Softball NCAA Tournament Regional Overview


The 2018 College Softball season is ready for a fierce sprint to Oklahoma City as the 64 team NCAA Tournament field was announced on Sunday night. Oregon is the number one seed, and rightfully so, as the Ducks won the Pac-12 Conference and are playing tremendous softball heading into the NCAA Tournament. In addition, Oregon has an impressive win over Oklahoma, and series wins over UCLA, Washington, Arizona State and Arizona on the season. Florida, UCLA, and Oklahoma rounded out the top four national seeds. The Gators pulled off the conference championship double in 2018 as they knocked off South Carolina 3-1 in the SEC Conference Tournament title and seem to be in a very nice groove at the plate, which will make them even more dangerous.

For the Bruins and Sooners, they have advantageous regional brackets as Cal State Fullerton and Tulsa don’t have enough to win two games against either one of these teams in a regional final scenario. Washington settled in as the number five national seed and their draw of Boise State, Minnesota, and Texas is not an easy one, let alone their potential Super Regional matchup with Alabama. The key for the Huskies will be having a well-rested Taran Alvelo to go along with Gabbie Plain in the circle since Washington did not have to play this past weekend. Florida State is the number six national seed and their regional is a sneaky good one. Auburn has the pitching to cause problems when they are clicking on all cylinders. Kennesaw State is dynamic offensively and Jacksonville State is one of those mid-major teams that is liable to sneak up and pull an upset and force the Seminoles to battle through the losers’ bracket.

Georgia and Arizona State round out the top eight national seeds and their regionals could be a little tricky to navigate if they struggle at all at the plate. Northwestern and Cal are battle tested teams that will be in Athens. The Wildcats have enough power at the plate, led by Rachel Lewis and Morgan Nelson, to cause the Bulldogs some headaches. Long Beach State and Ole Miss are two potential teams in the Tempe Regional that could push the Sun Devils to an if necessary Regional Final. The 49ers do a great job of putting the ball in play as they are hitting .308 on the season. On the other hand, if Kaitlin Lee pitches at an elite level for the Rebels, which she is more than capable of doing, it will give them a great shot to cause problems in this regional. Arizona State is the favorite in the Tempe Regional, but Giselle Juarez will need help from her team at the plate so that she can pitch without the pressure of losing a game on one mistake.

The rest of the regional hosts are South Carolina, Tennessee, LSU, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Texas A&M, and Kentucky. This shows the great depth of the Southeastern Conference and sets up some potentially epic Super Regional matchups. Regarding potential upsets out of this group of regionals at first glance I would look at Baylor in the College Station Regional and Michigan in the Lexington Regional. Gia Rodoni is the ace in the circle for the Bears and is 22-11 with a 2.11 earned run average while striking out 251 batters in 205.2 innings. Thus, Rodoni has the capability of putting Baylor on her back in a regional and locking down opposing lineups. Pitching is also a strength for the Wolverines and they have a team earned run average of 1.41 on the season, led by Meghan Beaubien who is 32-4 with a 1.09 earned run average. If Michigan can attack the zone in the Lexington Regional and keep opposing hitters on their heels, they will be in great shape against Kentucky and Notre Dame.

Overall, this bracket is a refection of what has been a very competitive regular season and conference tournament slate. It is going to come down to the ability to execute in clutch situations for all these teams as the margin for error is not as big as in previous seasons. And that is why the 2018 NCAA Softball Tournament is potentially going to be one of the more unpredictable ones in recent memory.


NCAA Tournament Central