The time has come for NCAA Division 1 softball to crown a champion. A three-week tournament featuring 64 programs will end in the Women’s College World Series best of three title series.
When? May 18-June 7.
Who? 32 conference tournament winners and 32 at-large selections.
Format: Double elimination regional consisting of four teams followed by a best of three super regional with the winner heading to the WCWS. The WCWS is a double elimination format tournament consisting of eight teams. Every team is eliminated until the final two are standing. Those two teams then play in a best of three series with the winner being crowned national champion.
Does a Forgotten have a realistic shot at the title? Historically, not very often. The WCWS has taken place every season since 1982 with only Cal State Fullerton (1986) and Fresno State (1998) winning it all. Coincidentally, both programs have also won the baseball College World Series. In the entirety of the WCWS, only 12 teams have every hoisted the championship trophy.
Since the WCWS started in 1982, 22 of the Forgotten have made it to the biggest of the dance.
- Fresno State: 12 times. Last in 1999. Champion in 1998. Runners up in 1982, 1988, 1989, 1990.
- Cal State Fullerton: 6 times. Last in 1995. Champion in 1986.
- Louisiana: 6 times. Last in 2014.
- Long Beach State: 5 times. Last in 1993.
- Cal Poly Pomona: 4 times. Last in 1989.
- Massachusetts: 3 times. Last in 1998.
- Louisiana Tech: 3 times. Last in 1986.
- Adelphi: 3 times. Last in 1988.
- UNLV: 3 times. Last in 1995.
- Cal State Northridge: 2 times. Last in 1994.
- Princeton: 2 times. Last in 1996.
- Southern Miss: 2 times. Last in 2000.
- Utah State: 1 time. Last in 1984.
- WMU: 1 time. Last in 1982.
- Central Michigan: 1 time. Last in 1987.
- Hawaii: 1 time. Last in 2010.
- Illinois-Chicago: 1 time. Last in 1994.
- Kent State: 1 time. Last in 1990.
- Northern Illinois: 1 time. Last in 1988.
- Pacific: 1 time. Last in 1983.
- South Florida: 1 time. Last in 2012.
- Toledo: 1 time. Last in 1989.
Which Forgotten will make it to the WCWS? James Madison or Louisiana. The Dukes are loaded with star pitcher Megan Good (also the team’s best batter). She is a phenomenal player and should get some love for national player of the year. If she were on a bigger name team, she would easily win all the national awards this season.
The Ragin’ Cajuns have been the best team among the Forgotten in recent years. They are third with six appearances in the WCWS, including a trip in 2014, but have yet to win it all. They have the premier power hitter in the nation in DJ Sanders and just enough pitching to hold off contenders. Scoring lots and lots of runs will be how Louisiana gets to Oklahoma City.
Forgotten conference with the most bids: Conference USA. The softball diamond has been good for the conference with Marshall, Florida International, and Louisiana Tech all making the field of 64.
A taste of Texas: The College Station regional is all Longhorn state participants with Texas State facing off versus Texas and Texas A&M facing off versus Texas Southern. Getting by the Longhorns and Aggies is a tough task, but Texas State is one of the best teams in the nation no one knows about and will give their big sisters a tough route to super regionals.
A tough snub: James Madison is sitting at 50-6 with wins over the best of the best nationally. They are #12 in the latest coaches poll and #13 in RPI. Alas, women’s sports home sites do not always go to the most deserving, meaning the Dukes are headed to the Waco regional. Baylor is a very good team, but this is a regional that James Madison should be favored to win.
A tough snub part 2: Come on, what else did the Ragin’ Cajuns need to do to host a regional? Someone in the selection committee had humor in mind with LSU hosting a regional with Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns also headed to Baton Rouge. As long as they dispatch of McNeese State and Fairfield, two games between LSU and Louisiana for a spot in the super regionals should be one of the best in the tournament.
Easiest Regional: Salt Lake City Regional. BYU, a Forgotten in softball, is headed to Salt Lake City in a regional comprised also of Mississippi State, Utah, and Fordham. The Cougars have already beaten #11 national seed Utah and Mississippi State has 20+ losses on the season. This regional is set up for BYU to advance and face the winner of the Seattle regional.
Surprise team to watch: Saint Francis. The Red Flash are on a 21 game winning streak and are 48-9 on the season. Led by Cheyenne McKee (.392 avg.), they can mash the ball. Saint Fransic has three different pitchers that have been impressive this season, but if they are to move on Ethel Santai (18-1) must put the team on her back. If they can get by South Carolina in the opener, they will be on a crash course to face #2 national seed Arizona in the winners bracket. Don’t be surprised if the Red Flash make a wave in Tuscon.
Pitchers to watch: Megan Good, JMU (0.48 ERA, 36-1, 255 K, 14 shououts), Emily Watson, Tulsa (0.96 ERA, 28-4, 329 K, 14 shutouts), Whitney Gillespie, Jacksonville State (1.11 ERA, 19-4), Jordan Dixon, Marshall (1.73 ERA, 31-8, 283 K), Randi Rupp (1.19 ERA, 27-9, 312 K), McKenna Bull, BYU (1.23 ERA, 29-5, 226 K, 11 shutouts), Holly McKinnon, USC Upstate (1.36 ERA, 24-7, 207 K).
Batters to watch: DJ Sanders, UL (28 HR, 78 RBI), Morgan Zerkle, Marshall (.484 avg., 37 SB), Justyce McClain, McNeese State (.447 avg., 31 SB), Jackie Schoff, FIU (.442 avg.), Morgan Howe, Fresno State (.438 avg.), Elizabeth Snow, Albany (.438 avg.), Kelsey Horton, NMSU (.424 avg., 59 RBI), Jordan Seneca, Saint Francis (21 HR, 64 RBI), Maddy Grimm, Kent State (19 HR, 55 RBI), Aleah Craighton, UL (18 HR), Megan Good JMU (57 RBI), Haley Hayden (56 RBI), Elicia D’ Orazio, Marshall (56 SB).
NCAA Tournament Schedule:
(All regionals start on Friday, May 19 except for Salt Lake City Regional starting on Thursday).
Salt Lake City Regional
- Mississippi State vs. BYU | 6 p.m. | ESPN3
- #11 Utah vs. Fordham | 8:30 p.m. | ESPN3
- Oklahoma State vs. Florida International | 12 p.m. | ESPNU
- #1 Florida vs. Florida A&M | 2:30 p.m. | SEC Network
- Louisiana Tech vs. Minnesota | 2:30 p.m. | ESPNU
- #16 Alabama vs. Albany | 5 p.m. | SEC Network
College Station Regional
- Texas State vs. Texas | 5 p.m. | Longhorn Network
- #9 Texas A&M vs. Texas Southern | 7:30 p.m. | ESPN3
- C. Upstate vs. Ohio State | 4:30 p.m. | ESPN3
- #8 Tennessee vs. Longwood | 7 p.m. | ESPN2
Los Angeles Regional
- CSU Fullerton vs. San Jose State | 9 p.m. | ESPN3
- #5 UCLA vs. Lehigh | 11:30 p.m. | ESPN2
- North Carolina vs. Arizona State | 7 p.m. | ESPN
- #12 Mississippi vs. Southern Illinois | 9:30 p.m. | ESPN3
Baton Rouge Regional
- Louisiana vs. McNeese State | 4 p.m. | ESPN3
- #13 LSU vs. Fairfield | 6:30 p.m. | ESPN3
- Jacksonville State vs. Georgia | 4:30 p.m. | ESPN2
- #4 Florida State vs. Princeton | 7 p.m. | ESPNU
- Missouri vs. Wisconsin | 9 p.m. | ESPN
- #3 Oregon vs. Illinois-Chicago | 11:30 p.m. | ESPNU
- Marshall vs. Illinois | 12 p.m. ET | ESPN
- #14 Kentucky vs. DePaul | 2:30 p.m. | ESPN3
- Fresno State vs. Michigan | 9 p.m. | ESPN2
- #6 Washington vs. Montana | 11:30 p.m. | ESPN3
- California vs. Notre Dame | 2 p.m. | ESPN2
- #7 Auburn vs. East Tennessee State | 4:30 p.m. | ESPNU
- Arkansas vs. Tulsa | 12:30 p.m. | SEC Network
- #10 Oklahoma vs. North Dakota State | 2:30 p.m. | ESPN3
- James Madison vs. Oregon State | 5 p.m. | ESPN3
- #15 Baylor vs. Kent State | 7:30 p.m. | ESPN3
- Francis (Pa.) vs. South Carolina | 7 p.m. | ESPN3
- #2 Arizona vs. New Mexico State | 9:30 p.m. | ESPNU