Big 12 has dethroned Pac-10 as softball queens

BY MIKE BALDWIN Staff Writer mbaldwin@opubco.com Modified: May 29, 2011 at 9:06 pm •  Published: May 29, 2011
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Women's softball has been dominated by the Pac-10 but this year it's the Big 12 that has the biggest presence at the Women's College World Series.

The Big 12 will account for half the field (four teams).

It's not a fluke.

In ESPN's final national poll the Big 12 had seven teams ranked in the top 25.

The conference was so strong four teams made it to Oklahoma City even though regular season champion Texas was upset in its regional.

Can Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor or Missouri become the first Big 12 team since the 2000 Sooners to win a national title?

Even though parity has arrived the Pac-10 has won 20 of the past 23 softball national titles, the exceptions being Fresno State (1998), Oklahoma (2000) and Michigan (2005).

But there was a time the Pac-10 was so dominant the conference routinely featured the national champion and national runner-up.

Not anymore.

In addition to OU and Michigan winning national titles the past 11 years, Northwestern (2006), Tennessee (2007), Texas A&M (2008) and Florida (2009) were the runner-up four of the past five seasons.

The Pac-10 only has two teams at the WCWS. The most startling development neither UCLA or Arizona — two programs that have combined for 20 national titles — made it to the WCWS for the first time in 25 years.

Arizona State, the top seed, could continue the Pac 10's national title dominance. But there's no question the Pac-10 has lost its stranglehold on the sport.

OU swept a Super Regional at Arizona, Florida dominated UCLA and Missouri swept Washington in its Super Regional.

The nation's top softball conference? One could argue this year it's the Big 12.