>In the first part, I previewed the left side of the bracket. Here I will preview the right side, one which features the defending champs, Washington.
Regional # 5 – Washington vs. Oklahoma
Washington – For the second-straight year, the Huskies (48-6) faced the daunting task of going against one of the country’s most underrated pitchers in lefty Danielle Spaulding, who threw two no-hitters in her four appearances over the weekend. After Spaulding no-hit Nebraska on Friday to open the weekend, UW used an unearned run to win the first meeting between the teams, 1-0, on Saturday.They needed extra innings to win 2-1 on Sunday, but the reigning champs will once again be making a trip to the Super Regionals, a place they have been every year except one since the Super Regionals format was created.
The Huskies’ Danielle Lawrie picked up three wins on the weekend, giving up just one run in 22 innings, while striking out 39. The stud pitcher gave up a mere six hits and one earned run.
The normally prolific Washington offense was quieted this past weekend by some magnificent pitching by their opponents, UNC’s Spaulding and North Dakota State, a team which made the Super Regionals last year. Shawna Wright had the game-winning hit for UW. She had gone hitless until that point. Lawrie and Nikki Williams each had key home runs for the Huskies.
Washington holds a 7-6 series lead, including a 7-4 victory earlier this year.
Oklahoma – The Big 12 Tournament Champs are coming off of a 3-0 weekend, which saw they defeat one of the top pitchers in the country, Fordham’s Jen Mineau twice.
Oklahoma has won 14 straight and has out-scored opponents 77-5 in that stretch. OU is 1-6 in Super Regionals since the format was introduced in 2005. The Sooners are appearing in their first Super Regional since 2008. Oklahoma’s only win in Super Regional play was a 2-0 win at Arizona on May 24, 2008.
OU is hitting .318 as a team during its 14-game winning streak and has scored 77 runs. The Sooner also boast quite a potent offense, as freshman Jessica Shults holds the Oklahoma freshman record for home runs (14) and runs batted in (61) in a season. Shults’ 61 RBI are tied for fourth most in a single season at Oklahoma and rank as the ninth best in a single season in the Big 12. Amber Flores is the first player in Big 12 history to win the Player of the Year award twice. Flores is OU’s career leader in home runs (53). The mark is four shy of tying the Big 12 career record. The Sooners are not all about power. Brianna Turang ranks fifth in the Big 12 with 20 stolen bases on the season and Ten Sooners have drawn double-digit walks this season, including five with 20 or more.
Along with some stud freshman hitters, the ace of the pitching staff is frosh Keilani Ricketts. Ricketts has not allowed an earned run in the last 28.0 innings pitched. During the 14-game win streak, Ricketts has a 0.39 earned run average and six shutouts, including one in the Big 12 Championship game. Ricketts’ 324 strikeouts this season are the second-most in a single season at OU. She has a 1.19 ERA and 14 shutouts to her name.
Regional # 6 – California vs. Georgia
California - After winning sweeping the Columbus Regional to win its 11th Regional title in the past 12 years, the No. 11-seeded California softball team has a new task at hand in No. 6-seeded Georgia at the Athens Super Regional. After the Regional title, Cal improves to 44-17 overall, 60-31 in Regional games and 81-55 overall in the NCAA postseason.
The Bears bring a seven-game winning streak to Athens after sweeping Oregon State and the Columbus Regional. Cal played 16 of the tournament’s teams this year, posting a 19-16 record against them.
Five of Cal’s starters are batting .300 or above with Jamia Reid pacing the Bears at .389 and 48 steals. Cal’s 285 RBI is a new program team season high, smashing the old record of 279, which was set in 2008. Valerie Arioto is currently tied with Veronica Nelson for the single-season home-run high with 19, now holds the season record for runs (60) and RBI (60) and is currently fifth on season walks with 77.
As good as Arioto is at the plate, she may be even better on the mound. She has posted a She leads the team in wins (21), ERA (1.26) and strikeouts with 260. She is not the only stud pitcher for the Bears, however. Freshman sensation Jolene Henderson has made quite the transition to college softball, picking up 20 wins and a 1.53 ERA, along with three saves.
The Bears hold a 1-0 series lead against Georgia, with the win coming on Valentines Day in 1999.
Georgia - After going 3-0 in their Regional, the Bulldogs will host their second consecutive Super Regional. The Bulldogs went 3-0 as a regional host this year to improve to 13-4 in the UGA Softball Stadium
during regional play.
A total of 11 Bulldogs have combined to hit a single-season school record 92 home runs (1.61
per game). The new record surpassed the 2009 squad’s 85 home runs (1.44 per game). Bulldogs to hit home runs in 2010: Alisa Goler (14), Megan Wiggins (14), Brianna Hesson (13), Ashley Razey (13), Taylor Schlopy (11), Laura Trout (8), Jennie Auger (5), Ashley Pauly (5), Kristyn Sandberg (5), Amberlie Saxton (3) and Brittany Hubbard (1). Nine Bulldogs have provided double-digit RBI this season. All nine in double figures have at least 15 RBI with eight driving in at least 29 or more runs.
Georgia is one of a very small number of teams which has three pitchers in double digit wins. Sarah McLoud picked up wins in all three games last week and has an 11-1 record on the year, as well as a 2.71 ERA. Erin Arevalo leads the team in victories with 18, as well as 158 strikeouts.
Regional # 7 – BYU vs. Arizona
BYU - Along with Oregon, BYU is one of two unseeded teams to make the Super Regionals. For the first time in program history, BYU (46-11) will participate in the NCAA softball tournament’s second round. The Cougars advanced with a sweep of the competition last weekend in Austin, Texas, defeating East Carolina, 1-0; No. 7-seed Texas, 9-8; and East Carolina again in the championship game, 8-3.
The Cougars and the Wildcats have a brief history, marked most recently by a meeting on Feb. 26, at the Cathedral Classic in Palm Springs. Arizona was victorious in five innings, improving their all-time record against BYU to 3-0.
BYU senior Angeline Quiocho was named MWC Player of the Year, freshman J.C. Clayton garnered
MWC Freshman of the Year and Cougar head coach Gordon Eakin captured MWC Coach of the Year honors for the second consecutive season. Quiocho has been a terror for opponents, hitting 28 home runs, driving in 90 Cougars.
Paige Affleck is the workhorse on the mound for BYU. She leads the team with 32 wins, a Mountain West Conference record, as well as 221 strikeouts, which is second on the BYU season-high list.
Arizona - Arizona won the Tucson Regional in three games over Cornell, and Hofstra twice – with the Regional finale lasting 12 innings before Arizona pulled out a come-from-behind win on a grand slam by Lini Koria. For the 15th time in its 24-year participation, Arizona remained at home for initial rounds play in the Championships. The Wildcats have been a host for initial rounds 14 times, and later for Super Regionals four times. Arizona has a 137-40 mark in NCAA play in its 23 seasons of competition from 1987-2009. The Cats are 70-8 in Regional play and 10-3 in Super Regionals (since 2005).
Like many of the other teams in the Super Regional round, Arizona boasts a potent offense, one which has outscored opponents 431-131. Four Wildcats have hit at least 16 home runs, led by Bridget Del Ponte, who has smacked 21 round trippers. She also leads the team with 75 RBI. The other thee with double digit home runs each have over 50 RBI as well.
Freshman pitcher Kenzie Fowler has been quite the stud this year, compiling a 33-6 record. She also boasts a 1.25 ERA and 312 strikeouts to her name. Fowler is complemented by a senior, Sarah Akamine, who has helped ease her transition to Division I softball. Akamine holds a 13-5 record in 27 games, striking out 80 and only walking 23.
Super Regional # 8 – Tennessee vs. Michigan
Tennessee – For the first time since 2007, No. 16/15 Tennessee (45-13) has advanced to the NCAA Super
Regionals. The all-time series between the two programs is deadlocked at 3-3, with five of those contests
occurring during either NCAA Super Regional or WCWS play. After dropping a 4-0 decision to the Wolverines during Tennessee’s inaugural season in 1996, the teams didn’t meet again until the 2005 WCWS in Oklahoma City, Okla. Tennessee has advanced to three NCAA Super Regionals in program history (2005, 2006, 2007) and have moved on through to the WCWS on all three occasions with a 6-2 overall
While this year’s Tennessee squad may not have the power numbers some of the other Super Regional teams do, they make up for it in speed, timely hitting and a balanced lineup. Raven Chavanne leads the team with a .469 average and has swiped 34 bases. Two more players, Kat Dotson (29) and Kelly Grieve (25), have over 25 steals as well. Jessica Spigner provides the power, as she has hit eight home runs and leads the team with 56 RBI.
Ivy Renfroe leads the two-woman rotation. Her 28-4 record and 2.28 ERA are tops on the team. She has also struck out 196 hitters. Cat Hosfield is her counterpart in the circle. Hosfield holds a 16-8 record on the year.
Michigan - Michigan has reached the NCAA Super Regionals each year since the format was adopted in 2005. Michigan outscored its NCAA Regional opposition 31-4. The title was their 14th overall and seventh in a row.
Three Wolverine hitters batted .500 or better in this weekend’s NCAA Regional action. Senior third baseman Maggie Viefhaus hit .625 (5-for-8) with seven runs batted in, while sophomore second baseman Amanda Chidester batted .600 (3-for-5) and senior catcher Roya St. Clair hit .500 (5-for-10) with six RBI from the cleanup spot. Shaking off its two-game home drought at Iowa, the Wolverines knocked out seven long balls in NCAA Regional play. Michigan has homered in 26 of its last 29 games and boast 81 homers on the season — the second-greatest season total in program history.
With her 11-strikeout performance in the Regional title game against the Irish, junior Jordan Taylor upped her season total to a career-best 300. The figure ranks sixth among Michigan’s all-time single-season leaders in the category. She actually struck out 11 Notre Dame batters in both games against the Irish.