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Michella Chester | NCAA.com | May 19, 2021

1 thing (or more!) to know about every college softball team in the 2021 championship field

The 2021 NCAA college softball tournament, previewed

The 64-team DI softball championship field has been announced, and we finally have a softball tournament since what feels like an eternity ago — 2019. Here's at least one thing to know about every team in the championship field. 

We will go by region, starting with the top left side of the bracket where the Norman Regional will hosted by the No. 1 seed, Oklahoma. 

NO. 1 OKLAHOMA: The Sooners have the nation’s home run leader in Jocelyn Alo and potential freshman of the year Tiare Jennings. Alo has 27 homers and Jennings is tied for second in the nation with 24 bombs. They also have three players in the top 10 in batting average, including Jayda Coleman, who is hitting .477. This is an offensive powerhouse team. The Sooners are 45-2 and the No. 1 overall seed. Their only two losses came to Georgia and Oklahoma State.

FOLLOW ALONG: The bracket, schedule and more for the DI softball tournament

MORGAN STATE: The MEAC champions are 24-15 and in the NCAA tournament for the first time ever. The Bears are one of six teams to make their first tournament appearance. 

TEXAS A&M: The Aggies are in the 2021 NCAA softball tournament for the 19th consecutive year. This is their 31st appearance in the NCAA tournament, where they hold an 86-67 record all-time.

WICHITA STATE: The Shockers swept both the American Athletic Conference regular season and tournament titles for the second time in program history. Wichita State is 0-9 all-time vs. the Aggies, but the two programs haven't met since 2016. Addison Barnard made our list for the top home run hitters this season, she has 21 bombs which ranks fifth in the country. Madison Perrigan is not far behind with 18 home runs in 2021. With two of the hottest home run hitters in the country the Shockers rank fifth in the NCAA in slugging percentage (.587) and second in homers. Wichita State has three players hitting above .300, including Sydney McKinney who finished the regular season hitting .437 and tied for second in the country with 80 hits. 

Seattle Regional: 

MICHIGAN: The Wolverines are in the NCAA tournament for the 26th consecutive year and 28th overall time. The 36-6 Wolverines will play a regional on the road for just the seventh time in program history.

SEATTLE: Seattle U (29-19) won all three of its games at the 2021 WAC tournament winning the title for the second consecutive season. Carley Nance won MVP of the tournament after winning all three games in the circle and hitting three homers.  

PORTLAND STATE: Portland St. is back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2013. The Vikings are 15-24 this year but made the tournament after winning the Big Sky softball tournament as the No. 5 seed. 

NO. 16 WASHINGTON: The Huskies were definitely not happy with the No. 16 seed they got from the selection committee after being ranked fifth in the coaches poll (you can read more here from Seattle Times columnist Matt Calkins) and will host the regional. What else do you need to know about the Huskies? Gabbie Plain. Plain is the NCAA strikeout leader this year with over 300 strikeouts. Sis Bates just took home Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year for the third year in a row. 

Knoxville Regional:

NO. 9 TENNESSEE: Tennessee is coming off of the SEC tournament where the Volunteers defeated Texas A&M and SEC regular season champion Arkansas to advance to the semifinal, where they narrowly fell to Alabama, the eventual champions. 

EASTERN KENTUCKY: Eastern Kentucky just broke a 17-year NCAA tournament drought after winning the Ohio Valley Conference softball tournament for the first time since 2004. EKU beat top-seeded Southeast Missouri State 5-4 for the title. 

JAMES MADISON: The Dukes outscored their opponents 32-0 in their last three games to win the CAA tournament. Kate Gordon was the MOP after going 7-for-9 at the plate with two home runs in each game. She broke the tournament record with six home runs. 

LIBERTY: Liberty just received its first-ever national ranking, coming in at No. 25 in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Coaches Poll. The Flames have gone 21-1 in their last 22 games with 12 shutouts. Liberty is tied for fifth in the nation with 42 wins, trailing only Miami (Ohio) (46-8), Oklahoma (45-2), Alabama (45-7) and Louisiana (44-10).

Columbia Regional: 

IOWA STATE: Iowa State is headed back to the NCAA tournament after 33 years. Its last appearance was in 1988. Senior Sami Williams made out list as one of the top home run hitters this season. She has 21 home runs this season. 

UNI: The Panthers made three consecutive College World Series in 1975, 1976 and 1977,  winning the 1977 AIAW title. They will face Iowa State in the regionals this year, a team they already played twice this year in the regular season. They lost 12-2 in the first game and won 10-2 in April. 

UIC: UIC secured its third Horizon League title in four years. The Flames will face Missouri in the Columbia Regional, playing a team they have postseason history with. UIC faced the Tigers in 2017 and won 5-4 with a big comeback victory. 

NO. 8 MISSOURI: The Tigers received their highest overall seed since 2013 in the NCAA tournament. They are one of five SEC teams to be seeded in the top eight. The Tigers lead the SEC in slugging percentage (.565), on-base percentage (.409), runs scored (355), doubles (86) and RBI (319).

Stillwater Regional: 

NO. 5 OKLAHOMA STATE: The Cowgirls have wins this year over Arkansas, LSU, Texas and Oklahoma. They are one of just two teams to have beat the No. 1 seeded Sooners, but just loss to them in the Big 12 title game, 8-2. Carrie Eberle is the Cowgirls' ace, sporting a 21-3 record with a 1.83 ERA and 136 strikeouts. 

CAMPBELL:  The Camels swept the Big South regular season and tournament titles. This will be the first time in program history the Camels will take on the Oklahoma State Cowgirls.

BOSTON UNIVERSITY: The Terriers are 36-2 on the season. They enter the tournament with the nation's second-longest active win streak, a Patriot League-record 18 games, and the NCAA's longest active road win streak at 17 games.

MISSISSIPPI STATE: The Bulldogs have won eight of their last 10 games, including the final seven SEC matchups before the conference tournament. This team has power at the plate with three players on the roster with over 10 home runs, Fa Leilua (18), Mia Davidson (16) and Carter Spexarth (11). Davidson holds the Mississippi State record for most home runs with 68 in her career. 

Austin Regional: 

OREGON: The Ducks have two of the biggest wins in the country with two victories over No. 2 UCLA. Oregon has not lost a game in the regional round since 2008 — a streak of 27 straight games that covers the last nine tournaments. Haley Cruse leads the Ducks with a .382 average and seven home runs. Brooke Yanez is their ace with 235 strikeouts this season. 

TEXAS STATE: Texas State will be heading to Austin for the third time for a regional after the Bobcats were assigned there in 2003 and 2011. The Bobcats fell to South Alabama in the Sun Belt Conference championship, but they earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. 

SAINT FRANCIS (PA): The Red Flash clinched an automatic bid to the tournament with a 12-4 win in five innings against LIU. This is Saint Francis' fourth appearance in the NCAA tournament. 

NO. 12 TEXAS: Texas has a strong offense led by Janae Jefferson (.435 batting average), and power hitters Shannon Rhodes and Mary Iakopo. Shealyn O'Leary is the ace after Miranda Elish opted out of the 2021 season. The Longhorns have already faced Texas State twice this season in Austin, winning 1-0 (8 inn.) in February and 5-4 in a rematch in April. 

Athens Regional:

NO. 13 DUKE: The Blue Devils make their first NCAA appearance in program history as they were selected as the No. 13 national seed in this year's tournament. They also just won the ACC championship for the first time in history with a 1-0 shutout against top-seeded Clemson. Shelby Walters started out the game and threw five complete frames in which she allowed three hits and tallied three strikeouts for her 17th win of the season and Peyton St. George entered in the sixth inning and retired all six batters faced. The Blue Devils are in just their fourth season as a program. 

UNC GREENSBORO: UNCG won the Southern Conference tournament and enters the NCAA tournament with eight straight wins. UNCG has also won 16 of their last 17 games. It has hit 89 home runs this season, including a SoCon tournament record six against Western Carolina in the conference championship. 

WESTERN KENTUCKY: The Hilltoppers won three elimination games to win the Conference USA tournament title. They have five hitters with averages above .300: Paige Carter (.384), Taylor Davis (.357), Kennedy Sullivan (.338), Brylee Hage (.325) and T.J. Webster (.325).

GEORGIA: The Bulldogs will be hosting this 2021 regional in their 19th consecutive tournament appearance. They have advanced to 10 Super Regionals and four Women's College World Series in their history. This season they have been led mostly by sophomore Sydney Kuma, who is hitting .290. She hit a team-best 14 home runs and drove in a team-high 34 runs on 47 hits. 

Gainesville Regional:

BAYLOR: The 2020 season was cut short by COVID-19 with the Baylor softball team waiting in Gainesville, Fla., to play Florida. Now, 14 months later, they are heading back to Gainesville to play in the 2021 NCAA tournament. Baylor lost its last six games and went winless in the Big 12 tournament, but have four wins over NCAA tournament teams, splitting four games with Iowa State and beating Mississippi State and Louisiana. 

SOUTH ALABAMA: South Alabama is in the NCAA softball tournament for the first time in six years, earning an at-large bid. The Jaguars are one of four Sun Belt teams to earn regional bids this year. They played 14 games against teams ranked higher than them in the RPI and won six of those games, including a 1-0 shutout of Alabama. 

SOUTH FLORIDA: South Florida earned a spot in its seventh NCAA tournament in the last 10 seasons. The Bulls are familiar with Florida, as they played them four times in the regular season (0-4). Pitcher Georgina Corrick is 22-7 with a 0.97 ERA.

NO. 4 FLORIDA: The Gators are known for their really strong defense this year. They earned the No. 1 seed in the SEC tournament and lost to Alabama in the championship game. The Gators are first in the SEC in fielding with a .983 percentage. 

Tuscaloosa Regional:

NO. 3 ALABAMA: The Crimson Tide enter the NCAA tournament on a 13-game winning streak. They just won their 6th SEC championship behind record breaking Montana Founts' performance. Fouts broke the SEC tournament record with 39 strikeouts. 

ALABAMA STATE: Alabama State enters the tournament 19-27 overall, but it won five straight games and nine out of the last 11 to get here.

TROY: Troy is headed to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1996 and the first time as an at-large selection. The Trojans advanced to the semifinals of the Sun Belt tournament.

CLEMSON: The Tigers are in just their second season as a program (and their first full one since 2020 was shortened due to COVID-19). They are the 2021 ACC regular season champion and the ACC tournament runners-up after falling 1-0 to Duke in the ACC title game. Valerie Cagle has been phenomenal all season, leading the Tigers in the circle with a 1.06 ERA and 247 strikeouts, and offensively with a team-best .414 average. 

Lexington Regional:

NOTRE DAME: The Fighting Irish are headed to the NCAA tournament for the 22nd year in a row, every season of head coach Deanna Gumpf’s tenure. Prior to the ACC tournament, they were on a 14-game winning streak before dropping to Virginia Tech. Two players, Emma Clark and Abby Sweet, finished the regular season hitting above .400.

MIAMI (OH): Miami just set a program record this year with a program record for wins with a 46-8 record. This will be the fourth meeting between the RedHawks and Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament. Kirin Kumar is in her first season as a head coach and they have been re-writing the history books ever since, breaking six MAC single-season team records. They also rank high in multiple statistical categories in the NCAA. They are fourth in the country in shutouts, fifth in batting average and third in the nation in slugging as a team. Watch out for Karli Spaid and Allie Cummins — both are hitting above .400 and have 17 and 16 home runs, respectively. 

NORTHWESTERN: Northwestern received an at-large bid in this year's tournament and will make its sixth NCAA Regional appearance over the last seven tournaments. Head coach Kate Drohan and associate head coach Caryl Drohan just became the program's winningest coaches in their 20th year at the helm. 

NO. 14 KENTUCKY: The Wildcats went 39-13 this season with wins over Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Auburn, LSU and Texas A&M. The Wildcats have made the last four NCAA Super Regionals. Kayla Kowalik leads the team with a .505 average and 12 homers. They have four players with double-digit homers this season. In the circle, Autumn Humes has been their ace with a 20-7 record. 

Tucson Regional:

NO. 11 ARIZONA: The Wildcats are hosting a regional for the 25th time in program history. Dejah Mulipola is back this year after opting out of the 2020 season to play for team USA. She finished the regular season hitting .394 with 17 home runs. Jessie Harper has 13 homers on the season but she has 89 home runs in her career, six away from the all-time home run record. 

UMBC: UMBC won the America East championship for the second year in a row with a 1-0 win over Stony Brook. The Retrievers have six players hitting over .300 this season. 

VILLANOVA: Villanova will appear in the NCAA softball tournament for the first time in program history. This comes right after the Wildcats won the Big East championship for the first time in history as well. Paige Rauch won Big East Player of the Year after hitting .420 with nine home runs. 

OLE MISS: Ole Miss recorded a 12-12 record in SEC play this season, marking the second-most conference wins in a season in program-history.

Fayetteville Regional:

STANFORD: Stanford is 31-20 this season and 9-12 in Pac-12 play with wins over UCLA, Oregon and Arizona State. Alana Vawter just made the Pac-12 All-Freshman team and is First Team All-Pac-12. 

SOUTH DAKOTA STATE: The Jackrabbits won the Summit League regular season and tournament championship to clinch an automatic bid in the NCAA tournament. They are making their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance after finishing the season 42-6.

MANHATTAN: Manhattan won its first MAAC championship since 1999. Nicole Williams was a perfect 5-0 in the MAAC tournament with 42 strikeouts.

NO. 6 ARKANSAS: The Razorbacks won the SEC regular season championship for the first time in program history and earned the No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament. Mary Haff and Autumn Storms have been dominant in the circle all season and Braxton Burnsides is tied for second in the nation in home runs with 24. 

Baton Rouge Regional:

NO. 7 LSU: If there is one thing to know about LSU softball it just might be Aliyah Andrews. You might recognize the name from watch SportsCenter Top 10. Andrews has been making unbelievable diving plays in the outfield all season long and the Tigers have one of the most athletic teams in the country. They have 19 losses but picked up the No. 7 seed in the tournament. 

MCNEESE: McNeese has played in Baton Rouge for three of its six regional tournaments including three of its last four NCAA tournaments. This will be the fourth time they play LSU in the regionals with the Tigers holding a 3-0 record. McNeese won the 2021 Southland Conference championship.

GEORGE WASHINGTON: George Washington is another team headed to the NCAA softball tournament for the first time in program history. The Colonials won the Atlantic 10 regular season and tournament championship this year, led by A-10 Player of the Year Jenna Cone and A-10 Pitcher of the Year Sierra Lange. 

LOUISIANA: Louisiana is led by Summer Ellyson in the circle with 173 strikeouts on the season. Ciara Bryan leads offensively with a .426 average and five home runs. The Ragin' Cajuns have wins over Texas and Oklahoma State this season. 

Tallahassee Regional:

AUBURN: The Tigers are the second seed in the Tallahassee Regional after going 27-22 this season. They have a win over Missouri and LSU this year and are led by Shelby Lowe in the circle with a 1.32 ERA and 175 strikeouts. 

UCF: The Knights are headed back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2016. They just fell to Wichita State in the American Athletic conference championship but received an at-large bid. 

KENNESAW STATE: The Owls are making their second tournament appearance. Their first trip to the tournament was also in the Tallahassee Regional in 2018. KSU, Florida State and Auburn met earlier this season at the War Eagle Battle. Florida State secured two wins over the Owls, while KSU split with the Tigers. 

NO. 10 FLORIDA STATE: Florida State has played eight teams in the NCAA tournament field with a record of 15-7. The Seminoles have wins over Florida, Missouri, Arizona (twice) and Duke (three times). However, they just fell to Duke in the ACC tournament semifinals 7-3. 

Tempe Regional:

NO. 15 ARIZONA STATE:  The Sun Devils finished the regular season with a 32-14 overall record and 12-9 conference record, ranking fourth in the Pac-12. Maddi Hackbarth leads the offense with a .402 average and ranks eighth in the NCAA with 20 home runs. 

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: The Salukis earned won the 2021 Missouri Valley Conference tournament championship after a 2-0 victory over UNI. They will face Arizona State in the fourth all-time meeting between the two programs, with the Sun Devils owning a 2-1 record. 

BYU: The Cougars are led by true freshman Violet Zavodnik, who has a .417 batting average and leads the team in slugging percentage (.827) and on base percentage (.526). Rylee Jensen trails closely behind with a .400 average. The Cougars won the West Coast conference title and have played multiple tournament teams this season.

VIRGINIA TECH: Keely Rochard has been dominant in the circle for the Hokies with a 1.12 and 299 strikeouts. She ranks third in the country in strikeouts. 

Los Angeles Regional:

MINNESOTA: The Gophers finished the regular season with a 29-11 record and ranked second in the Big Ten standings. They are led by Amber Fiser in the circle and MaKenna Partain and Natalie DenHartog offensively. 

FRESNO STATE:  The Bulldogs earned the Mountain West's automatic bid after winning the regular season title with a 20-4 conference record. This is the Bulldogs' first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2017.

LONG BEACH STATE: Long Beach State won the Big West and finished the regular season with a 30-9 overall record and 22-2 in conference play.

NO. 2 UCLA: The No. 2 UCLA Bruins are the defending 2019 national champions, where they beat Oklahoma in walk-off fashion to take the title. Rachel Garcia and Bubba Nickles returned in 2021 after opting out of the 2020 season to play with the national team. In their absence, Megan Faraimo filled the hole in the circle and UCLA remained the No. 1 team in the country in 2020. This season, they have the No. 1 ERA in the NCAA thanks to the scary combination of Garcia and Faraimo, Garcia sports a miniscule 0.60 ERA and a 14-0 record. Faraimo has a 1.19 ERA with 156 strikeouts. Offensively, pretty much every player in the lineup hits above .300. 

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