Softball Regionals Have Their Share of Surprises

Arizona State College Softball Katelyn Boyd

Softball Regionals Have Their Share of Surprises

The hopes and aspirations of hundreds of softball players were either realized or ended in frustration in 16 NCAA Softball Regionals throughout the United States over the weekend. The teams hoped to advance to the eight Super Regionals this coming weekend and take another step closer to their eventual goal---a berth in the Women’s College World Series. Only eight will survive this weekend to earn a trip to Oklahoma City.

But teams were upset (South Florida defeating Florida), some didn’t peak or perform up to their expectations, while others were extended to playing the if game to advance to the Super Regionals including top-seeded California, Texas, Tennessee and Florida.  The first three teams advanced while Florida lost to South Florida as head coach Tim Walton suspended three players for what was termed an altercation.

Walton, former assistant at the University of Oklahoma, wouldn’t say why the three players (Sami Fagan, Casey Fagan and Cheyenne Coyle) were suspended and didn’t play in the Gators’ 2-1 loss Friday to Florida Gulf Coast. Sami Fagan was UF's leading hitter in the regular season with a .378 average. Kasey Fagan was batting .261, while Coyle was at .232 with 10 home runs and 34 RBIs. Coyle was considered UF’s top defensive player with her ability to cover ground at shortstop.

But Kevin Fagan, an assistant coach at Dunellon, FL High School and the father of Sami and Casey—told the Ocala (FL) Star-Banner that the three had been dismissed from the program because of an altercation and already were receiving offers from other schools. Walton did what he felt was best for the team, and the three players, according to Fagan, wouldn’t be returning to Florida, which had finished runner-up at last year’s WCWS and ended the season  48-13 and had advanced to the WCWS four consecutive years.

The Gator loss also ended the career of one of the Gators’ top players, outfielder Michelle Moultrie, who had played in the World Series for the past three years. It wasn’t the way she wanted to end her career obviously. “It's a sad way to go out but it's been a great four years here so I just have to look back at all the things that have gone right and been good here,” Moultrie said. “I'm proud of my career and just being a part of this program.”

Winning the regional advanced South Florida to the NCAA Super Regional for only the second time in school history for head coach Ken Eriksen with the Baby Bulls hosting Hofstra in the Super Regional. Hofstra shocked UCLA 7-2 in opening games Friday before the Bruins were eliminated by Florida State 2-1. After winning the national title in 2010, the 12th seeded Bruins have failed to advance to the WCWS for the past two years and finished this season 36-21.

Hofstra coach Bill Edwards was so happy about his team winning the regional that he threw his cap into the air after the team swept three games. “They (the players) said if we won three games in a row, that’s a hat trick, so they made me throw it,” said Edwards.  “This win today is for the little guys, the mid-majors, the non BCS schools that do what we do.”

Olivia Galati limited San Diego State to five hits in the 2-1 win—her 31st win in a row, moving her within two wins of the NCAA single-season record of 33 held by San Diego State head coach Kathy Van Wyk in 1982 at Cal State Fullerton.

"We put the ball in play more today, but she was still tough on us," Van Wyk said of Galati, who has 363 strikeouts against only 24 walks and leads the nation with a 0.91 ERA. "I congratulate Hofstra and I hope they give those major conferences all the hell they deserve."

It’s the first time in school history that the Hofstra Pride (41-13) advanced to the Super Regional. It also was the 20th consecutive win for Hofstra and tied a school record established in 1993. It was a regional in which the lower seed won all six games with fourth seeded Hofstra beating No. 12 UCLA and third-seeded San Diego State twice.

One of the most anticipated Super Regionals will be in Norman, Oklahoma where the streaking OU Sooners (48-8) oppose the Arizona Wildcats (38-17) with revenge a factor here after the Sooners swept the Wildcats last year in Tempe. It was the first time since 1987 that the Wildcats didn’t advance to the World Series, and this Regional has attracted the attention of ESPN, which will televise it nationally. The Sooners have won six in a row and 10 of their last 12 games led by the pitching of Keilani Ricketts and an awesome offensive attack, with 91 homers so far after six in the regional

When the weekend is over, eight teams will have earned the prestigious trip to Oklahoma City to determine who is the best in college softball for 2012. It doesn’t get any better than that, but getting there isn’t easy. Tears will be shed and aspirations dashed as college softball 2012 winds down to crowning a national champion in the weeks ahead.