The field of 64 teams for the NCAA softball tournament was revealed Sunday night, and the road to the Women's College World Series begins with this weekend's Regionals. Here are the eight teams we think will make it to Oklahoma City.
The No. 1 team in the college softball boasts a hitter and pitcher both up for the national Player of the Year award. Valerie Arioto, who missed the 2011 season because of a broken leg, leads the Pac-12 with 22 home runs, while pitcher Jolene Henderson sports a 29-1 record and 1.13 ERA. Cal's last national title came 10 years ago. Are the Golden Bears due for another?
The defending national champs have grown into one of college softball's biggest powers, advancing to OKC in five of the past six seasons with two titles. And the Sun Devils can flat-out swing the bat. Shortstop Katelyn Boyd is one of the game's most feared offensive players, posting a .456 average and while clubbing 19 home runs and 58 RBIs. Right behind her in the lineup is Alix Johnson, who is hitting .436. Pitcher Dallas Escobedo, one of the stars of last year's WCWS, is still just a sophomore.
Conference: Big 12
Keilani Ricketts has had a stellar season in the circle (1.10 ERA and 344 strikeouts) and at the plate (.400 average). Lauren Chamberlain has had a stellar freshman season, blasting a Big 12 record 25 home runs. The Sooners' last title came in 2000.
The Crimson Tide has made the WCWS five of the past seven seasons, but has never advanced to the championship series during that span. ‘Bama averages more than seven runs per game, while Jackie Trania is one of the most dominant pitchers in the nation with 33 wins. No national champion has ever come from the SEC.
The national runner up two of the past three seasons features one of the most gifted athletes in the nation in Michelle Moultrie. She has a rare power-speed combo, tallying 10 home runs and 21 stolen bases, while also boasting a perfect fielding percentage.
Leadoff hitter Raven Chavanne (.435 average, 67 hits, 29 stolen bases) is a national Player of the Year finalist.
The Ducks have never played in the WCWS but have faced stiff competition in arguably the nation's toughest conference. Samantha Papas is batting .401.
Conference: Big 12
Texas A&M hasn't been back to OKC since it lost to ASU in the 2008 championship series. Mel Dumezich does it all for the Aggies, going 28-11 with a 2.03 ERA as a pitcher while posting 17 home runs and 44 RBIs in the middle of the lineup.