Softball WCWS Opening Round Breakdowns

This is going to be fun one to kickoff the festivities on Thursday afternoon. Florida State has been on point in the circle so in the postseason. Meghan King only needed 72 pitches to throw a complete game shutout in game two of their Super Regional against Utah, which punched their ticket to Oklahoma City. Florida State has a great mix of power, led by Jessica Warren and Alex Powers, along with the speed of Morgan Kleaveman, who has 50 stolen bases in 55 attempts. They are going to apply plenty of pressure to Chelsea Wilkinson and the Georgia defense all game long and that is going to be key for them to win and advance on to the Friday night winner’s bracket matchup. The Bulldogs masterfully executed their game plan across the board as they eliminated the Florida Gators in two games. Kaylee Puailoa’s two-run homerun in the bottom of the seventh inning in game two was the difference for Georgia as they avoided the winner take all third game with Florida. If Chelsea Wilkinson can replicate what she did against a powerful Seminoles lineup then Georgia will have a great chance to win. Overall, this should be a fairly tight one or two run game with plenty of dramatic twists.
#4 Auburn vs. #12 UCLA
Auburn showed great resolve in the Super Regionals. Arizona took it to the Tigers in game one to put them in a must-win situation on Sunday in order to get back to the Women’s College World Series. Mission accomplished as Auburn did not panic and beat the Wildcats twice on Sunday by scores of 4-1 and 6-1. The tandem of Kasey Cooper and Emily Carosone lead a very deep lineup that can torch opposing pitching at any moment. Combine that with some rock solid pitching, and the Tigers are going to be a serious threat to win any game in this Women’s College World Series. UCLA is back in the Women’s College World Series after winning two straight games on Sunday to eliminate conference rival Oregon in Eugene. The Bruins have the ability to get into a slugfest with Auburn like they did last year when these two teams scored 21 runs in one of the most dramatic games in Women’s College World Series history. Seniors Allexis Bennett and Mysha Sataraka are going to lead a confident offensive attack into the battle with the Tigers. If the Bruins can pitch like they did in Eugene, they are going to be dangerous in this tournament.
#3 Oklahoma vs. #6 Alabama
This will be the second meeting of the season between these two teams. Oklahoma won the first matchup in Fullerton, California when Shay Knighten hit a walk-off homerun that gave the Sooners a 2-0 win over the Crimson Tide. Oklahoma is on fire right now, having won 27 games in a row. They have an ace in Paige Parker that will be tough for Alabama to deal with. Offensively, the Sooners were dominant in the Super Regionals against Louisiana-Lafayette and they hit .394 as a team to go along with a .403 on-base percentage. This type of discipline at the plate will serve them well if they have to face Alexis Osorio on Thursday night. Alabama won two hard-fought games against Washington to return to Oklahoma City. The Crimson Tide can come at you in a lot of different ways offensively. Outfielder Haylie McCleney is hitting .441 and has an on-base percentage of .600. She sets the tone for the rest of the offense. Leona Lafaele and Reagan Dykes are the primary power sources for Alabama as they have combined for 27 homeruns and have driven in 105 runs. If Alexis Osorio can get her rise ball rolling right off the bat against Oklahoma, the stage will be set for another classic between these two teams.
#2 Michigan vs. #10 LSU
The Michigan Wolverines displayed a tremendous amount of heart and toughness in their 5-4 Super Regional clinching victory over Missouri. Their backs were squarely against the wall against Tigers. Trailing 4-1 heading into the top of the seventh inning, Michigan rose up and got to Paige Lowery for four runs and the Wolverines were headed back to Oklahoma City for the second straight season. In order for the Wolverines to beat LSU and make a run to the WCWS Finals, they are going to once again have to play with relentless confidence offensively. Michigan is scoring 8.3 runs per game to lead the nation. The Tigers went into a very raucous environment of Harrisonburg, Virginia and rallied from a 1-0 deficit to take two straight from James Madison to return to Oklahoma City. The depth of the LSU pitching rotation, led by Carly Hoover, Allie Walljasper and Sydney Smith is going to be vital to their success as head coach Beth Torina can mix and match pitchers against just about any team in the nation. Offensively, the Tigers are going to have to be ready to score runs and try and win a 6-4 type of game in a similar fashion to the way Michigan beat them in the 2015 Women’s College World Series. This could be a pretty explosive offensive battle to close out the opening night of the 2016 Women’s College World Series.