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Michella Chester | NCAA.com | February 4, 2020

2020 WCWS: Way-early predictions for 8 teams we might see in Oklahoma

2020 WCWS: Way-early predictions for 8 teams we might see in Oklahoma

The 2020 college softball season is quickly approaching. Let's get ready for the season with some fun predictions and take a look at eight teams we could see in the Women's College World Series this year. 

I picked these teams based on preseason rankings, returning players and fall reports. Of course, there are many teams that could be on this list, and a lot can change between now and the first pitch on Feb. 6. Predictions are just that... predictions! 

AN EARLY LOOK AT 2020: D1Softball preseason top 25 for the 2020 season | When does the season start?

Let's get started.

Eight teams we could see in Oklahoma for the 2020 WCWS

ALABAMA

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WASHINGTON

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ARIZONA

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OKLAHOMA

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UCLA

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MINNESOTA

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TEXAS

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FLORIDA STATE

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The case for Alabama: The Crimson Tide are No. 1 in the D1Softball preseason top-25 rankings. They are stocked with arms this season. Montana Fouts, seniors Kystal Goodman and Sarah Cornell and freshman Lexi Kilfoyl anchor the rotation. Fouts was the SEC Freshman of the Year last season after finishing with a team-leading 1.38 ERA and 193 strikeouts. Cornell was the SEC Pitcher of the Year. They will be strong in the circle, but also have strong position players and hitters. Bailey Hemphill set single-season program records last season with 26 home runs and 84 RBIs. This will be a fast team, too. Stealing just might be the name of the game. 

The case for Washington: The Huskies will also have a lot of depth in the circle this season and All-American pitcher Gabbie Plain returns. They have an experienced offense too, with eight of nine starters returning from their 2019 WCWS team. We will see slugger Morganne Flores back at the plate and Sis Bates at the top of the lineup after averaging .387 with 77 hits last season. Bates is also phenomenal defensively, with a .988 fielding percentage last year. 

TOP ARMS: 7 pitchers returning for 2020

The case for Arizona: The Wildcats came in at No. 3 in the D1Softball preseason top-25 rankings. Why? Well they have almost all of their best hitters returning this season. We know about Jessie Harper, who could be on track to break the all-time home run record for NCAA softball this season. She hit 29 last season and needs that many to tie the all-time mark of 95. Reyna Carranco, who posted a .417 batting average, is also back this season. Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza and Malia Martinez will return as well. 

The case for Oklahoma: The WCWS is a familiar destination for the Sooners, who finished as the national runner-up last year after making their 13th College World Series appearance. They return five All-Big 12 selections, and first team All-American honorees "G" Juarez, junior utility player Jocelyn Alo and sophomore utility player Grace Green. And if the thought of Juarez back in the circle this year was scary enough, keep an eye out for Shannon Saile this season. She was a second-team all American pitcher and posted a 1.42 era, ranking second nationally in hits allowed per seven innings. 

The case for UCLA: The reigning champs will be playing without Rachel Garcia and Bubba Nickles, who will forgo the season to play on the USA Softball Women's National team. But, that doesn't mean they're out of the race back to the WCWS for the sixth straight season. Megan Faraimo will step up in the circle, and she will have a lot of help. Junior righthander Holly Azevedo will be back after she appeared in 29 games for the Bruins and went 11-1 on the season. Faraimo will hit as well and add some much needed firepower. This will be a young team, but a fast and versatile one. Briana Perez, Aaliyah Jordan and Kinsley Washington are back in the lineup to produce some runs for the Bruins.

TOP SLUGGERS: 4 home run hitters to watch this season

The case for Minnesota: The Golden Gophers advanced to their first NCAA WCWS last season but have a good shot again this season with All-American Amber Fiser as a No. 1 pitcher. Makenna Partain is back and is the program's single season runs record holder with 66 scored in 2019. Hope Brander will also be back at first base and so is Natalie DenHartog, who hit 17 homers last season. 

The case for Texas:  Texas reached the decisive game of an Alabama-hosted super regional before getting eliminated last season. They came in at No. 6 this preseason, and they return a loaded roster. They’re led by All-Americans Janae Jefferson and Miranda Elish, their ace. But, the Longhorns have another top pitcher in Shealyn O’Leary. They return all seven players that recorded 100 at-bats last season.  Add on five freshman and UCLA transfer Colleen Sullivan, and this team looks like it is in great shape. 

The case for Florida State: The Seminoles, who lost last season in the super regionals by one run in a decisive third game against Oklahoma State, return their two leading run producers in first team All-American Sydney Sherrill and Dani Morgan. They welcomed nine new players and their pitching staff will be led by Kathryn Sandercock, who played with the USA softball junior national team last summer and posted a 1.99 era last season. 

The next 8: 
Here are the teams strongly considered for the eight teams to the WCWS: 

LSU, Florida, Oklahoma State, Louisiana, Northwestern, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky

 
2020 WCWS: 8 teams we might see in OKC | Tickets | Schedule
ALL-TIME LINEUPS: UCLA | Arizona
FALL REPORTS: Washington | UCLA | Florida State
 
 

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