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Michella Chester | | May 17, 2023

8 picks for the 2023 Women's College World Series now that the bracket is here

'That was wild': Instant reactions to the 2023 college softball bracket

The 2023 DI softball bracket has been revealed and the tournament begins with regional play on Friday, May 19. I typically make picks for the eight teams I think might make it to OKC, but it is not really realistic until you have seen the bracket. Both Oklahoma and Clemson can't make it, and both UCLA and Utah can't make it, so on, so forth. 

So now that we have seen the bracket, here are my eight picks for the 2023 Women's College World Series: 

No. 1 Oklahoma

Oklahoma Softball

My first choice, in the top-left portion of the bracket, is the back-to-back champs — Oklahoma. It is hard NOT to pick the Sooners, no matter the opponent. The Sooners are in the midst of a 43-game winning streak and have been the most dominant team in college softball all season, and for the past three years. The lineup is terrifying, with the top-scoring offense in the nation, and the pitching staff also leads the NCAA with a 0.86 team ERA. They will host Cal, Hofstra and Missouri. And then if they make it out to the supers, a possible matchup with Clemson or maybe Auburn looms. Now these are two incredible teams — Clemson has the second-best team ERA in the nation behind the Sooners, highlighted by one of the top three finalists for USA Softball Player of the Year, Valerie Cagle. Cagle throws a heavy down ball that could cause some trouble for the Sooner lineup. Then when it comes to Auburn, they are extremely scrappy. Both teams can beat Oklahoma. But do I think they can beat them twice? Now that is a different story. I am going with the Sooners all day. 

No. 8 Duke

Duke softball

I am going with the Blue Devils for my next pick. The Blue Devils will host Campbell, Charlotte and George Mason in their regional.  They have faced both Campbell and Charlotte during the regular season and hold a 3-0 record against the two in-state teams. If they make it through that, they are matched with No. 9 Stanford's regional. Now, if this super regional happens, we have a rematch on our hands, and Duke would be the hosting team. The two teams already faced once this season, and Duke took down Stanford 4-2 back in February. I am going to pick Duke to win it again. Both teams have strong pitching, with Stanford's staff led by the nation's ERA leader and Freshman of the Year finalist, NiJaree Canady. Duke has Jala Wright, and Cassidy Curd — the freshman that just threw a no-hitter against Clemson in the ACC tournament. The difference is, I think Duke's offense will pull through. The Blue Devils rank 15th in the NCAA in scoring with 6.13 runs scored per game. Stanford has averaged 4.47 per game. I am going with Duke to make it to OKC.

No. 5 Alabama

Montana Fouts

I am picking Alabama as my next team to make the WCWS. But, it does come with a pretty large stipulation — a healthy Montana Fouts in the circle. Fouts exited the game in the SEC tournament after landing on her left leg wrong. From my top storylines article, her status for the NCAA tournament is still unknown, and it is a pretty big deal for the Tide. Fouts accounted for the majority of innings pitched this season, 213.1 to be exact. Not to mention, an NCAA-leading 311 strikeouts. It would be easy to argue that Fouts means more to Alabama's success than any other individual player in the nation. But, if the Tide have Fouts, and their offense keeps up the momentum they gained in the past few games, I like Bama's path. The most difficult opponent in Bama's regional is Central Arkansas. Central Arkansas has the No. 3 ranked team ERA in the nation, with a strong and battle-tested pitching staff. Normally, I would be worried about the Bama lineup, but the bats have been hot as of late. They have come up big when they needed it most in the SEC tournament, and they seem to be heating up at the right time. 

If Bama gets through the regional, they have a potential matchup with No. 12 Northwestern, and at home. This matchup would be a toss-up, but for now, I picked the Tide. 

No. 4 Tennessee

Tennessee Softball

Next, I am going with Tennessee. The Volunteers are one of the most well-rounded teams right now and it was way too hard to pick against them. The Texas-Tennessee matchup scheduled for earlier this season was canceled, so we have not seen the hypothetical super regional matchup this season. But this team has the second-best scoring offense in the NCAA this season behind only Oklahoma and the fourth-lowest team ERA. Ashley Rogers leads the pitching staff, and she boasts a 0.70 ERA with 160 strikeouts. Then there is Kiki Milloy leading the offense, who is one of the top-three finalists for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. Milloy has had an incredible season with a .421 average and 23 homers so far. She is pretty close to unstoppable — and I think these players will get them to the WCWS. 

No. 2 UCLA

UCLA Softball

How about another one of those top-three finalists for Player of the Year? Well I am going with Maya Brady and the UCLA Bruins. When this team is on in the circle, I think their offense can compete with just about anyone in the country. It'll come down to their performance in the circle, which when it is good, it is great. If the two seeds advance out of the regionals, we would have a crazy rematch of the Pac-12 championship between Utah and UCLA. These teams have played FOUR times this season, and the Bruins won three out of four. The most recent loss though, cost them the Pac-12 title. Utah has been hot as of late, and it won't be easy, but by nature of the postseason and having to win twice, I am going with the Bruins here. 

No. 7 Washington

Baylee Klingler

Baylee Klingler will look for redemption in this year's tournament after Washington's hopes were cut short last season in the regionals. The power hitter is averaging over .400 this year with 11 homers and a 1.205 OPS. Ruby Meylan has been another impressive freshman this year, and she leads the way in the circle for the Huskies with a 2.11 ERA and 178 strikeouts through 152.1 innings pitched. With the No. 7 seed, the Huskies will host Minnesota, McNeese and Northern Colorado. If both national seeds advance, they will face No. 10 LSU in the supers. This potential matchup was really difficult to pick. LSU is a great team, and these two have few mutual opponents. I wouldn't really be surprised to see either in OKC, but I think the Huskies might have some added motivation after getting upset last year as a seeded team, and I am going with Washington. 

Wichita State

Wichita State softball

The Shockers are my sleeper pick for this year's WCWS. Wichita State was placed into No. 6 Oklahoma State's regional. And guess what — this is a team that they already beat TWICE this season. Both were incredibly close games, but both were wins nonetheless. Not to mention, OSU has lost 11 of their last 13 matchups to end the season, and have struggled in a lot of different facets of the game. If there was any upset in the tournament I'd like to bank on before the tournament even starts, it'd be this one. But, this pick doesn't just mean they get out of the regionals, it means they get out of the supers too and make it all the way to the WCWS. Their regional is matched with No. 11 Arkansas, a really strong SEC team. It would not be easy. 

BUT, this team has some really talented and experienced players, and the sixth rated team batting average in the NCAA. Sydney McKinney has been turning heads all season — she has an absurd .519 batting average. But they have a few power hitters too with Addison Barnard and Zoe Jones. I think Alex Aguilar has what it takes in the circle as well. Not to mention, this team has ALREADY beat Arkansas this year. They just might have to do it again, but I think they can do it. 

No. 3 Florida State

Florida State softball

The Seminoles were dealt some tough cards with a difficult path to the WCWS, but I think FSU will prevail no matter what. From my top storylines article — The Noles have BOTH a hot South Carolina team and UCF in the regionals, and then the potential to match up against a high-powered No. 14 Georgia offense in the supers. There has been a lot of chatter about how difficult Utah's regional is, but Tara Henry picked Tallahassee as the toughest regional in our bracket breakdown. The Gamecocks are hot right now, and Donnie Gobourne is rolling for them in the circle. They have 20 losses on the season, yes. That is why they are in FSU's regional, but they just upset both Georgia and Auburn in the SEC tournament to advance to the SEC championship game, before losing by just two runs to Tennessee. 

It doesn't matter though — I think the Noles get through it all and make it back to the WCWS after getting upset last year in the regionals. They likely still have that bad taste in their mouths with a lot of the same players, they have experience and depth, and I am certainly not picking against them this year. 

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Division I
Softball Championship
June 1-9, 2023
USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium | Oklahoma City, OK

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