Part 1: Predicting the D-I Regionals

Part 1: Predicting the D-I Regionals

Anything can happen in college softball. You can know this by just being a fan of the game (see Florida’s early exit last year). In my case I also know this by the exponent in the formula for the Pythagorean Theorem for women’s college softball. That exponent is 1.5, which is extremely low as far as exponents in sport goes, which means there is a large amount of randomness in the game.

Here is my attempt to predict the outcomes of the 16 Regional sites, with games starting today.

Teams: Florida (Offense #3 nationally, Defense 1), FIU (80, 31), Oklahoma State (31, 75), Florida A&M (223, 181).
Overview: Florida rolls. The best chance for an upset would come at the hand of FIU’s fabulous freshman pitcher Shannon Saile, but that means she’ll have to out-pitch the Gators’ Kelly Barnhill, Delanie Gourley, and Aleshia Ocasio….twice! I can’t see that happening, especially with Florida’s high-powered offense.
Prediction: Florida rolls.

Teams: Minnesota (7, 7), Louisiana Tech (29, 43), Albany (166, 244), Alabama (34, 4).
Overview: This is the Regional everyone will be watching after the NCAA’s egregious slight of Minnesota. While the Gophers might be licking their chops for a shot at Alabama, they should not overlook Louisiana Tech. The Lady Techsters bring a balanced offense to this match-up against Minnesota’s ace Sara Groenewegen.
The host team, Alabama, is formidable due to their tandem of aces Alexis Osario and Sydney Littlejohn. But if Alabama has an achilles heel it’s on offense. The Tide have averaged just over two runs a game in their last 15 games, and that number is skewed thanks to an 8-1 win over Samford.
Prediction: This is a very, very tough one. While my heart will be pulling for Minnesota, my head says coach Patrick Murphy manufactures enough runs so that his Crimson Tide team advances to Super Regionals.

Teams: Texas A&M (5, 6), Texas Southern (275, 161) Texas (18, 30), Texas St. (58, 17).
Overview: Pitching looms large in this regional. First and foremost I am interested in the Texas vs. Texas State match-up. Twice this season Texas State’s Randi Rupp recorded complete game 2-1 victories over Texas, the second time in 9 innings. But the Texas trio of Erica Wright (1.99 RA7) Brooke Bollinger (2.21 RA7), and Tiarra Davis (3.15 RA7) can bring it as well.
In the other game, host Texas A&M may not run-rule Texas Southern thanks to pitchers Jasmine Fulmore (2.50 RA7) and Lauren Rodriguez (2.53 RA7) . But while the A&M offense is impressive when they swing the bat, what catches my attention is that the Aggies walk more (237 times) than they strikeout (205 times).
Prediction: The Aggies advance.

Teams: Tennessee (9, 11), Ohio State (23, 32), USC Upstate (109, 24), Longwood (212, 86).
Overview: This is Tennessee’s Regional to lose, so it’s the match-up of Ohio State against USC Upstate that intrigues me. USC Upstate gets lights-out pitching from Holly McKinnon and Lexi Shubert but struggles on offense. Ohio State brings less pitching but a much better offense led by Lilli Piper, who can do it all with a split of .418/.434/.776 and who was 12 for 12 in stolen bases to boot.
Prediction: Tennessee goes 3-0, defeating Ohio State twice to reach the Super Regionals.

Teams: UCLA (13, 15), San Jose St. (81, 66), Cal. St. Fullerton (155, 44), Lehigh (202, 105).
Overview: It would be easy to think that UCLA will steamroll this group, but Lehigh’s Fran Troyan brings a team that is no stranger to the NCAA tournament. That being said, UCLA is just that good. The Bruins are led in the circle by PAC-12 Freshman of the Year Rachel Garcia, and also boast four hitters with 10 or more home runs in Delaney Spaulding (14), Brianna Tautalafua (13), Madeline Jelenicki (12), and Bubba Nickles (10).
Like other Regionals, it is the #2 vs. #3 seed game that I want to see. Cal. State Fullerton brings pitching depth in Kelsey Kessler (2.02 RA7) and Cerissa Rivera (2.39 RA7) that should help them past San Jose State.
Prediction: UCLA advances despite a close game or two.

Teams: Arizona State (43, 9), Ole Miss (30, 26), North Carolina (53, 53), Southern Illinois (111, 91).
Overview: Ole Miss is the class of this group when Kaitlin Lee (2.30 RA7) is pitching. I just don’t see anyone beating Ole Miss and their SEC Tournament MVP.
Prediction: Ole Miss goes to the Super Regional.

Teams: LSU (11, 16), Louisiana (6, 37), McNeese (26, 57), Fairfield (214, 233).
Overview: The game between Louisiana and McNeese State is a toss-up. What isn’t a toss-up is that LSU should advance thanks to a veteran lineup. LSU wins behind pitchers Allie Walljasper, Carley Hoover, and Sydney Smith. The Tigers also sport a prolific offense led by Bailey Landry (.431/.467/.585) and Sahvanna Jaquish (.343/.548/.566).
Prediction: LSU advances.

Teams: Florida State (4, 3), Georgia (16, 29), Jacksonville State (46, 28), Princeton (141, 154).
Overview: Once again it’s the #2 vs. #3 game that has my attention. Can Jacksonville State’s workhorse Whitney Gillespie, seventh in the country with an RA7 of 1.38, tame the base stealing abilities of the Georgia Bulldogs? Georgia stole 103 of 119 (86.5%) attempts this season. Especially key is keeping Cortni Emanuel, who hits second in the Bulldogs’ lineup, off the bases. Emanuel (.428/.465/445) was 43 of 51 (84%) in stolen bases this season.
Florida State, behind ace pitchers Jessica Burroughs and Meghan King, should cruise through this Regional.
Prediction: FSU advances.