2022 National Invitational Softball Championship

2022 National Invitational Softball Championship Set To Begin In Colorado

2022 National Invitational Softball Championship Set To Begin In Colorado

Fort Collins welcomes a dozen title hopefuls to TC Colorado Field for the 2022 National Invitational Softball Championship.

May 17, 2022 by Kyle Kensing
2022 National Invitational Softball Championship Set To Begin In Colorado

Fort Collins welcomes a dozen title hopefuls to TC Colorado Field for the 2022 National Invitational Softball Championship. 

The NISC features teams from nine conferences, including the ACC, Big Ten and Big 12, all-league honorees and potential All-Americans. 

Competition opens early on Friday, ushering in a week of high-stakes games to crown a champion. 

No. 8 Stephen F. Austin vs. No. 9 Bowling Green 

Friday, May 20 at 10:30 a.m. ET

One of two Western Athletic Conference teams in the field, Stephen F. Austin, gets the opening round started against the Mid-American Conference’s Bowling Green Falcons. 

SFA arrives in Fort Collins a winner of 31 games in the regular season, thanks in no small part to WAC Pitcher of the Year Kassidy Wilbur. Wilbur is responsible for 22 wins in 42 appearances and a remarkable 210 ⅓ innings pitched. She struck out 236 in the regular season and held batters to a collective average of .213. 

Gaby Garcia and Sydnee Hebert, who along with Mackenzie Bennett mashed 28 home runs, were second-team All-WAC honorees. Their combined power contrasts with the outstanding small-ball approach Bowling Green rode to 32 regular-season wins. 

First-team All-MAC selection Greta L’Esperance stole 30 bases to turn her outstanding .383 batting into 40 runs scored. Completing the Falcons’ plate approach, MAC Pitcher of the Year Payton Gottshall threw for a 1.54 ERA and 25-12 record. Her 356 strikeouts rank second in all of Division I softball. 

The winner advances to face the NISC No. 1 seed Virginia on Saturday, at 10:30 a.m. ET. 

Virginia went 27-24 in the loaded ACC and boasts defeats of Virginia Tech and a series win over Notre Dame. The Cavaliers’ non-conference wins include a defeat of fellow NISC participant George Washington. 

No. 5 George Washington vs. No. 12 Kansas

Friday, May 20 at 1 p.m. ET 

George Washington dominated the Atlantic 10 in the regular season, going 21-3 – 5.5 games better than the Colonials’ closest challenger – and finished 36-15 overall. 

GW ranked in the nation’s top 50 for team batting average .298. Alexa Williams’ .379 average and team-leading 52 RBI set the pace, and she’s one of six Colonial batters with a .304 or better average. 

The Colonials’ top-to-bottom hitting will try to outduel a Kansas big three of Lyric Moore, Olivia Bruno and Savanna DesRochers, all of whom hit better than .300 in the treacherous Big 12. 

While the Jayhawks check in as the last seed of the NISC field and sport the worst record at 16-34, don’t overlook KU. This team owns some impressive wins against Texas Tech, Missouri and another NISC team in Baylor. 

The GW-KU winner moves on to face fourth-seeded Central Arkansas on Saturday. 

The Sugar Bears went 35-20, buoyed by a stellar starting pitching duo of Kayla Beaver and Jordan Johnson. 

No. 7 Rutgers vs. No. 10 UC San Diego 

Friday, May 20 at 3:30 p.m. ET 

It’s an East Coast vs. West Coast showdown near the Rocky Mountains when Big Ten representative Rutgers takes on a Division I newcomer, UC San Diego. 

The Tritons finished a solid 15-12 in the always-tough Big West and showed up impressively in non-conference play with a couple of wins at the prestigious Mary Nutter Classic. UCSD features one of the top starting pitchers in the NISC field, Jada Cecil, a freshman phenom with a 1.62 ERA and .84 WHIP over 34 appearances. 

Rutgers’ struggles in Big Ten play at 3-17 bely an impressive overall resume, which includes victories over George Washington, James Madison and Grand Canyon. The Scarlet Knights feature the standout offensive tandem of Kyleigh Sand and Gabrielle Callaway, both of whom have OPS above 1.000 and batting averages of .400 and .381, respectively. The two also have stolen a combined 35 bases. 

The winner advances to meet No. 2 seed Baylor, another team out of the excellent Big 12. The Bears finished 28-24 in the regular season with defeats of Tarleton, Stephen F. Austin and Oregon. 

No. 6 North Alabama vs. No. 11 Tarleton State

Friday, May 20 at 6 p.m. ET 

Rounding out the opening round’s action are the second teams in the field from the ASUN and WAC. North Alabama, out of the ASUN, won an impressive 38 games in the regular season and finished fourth in one of the most top-heavy mid-major conferences in the nation. 

Georgia Land and Harley Stokes powered one of the top hitting teams in Division I with 32 combined home runs. The two are also among a group of seven full-time Lions hitters with averages of .304 or better, pacing the club to a collective .317 average. 

Tarleton State counters with its own home-run hitting star, Georgia Capell. The first-team All-WAC selection knocked 14 round-trippers as part of her .383 regular season.

Awaiting the winner on Saturday is UNLV out of the Mountain West. The Rebels have the NISC’s best overall record at 39-13 and boast one stat that bodes well for the tournament - they are undefeated in neutral-site games this season.