2016 NCAA Softball Tournament Overview

Sofball Tournament Overview
The field of 64 is set for the 2016 NCAA Women's Softball Tournament and the committee did a nice job of creating some intriguing Super Regional matchups. Florida was awarded the number one overall seed and rightfully so as they have been brilliant in the circle all season long. With a trio of pitchers the caliber of Aleshia Ocasio, Delanie Gourley, and Kelly Barnhill combining for a 0.90 earned run average the Gators are going to be tough to deal with in the postseason. Michigan, Oklahoma, and Auburn round out the top four seeds and all are very deserving of that honor without question. Things do get a little interesting starting at five with Oregon as they were paired with UCLA at 12. James Madison was rewarded with the number seven national seed and they did not get a SEC or Pac-12 team sent to them for their regional in Harrisonburg. This was a total cost saving move by the NCAA as it is very difficult to get to Harrisonburg, Virginia. Thus, paying for LSU to fly to Harrisonburg for a Super Regional made the most sense monetarily for the NCAA.
Two regionals involving seeds outside the top ten are the Lafayette Regional hosted by the number 14 seed Louisiana and the 15 seed Missouri. The Ragin Cajuns come into the NCAA Tournament playing very well.  With a passionate fan base supporting Louisiana and a healthy Lexie Elkins to lead an explosive lineup it is going to be a very tall task for Texas A&M and Texas to be able to find a way to advance on to the Super Regionals. It is going to take a tremendous effort offensively for both the Aggies and the Longhorns if either team is going to pull off an upset of the Ragin Cajuns.
Missouri is in an interesting state of mind heading into the NCAA Tournament. The players had been playing under protest against the athletic department administration as head coach Ehren Earleywine is being investigated for complaints about his style of coaching and other alleged concerns. This is a scenario for the Tigers that can go one of two ways this weekend in the Columbia Regional. If they lose to BYU on Thursday in the opener will Missouri give up and quit or will they fight for their coach and win a tough regional. It is going to be fascinating to watch this story unfold especially since coach Earleywine had publicly come out and asked for his players to stop with the protest and let the investigation proceed. Now, it is going to be up to the players to put this all behind them and move forward.
One unseeded team that many thought had a chance to get into the top 16 and host a regional was Baylor. The Bears are 43-12 on the season and despite coming in second place in the Big 12, they now have to go on the road to Eugene to deal with the Ducks. Baylor is a perfect case study as to why it is critical for teams to take care of business when they play teams outside of the top 150. The Bears lost three games to teams ranked below 150 in the RPI and they paid the price in a big way. It is going to be interesting to see how Baylor responds this weekend in front of what should be a very raucous crowd supporting Oregon at the new Jane Sanders Stadium.
Overall, look for the majority of the 16 hosts to move on to the Super Regionals but for a lot of these hosts it will not be as easy as one might think. The regionalization of this opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament is going to create highly competitive games with plenty of drama and the potential for several if necessary games on championship Sunday.