Let's take a look at the top college softball games you won't want to miss during the early-season non-conference slate. From now until conference play begins, here are the most enticing matchups and tournaments.
Non-conference games/tournaments to watch
Clearwater Elite Invitational — Feb. 16-19
A TON of top-ranked teams are headed to Clearwater for some great action Feb. 16-19. You will NOT want to miss these matchups. Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Duke, Florida State, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, UCF, UCLA and Virginia Tech will be playing, among others. Just to name a few. It is unreal how many great matchups we will get to see at this tournament.
Here are my top games to watch from the tournament. You can see the full daily schedule here.
- Virginia Tech vs. Oklahoma State — Friday, Feb. 17 at 10 am ET on ESPNU
- Emma Lemley vs. Kelly Maxwell? Say no more.
- Arkansas vs. Florida State — Friday, Feb. 17 at 1 p.m. ET on ESPNU
- I love this matchup, we see the top of the ACC and top of the SEC facing off.
- Alabama vs. UCLA — Friday, Feb. 17 at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN2
- Montana Fouts and Megan Faraimo are two names in the circle we all have been hearing and watching for years. Also, this is the first time Alabama and UCLA will face off since Fouts threw a perfect game against the Bruins in the WCWS.
- UCLA vs. Florida State — Saturday, Feb. 18 at 10 a.m. ET on ESPNU
- Same thing here — UCLA and Florida State have two very experienced lineups, and in this case, we have a top-five battle. Even better.
- UCF vs. Alabama — Saturday, Feb. 18 at 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+
- I am excited to watch Jada Cody and the Knights face off against some of the top-ranked teams in the NCAA.
- Virginia Tech vs. UCLA — Saturday, Feb. 18 at 4 p.m. at ESPNU
- The Hokies have yet another huge challenge with the preseason No. 2 ranked UCLA Bruins.
- Florida State vs. Alabama — Sunday, Feb. 19 at 5 p.m. at ESPN
Red and Black Showcase — Feb. 17-19
Georgia will host the Red and Black Showcase, and we will have two ranked matchups to keep an eye one. UGA and Stanford will face off twice in the same weekend, once on Friday at 3:30 p.m. ET and again on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET.
Mary Nutter Classic — Feb. 23-26
Mark your calendars for this one. Guess who will be at the Mary Nutter Classic? None other than the top two teams in the nation heading into this 2023 season — Oklahoma and UCLA. So perhaps the biggest matchup of the non-conference schedule, if not the regular season, will take place between the Sooners and Bruins. Here are the rest of the matchups to watch at this tournament:
- UCLA vs. Florida — Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m.
- Washington vs. Kentucky — Thursday, Feb. 23 at 12 p.m.
- Northwestern vs. Oregon — Friday, Feb. 23 at 12:30 p.m.
- Florida vs. Oregon — Saturday, Feb. 25 at 10 a.m.
- UCLA vs. Northwestern — Saturday, Feb. 25 at 2:30 p.m.
- UCLA vs. Oklahoma — Sunday, Feb. 26 at 9:30 a.m.
Lone Star State Invitational — Feb. 24-26
Virginia Tech will head to Austin, Texas for the Lone Star Invitational. We will likely have two ranked matchups between Virginia Tech and Texas on Friday at 5 p.m. and on Saturday at 4 p.m. Both will be aired on Longhorn Network.
Bevo Classic — March 10-12
Alabama, Texas and Wisconsin will be apart of the Bevo Classic right before the start of conference play. Alabama and Texas will face off twice on Friday, March 11 at 4 p.m. and again on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Both will be aired on Longhorn Network.
Cowgirl Invitational — March 10-12
Oklahoma State will host Florida State for a three-game series from March 10-12. By March, I assume this will still be a top-10 matchup.
Omni Hall of Fame Classic — March 17-19
The Oklahoma Sooners will host the third annual Omni Hall of Fame Classic at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, March 17-19. The Sooners are 9-0 all-time in the tournament. This season OU will be playing three tourney teams from a season ago in Weber State, Northwestern and Auburn. Northwestern vs. Oklahoma is the matchup to watch and will be on March 17 at 7:30 p.m. ET.
OSU Mizuno Classic — March 17-19
UCF and Arizona State will head to Stillwater for the OSU Mizuno Classic ahead of conference play.