2022 Division I Softball Tournament Preview
2022 Division I Softball Tournament Preview
Here's a team-by-team rundown of who made the cut for the NCAA Softball Tournament, and some players to keep an eye on as teams aim for a WCWS championship.
Basketball has its madness in March. But college softball can lay claim to some mayhem of its own that begins in mid-May and runs into June.
The road to Oklahoma City began in earnest Sunday night as 64 teams were selected to battle it out in 16 regional sites for a chance to take home the sport’s most coveted prize: a Women’s College World Series championship.
The top 16 seeds are hosting Regionals consisting of four teams each. Here is a rundown of the Regionals, along with a brief analysis of all 64 teams.
The Sooners have been the nation’s top-ranked team all season. To no one’s surprise, redshirt senior Jocelyn Alo was a unanimous Big 12 Player of the Year selection for the second straight season. Shortstop Grace Lyons captured Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors. Freshman Jordy Bahl dazzled in the circle with a 21-1 record, 199 strikeouts and 29 walks in 132.1 innings during the regular season. She dealt with some arm soreness during the Big 12 Tournament, so head coach Patty Gasso decided to rest her during the weekend. Bahl is currently listed as day-to-day.
If the Aggies win two games in this Regional, head coach Jo Evans will notch her 1,300th career victory. It’s the team’s 22nd appearance in the Tournament under Evans, 32nd overall.
Natalie DenHartog led the Golden Gophers with 18 homers, good enough for third in the B1G. The senior center fielder ranks 30th in the nation with 117 total bases and .736 slugging percentage.
Prairie View A&M
The Lady Panthers made the tournament despite losing their first 19 games, but captured the SWAC Tournament to make it in. Biviana Figueroa earned SWAC Hitter and Newcomer of the Year honors after leading the conference with a .478 batting average this season. PVAMU gets the unenviable task of facing the Sooners in their first Regional matchup.
If pitching and defense are the name of the game, FSU has plenty of both. Kathryn Sandercock led the way with 26 wins and a 1.41 ERA in the regular season. FSU led the country with a .983 fielding percentage, anchored by Conference Player of the Year Sydney Sherrill at third base.
The Bulldogs are making their fifth straight appearance in the Regionals. Mia Davidson is the SEC’s all-time home run leader with 90, ranking her fifth in NCAA Division I history.
Great pitching got the Bulls into their eighth NCAA Regional in 10 years. Four-time AAC Pitcher of the Year Georgina Corrick leads the nation with 36 wins and 407 strikeouts in 266.1 innings.
For the second time in program history, the Bison captured the Mid-East Athletic Conference championship and their first since 2007. Senior Kalita Dennis and freshman Lealani Ricks received All-MEAC First Team honors.
This will be the program’s first time to host a Regional. Senior pitcher Keely Rochard was selected as the second overall pick in the Athletes Unlimited draft, going 22-2 in the regular season and leading the conference in strikeouts.
The Wildcats are headed to their 13th consecutive NCAA Tournament. They have suffered losses to Virginia Tech and Miami (Ohio), two of the other teams in the Blacksburg Regional. Erin Coffel batted .412 with 17 homers during the regular season, while Lauren Johnson sported a .390 average.
Winners of the Mid-American Conference, the RedHawks began the 2022 season losing eight of their first 11 games before posting a 33-7-1 mark heading into the conference tournament. They rank among the nation’s top 10 in home runs per game (1.98), total homers (101) and slugging percentage (.594).
The Red Flash boast NEC Player of the Year Mekenzie Saban and Pitcher of the Year Rachel Marsden. Saban led the conference with a .433 average, 22 doubles, 41 runs and a .503 on-base percentage. Marsden led the NEC with 22 complete games, 20 wins and seven shutouts.
The Razorbacks won their first SEC Tournament title by knocking off Missouri in the championship game. KB Sides became the first Razorback to be named Conference Player of the Year, and Chenise Delce earned Pitcher of the Year honors.
At 31-17 on the season, the Ducks lead the Pac-12 in fielding percentage (.976). Catcher Terra McGowan led the team with a .400 batting average. Senior second baseman Allee Bunker batted .353 during the regular season with 10 homers and a team-best 39 RBI.
Junior Sydney McKinney and sophomore Addison Barnard give the Shockers one of the best hitting tandems in the nation. Barnard was named American Athletic Conference Player of the Year, while McKinney, Neliegh Herring, Lauren Lucas and Lauren Mills all earned First Team All-Conference honors.
The Tigers became the first team to win the Ivy League Playoff Series after losing the first game and winning consecutive elimination games. They’re led by Conference Pitcher of the Year Alexis Laudenslager, who led the league with a 1.96 ERA and a .189 opponents’ batting average. Sophia Marsalo earned Rookie of the Year honors with a .354 batting average, fourth in the league.
Los Angeles Regional
The host Bruins are making a record 37th NCAA Tournament appearance and have hosted seven consecutive Regionals. Megan Faraimo became the fourth player in program history to be named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year. Briana Perez became the first Bruin ever to be named Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
For the sixth straight season, the Rebels are making an appearance in the tournament. Outfielder Tate Whitley finished the regular season with 73 hits to lead the SEC, while Catelyn Riley led the team with 11 victories.
The Lions won’t have to travel far for their Regional, as they will stay in Los Angeles for their third tournament appearance in program history. They’ll face off against Ole Miss in their opening game, a team they are 1-2 against all-time.
The Lopes have won 22 of their last 28 games, and rank seventh in the nation with a .333 team batting average. But the WAC champions will have a tough task in their first game of the Regional against UCLA.
The Crimson Tide have lost five of their last eight games heading into the tournament. But head coach Patrick Murphy still managed to put his team in a position to host a Regional for the 19th time. Pitcher Montana Fouts and infielder Ashley Prange earned All-SEC First Team recognition.
The Cardinal are making their third tournament appearance under head coach Jessica Allister. Alana Vawter made the All-Pac-12 First Team and Taylor Gindlesperger made the Second Team.
The Racers captured their first Ohio Valley Conference championship after being shut out in the first championship game before winning 5-3 in the decisive contest. Hannah James led the way in the circle this season, ranking 14th nationally in ERA (1.31), fifth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (9.52) and sixth in shutouts (9).
The Mocs had a thrilling come-from-behind victory in the Southern Conference title game to earn their 12th NCAA Tournament appearance. Designated player Reagan Armour and infielder Emily Coltharp earned All-SoCon First Team honors.
The Cowgirls were right behind the Sooners in conference play, but their win over their intrastate rivals in the Big 12 Tournament Finals gave them their first conference championship. Kelly Maxwell led the Big 12 in strikeouts, K’s per seven innings and shutouts. Her teammate, Miranda Elish, was a perfect 7-0 in conference play with a 1.76 ERA and five complete games. Elish’s hitting was just as impressive, ranking in the conference’s top 10 in OPS, hits, home runs, RBI, total bases and slugging percentage during Big 12 play.
Outfielder Abbie Squier and second baseman Cam Ybarra were both named to the All-Big Ten First Team. Catcher Ava Bredwell became the first Husker since 1995 to be named Freshman of the Year.
The Mean Green won its first Conference USA Tournament championship by run-ruling Western Kentucky 9-0 in five innings Saturday. UNT set a program record with 69 home runs this season. Ashley Peters went 19-6 in the circle, and first baseman Kailey Gamble led the team with 15 home runs and 49 RBI.
The Atlantic 10 champion Rams are led by All-Conference First Team selection Bailey Enoch, who slashed .304/.421/.528 heading into the tournament. She led the team in walks and on-base percentage while posting a 6-3 record in the circle with a 3.25 ERA. Rachel Hubertus leads the conference with 16 homers and is slashing .288/.345/.621.
The Sun Devils went on the road and took down Washington to capture their first Pac-12 title since 2011 in the rubber match of a three-game series. ASU is led by Conference Freshman of the Year Cydney Sanders, who hit 20 homers during the regular season.
This is LSU’s 16th consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. Ali Kilponen became the first Tiger pitcher to be named to the All-SEC First Team since 2018. Center fielder Ciara Briggs is hitting .366 with 67 hits.
Postseason Softball >>> pic.twitter.com/Ib4O6JWRfU— LSU Softball (@LSUsoftball) May 11, 2022
San Diego State
Led by Mountain West Player of the Year Mac Barbara, the Aztecs won their first conference championship since 2014. Barbara led SDSU with a .401 batting average, 59 hits, 14 homers and 52 RBI. MW Pitcher of the Year Maggie Balint went 16-5 with six saves and a 1.43 ERA.
Cal State Fullerton
The Titans are no strangers to the NCAA Tournament, having won 13 Big West titles in program history. Daisy Munoz’s 33 home runs ties her for third all-time in program history, and she’s fifth all-time in RBI with 129. Megan Delgadillo is the program’s all-time stolen base leader with 94.
The Wildcats come into the tournament with a 40-10 overall record and are playing host to their sixth Regional since the event went to its current format in 2005. Big Ten Player of the Year Rachel Lewis and Pitcher of the Year Danielle Williams headline a team that won its first outright conference regular season title since 2008.
The 18th-ranked Fighting Irish are led by sophomore first baseman Karina Gaskins, who was named ACC Player of the Year after leading the conference with a .433 average and 57 RBI. Senior Payton Tidd has 15 wins and nine complete games in the circle.
The Southland Conference champs are making their eighth appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Conference Pitcher of the Year Ashley Vallejo sported a 16-7 record in the regular season with a 1.97 ERA. Newcomer of the Year Kendall Talley batted .333 with nine home runs.
The Golden Grizzlies may have some extra motivation entering this year’s NCAA Tournament. Head coach Lauren Karn is expecting a child and is currently not with the team. Sydney Campbell captured Pitcher of the Year honors by going 20-7 with a 1.77 ERA in the circle.
The Tigers are hosting their first Regional in program history after finishing 39-15. Redshirt sophomore Valerie Cagle hit .311 during the regular season with 11 homers and 39 RBI. She also has 14 wins in the circle with a 1.83 ERA.
The No. 17 Tigers finished 39-15 and come in as the second seed in the Clemson Regional. Sophomore Maddie Penta led the SEC and is 10th nationally in wins (23), and is second in the conference in strikeouts with 258.
This is the 23rd NCAA Tournament appearance for the Ragin’ Cajuns. The Sun Belt Conference regular season and tournament champions are on a season-high 13-game winning streak, and have won 22 of its last 23 dating back to April 8.
The Seahawks came in to the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament as the No. 3 seed, but walked away with its first conference tournament title. Four UNCW freshmen made All-Conference teams, including Pitcher of the Year Emily Winstead, who led the league in ERA (1.72), and strikeouts (167).
The Lady Vols are playing host to its 17th consecutive Knoxville Regional. Through May 13, they are No. 1 in the country in strength of schedule. Ivy Davis, Erin Edmoundson, Kelcy Leach, Kiki Milloy and Zaida Puni made the All-SEC Second Team.
Congrats to Kiki & Ashley on their selection to the 𝗦𝗘𝗖 𝗔𝗹𝗹-𝗧𝗼𝘂𝗿𝗻𝗮𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗧𝗲𝗮𝗺! 🏆🏆 pic.twitter.com/pp2CGnpZjs— Tennessee Softball (@Vol_Softball) May 14, 2022
Under head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly, the Buckeyes are making their fifth NCAA Tournament appearance. Five players in the Buckeyes’ starting lineup are batting .300, led by All-Big Ten honoree Niki Carver at .350. Sam Hackenbracht leads the team with 14 homers.
The Beavers are appearing in their first NCAA Tournament since 2018. Their 33 victories were the team’s highest since 2013. Senior Mariah Mazon led OSU with a 1.60 ERA during the regular season, and junior Frankie Hammoude led the team with 12 homers and 28 walks.
The Camels won their second consecutive Big South championship to earn their automatic bid. It’s the program’s fifth trip to the NCAA Tournament and second under head coach Sharonda McDonald-Kelley. The team is ranked 17th in the nation in ERA (2.04), 18th in shutouts (14), and 22nd in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.64).
Marissa Young has quickly built the Lady Blue Devils into a powerhouse since becoming the program’s first head coach prior to the 2016 season. The team is hosting its first Regional after its first 40-win season. Duke set new single-season offensive records in hits, homers, RBI, runs scored and total bases.
This year marks the 20th consecutive appearance for the Bulldogs in the NCAA Tournament. Junior Sara Mosley led all SEC hitters with a .470 batting average. Lacey Fincher was third in homers with nine and ranked in the top 10 in RBI (22).
The Lady Flames captured the Atlantic Sun East Division by winning 23 of its 24 games. They set an ASUN record for most wins in a season, and its .958 conference winning percentage is the best of any NCAA Division I team this season.
The Retrievers are led by ace Courtney Coppersmith, who became only the second player in conference history to win three Pitcher of the Year Awards. Teammate Kya Matter also shined in the circle, making the All-Rookie and All-Conference Second Teams with a 15-3 record and 1.03 ERA to lead all freshmen heading into the conference tournament.
Playing host to their sixth straight Regional, the Huskies post a spectacular 67-3 all-time postseason record when playing in Seattle. Pac-12 Player of the Year Baylee Klingler paced the conference in batting average, homers, RBI, slugging percentage and total bases. Gabbie Plain led the way in the circle with a 17-5 record, 15 complete games and 168 strikeouts.
The Longhorns posted 28 wins over Top 100 RPI teams in 2022 heading into the Big 12 Tournament. Clutch hitting has been a big reason for the team’s success. Catcher/first baseman Mary Iakopo hit .448 with runners in scoring position during the regular season, while freshman third baseman Mia Scott is 4-for-6 (.667) with the bases loaded. Second baseman Janae Jefferson is in the top 10 nationally in hits, and is UT’s all-time career hits leader.
Winners of the Big Sky Conference, the Wildcats dominated the tournament by outscoring their opponents 27-0 in just 15 innings. WSU’s 38 wins ties for the most in school history. After coming to the Wildcats from BYU, transfer Arissa Henderson led the conference with a 2.04 ERA and a 14-1 record. At the plate, she was third in slugging (.694) and finished in the top 10 with eight home runs.
Winners of their 15th Patriot League title, the Mountain Hawks are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2017. Senior shortstop Carley Barjaktarovich won her second consecutive Conference Defensive Player of the Year award, making just three errors in 141 chances for a .979 fielding percentage.
The Gators have hosted 17 straight NCAA Regionals, and hold a 47-19 all-time record during that span. Redshirt junior infielder Skylar Wallace scored the second-most runs in SEC play this season with 23. Senior outfielder Cheyenne Lindsey led the conference with three triples.
This is the first Regional in a decade for the Yellow Jackets. Tricia Awald is the all-time program career leader in doubles (55) and walks (66). Emma Kauf finished second in the conference this season in hits (66).
The Badgers are going dancing for the ninth time in program history. They finished 28-19 overall, led by Kayla Konwent, UW’s all-time home run leader. She led the conference with a .544 on-base percentage this season.
The Golden Griffins captured their first Metro Atlantic Conference championship since 2009 over the weekend and 13th in program history. They’re led by graduate outfielder and Conference Player of the Year Erin Hufford, whose .399 batting average led the league. Pitcher of the Year Megan Giese led the conference with 11 wins, 14 complete games and a 1.67 ERA.
After posting a 36-20 overall record in 2022, the Tigers are looking to make their seventh trip to the Women’s College World Series in program history. Kimberly Wert led Mizzou with 16 homers and 51 RBI during the regular season, while Brooke Wilmes set a career high with 14 homers this season.
Head coach Tyra Perry leads the Illini to a Regional for the fourth time under her leadership. Avrey Steiner led the Big Ten with 73 hits, and was seventh with a team-high .390 batting average.
Caitlin Lowe had some big shoes to fill after taking over for legendary head coach Mike Candrea last summer. But the four-time Wildcat All-American and Olympic silver medalist has led the team to its 35th straight NCAA Tournament selection, the longest streak in NCAA softball. Arizona finished the regular season ranked 10th nationally in batting average (.329) and ninth in home runs (86).
Representing the Missouri Valley Conference, the Bears are led by Conference Pitcher of the Year Steffany Dickerson, who became the second player in program history to earn the honor after pacing the league in wins (13), ERA (0.87), opposing batting average (.194) and strikeouts looking (33). Shortstop Daphne Plummer is another name to watch, hitting .352 to rank second in the conference.
The Knights assured themselves of an automatic NCAA Tournament bid with a convincing 11-0 win over South Florida to capture the American Athletic Conference Tournament championship. Five players earned All-Conference First Team selections, including Justene Molina (Defensive Player of the Year) and Micaela Macario (Rookie of the Year). Molina didn’t make an error at second base during conference play, while Macario was batting .311 coming into the AAC Tournament with 19 steals in 20 attempts.
The Wolverines are making their 29th NCAA Tournament appearance after going 36-16 this season. Senior first baseman Lexie Blair led the team with a .421 batting average in conference play, and Alex Storako led the Big Ten with 274 strikeouts to go with a 22-7 record during the regular season.
South Dakota State
The Jackrabbits captured the Summit League title, finishing 40-11 overall. Rozelyn Carrillo, the conference’s Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, started every game at shortstop and led the league with a .477 batting average. Pitcher of the Year Grace Glanzer went 11-0 during conference play in the circle with a league-best 0.63 ERA.
After winning their first Big East Tournament championship last season, the Wildcats defended their title with a 3-0 win over Connecticut in the championship game. The team won 19 of their last 24 games heading into the tournament after going 10-17 to start the season. Senior shortstop Megan Kern and graduate pitcher/utility Paige Rauch were All-Big East First Team selections.
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