By Kaia Zimmerman
The first round of the NCAA Division I softball tournament wrapped up on Sunday, May 23, cutting the 64 team field down to 16 for the Super Regionals, starting Thursday, May 27.
The super regionals are the second round of the tournament. The teams remaining must play their matchup in a three-game series to punch their ticket to the College World Series in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma Sooners made some noise in the regional tournament coming in ranked number one overall. The Sooners broke the record for the most runs in a regional, scoring 64 total runs in three games, most runs in a regional game with 24, and tied the regional record for home runs in a game with six. The Oklahoma team is the most dominant hitting team in college softball today and could be one of the best hitting teams of all time. They will face off against the 16-seed Washington.
The Huskies beat Michigan twice in their region coming out of the losers bracket, and have been a dominant squad over the years. They are led by one of the best shortstops in the game and the 2018, 2019, and 2021 PAC-12 defensive player of the year, Nicole “Sis” Bates.
UCLA is coming into the tournament as the previous national champions after they defeated Oklahoma in walk off fashion. Rachel Garcia is leading the Bruins this year and is coming into the 2021 season as back-to-back collegiate player of the year and is also on Team USA. This season Garcia recorded a 0.78 ERA. She is a great pitcher who can also turn it on on the offensive side. In the regional round, Garcia got two wins on the mound with 18 strikeouts along with going 4 for 8 with three RBI. Going into the super regionals, she is batting a .373 along with 12 home runs and 32 RBI. UCLA was tested early in the tournament defeating Minnesota and Fresno State by one run, but escaped the region unscathed to move on to the super regionals. They will face Virginia Tech, who knocked off the 15-seed Arizona State in the regional round.
Alabama is the three-seed for the tournament. They are led by pitcher Montana Fouts, who played great in the regional, recording 28 strikeouts against two walks in 14 innings. Fouts will have to continue her success to give Alabama the win, but they also have help on the offensive end. The Crimson Tide will face off with 14-seed Kentucky, who survived the losers bracket in the first round. The Wildcats are going to have to play near perfection if they want to knock off the Crimson Tide.
The Florida Gators will have to face off against Georgia who knocked off 13-seed Duke in the regional. This Georgia team is no joke, handing Oklahoma (46-2) their first loss of the season on April 21. They have a strong team and it will be interesting to see if they can pull off the upset against a very good Florida team. The Gators will have the better pitching which could help them escape an upset.