching is going to be critical for Tennessee as Rainey Gaffin is going to have to be the workhorse if Erin Gabriel is not healthy. Gabriel left game two against Florida State due to an injury. If the Lady Vols can get some quality pitching in the circle, they will have a shot to upset Florida again. But it will not be easy.


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