2023 college softball preview
The GIST: It’s only February, but there are signs of spring on the way — Division I (DI) softball steps up to the plate tomorrow. Prepare for those stinging winter batting hands and slide into everything you need to know before the base-stealing begins.
How it works: Over 6,000 athletes across 291 programs will lace up their cleats for the next three months, competing for one of 64 spots in the national tournament. Thirty-two teams will book tickets by winning their respective conferences, while the remaining 32 will be selected by committee in mid-May.
- Come playoffs, two tourney rounds (Regionals and Super Regionals) will cut the 64-team field down to eight. Then in early June, those eight will play in the Women’s College World Series at Oklahoma City’s iconic Hall of Fame Stadium to determine the queens of the (softball) diamond.
The contenders: To no one’s surprise, reigning back-to-back champ Oklahoma is once again the team to beat. With last year’s freshman phenom pitcher Jordy Bahl back in the circle and the nation’s No. 1 player, sophomore second baseman Tiare Jennings, in the lineup, the No. 1 Sooners have plenty of juice for a three-peat, even after losing home run–hitter Jocelyn Alo.
- But never count out No. 2 UCLA, who has the best Brady in junior slugger Maya and a record 12 (!!!) national titles. Bruins ace pitcher Megan Faraimo is back for her final season and hoping to bookend her college career with another ring.
- Also in the hunt? No. 3 Oklahoma State, who are led by the country’s No. 2 player, southpaw hurler Kelly Maxwell, and No. 4 Florida State, who boast Kathryn Sandercock in the circle and a stellar lineup at the plate.
What to watch: Opening day is bringing the fireworks, and the Mark Campbell Collegiate Invitational — featuring seven teams, four of them ranked — is a must-see. Catch No. 19 Duke face both No. 16 Washington at 1 p.m. ET and No. 1 Oklahoma at 7 p.m. ET tomorrow. Play ball.