Throughout the 2017 softball season, the NFCA will feature some of the sport's highest-profile contests in our "Featured Five" Games of the Week.
Each weekly installment will be released on Thursday, providing live stat links, game notes, team info, social media accounts and any available broadcast links in hopes of becoming another reason for fans to visit us during the season for information on some of collegiate softball's best games.
As the year continues, we will attempt to expand our focus to include matchups throughout as many divisions as possible. This week's featured games come from NCAA Division I and DII.
No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 2 Auburn
Feb 9 - 2:00 p.m. ET | Puerto Vallarta, Mexico | Triple Crown Tournament
Notes (Auburn / Oklahoma): Rematch of thrilling 2016 National Championship series won in three games by Oklahoma... First time since the WCWS began in 1982 that teams playing for the national title opened the following season against one another... The Tigers and Sooners have battled five times in series history... Oklahoma owns a 4-1 advantage, with the most recent matchup coming in last year’s National Championship.
Auburn: Coming off deepest postseason run in school history... Won a record 58 games... Led at the plate by three-time All-American Kasey Cooper... Cooper, a senior, shattered a plethora of program records last season, including 83 RBI, 21 home runs, 71 walks and 163 total bases... Tigers have fared well in the first game of the year, going 16-3-1.
Oklahoma: Reigning national champion (third overall)... Ranked 1st unanimously in both the NFCA and USA Softball preseason polls for the first time in program history... Fifth straight season OU has opened against a top-25 team, going 2-2 previously... Paige Parker, Shay Knighten and Sydney Romero were all named to the Top 50 “Watch List” for the 2017 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award.
No. 4 (tie) Florida vs. No. 6 Michigan
Feb. 11 - 12:30 p.m. ET | Tampa, Fla. | USF Wilson DeMarini
Notes (Florida / Michigan)
Florida: Back-to-back SEC regular season champions... Reached 2016 Super Regionals... Senior Delanie Gourley, junior Aleshia Ocasio and sophomore Kelly Barnhill each earned a spot on the USA Softball Top 50 "Watch List"... Ocasio and Gourley were 2016 First-Team NFCA All-Americans, while Barnhill was a finalist for the Schutt Sports / NFCA Freshman of Year... 2016 Schutt Sports / NFCA Freshman of the Year Amanda Lorenz returns after a stellar rookie campaign, recording a team-high .403 batting average (73-for-181), including a team-high 14 doubles, one triple, eight home runs, 48 RBI and 56 runs scored... She also tallied a team-high 48 walks with three hit-by-pitches and struck out only 19 times.
Michigan: Coming off a 52-7 campaign and a trip to the Women's College World Series, Michigan opens its 40th season of softball with an overall program record of 1,624-573-4 (.739)... Head coach Carol Hutchins is the winningest coach in NCAA softball history with a 1,484-478-4 record... Michigan returns 17 letterwinners, five starting position players and two starting pitchers from last year's squad... The Wolverines return three All-Americans in senior RHP Megan Betsa, junior RHP/first baseman Tera Blanco and senior outfielder Kelly Christner... Betsa is also a two-time Big Ten Pitcher of the Year winner (2015, '16).
No. 21 Baylor at No. 10 Arizona
Feb. 11 - 3:00 p.m. MT | Tucson, Ariz. | Hillenbrand Invitational
Baylor: Baylor head coach Glenn Moore is nine wins away from earning his 800th career collegiate win... The Lady Bears are two wins away from earning the 1,100th win in the program’s 35th season of competition... Junior Shelby Friudenberg is one home run away from 30 career home runs at Baylor, just the fourth with 30+ in program history and is three away from 100, tying for No. 10 on the BU all-time list.
Arizona: Arizona returns eight starters, four pitchers and 16 total letterwinners from a 40-win team in 2016... In all, the Cats return 90% of their hits (420-of-465), 91% of their home runs (61-of-67) and 90% of their RBI (268-of-298)... Additionally, all four pitchers return from a staff that was second in the Pac-12 in ERA... Katiyana Mauga enters her senior year with 67 career home runs... After becoming the first player in NCAA history with 20-plus homers in each of her first three years, Mauga sits just 20 homers behind Stacie Chambers for the Arizona career record and 28 shy of Oklahoma's Lauren Chamberlain for the NCAA record.
Other Notable DI Games
All Times Eastern unless otherwise noted
9:45 MT - No. 24 Fresno State vs. No. 9 Oregon (at Arizona)- Live Stats
10:00 a.m. - No. 14 James Madison vs. No. 17 Missouri (at Charleston Southern) - Live Stats
11:00 a.m. - No. 14 James Madison vs. No. 17 Missouri (at Charleston Southern) - Live Stats
12:30 - No. 6 Michigan vs. t-No. 4 Florida (at USF) - Audio |
5:30 - No. 6 Michigan at No. 25 USF - Live Stats
No. 1 North Alabama vs. No. 16 Indianapolis
Feb. 10 - 9:00 a.m. CT | Montevallo, Ala. | Montevallo Falcon Frenzy
Follow: Live Stats
North Alabama: The defending national champs are off to a 4-2 start following the opening weekend play the Gulf Coast Classic, which included a 5-4 win over No. 22 UMSL... The Lions are led by Shelby Woodard, who is hitting .500 with three RBI and Hannah Shollenberger's .421 average, eight hits, three home runs and six RBI... Hillary Carpenter, a Schutt Sports / NFCA National Player of the Year Watch List selection, is 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 23.1 innings of work.
Indianapolis: Senior Natalie Lalich was named to the Schutt Sports / NFCA National Player of the Year Watchlist... She returns after amassing 14 home runs and 61 RBI, while hitting .388 and slugging .704 sluggin in 2016... The Greyhounds were picked to win the Great Lakes Valley Conference following a 51-win season, 27 in league play.
No. 24 California (Pa.) vs. No. 12 St. Mary's
Feb. 11 - 5:30 p.m. ET | Clearwater, Fla. | NFCA DII Leadoff Classic
Follow: Live Stats
California: The Vulcans open 2017 at the NFCA DII Leadoff Classic... For the fourth-straight year, California was picked as the preseason favorite in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) West poll... Posted a 38-6 overall record last year with an appearance in their fourth-straight PSAC Championship and reached the Atlantic Regional final... Cal U returns five All-PSAC West First-Team selections from last year, including reigning PSAC West Freshman of the Year Taylor Robblee and junior Emily Price, who was named to the Schutt Sports/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) National Player of the Year Watch List.
St. Mary's: St. Mary’s opened its campaign 5-1 last week, winning the final five games at the Southeastern Oklahoma State Invitational, which included a 7-3 eight-inning triumph over No. 11 Arkansas Tech... Reached 2016 Super Regionals... Marcella Vasquez is batting a team-best .400 with four doubles and four RBI, while Brenda Iparraquirre is at .375 with a team-high six runs and a home run... Six pitchers saw action during the first weekend of play... They combined to post a 2.17 ERA, 41 strikeouts and a .209 batting average against.
Other Notable DII Games
2:30 - No. 10 Wayne State (Mich.) vs. No. 13 Valdosta State (at NFCA Leadoff Classic)
5:00 - No. 13 Valdosta State vs. No. 12 St. Mary's (at NFCA Leadoff Classic)
3:30 MT - No. 18 California Baptist vs. No. 19 Colorado Mesa (St. George, Utah) - Live Stats
10:00 a.m. CT - No. 11 Arkansas Tech vs. No. 22 UMSL (Bentoville, Ark.) - Live Stats
11:30 a.m. - No. 17 Saint Leo vs. No. 12 St. Mary's (at NFCA Leadoff Classic)