Everything you need to know about the 2024 NCAA softball championship

The 64 teams have all heard their names called and are preparing for regionals in the 2024 NCAA softball championship. In a year when there were few bid-stealing teams, there’s not a lot of controversy about who made the field. Seeding? Well, that’s another story.

Duke and its No. 3 RPI was slotted in as the No. 10 national seed, meaning the Blue Devils will be on the road if they advance to super regionals. NCAA Division I Softball Committee chair Kurt McGuffin said Duke’s seeding was related to its nonconference schedule and relative lack of wins against top teams. Add to that the fact that the ACC is, at best, the fourth-ranked conference in Division I, and Duke couldn’t rise above some of the teams from other leagues to grab a seed high enough to host supers.

Can the Blue Devils overcome their disappointment and advance? If so, who will join them?

Below we break down everything you need to know about the 16 regionals, and who has the best chance of making it to the Super Regional round set for May 23-26.

Austin Regional

Teams: No. 1 Texas Longhorns (47-7, 23-4 Big 12), Northwestern Wildcats (33-11, 18-3 Big Ten), Saint Francis (PA) Red Flash (40-12, 24-0 NEC), Siena Saints (33-20, 12-11 MAAC)

The Longhorns have the No. 1 seed for the first time in program history. Winning the regular season crown in a very top-heavy league will often do that. While most conference comparisons do not place the Big 12 on top of the heap—the conference is third in most strength ratings behind both the SEC and the Pac-12 and it has three of the strongest teams in the country — as Texas is one of them.

This should be a relatively easy regional for the hosts. Northwestern has been the power in the Big Ten in recent years, but the conference isn’t terribly formidable anymore. The Wildcats will probably meet UT in the regional final but don’t overlook Saint Francis.

The Red Flash have become regular visitors to the NCAA postseason since 2017. They will not be intimidated by their surroundings. They will not win the regional, but they are more than capable of picking up a win or two before they bow out.

Norman Regional

Teams: No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners (49-6, 22-5 Big 12), Oregon Ducks (28-19, 13-10 Pac-12), Boston University Terriers (52-4-1, 18-0 Patriot), Cleveland State Vikings (22-24, 14-10 Horizon)

It’s something when being the No. 2 national seed is a step down from recent years. That’s just how good Oklahoma has been. The Sooners lost a few more games this year, but they are still one of the favorites to win it all. That will start with what should be an easy go of things in their home regional.

This regional shows how much the weather affected teams this year, especially on the West Coast. While OU and BU both played well over 50 games, the Oregon Ducks come in with just 47 played due to cancelations.

BU should put up a good fight. The Terriers played several power league teams and acquitted themselves well. They are unlikely to reach the regional final, but they should give Oregon a good game in the opening round. It would be a surprise to see OU lose a game in this region, though.

Knoxville Regional

Teams: No. 3 Tennessee Lady Vols (40-10, 19-5 SEC), Virginia Cavaliers (32-18, 15-9 ACC), Miami (OH) Redhawks (48-7, 26-1 MAC), Dayton Flyers (33-19, 19-7 A10)

Tennessee is the first of the 13 SEC teams in the field. Yes, all 13 teams made it again this season. That’s a sticking point with many fans from other leagues, but the SEC was the top-rated conference by every metric this season. Boyd’s World iterative strength ratings, Warren Nolan’s reproduction of RPI, Massey Ratings. It doesn’t matter who you ask, they all come back with the SEC being the best.

That doesn’t mean the SEC will be overly represented in the Women’s College World Series. Despite the fact that they regularly put more teams in the postseason than other leagues, they have neither won as many titles nor do they tend to advance as many teams to Oklahoma City as the Big 12 and Pac-12 do. Can Tennessee put an end to that and win its first championship?

The Lady Vols are the best team from the best league. They are solid offensively and spectacular in the circle. While going chalk with every regional so far may seem like the easy way out, there’s little reason to think the top three seeds will be bothered on their home fields in these regionals. There’s no one in this region who had as much success against other tournament teams as Tennessee.

Gainesville Regional

Teams: No. 4 Florida Gators (46-12, 17-7 SEC), South Alabama Jaguars (32-18-1, 16-8 Sun Belt), FAU Owls (41-14, 21-6 AAC), FGCU Eagles (37-19, 16-8 ASUN)

The Florida Gators are one of just two SEC teams to ever win a national championship in softball. They have a tall task just to get out of their regional this season. That’s because of the South Alabama Jaguars.

South Alabama is a team that proves the point of parity across the sport, even in the mid-major leagues. The Jaguars played a tough nonconference slate again this year and beat some really good teams. They picked up wins against South Carolina, Arkansas and Alabama on the road. They played Arizona to a 1-1 tie in 11 innings on a neutral field. All four teams were ranked and all four are in the postseason. Three are from the SEC.

The Jaguars are also in a relatively strong mid-major softball conference. Do not be surprised if they advance from this regional.

Stillwater Regional

Teams: No. 5 Oklahoma State Cowgirls (44-10, 21-6 Big 12), Kentucky Wildcats (30-22, 8-16 SEC), Michigan Wolverines (41-16, 18-5 Big Ten), Northern Colorado Rams (27-24, 9-5 Big Sky)

The Cowgirls will likely take over the crown as the top team in the Big 12 next season when Oklahoma and Texas leave. They’re not too bad now with those two teams in the conference.

Oklahoma State, like Oklahoma, will not have to leave their state through the entire postseason. Whether that’s the best way to run the postseason is certainly open to question.

Kentucky has been tested through SEC competition. OSU has been tested by some of the best teams in the country at the top of the Big 12. It’s tough to say they won’t be battling it out on Sunday in the final. It should go the Cowgirls’ way on their home field. They’re 19-1 at Cowgirl Stadium this season.

Los Angeles Regional

Teams: No. 6 UCLA Bruins (37-10, 17-4 Pac-12), Virginia Tech Hokies (39-12-1, 18-6 ACC), San Diego State Aztecs (31-18, 15-7 MWC), GCU Antelopes (48-11, 23-3 WAC)

Virginia Tech got no favors from the committee, being sent across the country to play three Western teams. On the other hand, there are openings in this regional.

UCLA won both the Pac-12 regular season and tournament crowns. However, the Bruins played fewer regular season league games than anyone else in the conference. They got the top seed in the Pac-12 tournament over Stanford because they had three fewer losses. Stanford played three more league games, though.

The Bruins are a tough offensive team with a stacked lineup. They have a very young pitching core, though, and despite their season ERA, both Taylor Tinsley and Kaitlyn Terry are vulnerable to teams that have their own offensive punch.

UCLA went out in their home regional last season. It’s entirely possible that it happens again. Any of the top three teams could take this regional, and GCU should at least be competitive.

Columbia Regional

Teams: No. 7 Missouri Tigers (43-15, 13-11 SEC), Washington Huskies(31-13, 13-10 Pac-12), Indiana Hoosiers (40-18, 12-11 Big Ten), Omaha Mavericks (41-13, 14-4 Summit League)

If the postseason came a month or so earlier, the Washington Huskies would probably be hosting. The team ran into tough times down the stretch in the Pac-12 regular season and tournament. With the way they’re currently playing, it’s unlikely that the Huskies give Mizzou a run for its money. It’s unlikely that anyone else in this regional does, either.

Stanford Regional

Teams: No. 8 Stanford Cardinal (43-13, 17-7 Pac-12), Mississippi State Bulldogs (33-18, 12-12 SEC), Cal State Fullerton Titans (36-17, 22-5 Big West), St. Mary’s (CA) Gaels (30-22, 10-6 WCC)

Stanford has the pitching to take it back to Oklahoma City. It upgraded its offense with the addition of Taryn Kern, but the Cardinal still have difficulty scoring at times. Things have also gone sideways on defense for them on occasion, which hurts a team that relies on pitching to win games. If Stanford’s defense can back up ace NiJaree Canady, it should be no problem for the Cardinal in their home regional.

Baton Rouge Regional

Teams: No. 9 LSU Tigers (40-15, 12-12 SEC), California Golden Bears (36-17, 9-13 Pac-12), Southern Illinois Salukis (42-9, 23-4 MVC), Jackson State Tigers (31-17, 16-8 SWAC)

LSU ended the season No. 4 in RPI, but like Duke, the Tigers fell in the seedings and won’t be hosting a super regional if they advance.

The game between Cal and Southern Illinois should be the most competitive. The Golden Bears have a strong offense, but they can have difficulty keeping opponents off the board. The problem for the Saluki is that they are taking a big step up in competition level. They played a rather soft nonconference schedule on top of being in a conference that doesn’t stack up to some of the best.

In the end, it’s probably Cal against LSU for the regional title with the home team advancing.

Durham Regional

Teams: No. 10 Duke Blue Devils (47-6, 20-4 ACC), South Carolina Gamecocks (34-22, 8-16 SEC), Utah Utes (34-20, 10-13 Pac-12), Morgan State Bears (29-18, 18-3 MEAC)

Not only did Duke lose out on a top 8 seed, the committee also gave the Blue Devils a difficult home regional. South Carolina is battle-tested from a strong league and has good pitching. Utah came on late in the season, beating Washington twice to end the regular season and then advancing to the Pac-12 Tournament final.

This could go either way. The Blue Devils could use the disappointment as fuel to prove a point or they can let it and the unpredictable competition overwhelm them. Any of the top three teams could take this regional.

Athens Regional

Teams: No. 11 Georgia Bulldogs (39-16, 12-13 SEC), Charlotte 49ers (38-16, 21-6 AAC), Liberty Flames (36-23, 19-5 CUSA), UNCW Seahawks (33-21, 18-9 CAA)

Georgia appears to have a fairly easy path to super regionals, but that’s only if you don’t take a close look at Charlotte or Liberty. Liberty has a history of upsetting power conference teams, including in the postseason. Charlotte had some big wins this season. The Bulldogs should win this regional, but it would not be a surprise to see it go the full seven games.

Fayetteville Regional

Teams: No. 12 Arkansas Razorbacks (36-16, 14-10 SEC), Arizona Wildcats (34-16-1, 13-11 Pac-12), Villanova Wildcats (31-22, 19-5 Big East), Southeast Missouri State Redhawks (28-24, 19-8 OVC)

This regional is set up to be a Pac-12 vs SEC final. It would be shocking if it doesn’t come down to Arkansas vs Arizona for the right to advance. If that is the case, it will be the third (and possibly fourth) meeting between the two teams this season. They split their first two, each winning a 3-2 game in Tucson.

Arizona’s run of 35 straight tournaments ended last season, but it has advanced from regionals 32 times in 35 appearances. In 2022, the Wildcats went to SEC land for the postseason and knocked out both Missouri and Mississippi State to advance to the WCWS. If the Wildcats can pitch well enough, they have the offense to take another SEC team down this year.

Lafayette Regional

Teams: No. 13 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (42-17, 22-2 Sun Belt), Baylor Bears (32-20, 14-13 Big 12), Ole Miss Rebels (31-25, 7-17 SEC), Princeton Tigers (29-16, 14-7 Ivy League)

Louisiana has been one of the strongest mid-major programs in college softball for a while. The Ragin’ Cajuns are trying to make their first WCWS and this might be their best chance.

Baylor had a decent showing in the No. 3 league this season, but it is a team Louisiana can and did beat once this season. Ole Miss ended up 7-17 in the SEC and got in purely because it plays in the SEC. Princeton was 14-7 in the Ivy League and didn’t play a very challenging nonconference schedule.

The final should come down to Louisiana vs Baylor. The teams split their two matchups this year, both of which were played in Lafayette. Who wins the rubber game?

Tuscaloosa Regional

Teams: No. 14 Alabama Crimson Tide (33-17, 10-14 SEC), Clemson Tigers (34-17, 15-9 SEC), Southeastern Louisiana Lions (45-13, 17-7 Southland), USC Upstate Spartans (30-21, 13-5 Big South)

Alabama again got a higher seed than its RPI numbers and is hosting a regional with a losing conference record, but at least it didn’t jump all the way into the top 5 like last season. It does have a relatively easy path to super regionals, though.

While Clemson might give the Crimson Tide a bit of trouble, the Tigers didn’t have spectacular results this season. They finished 34-17 overall and 15-9 in a league that was ranked fourth. The finals will come down to these two teams and it might go to seven games, but Alabama should end up on top.

Tallahassee Regional

Teams: No. 15 Florida State Seminoles (43-14, 19-5 ACC), Auburn Tigers (27-19-1, 9-15 SEC), UCF Knights (30-23, 12-15 Big 12), Chattanooga Mocs (42-14, 16-5 Southern)

While the Seminoles might not have played in a league that ranked as highly as Auburn’s league or UCF’s league, they were dominant in that league. FSU went 19-5 in the ACC while Auburn and UCF had losing records in the SEC and Big 12, respectively. Under the circumstances, it’s tough to see either of those teams defeating the Seminoles in Tallahassee.

College Station Regional

Teams: No. 16 Texas A&M Aggies (40-13, 15-9 SEC), Texas State Bobcats (45-13, 18-6 Sun Belt), Penn State Nittany Lions (34-18, 12-11 Big Ten), UAlbany Great Danes (33-12, 14-6 AEC)

This may be the Aggies’ home regional, but Texas State is the team that really stands out. The Bobcats are yet more evidence that the Sun Belt is a leading softball conference. Three teams made it into the postseason with Louisiana hosting. Texas State has a real chance to make it two teams advancing to supers. Getting to play the last seeded team just over two hours from San Marcos might be the best situation TSU could hope for.

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