The NCAA has announced their selections for the field of 64 in the 2018 Division I Softball National Championship. After a winning season in an incredibly tough Pac 12, the Beavers have earned a trip down south, for the Tuscaloosa Regional.
The Beavers finished their regular season with a 28-26 record, and a 9-14 Pac 12 record. That was good enough for sixth in what was arguably the toughest conference in the nation.
The tournament’s top seed is Oregon, who defeated UCLA for the Pac 12 championship this weekend. Other regional hosts from the Pac 12 include No. 3 UCLA, No. 5 Washington, No. 8 Arizona State, and No. 14 Arizona. California will also compete in the Athens regional hosted by No. 7 Georgia.
Who’s Their Competition?
No. 12 Alabama Crimson Tide (33-18) - The regional host, and a perennial contender in the postseason, having won the 2012 championship. This year’s Tide has a tough pitching lineup, with Alexis Osorio, Courtney Gettins, and Madison Preston combining for a 2.49 ERA. The team’s batting lineup is features outfielder Kaylee Tow, who led the team with a .350 Batting Average and a .486 On Base Percentage. Alabama also features a deadly slugger in Bailey Hemphill, who posted a .721 Slugging Percentage, with 12 Home Runs. After a strong start to their season, Alabama got somewhat lost in a very competitive SEC, and are looking to stand out from the tournament field.
Wisconsin Badgers (28-21) - Wisconsin landed in the middle of the Big 10 after a solid season. Pitcher Haley Hestikin will have to do a lot of work to keep this team in the tournament, as she’s the team’s only real threat on the mound with a 2.45 ERA. Wisconsin does have a deadly hitter in Kelsey Jenkins, who led the team in Batting Average (.415), Slugging (.615), and On Base Percentage (.575).
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (39-20) - The only conference champion in this regional. The Blue Raiders won the Conference USA after a strong run in the conference’s championship tournament. The team has a great starting pitcher in Cori Jennings, with a 2.23 ERA, but the team as a whole is solid, with a 2.68 averaged ERA. The team’s batting lineup is led by Precious Birdsong, with a .382 Batting Average, a .479 Slugging Percentage, and a .460 On Base Percentage. Middle Tennessee is going to look to prove they belong after finishing in the middle of the pack in the CUSA, before their impressive run in the conference tournament.
When’s This Going Down?
Things get started Friday, May 18, when Oregon State takes on Wisconsin at 4:00 PT. Then, at 6:30, Alabama takes on Middle Tennessee. Regionals is a double elimination, so the Beavers will have at least two opportunities to prove themselves. Check out OSU Softball’s twitter for more news.