The Women’s College World Series is still in its early stages, but a pecking order has been developed and The State Press has come up with power rankings to this point.
No. 4 Oklahoma (52-8, 2-0)
The home crowd may have a lot to do with this as the chants of “O-U” run rampant throughout ASA Hall of Fame Stadium early and often. Yet, how could this not be the best team in the Women’s College World Series so far? Junior pitcher Keilani Ricketts has been nothing short of outstanding, fooling batters with her changeup that literally and figuratively had California batters falling over. Ricketts now has 420 strikeouts on the season, which leads all pitchers at the WCWS . This bodes well for Oklahoma since the pitchers have dominated this tournament so far. Oklahoma has also been the most potent offense, scoring eight runs through two games. If the Sooners can continue to feed off Ricketts and their rowdy fans, they could be lifting the trophy for the first time since 2000.
Alabama (57-7, 2-0)
While LSU is still in the tournament, Alabama is the SEC’s best chance at ending the title drought. Sophomore Jackie Traina pitched a near perfect game to oust reigning national champion ASU from the ranks of the unbeaten. Her 11 strikeouts against the Sun Devil lineup and eight against Tennessee ensured her place as the second best pitcher so far.
ASU (52-10, 1-1)
ASU at times better than Alabama, but couldn’t get the timely hitting the team has thrived on all year. An uphill battle to claim a third national championship awaits ASU, but with depth in pitching it may be possible. Dallas Escobedo has pitched well, stretching two earned runs over two games thus far. Escobedo seems calmer than any other pitcher with runners on as she forced Oregon and the Crimson Tide into a combined 11 players left on base. Freshman catcher Amber Freeman has been the most consistent player for ASU, as she has not only done a good job as a backstop, but also in the batter’s box. Her three walks lead the team in this tournament and she has the lone extra base hit so far for the Sun Devils with a 2 out double in the win overOregon.
California (57-6, 1-1)
The Golden Bears looked lost at the plate against Ricketts. The good news for Cal fans is they have beat both of their potential opponents before. Cal started off the season with a 13-5 thumping of Tennessee and beat Oregon twice with an 18-2 margin of victory in the three game series. Senior pitcher Jolene Henderson looked shaky in the game versus Oklahoma, but only allowed two earned runs. However, teams have been pitching around senior first baseman Valerie Arioto and the rest of the lineup can’t pick up the slack. If this continues,California will have trouble putting any runs up against Jackie Traina and a solid Alabama defense.
Oregon (45-17, 1-1)
There is an unmistakable talent gap between the first four teams and the rest of the field, but Oregon held its own against ASU. They had opportunities to score runs, but couldn’t capitalize. Junior pitcher Jessica Moore kept the Sun Devil lineup off balance, only letting up three hits and one earned run. It was Oregon’s mental mistakes that cost them. In the first inning Ducks leadoff hitter Samantha Pappas failed to score on a sacrifice fly as she left the base before the ball was caught. Then senior shortstop Kelsey Chambers made a mess out of a ground ball hit to her, which scored seniors Katelyn Boyd and Taylor Haro. Oregon has been good at shrinking this talent gap all season long, but will need to play clean softball if they wish to keep the dream season alive.
LSU (40-24, 1-1)
The Tigers pitching is exceptional, both senior Brittany Mack and junior Rachele Fico can be the shutdown pitchers that coaches dream of. The run support most likely will not be there, though. LSU has the worst batting average of all the teams in the WCWS at .221, which is 262nd place in the NCAA. Really all the Tigers can hope for is to do what the team did against USF — get some runners on base and try to capitalize once or twice. Don’t expect any slugfests from this team in the near future.
Tennessee (52-14, 0-2 eliminated)
USF (50-13, 0-2 eliminated)
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