A10 Softball Blog

An Atlantic 10 Conference Softball Fan Blog written from a fan's perspective. It is not affiliated with the conference or any of the teams.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Dayton adds Sydney Cicchetti

After having their best season in over 10 years, the Dayton Flyers are poised to be even better in 2012. Coach Cara LaPlaca announced the addition of Sydney Cicchetti to Dayton in 2012. Cicchetti is a pitcher who has played for Seward Community College in Kansas for the past two seasons. Cicchetti is said to be a hard thrower and she could really complete the Flyers' staff for next season.

Next year Dayton will feature four pitchers in the circle: Alysha Isaacson, Sarah Wedel, Cicchetti, and Kayla English. Dayton will have the depth in the circle to really challenge for the A10 title and it is clear that this program is moving in the right direction.

Cicchetti is the first Canadian pitcher since Kaila Holtz played at UMass. Holtz pitched for the 2004 Canadian Olympic team and she was named A10 Pitcher of the Year twice in her career. Cicchetti will look to uphold the legacy of Canadian pitchers.

Kelsi Seidlitz and Amanda Daly will not be playing next year for Dayton

Saturday, May 28, 2011

News and notes

St. Louis coach Christy Connoyer recaps the Billikens' season

Patch.com writes about the impact that Samantha Schoell is making on the Temple squad

The Brakettes have released their preliminary roster, which includes three UMass alums: Carly Normandin, Denise Denis, and Brandice Balschmiter. Over the coming weeks more A10 players should appear on the roster.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Former Charlotte Pitchers are Playing Softball in Europe this Summer!

Emily Jeffery
Charlotte's Katy Hackett and Emily Jeffery will be headed to Europe this summer to play softball. Playing softball in Europe is an amazing experience and it brings some nice exposure for Charlotte as well. Jeffery was a dominating pitcher for the 49ers dominating batters with her speed and movement en route to becoming Charlotte's single season and career leader in SO. Jeffery will go down as one of the all time greats in both A10 and Charlotte history and she really helped elevate the Charlotte program to a whole other level. Jeffery will be playing in Belgium this summer and she should make her team an instant favorite. Jeffery can control a game from the circle and European hitters are going to have a tough time hitting against her.

Katy Hackett just wrapped up her senior season at Charlotte and she was spectacular in her final season at DL Phillips Softball Complex. Hackett has been a force in the circle over her career for the 49ers thanks in large part to a knee-buckling changeup. That changeup befuddled hitters for 4 years, especially at the 2011 Atlantic 10 Tournament. Hackett had all of the pitches in the circle, but what really set her apart from other pitchers was her toughness. When she had no room for error with her pitches it seemed like she was at her best. Coach Aimee DeVos and the 49ers are going to miss her presence in the circle. This summer, Katy Hackett will be playing for the Wesseling Vermins in Germany. Germany features some pretty good teams, most notably the Mannheim Tornados, so she will be put to the test, but with the way she is throwing opponents better watch out. The Vermins are going to be a tough team to beat with Hackett in the circle.

Katy Hackett
Best of luck to Emily Jeffery and Katy Hackett in Europe! It should be the experience of a lifetime and they have definitely made both Charlotte and the A10 proud.

Recruit to watch: Monica Macchiarulo

Monica Macchiarulo
Although she is just a sophomore in high school, Monica Macchiarulo has already attracted the attention of quite a few programs. Macchiarulo is a left handed hitting outfielder from Newtown, Connecticut, which is right the heart of A10 recruiting territory. Macchiarulo even caught the attention of the coaches of the Stratford Brakettes last summer and played in two games for the Brakettes. The Brakettes have numerous Atlantic 10 ties including Lindsey Kay Bright of Fordham, Erin Gallagher of St. Joseph's, Christine Della Vecchia, Sara Plourde, and five alums from UMass. Macchiarulo hit .400 for the Brakettes and scored 2 runs for the Northeast powerhouse. Hopefully they will ask her back again this year because she can play.

Being from Connecticut, Macchiarulo is going to be highly sought after by both UMass and Fordham. St. Joseph's and Rhode Island also figure to make a run at the talented young outfielder as well. This is going to be one of the more intense recruiting battles in A10 history, if Macchiarulo keeps developing. Hofstra and UConn also figure to make charges at her as well, but the A10 schools are in much better shape at the moment.

One more thing: Monica has a younger sister Morgan who might be just as good. If you get one Macchiarulo, you might also get a second

Jen Mineau has been invited to try out for the US National Team!

After another outstanding season for Fordham, Jen Mineau will be taking her talents to the next level by trying out for the US National Softball Team. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and there is no doubt that she will take full advantage of it. Mineau is one of the best pitchers in the country and it is nice to see that the rest of the country is taking notice. Perhaps the most remarkable thing of all is that Mineau is just one of three players that do not come from a BCS school.

Regardless of whether she makes the team or not (though she deserves to make it) Mineau has represented the conference well and she will be a better pitcher because of it. This is a great moment for Fordham and Coach Bridget Orchard. Mineau is the 1st Atlantic 10 Player to try out since Brandice Balschmiter did in 2009. Mineau has become well known around the country due to her performances against top teams, which is exactly why teams should schedule tough games.
Jen Mineau

Monday, May 23, 2011

Atlantic 10 All Conference Teams

Since blogger finally decided to make this post reappear...

Atlantic 10 Player of the Year: Jocelyn Dearborn, Fordham

Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Year: Sara Plourde, UMass

Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year: Stephanie Pasquale, Temple

Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year: Bridget Orchard, Fordham

Atlantic 10 1st Team

P Jen Mineau, Fordham

P Sara Plourde, UMass

C Tenaya Tucker, Charlotte

1B Maureen Wells, St. Bonaventure

2B Bernadette Moran, St. Joseph's

3B Jocelyn Dearborn, Fordham

SS Samantha Pellechio, Fordham

OF Kristin Nicoletti, St. Louis

OF Briana Gwaltney, Charlotte

OF Dana Parks, St. Joseph's

DP Lauren Nacke, Dayton

Atlantic 10 2nd Team

P Katy Hackett, Charlotte

P Erin Gallagher, St. Joseph's

C Stephanie Pasquale, Temple

1B Jamie LaBovick, Fordham

2B Rachel Knable, Temple

3B Monica Aguilar, St. Joseph's

SS Sarah Prezioso, Temple

OF Kathleen Maloof, Dayton

OF Whitney Williams, Charlotte

OF Cyndil Matthew, UMass

DP Brooke Frey, St. Bonaventure

Atlantic 10 Honorable Mention

P/OF Kristen Marris, Temple

2B Kyllie Magill, UMass

OF Lindsey Webster, UMass

Atlantic 10 All Rookie Team

P/1B Kalie Lang, Charlotte

P Alysha Isaacson, Dayton

C Gabby Luety, Fordham

SS Ashley Snider, St. Bonaventure

SS Sarah Prezioso, Temple

OF Tiffany Meeks, UMass

OF Lindsey Webster, UMass

OF Chelsea Lenhart, George Washington

Comments: The coaches did pick the right players for each position, but I think the 1st team needs two at-large spots to accommodate positions that are especially deep. For this season, 3rd base comes to mind: Jocelyn Dearborn put up amazing numbers on the year for Fordham and thus deserved her spot on the squad, but Monica Aguilar deserved a spot on the squad as well. Aguilar had the numbers to be on the 1st team, but because of her position she was relegated to the 2nd team.

While a couple of the individual awards could have gone in another direction, they came out just about how I expected them to.

More Recruiting News

Charlotte and Coach Aimee DeVos have announced the signing of Chelsea Lisikatos today. Lisikatos is a pitcher from Cold Spring, NY, which is in the Poughkeepsie area. Lisikatos figures to see some time both in the circle and at the plate. Lisikatos has recorded over 1000 strikeouts in the circle and she is currently hitting a scorching .679 at the plate. Lisikatos and the rest of Charlotte's pitchers will have some big shoes to fill with the graduation of Katy Hackett. New York has produced some pretty good A10 pitchers, including Brandice Balschmiter, Jen Mineau, and Danielle Henderson. Charlotte will look to Lisikatos to continue that legacy.

Last week St. Louis and Coach Christy Connoyer announced the signings of three players for next season. Lindsay Friedman, Erin Harcar, and Breanna Lockette will join the Billikens for the 2012 campaign. Friedman figures to add some depth in the outfield for St. Louis, while Harcar and Lockette are utility players that could see action in a few different positions.

As always feel free to email commitment news to atlantic10softball@gmail.com

Recruiting Update: Class of 2012

With most 2011 classes pretty much set at this point, it is now time to look at the 2012s. Here are the players currently committed at the moment

Jessica Plemmons CF Carolina Attitude

Allie Bradian SS NJ Gators
Samantha Laird C NJ Inferno
Morgan Eisenga P Sorcerers Blue

George Washington
Meghan Rico P/OF RI Thunder
Morgan Matetic C/UT Pittsburgh Power
Laura Thompson P/1B Georgia Elite

Olivia Godin C RI Thunder

St. Joseph's
Anna Lauterbach P Connellsville Cyclones

Kelsey Dominik P/1B Lower South Liberty

This class should fill out over the next few months.

Recruiting Update: Videos

Some videos of future A10 players
Anna Lauterbach (2012 St. Joseph's)
Taylor Pirone (2011 Fordham)
Bridget Lemire (2011 UMass)

Mikayla Panko (2011 UMass)

Anna Kelley (2011 UMass)

Allie Kearney (2011 UMass)

Kayla English (2011 Dayton)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Seniors: George Washington

Ali Pardo
Ali Pardo: after recovering from an injury that she suffered in 2009, Pardo built upon her 2010 campaign to help the Colonials to a solid season under 1st year Coach Stacey Schramm. Pardo provided valuable depth in the circle behind Kara Clauss and Heidi Penna and she saw some important innings when Clauss went down with an injury. Pardo picked up her 2nd career win over George Mason this year, which broke the Colonials seven game losing streak. Pardo also picked up a win in her freshman year over NC Central. Pardo also opened up the George Washington pipeline from Florida, which has helped the Colonials score some pretty players over recent years. Pardo has also been a stud off the field as well, which can be read in this story.

Katie Terrazas: as a four year starter Colonials, she saw the squad go through ups and downs, but she really finished her career in a strong manner, as she was named the 2011 team MVP of George Washington. Terrazas started her career out well by hitting .298 with 1 HR and 13 RBI, while starting all 39 games at shortstop. In her sophomore year, Terrazas' average went down a little bit, but her power numbers shot up, as she hit 5 HR with 18 RBI. That homerun total is one of the best in Colonial history. Much like the rest of her team Terrazas' numbers dropped in 2009, but she was really able to turn things around for her senior season. Terrazas had her best season and she played an instrumental role in George Washington's turn around in 2011. Terrazas hit .304 with 42 hits and 12 RBI. Terrazas stepped up as a leader for the Colonials and she really bought into the changes that Coach Schramm brought to the program. Coach Schramm really had to change the entire mentality of George Washington softball and she had a lot of help from her senior leader. Terrazas will be missed, but she has helped lay a solid foundation for future Colonial squads.

Atlantic 10 Connections to Super Regionals

While there may not be any Atlantic 10 teams at Super Regionals this year, there are a few connections to the conference

If anyone has any more feel free to write an email or send a comment

1. Arizona State: while the Sun Devils have not faced any A10 teams, Jamie LaBovick played travel ball with Dallas Escobedo, Lindsey Edgerton, Mary Spiel for the AZ Hotshots. St. Louis' Laura Bohning played high school softball with Mary Spiel of ASU at Corona Del Sol. In addition, the Sun Devils were sent out to regionals in Amherst, MA at UMass in 2010.

2. Alabama: won a very close game against Fordham this year on a walkoff 2-run HR down at the Citrus Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. Cassie Reilly-Boccia of the Crimson Tide played travel softball with Samantha Pellechio and the late Nicole Ayres of Fordham for the NJ Inferno.

4. Florida: has not faced any A10 teams this year. Briana Gwaltney of Charlotte played high school ball with USA Softball Player of the Year Finalist Megan Bush at Canyon High School in Anaheim Hill, CA.

5. Missouri: won a very tight 8-7 game against Temple at the USF Fairfield Inn and Suites Tampa North Tournament, as well as sweeping St. Louis in three games this year, winning 12-0 (5), 7-4, and 5-1. Tori Holland and Missouri's Shana White are both from Columbia, MO.

6. Georgia: has not played any A10 teams. Georgia's catcher/designated player Kristyn Sandberg played with Lindsey Kay Bright of Fordham, Erin Gallagher of St. Joseph's, and Sara Plourde and Christine Della Vecchia of UMass for the Stratford Brakettes. Former UMass players Jessica Serio, Carly Normandin, Denise Denis, Bailey Sanders, and Brandice Balschmiter also played for the Brakettes. Monica Aguilar of St. Joseph's also played travel ball with Taylor Schlopy of Georgia for the SoCal Athletics.

7. California: beat UMass 4-0 in a pitcher's duel between Sara Plourde and Jolene Henderson. Monica Aguilar of St. Joseph's played high school ball with Elia and Jamia Reid at Kennedy HS in Buena Park, CA. Ashley Decker also played travel ball with Jamie LaBovick of Fordham for the AZ Hotshots.

8. Arizona: did not face any A10 teams this year. Bridgette Del Ponte played high school and travel ball with Jamie LaBovick for Sunrise Mountain and the AZ Hotshots. Becca Tikey and Nicole Bryan also played for the Hotshots. Lauren Schutzler and Tiffany Meeks of UMass both went to Notre Dame HS in California. Laura Bohning played travel ball with Kenzie Fowler and Karissa Buchanan for the Desert Thunder.

9. Oklahoma: also did not play any A10 teams this year. Allee Allen also went to Kennedy HS in Buena Park, CA with Monica Aguilar.

11. Baylor: did not face any A10 teams this year. Sandi Moynihan of George Washington and Baylor's Liz Paul are both from Sugar Land, TX.

12. Washington: beat Fordham and UMass at the Cathedral City Classic this year, winning 2-0 and 9-2. Jenna Clifton of Washington also played with LaBovick for the Hotshots. Devynne Nelons and Crystal Nyman of Temple, Teea Rogers of UMass, Carlyn Harlow of Dayton, and Lindsey Kay Bright of Fordham played with Baily Harris and Marki Creger-Zier of Washington.

13. Oregon: beat Fordham 2-0 at the University Park Regional this year. Jenna Clifton of Washington also played with LaBovick for the Hotshots. Devynne Nelons and Crystal Nyman of Temple, Teea Rogers of UMass, Carlyn Harlow of Dayton, and Lindsey Kay Bright of Fordham played with Allie Burger and Mikayla Endicott of Washington.

15. Stanford: did not play any A10 teams this season. Gabby Luety of Fordham played with Michelle Prong of Stanford for the TC Tremors. Ashley Hansen is the sister of former Fordham player Megan Hansen and she also played for the AZ Hotshots at one point and she was a high school teammate of Laura Bohning at Corona Del Sol. Tiffany Meeks of UMass played with Caitlyn Pura of Stanford in HS at Notre Dame in Salinas, CA. Meeks also played travel ball with Caitlin Breen of the Cardinal for the San Jose Sting.

16. Texas A&M: did not play any A10 games. Katie Terrazas of George Washington and Lindsey Sisk of Texas A&M are both from Murrieta, CA.

Houston: Drawing a blank

Kentucky: did not play any A10 teams this year. Coach Rachel Lawson played at UMass and also served as an assistant coach under Elaine Sortino. Assistant coach Kristine Himes served as an assistant coach at George Washington for two seasons. Kathleen Maloof of Dayton played travel ball with Chanda Bell of Kentucky for the Indy Dreams Gold.

Oklahoma State: beat UMass 5-0 at the Cathedral City Classic in February.  Teea Rogers of UMass and Lindsey Kay Bright of Fordham played with Kelsey Anchors for the Washington Ladyhawks. Sandi Moynihan of George Washington and Morgan Hawkins are both from Sugar Land, TX.

Sunday Live Chat: Regionals

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday Live Chat: Regionals Edition

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Live Chat: Regionals edition

Atlantic 10 All Region Honorees

Twelve Atlantic 10 players were named to NFCA All Region Teams. This has been a great year for Atlantic 10 players and it is nice to see them get the credit that they deserve.

Mid-Atlantic Region
1st Team
P Jen Mineau, Fordham
C Tenaya Tucker, Charlotte
3B Jocelyn Dearborn, Fordham
UT Lauren Nacke, Dayton

2nd Team
SS Samantha Pellechio, Fordham
OF Briana Gwaltney, Charlotte
OF Whitney Williams, Charlotte
UT Nicole Callahan, Fordham

Northeast Region
1st Team
P Sara Plourde, UMass
C Stephanie Pasquale, Temple
OF Dana Parks, St. Joseph's

2nd Team
P Erin Gallagher, St. Joseph's

Ann Arbor Regional: Preview

Wilpon Softball Complex
Teams: Michigan, Notre Dame, Kentucky, Western Michigan
Location: Wilpon Complex (Ann Arbor, MI)

Players to watch:
Jordan Taylor, Michigan
Amanda Chidester, Michigan
Alexa Maldonado, Notre Dame
Meagan Aull, Kentucky
Rachel Riley, Kentucky
Gracie Barstad, Western Michigan

Interesting storyline: Michigan comes into this regional with just four losses on the year, yet they were given the 10th seed nationally due to RPI. Michigan's schedule could have been tougher, but they do not have control over how well their opponents play. This selection was a slight to Michigan, but unless they perform at regionals, they have nothing to gripe about.

Laura Winter
Overview: Michigan is a balanced team with pitching, hitting, and defense and they are hungry to get back to the WCWS. Jordan Taylor is Michigan's senior pitcher and she has worked hard to prepare herself for this postseason. Taylor revamped her motion in the offseason to make it legal and she will be able to control the course of the game with her actions in the circle. On offense, the Wolverines are hitting .332 with 54 HR on the year. Leading the way for Michigan are Bree Evans and Amanda Chidester. Evans is one of the top slappers in the nation, while Chidester has racked up 72 RBI this year. The Wolverines offense also includes the powerful Dorian Shaw who can slam the ball. Notre Dame has been sent up to this regional for countless years and they haven't been able to pull through and win a regional at Michigan. This might be the year for the Fighting Irish to knock off Michigan. Laura Winter gives the Irish an impressive pitcher in the circle and Notre Dame doesn't lose often when she gets the start. Notre Dame has a talented offense as well, led by .420 hitter Alexa Maldonado and Heather Johnson with her 10 HR and 62 RBI. Notre Dame has all the pieces to do it, but can they overcome Michigan? Kentucky is the other team at this regional that has a shot at winning it. The Wildcats have depth in the circle and a talented offensive lineup. Chanda Bell and Rachel Riley have seen the most work in the circle, but Ellen Weaver and Lauren Cumbess have also shown that they can get the job done. At the plate, Kara Dill, Meagan Aull, and Riley are each hitting over .360 on a squad that is hitting .299 as a team. The Wildcats offense will be put to the test, but after going through SEC play, they should be ready for this regional. Western Michigan is the final team at this regional and they may be a bit overmatched. The Broncos come in with a 25-28 and they are in the category of "happy to be here". Western Michigan is led by Gracie Barstad and Lexi Jager at the plate, but they will need a lot more hitters to step up if they would like to win a game at this regional.

Winner: Michigan

Louisville Regional: Preview

Ulmer Stadium
Teams: California, Louisville, Illinois-Chicago, Jacksonville State
Location: Ulmer Stadium (Louisville, KY)

Players to watch:
Jamia Reid, California
Jolene Henderson, California
Chelsea Bemis, Louisville
Coryn Schmit, Illinois-Chicago
Kristin Graham, Jacksonville State
Tiffany Harbin, Jacksonville State

Interesting storyline: Once again the selection committee's seeding left a lot to be desired. Jacksonville State was given the 4 seed in this regional, while Illinois-Chicago was given the 3 seed. Jacksonville State was 39-19 on the year and they have an RPI of 76, while UIC was 25-22 with an RPI of 94. How can they justify matching Jacksonville State against Cal, while UIC gets Louisville. It is mind boggling and they definitely have some explaining to do.

Jolene Henderson
Overview: Cal is the team to beat at this regional and frankly they don't have too much competition. Jolene Henderson has been amazing for the Golden Bears, throwing almost every single game, after Valerie Arioto went with an injury. Henderson is a drop ball pitcher and she has a devastating changeup. The Bears have one of the fastest offenses in the country, as they have recorded 89 steals this year, while hitting .290. Britt Vonk and Jamia Reid lead the way for the Golden Bears on offense and they are fast. Reid is hitting .428 with 29 steals and Vonk is hitting .414 with 25 steals. Louisville is seeded second at this regional, but they don't have the offensive firepower or the pitching to win this regional. Tori Collins is the Cardinals best pitcher and as a left handed pitcher, she could be a tough matchup for Cal. On offense, Alicja Wolny, Chelsea Bemis, and Colby Wherry lead the way for the Cardinals. The trio hits for both power and average, but they will be put to the test against Jolene Henderson. The third seed at this regional is Illinois-Chicago and this placement by the selection is a bit of a headscratcher. The Flames are just 25-22, while Jacksonville State is 39-19 with a higher RPI. Devin Miller is UIC's ace in the circle and she figures to see most of the work in the circle. At the plate, Carly DeMarco, Melinda Macias, and Coryn Schmit lead this squad, as all of them are hitting over .300. The most intriguing team at this regional is Jacksonville State. The Gamecocks have done well in postseason play over the past few seasons and they are in a good position to go on another run. JSU has the most powerful bats at this regional, with the squad hitting 88 HR this year. Kristin Graham and Abbey Stepp have both had career years leading this offense. In the circle, Tiffany Harbin should get the ball and she has been dynamic. Jacksonville State has a great shot at advancing to the regional final and they may even take a game from Cal.

Winner: California

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Regionals Live Chat!

Palo Alto Regional Preview

Smith Family Stadium
Teams: Stanford, Nebraska, Fresno State, Pacific
Location: Smith Family Field (Palo Alto, CA)

Players to watch:
Teagan Gerhart, Stanford
Ashley Hansen, Stanford
Ashley Hagemann, Nebraska
Michelle Moses, Fresno State
Nikki Armagost, Pacific

Overview and Interesting Storylines:
Our friends at the WAC Softball Blog have a great job of breaking down this regional

Winner: Stanford

Tuscaloosa Regional: Preview

Rhoads Stadium
Teams: Alabama, Chattanooga, Memphis, Jackson State
Location: Rhoads Stadium (Tuscaloosa, AL)

Players to watch:
Kelsi Dunne, Alabama
Jackie Traina, Alabama
Kayla Braud, Alabama
Carly Hummel, Memphis
Vivian Morimoto, Chattanooga
Michelle Fuzzard, Chattanooga
Wendi Reed, Jackson State

Interesting storyline: Tuscaloosa rebuilds after a horrific tornado. Sometimes softball needs to take a back seat and this is one of those times.

Carly Hummel
Overview: Alabama got the easiest regional in the entire tournament and they should make quick work against the teams in this regional. Alabama has two outstanding pitchers in the circle with Kelsi Dunne and Jackie Traina and it is going to be tough for any of the offenses at this regional to score against them. Alabama also has an extremely potent offense as the Crimson Tide are hitting .314 with 85 HR and an amazing 129 steals. Kayla Braud and Jen Fenton are two of the fastest players in the nation and they are going to make things very difficult for opposing pitchers and defenses. Behind Fenton and Braud, Traina, Cassie Rielly-Boccia, and Whitney Larsen provide the power in the Alabama lineup. Alabama is just too strong and its opponents at this regional, just aren't strong enough. Chattanooga has a solid team that is hitting .352 this year, led by Vivian Morimoto and Michelle Fuzzard who are both hitting over .400. The Mocs are a good team, but they are going up against a juggernaut in Alabama. Memphis is in its first ever regional and it is unlikely that they will win this regional. The Tigers have an outstanding pitcher in ace Carly Hummel, but they will need more than her. Jackson State is just happy to be here and it is unlikely that they will win any games, but they do have one of the most exciting players at this regional in Wendi Reed. Reed is hitting .349 on the year with 51 hits, 8 HR, 29 RBI, and a staggering 55 steals.

Winner: Alabama

College Park Regional: Preview

Taylor Stadium
Teams: Baylor, Maryland, East Carolina, Lehigh
Location: Taylor Stadium (College Park, MD)

Players to watch:
Whitney Canion, Baylor
Dani Leal, Baylor
Vangie Galindo, Maryland
Toni Paisley, East Carolina
Liz Lucas, Lehigh

Interesting storyline: Maryland gets to host a regional for the second straight year and for the second straight year, they probably won't find themselves in the regional final. Baylor and East Carolina each have an outstanding ace in the circle and it is going to be hard for Maryland to beat either of them.

Runner up: Maryland's Bree Hanafin could possibly face her former team Baylor at this regional

Toni Paisley
Overview: This is the second time Baylor has been sent out to the token Northeast regional, but this time it will be a little tougher for them. The Bears come into this regional with one of the top pitchers in the nation in southpaw Whitney Canion and she will be tough to beat. Baylor also has a potent offensive attack as well, led by Dani Leal and Kathy Shelton. The Bears like to run the bases and they have amassed 105 steals on the year. Baylor needs to go out and perform on the field, as no one is going to give this regional to them. Maryland is a well rounded team and they feature three solid pitchers that they can turn to in the circle. Kerry Hickey, Ashley Czechner, and Kendra Knight are an impressive trio, but it will be interesting to see how they are managed at this regional. When Maryland is going up against pitchers like Whitney Canion and Toni Paisley they have no room for error. At the plate, Vangie Galindo is having a great year, as is Bree Hanafin, but Maryland will have its work cut out for them. East Carolina comes in after winning the Conference USA tournament and they will go as far as senior pitcher Toni Paisley can take them. Paisley is a 5th year senior and she doesn't need much run support. The Pirates aren't a great offensive squad, hitting just .245 as a team, but all they need to do is get on the board for Paisley to lead them to a victory. Lehigh is the final team at this regional and the Mountain Hawks are a feisty bunch. Lehigh advanced to regional finals in 2006 and 2009, but this squad doesn't have Lisa Sweeney and they may not have enough firepower to advance.

Winner: Baylor

Athens Regional: Preview

Turner Stadium
Teams: Georgia, Florida State, UAB, Georgia State
Location: Turner Stadium (Athens, GA)

Players to watch:
Megan Wiggins, Georgia
Sarah Hamilton, Florida State
Leigh Streetman, UAB
McCall Langford, Georgia State

Interesting storyline: Back in 2006, Florida State came to Athens for a regional and they came away victorious. This Florida State team will try to repeat history at this regional. Florida State has had a rough year, but they are in the postseason and they have a senior pitcher, so just about anything is possible. Georgia is going to be hardpressed to make sure that this doesn't happen.

Sarah Hamilton
Overview: The NCAA Selection Committee gave Georgia a gift with this regional and if they can't make it out, it would be a very disappointing moment in Georgia softball history. Georgia has all the pieces to make a big postseason run with experience, pitching, hitting, and defense, but they have to come ready to play. In the weeks leading up to the SEC Tournament, Georgia faltered a bit with some odd losses to teams at the bottom of the SEC. Georgia has depth in the circle and some huge bats led by seniors Megan Wiggins, Alisa Goler, and Taylor Schlopy. Florida State comes into this regional on a roll after winning the ACC Tournament. Senior Sarah Hamilton has had a tough season, but she is battle tested and if she is on her game The Seminoles have a shot at this regional. UAB doesn't have an explosive offense, but they do have three pitchers with ERAs under 2. Leigh Streetman is the Blazers top pitcher and she should see most of the work, but Lauren Webster and Alisha Smith will also see some action. UAB will need all three to pitch well if they want to pull off an upset by winning this regional. Georgia State comes into this regional after upsetting Hofstra in the CAA Championship and they actually matchup well with Florida State and UAB, but Georgia may have too much firepower for the Panthers to handle. Georgia State will turn to McCall Langford, Alana Thomas, and Kaitlyn Medlam in the circle and they will need to pitch even better than they did last weekend.

Winner: Georgia

Knoxville Regional: Preview

Lee Stadium
Teams: Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State, Liberty
Location: Lee Stadium (Knoxville, TN)

Players to watch:
Raven Chavanne, Tennessee
Ellen Renfroe, Tennessee
Kelsi Weseman, Georgia Tech
Kat Espinosa, Oklahoma State
Ashley Bensinger, Liberty

Interesting storyline: Does anyone know what the selection committee was thinking when they put together this regional? Not only was SEC Champion Tennessee slighted with the 14 seed, but they also drew two teams in Oklahoma State and Georgia Tech who also could have been hosting as a seeded team. There are a lot of angry teams at this regional and regardless of how this regional turns out, the selection committee is going to have some explaining to do.

Raven Chavanne
Overview: The Lady Vols have it all and they have a legitimate shot at winning the SEC's first national title. The Lady Vols have one of the fastest lineups in the country led by Raven Chavanne, Kelly Grieve, and Kat Dotson. Tennessee puts a lot of pressure on opposing defenses and they also feature some very powerful bats behind them as well. The Lady Vols also have the pitching in the circle as well in sisters Ellen and Ivy Renfroe. This Tennessee squad can win in so many ways and it is hard to see Georgia Tech or Oklahoma State stopping them. Georgia Tech is also an outstanding offensive team, Kelsi Weseman and Kristine Priebe lead the Yellow Jacket offense that is hitting .330 with 99 HR. Kristen Adkins leads a deep pitching staff that also includes Hope Rush and Lindsay Anderson. This trio is very formidable, but they are not dominant like Ellen Renfroe and they are going to have trouble stopping Tennessee's lineup. Oklahoma State should not be overlooked in this regional, but they are on a six game losing streak and they will need to turn things around fast if they want to win some games at this regional. The Cowgirls don't have a explosive offense or dominating pitching and they will need to step up their game. Kat Espinosa has struggled a bit lately, but she has thrown some big games in her career and if she is on Oklahoma State has a shot. Simone Freeman has also been effective for Oklahoma State and she figures to see some time in the circle as well. Mariah Gearhart and Alysia Hamilton lead the offensive charge for the Cowgirls. Liberty is the final team at this regional and they are just a bit out of its league. Ashley Bensinger leads the Flames offense, that will have perform better than it has all year, just to win a game.

Winner: Tennessee

Austin Regional: Preview

McCombs Field 
Teams: Texas, Houston, Louisiana-Lafayette, Texas State
Location: McCombs Field (Austin, TX)

Players to watch:
Blaire Luna, Texas
Amanda Crabtree, Houston
Ashley Brignac, Louisiana-Lafayette
Christi Orgeron, Louisiana-Lafayette
Chandler Hall, Texas State

Interesting storyline: Donna Bourgeois gets matched up in regionals against her former team in the first round. Bourgeois left Louisiana-Lafayette right before her senior season and transferred to Houston and she has helped lead them back to regionals. It will be interesting to see if she gets to pitch against her former team.

Texas State is the fourth seed at this regional, but they should not be taken lightly. Two years ago in Waco during regionals, Texas State stunned seeded Northwestern by not only beating them, but beating them in run rule fashion. This Texas State team doesn't seem quite as strong, but if they come out ready to play against Texas, they could beat the Longhorns. In the circle, Texas State is led by Chandler Hall and Anne Marie Taylor. Hall and Taylor are two solid pitchers and the Bobcats will need them to keep the ball in the ballpark against these powerful offenses. On offense, Texas State hits just .268 as a team with 17 HR so they will need to fight and scrap for every run against all of the great pitching at this regional.

Ashley Brignac
Louisiana-Lafayette got a very tough, but winnable draw this year. The Ragin Cajuns did lose Donna Bourgeois to Houston before the season started, but that loss was softened with the return of Ashley Brignac. Brignac was the most highly touted recruit in school history and pitched Louisiana-Lafayette to the WCWS her freshmen year, before dealing with multiple injuries over the past two years. Brignac is finally back and she gives Louisiana-Lafayette a battle tested postseason ace who knows how to win. The Ragin Cajun also have two of the top hitters in the nation in Christi Orgeron and Gabrielle Bridges. Orgeron is hitting .418 with 82 hits, 23 HR, and a staggering 97 RBI, while Bridges is hitting .380 with 57 hits, 22 HR, and 76 RBI. Opponents have had difficulties pitching around these hitters because there are always runners on in front of them. The Ragin Cajuns have four talented slappers all hitting over .300 and when they reach base, opponents get in some serious trouble. This regional is very winnable for Louisiana-Lafayette and they know how to win in the postseason.

Houston also comes into this regional with a lot of confidence that they can win it. The Cougars did lose to Texas earlier this year, but with Houston's pitching staff they are a threat to win this regional. Amanda Crabtree is one of the most prolific strikeout pitchers in the country and she is joined by Louisiana-Lafayette transfer Donna Bourgeois and they combine to form a dynamic duo. Houston's freshman Diedre Outen has also seen work in the circle lately. At the plate, the Cougars rely on three power hitters for their offense that hits .281 with 63 HR. Melissa Gregson, Brooke Lathan, and Jennifer Klinkert are all tuned in at the plate and if they can get to the plate with runners on base Houston's offense will be in business. The Cougars have a chance to win this regional, but they must get through some tough teams first.

Blaire Luna
Texas hosts a regional for the second straight year and they are going to look to advance to Supers for the first time without Cat Osterman. This is the best Texas team in a while and they can do it all. In the circle, the Longhorns have Blaire Luna and Rachel Fox, both of whom are capable of beating anyone. Luna ball moves very well, while Fox throws with a bit more speed. Luna should see most of the work for the Longhorns, but Coach Connie Clark should not be afraid of turning to Fox. On offense, Texas does it all, hitting .331 with 68 HR and 110 steals. Taylor Hoagland is the catalyst for Texas' offense and she can do it all at the plate. Some other Longhorns to watch are Taylor Thom, Brejae Washington, and Amy Hooks. All in all Texas has eight players hitting over .300. The Longhorns have the talent to win, but they may not have the toughness to win.

Winner: Louisiana-Lafayette

Seattle Regional: Preview

Husky Stadium
Teams: Washington, Auburn, BYU, Portland State
Location: Husky Stadium (Seattle, WA)

Players to watch:
Kaitlin Inglesby, Washington
Jenn Salling, Washington
Morgan Estell, Auburn
Jessica Fitu, BYU
Jenna Krogh, Portland State

Interesting storyline: How will the post-Danielle Lawrie Huskies fare in the postseason?

Portland State is most likely the main reason why Washington is even hosting this regional. The Vikings are a dangerous team and the Huskies should not take this squad lightly. Portland State is a solid fundamental softball and they have already beaten BYU this year. If any four seed is going to win a regional this year, it might be Portland State. The Vikings feature two solid pitchers in the circle with Nichole Latham and Anna Bertant. They have split action this season and the same should hold true in regional action. If these two pitchers can limit the runs that opposing offenses score, Portland State's offense will have a chance to propel this team to some victories. The Vikings hit .311 as a team, but they only have 33 HR and 30 steals. This shows that Portland State is just a pure hitting team. Jenna Krogh and Lacey Holm lead the way, hitting .405 and .352 respectively. The Vikings are not up against any unbeatable teams in this regional and if they can leave it all on the field who knows what will happen.

Paige Affleck
BYU knows how to hit the ball, but with some losses to graduation and new bat testing the Cougars have seen their power numbers drop in 2011. BYU has six players hitting above .300, including 3 players with double digit HR totals. Jessica Fitu leads the power charge, hitting .382 with 12 HR and 64 RBI and the Cougars are hoping that she can lead them back to Supers this year. BYU also has a whole slew of table setters this year and they have done a good job of both getting on base and scoring. JC Clayton, Jessica Dugas, and Tiffany Messerschmidt will all try to use their speed to get on base before Fitu and the big bats drive them in. In the circle, Paige Affleck is the Cougars ace, seeing the lion's share of work in 2011, going 24-11 with a 1.97 ERA and 207 SO in 217 innings. BYU also has two other pitchers that they can turn to in Tori Almond and Hannah Howell, but it will be hard to get Affleck out of the circle, in this, her senior season. BYU won its first regional last year and now they are hungry for more, but this may not be the draw to do it in.

Auburn stunned Florida at the SEC Tournament and the Tigers come into this regional with the confidence that they can play with anyone. Auburn has always had good pitching, but this year they have seen the resurgence of its bats. Freshman Morgan Estell is hitting .378 with 6 HR and 30 RBI, while leading the Tigers offense. Auburn plays an aggressive style of softball and the Tigers love to run around the bases on extra base hits. Kelsey Cartwright and Lauren Guzman are two other Auburn players that opposing pitchers must be careful pitching to. In the circle, the Tigers have three solid pitchers that they can turn to, including two left handed pitchers in Jenee Loree and Angel Bunner. Loree and Bunner are very valuable with so many left handed hitters in softball lineups today. Auburn also can turn to right handed pitcher Lauren Schmalz, as she can get it done as well. The Tigers have the confidence right now, but it will be tough to knock off the Huskies on their home field.

Kaitlin Inglesby
Washington came into 2011, having to replace its best player in school history in Danielle Lawrie and people around the country were expecting a down year out of the Huskies, but they have proven the doubters wrong and they are hoping to go on another postseason run to Oklahoma City. Kaitlin Inglesby will be the key for the Huskies in the circle and also at the plate. Inglesby has been the Huskies most consistent option in the circle and she gives them an ace that can go out and keep them in any game. Inglesby is not a prolific strikeout pitcher like Lawrie, but she an imposing presence in the circle. Inglesby is also second on the Huskies in batting average at .398 and she has also slugged 11 HR and 33 RBI. At the plate, Washington is hitting .327 and they have racked up 66 HR. The Huskies are led by three veterans at the plate in Jenn Salling, Niki Williams, and Kimi Pohlman. Pohlman is Washington's table setter and she does a great job for them, as she is hitting .443 with 74 hits, 3 HR, 28 RBI with 22 steals. Williams and Salling swing more powerful bats with 13 and 6 HR respectively and 50 and 43 RBI. Williams and Salling are the leaders of this Washington squad and Coach Heather Tarr is going to count on them to be clutch in this regional.

Winner: Washington

Columbia Regional: Preview

University Field
Teams: Missouri, Indiana, DePaul, Illinois State
Location: University Field (Columbia, MO)

Players to watch:
Chelsea Thomas, Missouri
Rhea Taylor, Missouri
Morgan Melloh, Indiana
Alex Morocco, DePaul
Kara Nelson, Illinois State

Interesting storyline: Morgan Melloh is one of the best pitchers in the nation and she has been for the past four years and this year she has finally been placed into a regional without a Pac 10 team. This is Melloh's best and last chance to win a regional and she is going to leave it all on the field. Assuming things go as planned, she will go toe to toe with Chelsea Thomas, in what could be an epic pitcher's duel for the ages. Indiana will go as far as Melloh can take them and it will be interesting to see if she can lead the Hoosiers past Missouri.

Illinois State sputtered into regionals losing the first game at the Missouri Valley Tournament and the Redbirds barely squeaked into the tournament as an at-large bid. The Redbirds are led by a pair of talented seniors in Abby Olson and Kara Nelson. Nelson is the leadoff hitter for the Redbirds and she does a great job of setting the table, hitting .407 with 74 hits, 5 HR, and 26 RBI. Olson hits in the three hole for Illinois State and her bat packs a punch, hitting .303 with 14 HR and 36 RBI. The Redbirds have a few other hitters that can hit as well and they will all have to hit for Illinois State to score against Missouri and Chelsea Thomas. Jordan Birch and Megan Warner are Illinois State's two pitchers in the circle and they will need to be sharp at this regional. Illinois State has played a tough schedule this year, but they will need to take their game to another level to do some damage at this regional.

Alex Morocco
DePaul has had an interesting end to its 2011 season, after USF Coach Ken Eriksen took his team off the field at DePaul in the final game of their series. The Blue Devils did manage to go 1-1 at the Big East Tournament, but they just don't have that same magic that some past DePaul teams had. The Blue Devils have a deep pitching staff with three pitchers that Coach Eugene Lenti could turn to. Lindsey Dean got both starts in the Big East Tournament and she may get the start in the first game at this regional. Kirsten Verdun gives DePaul a lefty arm and she could be crucial. Bree Brown is the third DePaul pitcher who could see work and Coach Lenti has some options this weekend. At the plate, DePaul is solid offensive squad hitting .290 and they are one of the top bunting teams in the nation with 48 sacrifices on the year. DePaul has eight players in the lineup hitting over .300, including Sean Plese and Alex Morocco who are both around the .400 mark this season. The Blue Devils may have a balanced approach that could be successful against teams at this regional.

Morgan Melloh
Indiana has one of the top pitchers in the nation in Morgan Melloh and the Hoosiers are going to go as far as they can take her. Melloh transferred to Indiana from Fresno State this year and she has been as good as advertised. Melloh has once again carried an enormous load in the circle, but this season she has gotten sharper as the season has gone on. If she can pitch well, the Hoosiers have a shot at upsetting Missouri. Indiana doesn't have a very powerful offense, but they don't need much to support Melloh in the circle. Sara Olson leads the charge for Indiana, hitting .338 with 8 HR and 34 RBI. Breanna Saucedo, Melloh, and Ashley Warrum are also hitting over .300 and they will need to score runs in this brutal regional. The Hoosiers need to play solid softball this weekend and if they do it could make for some unhappy fans in Columbia.

Missouri have made it to two straight WCWS and this year's team may be even better. Missouri is a solid fundamental softball team and they can hit for average, power, while also being a threat in the short game. Rhea Taylor really gets things going for the Tigers at the leadoff spot. Taylor got off to a slow start this year, but she has really turned it on as of late and she is currently hitting .357 and she is 33-35 in steals. Behind Taylor at the top of the order, Ashley Fleming and Nicole Hudson provide the most power in Missouri's lineup and the Tigers will try to get runners on base in front of them. As good as Missouri is on offense and defense, they are even better in circle. Chelsea Thomas went down with an injury during the middle of last season and she this year she is back and she looks better than ever. Thomas throws the ball as hard as anyone in the nation, but the most impressive thing may be her control. Thomas is a prolific strikeout pitcher, who features pinpoint control and she is a big reason why Missouri is a national title contender.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

University Park Regional: Preview

Teams: Oregon, Fordham, Penn State, Albany
Location: Beard Field (University Park)

Players to watch:
Jessica Moore, Oregon
Jen Mineau, Fordham
Jocelyn Dearborn, Fordham
Jackie Hill, Penn State
Gina Mason, Albany

Interesting storyline: Will Penn State give any validation to the NCAA Selection Committee's decision to put them in the field of 64? Penn State was a perplexing choice before the release of the latest RPI and that decision looks even worse after the release of the most recent RPI. Many schools have a right to be upset with the selection committee and they will be watching Penn State closely. The Selection Committee could also take some serious heat if Penn State doesn't last long at this regional.


Penn State



Winner: Fordham...going out a limb for this one

Gainesville Regional: Preview

Seashole Pressly Stadium
Teams: Florida, UCLA, Jacksonville, Bethune-Cookman
Location: Seashole Pressly Stadium (Gainesville, FL)

Players to watch:
Hannah Rogers, Florida
Kelsey Bruder, Florida
Andrea Harrison, UCLA
Sarah Sigrest, Jacksonville
Allison Garcia, Bethune-Cookman

Interesting storyline: The defending National Champion UCLA Bruins are not playing at home in a regional for the first time since 2002. UCLA has not had the same magic that they did last year and they may be in some trouble in Gainesville. UCLA has been decimated by injuries and they are just a shell of last year's squad. UCLA does not have the pitching of last year's squad, but if their bats get going they could go a long ways in this NCAA tournament. This team will either have a very short stay on the road or they could be traveling for a while.

Bethune-Cookman comes into to the Gainesville Regional for the 2nd straight season after winning the MEAC Title. Gainesville was once a magical place for the Wildcats, as they won the Gainesville Regional in 2005. However this is a much different Bethune-Cookman team and Coach Laura Watten and pitcher Lauren McCoy have moved on. This year Bethune-Cookman softball has been all about Allison Garcia. Garcia has done it all for the Wildcats, leading the squad in hitting and in the circle. Garcia is hitting .374 at the plate with 9 HR and 56 RBI and they will need her to produce some runs for herself in the circle. Garcia is 26-11 with a 3.54 ERA and 133 SO in 257 innings. Garcia is the key to the success of this team, but they do have more than Garcia, including 5 other players hitting over .300. That being said, Bethune-Cookman is probably overmatched in this regional.

Sarah Sigrest
Jacksonville enters its first ever regional and they are looking to make some noise. The Dolphins are a solid all around team, but their strength definitely lies in the circle. Sarah Sigrest was named Atlantic Sun Pitcher of the Year for 2011 and she is having a great year. Sigrest is 26-5 with a 1.01 ERA and 200 SO in 215.1 innings. Sigrest has the potential to shut down the big bats of UCLA and Florida, but she also has some help in Olivia Kline. Kline is 15-6 with a 1.50 ERA and 84 SO in 140 innings. Jacksonville can give different looks to these powerful lineups, which may pay off. The Dolphins offense will have to get going in order to keep pace with the prolific offenses of Florida and UCLA. Sarah Simon and Amanda Schmidt are the most powerful bats in Jacksonville's lineup with 9 HR each and 40 and 48 RBI respectively. Kayla Ouellet will look to get on base in front of the big bats and she will try to use her speed to get around the bases. For the Dolphins to beat either UCLA or Florida, the pitchers must keep the ball in the ballpark and the entire team must hit the ball well.

UCLA makes the long trek east, which has been a rite of passage for Pac 10 teams as of late to play at the Gainesville Regional. UCLA may have the most talent of any team in the country, but due to a combination of injuries and underachieving they just haven't gotten it done on the field. The biggest issues for UCLA have been in the circle, where the Bruins have struggled to keep opponents off the scoreboard. Jessica Hall and Donna Kerr have seen most of the work for the Bruins in the circle, but with the way Coach Kelly Inouye-Perez manages it would not be surprising to see Aleah Macon or Destiny Rodino get some innings as well. At the plate, Andrea Harrison, Kellie Fox, GiOnna DiSalvatore, and BB Bates lead the way for the Bruins, as each is hitting over .325. These four players along with Katie Schroeder and Alyssa Tiumalu do most of the offensive work for UCLA and they will need to hit the ball well this weekend. UCLA needs to show up this weekend and start overachieving for once this season.

Hannah Rogers
Florida was shocked at the SEC Tournament, losing to Auburn in the first round, but they come into this tournament as a very dangerous team. Coach Tim Walton loves the long ball and the Gators know how to hit them. Florida leads the nation in HR with 104, but they are not just a one dimensional squad as they hit .328 along with 69 steals. The Gators have five hitters with at least 13 HR, led by Kelsey Bruder and Megan Bush. Bruder has hit .384 with 17 HR and 63 RBI, while Megan Bush has hit .348 with 20 HR and 72 RBI. Opposing pitchers will need to be very careful about how they pitch to this lineup. Michelle Moultrie leads things off for the Gators and she is also a special player to keep an eye on. Moultrie does it all hitting .427 with 79 hits, 2 HR, 28 RBI, and 21 steals. The Gators also have good pitching in the circle with freshman Hannah Rogers and senior Stephanie Brombacher. Brombacher has the experience, but she is coming back from an injury and Rogers has the hot arm right now. Rogers should get the start in big games for Florida because she is a steady consistent performer for the Gators, while Brombacher hasn't quite found her endurance or consistency yet.

Winner: Florida...but don't be surprised if UCLA wins this

Norman Regional: Preview

Hynes Field
Teams: Oklahoma, Tulsa, Missouri State, Iona
Location: Hynes Field (Norman, OK)

Players to watch:
Keilani Ricketts, Oklahoma
Aimee Creger, Tulsa
Caitlin Everett, Tulsa
Kirstin Culler, Missouri State
Sarah Jackson, Iona

Interesting storyline: Oklahoma vs. Tulsa round 3. Oklahoma and Tulsa split for the third straight year and this regional will see these teams go at it once again. Both teams have stud pitchers in the circle and both teams want this regional badly. Oklahoma has not been back to Oklahoma City for the WCWS since 2004 and they want to get back. This year's Oklahoma squad has dealt with its share of adversity, but here they are in the postseason looking to make a splash.

Runner up: This is sad and unfortunate and the timing could not be any worse for Missouri State. Natalie Rose was probably the biggest reason why the Bears even made Regionals in the first plate and without her it may be a very short stay. Rose was a workhorse in the circle for the Bears and they are going to miss her.

Sarah Jackson
Iona may be seeded fourth at this regional, but they should not be taken lightly. Iona came into the MAAC Tournament this year as the 4 seed and after losing the first game of the tournament, they had to battle out of the loser's bracket to win the title. Sarah Jackson was on her game during the entire tournament and Iona finally broke out the bats behind her. Jackson will need to be smart about how she pitches to some big hitters this weekend, but Iona may have a shot at this. The Gaels are led at the plate by Alyssa Maiese, who is having an outstanding year at the plate, hitting .365 with 12 HR and 37 RBI. The Gaels will need her come through for them and they will also need Eileen McCann to come through for them. McCann had a wonderful season 2010 season and has struggled a little bit in 2011, but if she can get things going the Gaels will have a chance.

Missouri State is in some trouble now that Natalie Rose will not be pitching and I see them having a short stay in Norman. Rose was a tough competitor, who could deal it in the circle, but she was Missouri State softball this season and it is hard to see them doing anything without her. Kirstin Cutter will lead the offensive charge, that will have its work cut out for them against some excellent pitching.

Tulsa is a force to be reckoned with and they could take this regional. Aimee Creger can deal it in the circle and she is very tough to beat. Creger is 24-2 with a 0.79 ERA and 247 SO in 185 innings. One of her two losses was in the second game of her career to NCAA Regional participant Louisville and the other was a 2-0 loss to NCAA participant Houston. Creger needs to start every game in the circle for Tulsa until she loses, as they can't mess around like they did at the Conference USA Tournament. At the plate, Caitlin Everett is one of the best leadoff hitters around, hitting .407 with 72 hits and 32 steals. If the Golden Hurricanes can get her on base, then the big bats of Samantha Cobb and Kelly Chapman can drive her in. Tulsa does not play a flashy brand of softball, but they are a solid fundamental team and they have a chance to win every time they step on the field.

Keilani Ricketts
Oklahoma is playing at home this season for regionals this after hitting the road to go to College Park, MD last year. The Sooners are led by Keilani Ricketts in the circle and she is a force, as she throws the ball very hard and she also has a knee buckling changeup. Ricketts is going to be in the circle until her arm falls off and the teams at this regional will need to figure out how to hit her. Oklahoma has a speedy and powerful lineup that can hurt opponents in many different ways. Destinee Martinez, Chana'e Jones, and Brianna Turang bring a lot of speed and bat control to the Sooner lineup and when they can reach base the Sooners score. Jessica Shults and Brittany Williams are the big bats in Oklahoma's lineup and opposing pitchers must be careful when pitching to these two players. Oklahoma has struggled in past postseasons and it will be interesting to see if they can get the job done on their home field.

Winner: Oklahoma...but do not be surprised if Tulsa wins this one

Tucson Regional: Preview

Hillenbrand Stadium
Teams: Arizona, Texas Tech, New Mexico State, Harvard
Location: Hillenbrand Stadium (Tucson, AZ)

Players to watch:
Kenzie Fowler, Arizona
Brittany Lastrapes, Arizona
Sandy James, Texas Tech
Hoku Nohara, New Mexico State
Kasey Lange, Harvard

Interesting storyline: Continuing the theme, Texas Tech heads to Tucson for regionals and there will be a couples reunions. Assistant coach Kristie Fox returns to her former stomping grounds at Hillenbrand Stadium and she is sure to get a round of applause from the crowd. A more intriguing reunion is Texas Tech coming to Arizona to possibly face their former head coach in Theresa Wilson. Wilson abandoned her team right before the start of the 2009 season and I think those players will never forget that. Texas Tech is going to be extra motivated to win against their former coach.

Runner up: New Mexico State and this. It is just a complicated situation and it is unfortunate that it took place. It is just hard to understand how something like this could happen without any real consequences. Some people may not be happy about reading this, but it should not be swept under the rug.

Harvard may be lowest seed in this regional, but the Crimson should not be taken lightly. Harvard is a very solid well rounded team and on paper they have a squad that matches up well against the other teams at this regional. Harvard is hitting .325 as a team with 44 HR in 50 games played. The Crimson have two hitters with batting averages over .440 and another at .378. Kasey Lange and Ellen MacAdam are slugging the ball right now and Harvard need them to continue hitting the ball. This trio gives Harvard a trio that matches up well some of the big bats that they will go up against. In the circle, Harvard has two solid arms in Rachel Brown and Laura Ricciardone and both figure to see some time this weekend. Brown is a prolific strikeout pitcher, while Ricciardone keeps the ball down to get groundball outs. Harvard will need to score and keep the ball in the ballpark and they just might have a chance at winning some games in this regional.

Hoku Nohara
New Mexico State is one of the most powerful teams year in and year out and this year is no exception, as the Aggies are hitting .342 with 77 HR, but they are also 80-91 in steals. Hoku Nohara is an absolute force at the plate for the Aggies, hitting .430 with 23 HR and 70 RBI and she has also picked up 61 walks. Teams at this regional are going to pitch her very carefully. The New Mexico State lineup is much more than Nohara, as Kandis Jones is hitting .391, Tiare Jennings is hitting .370 with 15 HR and 56 RBI, Kylie Randall is hitting .364 with 36 steals, this year and Valerie Swedberg is hitting .352 with 11 HR and 48 RBI. Those are just the top 5 hitters in the Aggies' lineup, they also have four other hitters above .300 and another at .297. This lineup is powerful from top to bottom and even the bench can hit the ball. The Aggies can score, but they also allow a fair amount of runs as well. New Mexico State has a team ERA of 4.04 and they are led by Alex Newman in the circle, who is 22-6 with a 3.39 ERA. New Mexico State is going to score runs, but the key will be whether they can keep them off the board.

Texas Tech comes into this regional having won just 1 game in the past 36 days, which is a stunning figure. The Red Raiders use somewhat of a controversial strategy to advance to regionals this year, just as they did last year. Texas Tech has one of the weakest non conference schedules in the country and they use it to rack up a staggering number of wins before Big 12 play. They rack up the wins in non conference play, before using Big 12 play to boost its strength of schedule. The Red Raiders have a bunch of different pitchers that they can turn to, though none are especially dominant. Texas Tech is going to mix and match pitchers especially against the powerful hitters at this regional. The one thing that Texas Tech does do well is that they do not give free passes, but they will need to do more than that at this regional. At the plate, Texas Tech is hitting .347 as a team with 55 HR and they are 70-78 in steals. Logan Hall, Cydney Allen, and Sandy James all have at least 50 RBI and they are 3 of the Red Raiders 6 players that are hitting over .340. Texas Tech has a deep bench as well, but it is hard to tell how good this team actually is with numbers so inflated from that non conference schedule.

Kenzie Fowler
Arizona has had somewhat of a rough season so far, but then the selection committee gave them this gift of a regional. Now "rough" does not mean that this squad is not very good, but they have not been up to their usual Arizona standards.  Arizona would and probably should be hitting the road this year, but due to a number of factors they are staying home and they also got a regional that easier than top seed Arizona State. The Wildcats are also a talented team hitting .319 with 72 HR, but the real key for Arizona is in the circle. Kenzie Fowler has had some terrible luck over the past few years and that continued this year when she was hit in the head by a foul ball in the dugout. Fowler was out for a few weeks with a concussion, but she is back now and with her in the circle I don't see anyone beating Arizona. Fowler can take the Wildcats a long ways, but she has to be very careful about being called for illegal pitches. Fowler has returned to her old motion, which led umpires to call illegal pitches against her last year. Umpires probably won't call Fowler on it at Hillenbrand Stadium, but if they do Arizona might be in trouble. The Wildcats have an impressive offense led by Brittany Lastrapes, who can do it all. Arizona also has some talented slappers in Karissa Buchanan and Lauren Schutzler who get things going at the top order, before the power hitters drive them in. Lastrapes, along with Bridgette Del Ponte, Stacie Chambers, and Lini Koria all have double digit home run totals and they should have a feast against the pitching that they will be facing. Arizona got this nice regional, so they better take advantage of it.

Winner: Arizona

College Station Regional: Preview

Aggie Softball Complex
Teams: Texas A&M, LSU, Syracuse, Sacred Heart
Location: Aggie Softball Complex (College Station, TX)

Players to watch:
Rhiannon Kliesing, Texas A&M
Brittany Mack, LSU
Jenna Caira, Syracuse
Liz Tsipouras, Sacred Heart

Interesting storyline: Syracuse is headed down to College Station, where they will face its former head coach Mary Jo Firnbach, who is currently an assistant coach at Texas A&M. Firnbach built a solid program at Syracuse, but she was never able to take it to the next level like Leigh Ross has. All of Firnbach's former players have graduated, but it is always interesting to see coaches face their old teams.

Runner up: How will illegal pitches impact this regional? Jenna Caira and Rachele Fico are notorious leapers in the circle, so depending on the umpiring crews they could be in for a rude awakening.

Outlook: This regional features three evenly matched teams and it would not be surprising to see any of them advance on to Supers.

Sacred Heart is back in regionals after a one year hiatus. The Pioneers are a solid team in their own right and they actually have the best batting average at this regional out of any of the teams. This doesn't mean that Sacred Heart is going to win the regional, but they are not going to be walked all over. Two years ago, the Pioneers were able to score on Danielle Lawrie in regionals, so it will be interesting to see how they do at this regional. In the circle, Jen Russell will get the ball and she is going to rely on her defense to get groundball outs. At the plate, Liz Tsipouras and Taylor Froelich lead the way, hitting .401 and .361 respectively. Sacred Heart is going to count on these two to lead the offensive charge in a difficult regional.

Jenna Caira
Syracuse has one of the top pitchers in the country in Jenna Caira, but this squad is much more than just her. Caira is having an amazing season for the Orange and with her in the circle, Syracuse is a very dangerous team. Caira can really bring it in the circle, but the key to her success is a devastating changeup. That changeup is extremely difficult to hit and opponents are going to be hard pressed to hit it. The Orange are a solid offensive team as well, hitting .288 with 66 HR and 72 steals. Lisaira Daniels leads the way for Syracuse and she is a true triple threat with the ability to bunt, slap, and hit away. Behind Daniels, the Orange have some real power in their lineup with Hallie Gibbs, Stephanie Watts, and Lacey Kohl all having at least 11 HR.  Syracuse was kind of disrespected with this regional and they have the ability to win this regional.

LSU comes into this weekend with a lot of motivation to extend Coach Yvette Girouard's career another weekend. This hasn't been the fairytale ending that she wanted to end her career, but the Tigers were sent to this regional and it is definitely one that they can win. LSU strength lies in the circle and with its defense. Brittany Mack and Rachele Fico are two solid pitchers in the circle and Coach Girouard will not hesitate to turn to either pitcher in a big situation and for LSU to advance they need to be on top of their game. On offense, Anissa Young leads the way for this Tiger squad that is hitting just .253. Young is hitting .286, but she does have 10 HR and 41 RBI. The Tigers probably have the pitching and defense to advance, but it is all going to come down to how well they can hit.

Texas A&M has the luxury of playing at home, which may be just the edge that they need to pull out a victory at this regional. The Aggies are a solid all around team and they are hungry to return to Supers. In the circle, Melissa Dumezich is the Aggies' ace and workhorse in the circle and she should be able to keep her team in any game. The Aggies have a powerful offense, hitting .281 with 71 HR this year. Rhiannon Kliesing and Meagan May are two huge bats in the A&M lineup with 16 HR and 11 HR respectively. Natalie Villarreal leads things off for the Aggies and when she gets on the Aggies score. Coach Evans will need these three players to have big weekend for the Aggies to get past a difficult field at this regional.
Rhiannon Kliesing

Winner: Texas A&M...just barely over Syracuse