It's conference tournament week for NCAA DI softball
The GIST: It’s tournament week for a whopping 30 Division I (DI) conferences, and you know what that means: The eight-team Women’s College World Series is only 22 days (and 56 dashed dreams) away. Welcome to the postseason party!
How it works: There are 32 available automatic bids to the 64-squad national tourney, one for each DI conference. The Big West and WCC will award bids to their regular-season champs this weekend, but the other 30 conferences are duking it out tourney-style for natty tickets.
- Teams who fail to snag a conference ’ship will be stressin’ until 7 p.m. ET Sunday, when the committee reveals their 32 at-large selections. The easiest route — especially for non–Power Five squads — is to finish the job here and now.
The top tourneys: The SEC, whose first round takes the field tonight, boasts a conference-leading eight Top 25 teams. No. 4 Tennessee crushed their way to the SEC regular-season title, but to take the tourney, they’ll have to contend with No. 12 Arkansas — the only team to take a series from them all year.
- The historically cutthroat Pac-12’s first-ever tourney also hits tonight’s dirt. Although regular-season champ (and softball dynasty) No. 2 UCLA is the favorite, with three Top-10 squads in the mix, expect chaos.
Players to watch: For the diamond’s best, look no further than the 14 gals drafted by Athletes Unlimited (AU) on Monday, including red-hot pitchers Montana Fouts of No. 14 Alabama and No. 3 Florida State’s Kathryn Sandercock, the Nos. 4 and 5 picks, respectively.
- But to catch AU’s top draftee, look past the Power Five: Wichita State Shocker Sydney McKinney, ahem, shocked the world when her name was called first. See her in action at the AAC tournament this Friday.