Softball NCAA Tournament Regional Overview

Selection Sunday 2017 was an eventful one as the Minnesota Golden Gophers with a 54-3 record and a Big Ten Championship were sent on the road to the Tuscaloosa Regional to take on 16th seed Alabama, and then if they advance on to the Super Regional they will likely face top seed Florida. Minnesota does have the albatross of the 114th best strength of schedule, which is in part because of the horrendously bad bottom part of the Big Ten. But, the Golden Gophers did not have any truly bad losses as they only lost Washington twice and Illinois. As far as the rest of the bracket is concerned the committee was more on point as Florida is the rightful number one seed overall.
The Gators have been lights out in the circle all season long as they currently have a team earned run average of 0.74. Kelly Barnhill leads the way as the ace for Florida as Barnhill is 22-1 with a 0.33 earned run average, 27 walks, and 282 strikeouts in 148.2 innings. Delanie Gourley, Aleshia Ocasio and Katie Chronister round out this rotation that will be tough to deal with in the NCAA Tournament. Arizona, Oregon and Florida State round the top four national seeds and all three teams have the ability to win in at all if they click on all cylinders in the circle and let their offenses go to work. UCLA, Washington, Auburn and Tennessee round the rest of the top eight national seeds and each of these teams will have some potential landmines in their respective regionals but should be able to get through as they are lethal offensively and have enough pitching to overcome a loss early.
As far as potential upsets are concerned there a couple of double digit seeds that will need to be on upset alert. Utah is the number 11 national seed and they are paired with BYU, in the Salt Lake City Regional, along with Mississippi State and Fordham. The Utes played BYU in Provo back on March 22 and lost to the Cougars 4-3 in a dramatic back and forth affair. Hannah Flippen will lead a very explosive Utah offensive attack. Flippen is hitting .421 on the season with ten homeruns and 47 runs batted in. In the circle, the Utes will need the duo of Miranda Viramontes and Katie Donovan to keep the ball in the ballpark and let the defense make plays in order for them to advance to a potential Super Regional against Washington.
Ole Miss was rewarded for its SEC Tournament Championship with a regional host opportunity in Oxford as a number 12 national seed. It is going to fascinating to see how the Rebels respond to having a target on their back with Arizona State and North Carolina looming as tough outs in this regional. Kaitlin Lee is going to be counted on once again in the circle for Ole Miss. All season long Lee has risen to the occasion as she is 20-10 on the year with a 1.78 earned run average. At the plate, Elantra Cox paces a very balanced offensive attack for the Rebels with a .417 batting average and 24 stolen bases. It will be all about execution for Ole Miss at the plate and whether or not they can get into their running game early and often pressuring opposing pitchers to make perfect pitches. The end result should be a trip to Super Regionals for the Rebels.
Bottom line, this regional weekend will be a great litmus test to see how much parity truly exists in women’s college softball as this bracket is set to have multiple visiting teams potentially win regionals. BYU, James Madison and Minnesota all could very well advance to Super Regionals as unseeded road teams.