Also known as “The Stupidest Icebreaker of All Time: Sports Edition™”
Softball season is back, baby! But this time, it’s not courtesy of Athletes Unlimited. Instead, Division 1 Softball of the NCAA has been serving up thrilling victories, crushing defeats, and––as always––plenty of upsets. Now that Week 2 of the season has concluded, it’s time to take stock of everything that’s happened so far, including the good, bad, and potentially interesting. So without further ado, here are some roses, thorns, and buds from the first month of the D1 Softball season.
Rose: Oklahoma Shining
It’s probably way too early to tell, but we’re calling it anyways: Oklahoma is gonna smash it this year. The 2021 champions are undefeated so far, and sit comfortably at the top of D1 Softball’s Week 2 rankings. The Sooners were already expected to impress before the season even started––after all, they didn’t make too many changeups from their winning roster last year. But success on paper is very different from success where it counts, so Oklahoma’s flying start is absolutely something to celebrate.
Rose: Florida State Cruising
FSU––like the Sooners––is having a great 2022, and recently leapfrogged UCLA into the coveted No. 4 spot. The Seminoles’ climb in the rankings is well-deserved; they cruised through the St. Pete Clearwater Elite Invitational, going 5–0 despite facing multiple ranked teams. As a side note, Mack Leonard deserves individual praise for her performances so far. Despite only recently joining the ‘Noles as a transfer, she’s currently boasting an impressive average of .500.
Rose: Northwestern Rebounding
Northwestern had a disappointing season last year, crashing out of the Tournament with a pair of losses to Kentucky. But the team refused to wallow in their setbacks. “This is not the end of the story, only the end of the chapter of this season. […] From here, I promise you there is no place to go but up for us.” wrote Sydney Supple in a blog post after their defeat. Fast forward to 2022, and up they have gone. The Wildcats pulled off a major upset against the No. 3 UCLA Bruins, and moved up ELEVEN places in the Week 2 rankings. Their celebration after Maeve Nelson’s three-run home run says it all. This team knows how to hold their heads up high through hardships––and they’re ready to take the league by storm.
Rose: Jocelyn Alo Doing Her Thing™
Jocelyn Alo is a once-in-a-generation player, and she’ll soon have a spot in the history books to prove it. Last Sunday, she hit the 85th home run of her career against Texas State; in doing so, she tied the world record set by Lauren Chamberlain, a fellow Sooner and softball GOAT. Per Just Women’s Sports, Alo used a simple tactic against the Bobcats. “Honestly, just ‘see ball, hit ball,” Alo said. “Just trying not to do too much. I was honestly in my head a little too much, and thankfully I got out of it. But just trying to do my thing and do what I do.” Keep doing your thing, Jocelyn! Clearly it’s working.
“Nobody understands the moment like each other. So you just form this bond whether you want to or not.” @LChamberlain44 sat down with @michellachester as @78jocelyn_alo is one home run away from breaking her NCAA home run record.— College Softball News (@TheSoftballNews) February 23, 2022
➡️ … pic.twitter.com/M20Ihp3RAU
Now for the less-than-stellar developments…
Thorn: UCLA Stumbling
Once touted as a major title threat heading into the season, UCLA is in a bit of a rough spot. The Bruins’ ranking has started to slip, and their 7–3 record isn’t much to write home about either. Zooming in on their three defeats only makes matters worse. The Oklahoma and Florida State losses were understandable, as they’re top teams at the peak of their powers. But the uncharacteristically sloppy pitching against Northwestern? Bad sign. It’s not time for panic mode just yet, but the Bruins need to get their affairs in order before any unranked teams start smelling blood.
Thorn: Texas Faceplanting…Down a Long Flight of Stairs…into a Bonfire
Is everything alright in the land of the Longhorns? After a strong showing in their first week, Texas exploded like a Range Rover on a Michael Bay film set. Five straight losses during Week 2, a demotion to unranked status, an alarmingly high number of errors during their games…and if that wasn’t enough, their match versus UNT was canceled. Just terrible luck all around.
Thorn: Caitlynn Neal Catching a Ball…and Eating a Fence
It’s honestly unclear who this thorn is really for. Caitlynn Neal, for having to crash into a fence to make that insane catch? Iowa State, for having to fix said destroyed fence afterwards? Nebraska State, for gaining a sliver of hope after Neal’s heroics, and then losing anyways? The fence? There really aren’t any winners here except for those watching the action at home.
Finally, here’s a sprout of hope for the games ahead:
Bud: Upsets Repeating
The Wildcats’ victory against UCLA wasn’t the only upset in the first two weeks. UCF beat No. 19 Georgia in extra innings just a week earlier, and Texas was technically a ranked team when they got knocked by FGCU. Hopefully, David-versus-Goliath match-ups like these will be a recurring theme in the future. That would truly make this season one to remember.