2021 NCAA Division I Softball Super Regional Recap

2021 NCAA Division I Softball Super Regional Recap

Recap the 2021 NCAA Division I Super Regional weekend that sent eight teams to the Women's College World Series.

Jun 1, 2021 by Scott Schultz
2021 NCAA Division I Softball Super Regional Recap

We now know the final eight teams headed to the 2021 Women’s College World Series. The 64-team field has been taken down to those worthy of a trip to Oklahoma City next weekend, now that this past weekend’s Super Regionals have come to a conclusion.

Oklahoma, Alabama, Arizona, Oklahoma State, Florida State, Georgia, UCLA and James Madison have all prevailed and will fill the brackets for the 2021 version of the annual June classic, held at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City beginning Thursday, June 3. 

Let’s look at some of the highlights from the weekend and how they got the job done.

Oklahoma Down Washington On ABC Debut

The Sooners head to their fifth-straight WCWS, after clinching its spot by sweeping the visiting Washington Huskies on a historic broadcast on ABC, 4-2 and 9-1 at Marita Hayes Field in Norman. With the pair of Super Regional wins, the Sooners improved to 50-2 overall on the season.

The Sooners' run-rule victory over Washington on Saturday resulted in the most runs scored against Player of the Year finalist and Washington pitcher Gabbie Plain, all done over just four innings of play. Shannon Saile gave up just one run in a complete game showing in the circle for OU, with five strikeouts. Senior Player of the Year finalist Jocelyn Alo put up a 3-for-3 performance from the plate for the Sooners, including a home run and three RBIs.

OU heads to the WCWS for the program’s 14th appearance overall, and will begin play in Oklahoma City against James Madison in Bracket 1.

Alabama Sweeps Kentucky

Alabama knocked off Kentucky 4-1 to complete a two-game sweep of the Tuscaloosa Super Regional. The Tide jumped out early, when a leadoff single by Alexis Mack and a walk to Bailey Hemphill set the table for Kaylee Tow to crush a two-run double that nearly cleared the fence to take a 2-0 lead.

Some defensive miscues allowed the Wildcats to score in the bottom of the second, and while the Tide probably played a better overall game on Saturday, Lexi Kilfoyl and otherwise stellar infield defense simply shut down the Kentucky bats.

Maddie Morgan added some insurance with a two-run homer in the fourth, and Kilfoyl was able to finish the game allowing only one run.

The Tide have an opening-round matchup with Arizona in Bracket 2 to open their WCWS play.

James Madison Stuns Missouri

With a 2-1 series win over Missouri, James Madison punched their program’s first-ever ticket to the WCWS. The Dukes became the first school non-Power Five conference to reach the WCWS since 2014 when Louisiana made the trip.

The latter half of game three was the story of the series. JMU tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth inning after tallying just one hit and only two batters having reached base. Then in the fifth, the JMU bats came alive, finishing up the game registering 11 hits, with 15 batters reaching safely over the final four innings to send the Tigers back home to Columbia.

JMU will play No. 1 seed Oklahoma in Bracket 1, in the opening game of the WCWS.

Arizona Punched Their Ticket To OKC

A two-run homer to left from sixth-year senior Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza was the decisive blow for the Wildcats as Arizona swept Arkansas in their Fayetteville Super Regional matchup. The Wildcats added two more runs in the sixth inning on freshman Carlie Scupin’s two-run single to right as Arizona’s 4-1 win closed out the best-of-three set.

“I just told myself to breathe and to take it one pitch at a time,” Palomino-Cardoza said. “My previous at-bat, I hit a back door (curve to the wall) and Cait (Lowe) told me to stay on it. And that’s what I got first pitch and...I took a hack and it felt good off the bat.”

The Wildcats will be appearing in their second consecutive WCWS after having advanced in 2019 prior to the COVID-19 canceled season. The Wildcats will face Alabama in their first game in Bracket 2.

Oklahoma State Takes Game Three Over Texas

After two games that saw over six runs each, the decisive game three of the Stillwater Super Regional between Oklahoma State and Texas came down to a pitcher’s duel. 

With a two-run fifth inning and a shutdown performance from hurler Carrie Eberle, the Cowgirls punched their ticket to the 2021 WCWS on Sunday with a 2-0 win over Longhorns. Eberle fired seven scoreless innings while allowing just four hits and a walk with three strikeouts. It was Eberle’s 19th complete game of the season, and her seventh shutout.

The No. 5 seed Cowgirls will face off against Georgia in Bracket 1 of the WCWS.

Florida State Walk-Off Sends Them Back To WCWS

Late inning action was the story in game two of the Super Regional series between LSU and Florida State. After tying the game at two in the bottom of the seventh when Devyn Flaherty scored on a passed ball, Dani Morgan advanced to third and was then cut down at the plate on an unsuccessful squeeze play that would’ve ended the game. 

The game entered the ninth inning after a pair of home runs by each team in the eighth brought the score even at three. Morgan singled up the middle, and after a walk to Anna Shelnutt, Kiersten Landers stepped in for her first at-bat of the Super Regional and drove a 2-2 pitch down the left field line to score Morgan and punch the Noles ticket to Oklahoma City.

The Seminoles will face No. 2 seed UCLA in Bracket 2.

Bulldogs Upset The Gators

Georgia hurler Mary Wilson Avant was the story as the Bulldog ace shut down the Florida Gator offense with a pair of complete-game shutouts in as many days. Saturday, she allowed just four hits over her seven innings of work, notching four strikeouts and one walk. On Friday the No. 4 seed Gators were held to just three hits, with Wilson striking out nine and walking two.

The Bulldogs relied on the long ball to score, hitting five home runs over the course of the two games with Jaiden Fields blasting a pair.

The unseeded Bulldogs, making their fifth WCWS appearance, will face the No. 5 seed Oklahoma State in Bracket 1.

UCLA Sought Redemption After Game One

The second-seeded Bruins head to Oklahoma City where it will look to defend its 2019 national title, after having the 2020 WCWS canceled due to the pandemic. UCLA is looking to capture their 13th national championship after bouncing back from a Super Regional loss to Virginia Tech to take the series 2-1.

UCLA pitcher Rachel Garcia concluded her stint at Easton Stadium with a signature style win on Saturday night at the Los Angeles Super Regional. Garcia retired the side to conclude a complete game shutout, sending the Hokies home, striking out 13 during the 6-0 win.

Play will open for the Bruins in Bracket 2 of the WCWS against No. 10 seed Florida State.