5 Early Softball Predictions
The 2018 college softball season is now just a month away.
To help get you ready, I've put together 5 early predictions.
1)---Oklahoma Will Win It All: Can the Sooners three-peat? A better question would be; why wouldn't you pick them to do so? Last year was supposed to be a little bit of a "rebuilding year" for Oklahoma, and by their standards it was. They entered NCAA Regional play as only the #10-seed, and lost their first game to North Dakota St., before putting it all together, defeating Florida in the College World Series Championship Series, to win their second-straight national title. Oklahoma, who finished 61-9 a season ago, lost only one senior from that team, and return pitchers Paige Lowery and Paige Parker, the 2017 Big XII Player of the Year, along with Shay Knighten, one of many offensive weapons. This year's Oklahoma team may be better than that of last year, and that's scary.
2)---Florida Will Advance To Finals: Again; why not? The Gators faced Oklahoma in the WCWS Championship Series last year, and combined, the two programs have won the last five national championships. Florida, who went 58-10 last season, returns most of their roster, including Kelly Barnhill, the Player of the Year in 2017. The Gators are the favorites to win a loaded SEC, and a legitimate contender to win it all.
3)---The SEC Will Not Send Every Team To The NCAA Tournament: Last season, the SEC sent all 14 teams to the NCAA Regionals. That's incredible. So incredible that one just shouldn't expect them to do it again. Who is left out? My pick would be Arkansas.
4)---DJ Sanders Will Help Oregon To The College World Series: Oregon, who went 54-8 last season, and qualified for the WCWS, lost shortstop Nikki Udria, who hit a .394 last season, to go along with 10 home runs and 52 runs batted in. Big loss, without question. But the Ducks get DJ Sanders, one of 10 finalists for the USA Softball national player of the year award in 2017, after belting 29 homers and driving home 82 runs. The Ducks return their top three pitchers, and talented hitters to surround Sanders with. Look for them to make a return trip to Oklahoma City.
5)---Louisiana Will Win The Sun Belt Conference:Yes, the Cajuns have a new coaching staff, and lost the likes of Alex Stewart, DJ Sanders, and Aleah Craighton, but they're still going to be really good. They're going to hit, and my guess is that at least one of the young pitchers steps up. Texas St., who features pitcher Randi Rupp, is a big threat to the Cajuns, and a legitimate top 25 team. Still, with the likes of returnees like Kara Gremillion, Kelli Martinez, and Lexie Comeaux, along with promising newcomers like Alissa Dalton and Brittany Holland, UL should finish atop the Sun Belt Conference standings, yet again.