Softball 2014 Super Regional Breakdowns

Washington College Softball

Softball 2014 Super Regional Breakdowns

The opening weekend of the NCAA Women's Softball tournament was defined by very explosive offense across the country.  Teams were lighting up the scoreboard in a fashion that was extremely entertaining for everyone except for those in the circle. With the Super Regional round on tap this weekend here is a look at the eight best of three series that will determine the Women's College World Series field in Oklahoma City.


#1 Oregon vs. #16 Minnesota (Eugene, Oregon)

The Ducks took care of business like a number one overall seed should in an opening weekend of regional play. Cheridan Hawkins was in top form all weekend as she kept Wisconsin at bay in the Saturday winner's bracket game when the Badgers did have the game tied at 1 in the sixth inning. This allowed the Oregon offense led by Janie Takeda, who was the Eugene Regional MVP, to break the game open and not look back. The Golden Gophers had to scratch and claw as Auburn gave them everything they wanted but Minnesota found a way to advance for their ultimate shot at knocking off the Ducks. The key to this series will be how Oregon responds to being in the favorite role for Super Regionals once again on their home field.


#8 Florida State vs. Michigan (Tallahassee, Florida)

Led by ace pitcher Lacey Waldrop, who checks in at 36-4 on the season after outlasting South Florida ace Sarah Nevins all weekend long, Florida State won the Tallahassee Regional. The Seminoles also have tremendous skill offensively, led by junior shortstop Maddie O'Brien who hit .441 on the season to go along with her 23 homeruns. Michigan rallied to win inthe  seventh inning of the if necessary gameof the Tempe Regional to knock out ninth-seeded Arizona State 5-4 to punch their ticket to the Super Regional. The Wolverines are a very battled tested program under veteran head coach Carol Hutchins. Offensively, Sierra Romero leads this explosive offense for Michigan with a .510 batting average and as a team the Wolverines are hitting .343. This matchup of two very balanced teams should go all the way down to the wire to a decisive third game as there is not much separating these two teams. The team that executes best offensively should be headed to OKC.


#4 Georgia vs. #13 Baylor (Athens, Georgia)

The Georgia Bulldogs outlasted Mother Nature on Sunday in the Regional Final against North Carolina State. The Bulldogs needed to win twice on Sunday in order to advance and they did so with flying colors, becoming the 18th team in the history of the NCAA Tournament to rally and win two elimination games in order to move on to the Super Regional. Georgia is excellent offensively and has the ability to drive the ball for power while remaining disciplined at the plate. The Bulldogs have almost as many walks as strikeouts as a team. Chelsea Wilkinson, who threw a no-hitter to clinch the Athens Regional, has 294 strikeouts in 246.1 innings and has the lockdown ability to be dominant. That takes pressure off the Bulldog defense. Baylor defended their home turf nicely in winning the Waco Regional despite losing a difficult first championship against Tulsa 1-0 in 11 innings. Sixth-year senior Whitney Canion was outstanding in the circle for the Bears as she threw 305 pitches over the course of two games to will Baylor past a very strong Tulsa team 3-1 in the if necessary game seven to send the Bears through to Athens. The ability of an experienced veteran pitcher like Canion to take on the road to Athens is a definite asset for Baylor this weekend. The key is going to be can Baylor match the Georgia offense if the games turn into slugfests. This should be a tightly contested series if Wilkinson and Canion take care of business in the circle for both of their teams.


#5 Florida vs. #12 Washington (Gainesville, Florida)

This should be a very dynamic offensive matchup as both the Gators and Huskies were outstanding offensively in their respective Regionals. Florida, scoring 411 runs on the season, has the ability to be very explosive, especially against teams that are not elite in the circle. The Gators did lose two home conference series to Alabama and Missouri this year as part of a 19-6 home record so far in 2014.  Kelsey Stewart sets the tone with a .433 batting average and 33 stolen bases. Lauren Haeger leads the power part of the Florida offense with 19 homeruns. In the circle, Hannah Rogers is going to have to be huge in order to keep the Washington offense in check. The Huskies are playing some of their best softball of the season as the offense has been steadily gaining confidence and the pitching has been locked in with seniors Kaitlin Inglesby and Bryana Walker in the circle. Since an 11-7 slugfest against Arizona on May 2, Washington has outscored their opponents 61-6. This should be a fantastic three-game Super Regional.


#6 Louisiana vs. #11 Arizona (Lafayette, Louisiana)

This Super Regional is going to be absolutely dynamic offensively in front of a raucous Ragin’ Cajun home crowd. Louisiana-Lafayette is hosting the Super Regional for the time ever at Lamson Park and brings an electric offense to the table as they pounded a very good Texas team in the Regional Final 10-1. Natalie Fernandez is leading Louisiana-Lafayette with a .434 batting average. Lexie Elkins leads a lethal power hitting attack with 20 homeruns and four players have hit at least ten homeruns. Arizona was pushed to the limit in a Tucson Regional that had 100 runs scored between the four teams. The Wildcats are loaded offensively as they have hit 106 homeruns as a team. Also, lead-off batter Hallie Wilson was unstoppable in the Tucson Regional and LSU could not get her out on Sunday. The key is going to be how the Ragin’ Cajuns handle being at home and not be in fear of the Arizona tradition. For the Wildcats, it's simple just go play and trust the dynamic offense and take their chances with it.


#3 UCLA vs. #14 Kentucky (Los Angeles, California)

The Bruins took care of business nicely in the circle en route to winning the Los Angeles Regional, shutting out the opposition in all three games. Overall, UCLA has been excellent at home as they are 30-2 at Easton Stadium. They also can beat you offensively in multiple ways: by bashing the ball, with 76 homeruns as a team, or by drawing walks to set the table for the power hitters and let them drive in runs at key times. Kentucky showed great resilience on Sunday in the Regional Final after losing the first championship game to DePaul 2-1. The Wildcats in game two against the Blue Demons rode an inside-the-park home run by sophomore outfielder Sylvester Samuel to a 10-1 rout. The pitching duo of Kelsey Nunley and Lauren Cumbess is going to have to be huge and match the duo Ally Carda and Jessica Hall for the Bruins in order to be position for a chance to move on to Oklahoma City.


#7 Oklahoma vs. #10 Tennessee (Norman, Oklahoma)

It's a rematch of the 2013 Women's College World Series Championship final between the Sooners and Volunteers. Oklahoma slugged their way back into the Super Regional by outlasting Texas A&M. The offense has been its usual powerful self for the Sooners as they avoided a potential huge loss as Lauren Chamberlain had a scare with her knee in the Regional but played through it. In the circle, the void of not having Keilani Ricketts could be telling this series against a Tennessee team that still has Ellen Renfroe in the circle. She is capable of keeping the Oklahoma offense from going complete crazy. In addition, Madison Shipman, Annie Aldrete and company are arguably more equipped this year offensively to slug their way past the Sooners in the hostile environment in Norman. Overall, Oklahoma is hoping to overcome the Tennessee experience advantage in the circle and keep their repeat dreams alive.


#2 Alabama vs. Nebraska (Tuscaloosa, Alabama)

The Crimson Tide did a nice job of playing very sound softball in getting back to the Super Regional round once again. The experience of Jaclyn Traina in the circle is going to be a huge asset for Alabama as they get ready to take on a Nebraska team that took out rival Missouri. The Huskers last year in the Super Regional round went in the road to Eugene and took out third-seeded Oregon on their home field. Thus, they won't be in fear of having to go on the road once again to take on the role of David going after Goliath in the Crimson Tide. Nebraska rallied back from losing the Regional opener to Kansas and took care of the host Missouri Tigers on Sunday beating them twice. Hailey Decker hit four two-run homeruns to cap off the furious comeback for The Huskers to push them through to the Super Regional once again. This going to be a very intriguing series as it won't be easy at all for either to advance out of this Super Regional.


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