2024 Puerto Vallarta College Challenge

OU Softball, UW Open 2024 Season At Puerto Vallarta. Here's What To Know

OU Softball, UW Open 2024 Season At Puerto Vallarta. Here's What To Know

Here's everything you need to know about the 2024 Puerto Vallarta College Challenge, where Oklahoma and Washington will start the college softball season.

Jan 12, 2024 by Briar Napier
Highlights: UCLA Vs. Oklahoma

Oklahoma, Duke, Nebraska and Washington softball programs will make their 2024 college softball season debut at the 2024 Puerto Vallarta College Challenge.

The programs will meet, along with a slew of other Division I college softball teams, to battle it out in Mexico—beginning their season at one of the premier college softball tournaments. 

One of the most prestigious early-season college softball events that you’ll find anywhere, the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge—the first event in the sport to be held outside of the United States upon its launch—will be held for the eighth time will once again feature a stacked field full of national title favorites.

The 31-game event is conducted across two sessions with two different groupings of teams.

Session 1 will take place from Feb. 8-11 while Session 2 will be held from Feb. 14-18, with each grouping featuring a mix of national elites, dangerous mid-majors and Power Five threats for nonstop strong softball throughout the event’s 11-day duration. 

Here’s everything you need to know about the 2024 Puerto Vallarta College Challenge next month.

What Teams Are Playing At The Puerto Vallarta College Challenge?

Session 1:

  • Oklahoma
  • Utah Valley
  • Duke
  • Washington
  • Long Beach State
  • Iowa State
  • Nebraska

Session 2:

  • Clemson
  • Wichita State
  • UC San Diego
  • Auburn
  • Utah
  • South Carolina
  • Mississippi State
  • UC Davis

Of the 15 total teams playing in this year’s Puerto Vallarta College Challenge, three — Oklahoma, Washington and Utah — participated in last season’s Women’s College World Series. 

The Sooners won it all for the third straight season with potentially the greatest college softball team ever assembled, going 61-1 overall with an ongoing 53-game winning streak dating back to last season. 

Several other participating schools made runs in the NCAA Tournament, such as nationally-seeded Duke and Clemson (both eliminated in the Super Regionals). Additionally, Auburn, Mississippi State and South Carolina all made the tourney while playing their regular season schedules in the brutal Southeastern Conference. 

Throw in some entertaining mid-majors such as Wichita State — a 44-win squad a season ago — and perhaps the nation’s biggest wild-card team this year in Nebraska to boot, and you’ve got a recipe for some chaos on the Pacific coast in a few weeks’ time.

Players To Watch

Jordy Bahl, RHP, Nebraska

Likely the most well-known name in college softball today, Bahl, after being the ace of back-to-back national title teams at Oklahoma, sent shockwaves through the sport when she entered the transfer portal in the offseason to play for home-state school Nebraska. 

The impact in Lincoln has already been nothing short of seismic; according to The Athletic, Nebraska’s athletic department took 2,124 requests for softball season tickets just days after Bahl announced her move, compared to 26 requests before Bahl’s move. 

Traditionally a strong program with eight WCWS appearances to their name, the Cornhuskers have immediately rocketed back into the conversation as threats to make it to Oklahoma City thanks to Bahl’s arrival, and she’ll almost certainly make her debut in the scarlet and cream in Puerto Vallarta.

Tiare Jennings, INF, Oklahoma

While Bahl was smashing standards on the mound for the Sooners, Jennings was doing the same in the batter’s box. One of college softball’s best pure hitters ever, Jennings is the WCWS career record holder for RBIs (29) and joint-record holder for most home runs in a single WCWS with five (along with OU legend Jocelyn Alo). 

Jennings has been a plus-.400 hitter for three consecutive seasons. Her go-ahead two-run double in the ninth inning of the WCWS semifinals against Stanford extended the Sooners’ NCAA-record winning streak to 51 games and kept OU’s three-peat push unblemished.

No program has ever completed a four-peat of college softball national titles, but with players like Jennings back for yet another go-around, it almost feels as if it’s OU’s destiny to be the first.

Valerie Cagle, RHP/UTL, Clemson

Two-way players aren’t totally uncommon in college softball, but has anyone ever been as good as Cagle at both pitching and hitting simultaneously? 

Last year’s USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, a two-time ACC Player of the Year and a Rawlings Gold Glove winner, too, Cagle is the complete package for a Clemson program entering its fifth season of existence this spring 

On the mound, Cagle won 25 games for the second time in her career last season while throwing a sub-2.00 ERA for the third straight season, also pitching both a perfect game and an immaculate inning—in the same month. 

Despite all that, Cagle was arguably even more impactful at the plate, finishing fourth nationally with a career best .469 batting average while smashing a program-record 83 hits with 19 home runs and 57 RBIs. Clemson is still searching for that elusive first-ever WCWS berth. Can Cagle help the Tigers finally get it done in her final collegiate season?

Maddie Penta, RHP, Auburn

A standard-setter at Auburn, the defending SEC Pitcher of the Year and NFCA First Team All-American is already an all-time Tiger great. 

The Maryland native is SEC’s wins leader and one of just two players nationally (along with Alabama’s Montana Fouts) to throw for at least 300 strikeouts. Penta was the Tigers’ workhorse in 2023, tossing 17 complete games and eight shutouts along the way.

The Tigers were eliminated in the Clemson Regional last year and haven’t made a Super Regional since 2017, a rut which will only be compounded by the loss of top power hitter and former SEC Freshman of the Year Bri Ellis, who transferred to conference rival Arkansas.

How To Watch the 2024 Puerto Vallarta College Challenge

Watch the 2024 Puerto Vallarta College Challenge on FloSoftball and the FloSports App.

FloSoftball will be streaming several NCAA Division I College Softball tournaments including the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, THE Spring Games, and the Mark Campbell Collegiate Invitational

2024 Puerto Vallarta Challenge Tournament Schedule

Session 1 Schedule

All Times Eastern

Feb. 8

  • 11:30 a.m. – Utah Valley vs. Oklahoma
  • 2 p.m. – Duke vs. Oklahoma
  • 5 p.m. – Iowa State vs. Utah Valley
  • 7:30 p.m. – Nebraska vs. Washington

Feb. 9

  • 11 a.m. – Duke vs. Iowa State
  • 1:30 p.m. – Duke vs. Nebraska
  • 4 p.m. – Long Beach vs. Nebraska
  • 7 p.m. – Utah Valley vs. Washington
  • 9:30 p.m. – Oklahoma vs. Washington

Feb. 10

  • 11:30 a.m. – Nebraska vs. Utah Valley
  • 2 p.m. – Oklahoma vs. Long Beach
  • 5 p.m. – Washington vs. Iowa State
  • 7:30 p.m. – Duke vs. Long Beach

Feb. 11

  • 10 a.m. – Iowa State vs. Long Beach

Session 2 Schedule

All times Eastern

Feb. 14

  • 1 p.m. – Clemson vs. Wichita State

Feb. 15

  • 11 a.m. – UC San Diego vs. Clemson
  • 1:30 p.m. – UC Davis vs. Auburn
  • 4 p.m. – Utah vs. Auburn
  • 7 p.m. – Wichita State vs. South Carolina
  • 9:30 p.m. – Utah vs. South Carolina

Feb. 16

  • 11 a.m. – Mississippi State vs. UC Davis
  • 1:30 p.m. – South Carolina vs. UC Davis
  • 4 p.m. – UC San Diego vs. Mississippi State
  • 7 p.m. – Clemson vs. Utah
  • 9:30 p.m. – Auburn vs. Wichita State

Feb. 17

  • 11 a.m. – South Carolina vs. UC San Diego
  • 1:30 p.m. – UC Davis vs. Wichita State
  • 4 p.m. – Clemson vs. Auburn
  • 7 p.m. – Mississippi State vs. Utah
  • 9:30 p.m. – Mississippi State vs. Clemson

Feb. 18

  • 11 a.m. – UC San Diego vs. Utah

Where Is The Puerto Vallarta College Challenge?

As the name implies, the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge will take place in the well-known resort town of Puerto Vallarta on Mexico’s Pacific coast, with all games in the event taking place at the Nancy Almaraz Stadium in the city. 

Average high temperatures in February in Puerto Vallarta hover around the low to mid-80s, providing a balmy and tropical getaway (with a side of elite softball) that will especially be appreciated by participating schools hailing from colder climates. 

The environment — on international soil in a picturesque location — doesn’t have a comparison in the U.S., and its uniqueness in a variety of ways adds to the event’s allure. For instance, if you check out a streamed game from the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge on FloSoftball, keep an eye out for the flip scoreboard behind home plate that will be used throughout the event, something you won’t see very often at most high-level college softball venues back in the States.

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