Top-seeded Oklahoma scored 50 runs over its first three regional contests.
By Alex Holmes
13 of the tournament’s top 16 seeds advanced to the second weekend of the 2021 NCAA Division I Softball Tournament. The four top seeds Oklahoma, UCLA, Alabama, and Florida dominated their regionals, while three unseeded teams—Georgia, Virginia Tech, and James Madison—pulled off upsets to advance to the Super Regionals.
Only four of the regionals were decided with a Game 7. Fourteenth-seeded Kentucky shut out Notre Dame in back-to-back games to advance out of the Lexington Regional, while No. 7 LSU held off in-state rival Louisiana to earn the right to host a Super Regional. No. 12 Texas and No. 16 Washington beat Oregon and Michigan, respectively, in Game 7 to avoid the regional upset.
No. 1 Oklahoma exploded for the most runs over the weekend, setting a tournament regional record with 50 runs over three games. The Sooners shutout Morgan State 19–0 in their opening game, then held off a pesky Wichita State team 7–5 in their second game before going off for 24 runs in their final contest against the Shockers. The Sooners will host No. 16 Washington this weekend in the Norman Super Regional.
Out of the remaining teams in the tournament, Oklahoma owns the best team batting average on the season at .424. The Sooners are led by freshmen Tiare Jennings (.488) and Jayda Coleman (.478), and senior Jocelyn Alo (.477).
No. 12 Texas has the second-best BA in the field, entering the Super Regionals hitting .348 on the season. No. 2 UCLA and No. 14 Kentucky both have the third-best BA on the season at .328. Kentucky’s junior catcher Kayla Kowalik has the best individual BA, entering the second weekend of play with a .505 season batting average.
The Super Regionals are filled with exciting matchups across the bracket. No. 1 Oklahoma will host No. 16 Washington in a matchup between two USA Softball Player of the Year finalists. Oklahoma and Jocelyn Alo will bat against Washington pitcher Gabbie Plain. The first game in the best-of-three series is slated for Friday, May 28 at 3 P.M. ET on ESPN2.
No. 3 Alabama will welcome No. 14 Kentucky to the Tuscaloosa Super Regional. The two teams met four times during the season. The Wildcats got the best of the Crimson Tide in late March, winning two of three games in the regular season before Alabama knocked Kentucky out of the SEC Tournament in the quarterfinals just over two weeks ago. The Tuscaloosa Super Regional begins Friday, May 28 at 1 P.M. ET on ESPN2.
The third Super Regional to keep an eye on will take place in Gainesville, with No. 4 Florida battling SEC foe Georgia. The Gators have the upper hand on the season. Florida went 2–1 against Georgia during the season series in Athens in April. The opening game of the Gainesville Super Regional will start on Friday, May 28 at 5 P.M. on ESPN2.
James Madison will travel to No. 8 Missouri for the Columbia Super Regional in a battle between two talented pitching lineups. James Madison is led by pitcher Odicci Alexander, who owns the second best ERA of pitchers remaining in the tournament at 1.04. Missouri’s pitchers threw two one-hitters in the regional before Jordan Weber completed the no-hitter in the Columbia Regional finale against Iowa State. Coverage for the Columbia Super Regional is slated for Friday, May 28 at 9 P.M. ET on ESPNU.
The winner of each Super Regional will advance to the Women’s College World Series. The final eight teams will compete for the national championship June 3–9 in Oklahoma City. In light of eased COVID-19 restrictions, the famous USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex is prepared to operate at 100 percent fan capacity.
The 2021 NCAA Division I Softball Tournament continues with Super Regionals later this week. No. 7 LSU and No. 10 Florida State will begin Super Regional action on Thursday, May 27 at 7 P.M. ET on ESPN. No. 2 UCLA and Virginia Tech will follow in their first game at 9:30 P.M. ET in the Los Angeles Regional also on ESPN. All Super Regional games will air on ESPN, ESPN2, or ESPNU. The championship bracket is available here.