This past weekend brought 64 teams to the playing field for the NCAA Tournament Regional round. 16 teams remain and have advanced to the Super Regional which begins this week. Our Super Regional Previews will be released over the next few days. Below are five things that stood out to us at Fastpitch News from this past weekend.
Razorbacks Advance to First-Ever Super Regional
The No. 13 seed University of Arkansas softball team turned the program’s first-ever NCAA Regional host duties into the program’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Super Regionals. The Razorbacks rallied past Wichita State for a 6-4 win Sunday afternoon in front of 2,142 fans at Bogle Park to clinch the team’s spot into the next round of the NCAA Tournament. Mary Haff picked up her third win of the weekend on Sunday while fellow freshman Hannah McEwen and senior Autumn Buczek each had two hits. The Razorbacks trailed twice in the game but McEwen’s two-run shot in the bottom of the fourth put the home team up for good. Buczek’s diving play on a pop up in foul territory closed the door on the Shockers. As winners of the NCAA Fayetteville Regional, the Razorbacks will now face two-time defending champion Oklahoma in a Super Regional in Norman. Dates and games times are to be determined.
FSU’s Kylee Hanson Stellar in the Circle
Retiring the first 15 batters she faced, Kylee Hanson had another dominant day in the circle as No. 6 Florida State (50-10) defeated Jacksonville State (35-25) by a score of 10-0 on Sunday afternoon at JoAnne Graf Field to win the 2018 NCAA Tallahassee Regional. Hanson had not allowed a hit and recorded 23 strikeouts in her first 10.0 innings against Jacksonville State during the regional, and had a perfect game going on Sunday until Hayley Sims hit a double to left center to start the bottom of the sixth inning. The redshirt senior finished with 11 strikeouts in 6.0 innings, allowing one hit and retiring 18 of the 19 batters she faced to improve to 27-4 on the season. The Seminoles advance to the NCAA Super Regional round for the seventh time in program history and the sixth time in a row. FSU will be a host school for the third year in arrow and will welcome No. 11 LSU on May 24-27.
Oklahoma Rolls Through Regionals
For the ninth straight season and 12th time overall, Oklahoma softball will compete in the NCAA Super Regionals. The Sooners defeated Missouri 7-0 in the NCAA Norman Regional on Sunday to clinch their spot in Supers. OU outscored opponents 24-0 in the regional, marking the first time since 2010 OU did not allow a run in regional play. Senior lefty duo Paige Parker and Paige Lowary combined for the Sooners’ 27th shutout of the season on Sunday. Parker improved to 28-2 on the year, scattering three hits while registering one strikeout over 4.1 frames. Lowary closed the final 2.2 innings, allowing two hits and striking out one batter. No. 4 seed Oklahoma will host No. 13 seed Arkansas next weekend at Marita Hynes Field, with the full weekend schedule to be determined. The winner of the Super Regional will advance to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.
Alabama Advances After Another Osorio Gem
Alabama softball secured its 16th NCAA Regional title, including an NCAA-best streak of 14-straight, with a 6-0 shutout over Oregon State Sunday at Rhoads Stadium. With the win, the Crimson Tide advances to its 14th-straight NCAA Super Regional round. Senior pitcher Alexis Osorio went the distance and threw 6.1 hitless innings before giving up a lone single in the seventh. Osorio finished the shutout with nine strikeouts. The regional title is the 16th for Alabama in its 22-year history and its 14th-straight, the longest active streak in Division-I softball. This weekend’s three-game sweep increases the Tide’s regional win streak to 37 games, also an NCAA-best. Alabama will now advance to its 14th-straight super regional round, continuing its streak as the only team in the country to play in all 14 rounds since its inception in 2005. The Tide will face fifth-seeded Washington at the Seattle Super.
South Carolina Rallies Past Liberty Twice
For just the second time in school history and the first time since 2007, No. 9-seeded South Carolina softball advanced to a Super Regional after capturing the Columbia Regional Championship on Sunday with a pair of wins over Liberty. The Gamecocks defeated Liberty 2-0 in the first game to force a game 7 before closing the regional with a 5-0 victory. With Sundays wins, Carolina moved to 49-15 on the year. Carolina is now one win away from 50, which would be the first time since 1997 the Gamecocks have reached that mark or better. The Gamecocks’ only previous Super Regional appearance came in 2007. South Carolina (49-15), the tournament’s No. 9 seed, will be matched against No. 8 seed Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz., for a three-game series that begins Thursday or Friday. The Sun Devils (46-11) won the Tempe Regional with a 9-0 victory over Ole Miss on Sunday. The winner of that series will advance to the Women’s College World Series, where South Carolina hasn’t been since 1997.
BONUS: No-No for Ocasio Goes Down in Gator History
The second-seeded Florida softball team advanced to the NCAA Super Regional round for the sixth consecutive year after it defeated Ohio State, 4-0, at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium Sunday night. The Gators (53-8) were led by senior right-handed pitcher Aleshia Ocasio (21-6) from the circle. The St. Cloud, Fla. native tallied a season-high 12 strikeouts against the Buckeyes (36-16) en route to the program’s first seven-inning complete-game no-hitter. Ocasio helped her own cause as she was responsible for driving in two of the four runs scored on the night. She produced a fielder’s choice RBI in the fifth and a sacrifice fly in the sixth. It was also the first time that the Gators have thrown two no-hitters in the same NCAA Regional. UF no-hit Bethune-Cookman to open up regional play and finished the regional with the no-hitter against Ohio State. The Gators will face 15th-seeded Texas A&M in the NCAA Super Regional round starting Thursday, May 24 at 7 p.m. on ESPN at Pressly Stadium.