Photo courtesy of Arkansas athletics
Arkansas softball was selected to host the Fayetteville Regional at Bogle Park for just the third time ever.
After dominating the SEC Tournament, the Razorbacks earned a the No. 4 national seed — the highest in program history. Arkansas took home Player of the Year, Pitcher of the Year, and Coach of the Year honors along with regular season and tournament titles.
Princeton, Oregon, and Wichita State will be joining Arkansas at Bogle Park. The teams in this regional combined for 297 home runs — the most of the 16 regionals. The regional is double-elimination. Expect a full house at Bogle Park this weekend, as the Razorbacks have earned major support from fans.
No. 4 Arkansas (44-9)
As the regional’s top seed, Arkansas is the favorite. The Razorbacks are fifth in the nation in home runs per game at 1.92. The Razorbacks have two hurlers with SEC Pitcher of the Year titles in Mary Haff and Chenise Delce.
Arkansas also has a USA Softball Player of the Year top 10 finalist in Danielle Gibson, who has 18 home runs. KB Sides, the SEC Player of the Year, leads the team with 61 runs scored. Arkansas won every series it has played this season.
They won the Fayetteville Regional last season, but fell short in the NCAA Super Regional. The Razorbacks meet Princeton for the first time ever in the regional opener on Friday at 5 p.m. CT.
No. 24 Oregon (31-17)
The Oregon Ducks come into Fayetteville as the No. 2 seed for the regional. The Ducks went 10-14 and finished fifth in the tough Pac-12 conference. Oregon had the second-toughest schedule in the country.
The Ducks have hit 62 home runs on the season. Junior Ariel Carlson leads the team with 13. Senior second baseman Allee Bunker was the hardest player to strikeout in the Pac-12, fanning just once every 27.8 at-bats. The Ducks will face Wichita State in the nightcap on Friday at 7:30 p.m. CT.
Wichita State (33-16)
Wichita State, the No. 3 seed, could be the sleeper in this regional. The Shockers have been dominant at the plate, averaging 2.41 home runs per game. They went 14-4 in AAC play, but ultimately lost in the semifinals of the AAC Tournament..
Sophomore Addison Barnard won AAC Player of the Year and leads the country with 32 home runs. She is the only player with in the nation this season with at least 30 home runs and 20 stolen bases.
The Shockers also have a USA Player of the Year top-10 finalist in Sydney McKinney. She has one of the best batting averages in the country at a ridiculous .511.
The Princeton Tigers, coming in as the No. 4 seed, claimed the Ivy League’s regular season and tournament titles. Princeton has the Ivy League Pitcher of the Year in junior Alexis Laudenslager. She has a 1.93 ERA and has delivered 138 strikeouts this season.
The Tigers also have the league’s Freshman of the Year in Sophia Marsalo, who has a nearly perfect fielding percentage (.988) and 22 home runs. Princeton head coach Lisa Van Ackeren received Ivy League Coach of the Year honors. The Tigers have hit 15 home runs this season and hold a team ERA of 2.99 from the circle.
Schedule (All Times Central)
Game 1 at 5 p.m.: Arkansas vs. Princeton
Game 2 at 7:30 p.m.: Wichita St vs. Oregon
Game 3 at 1 p.m.: Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2
Game 4 at 3:30 p.m.: Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2
Game 5 at 6 p.m.: Loser of Game 3 vs. Loser of Game 4
Game 6 at 1 p.m.: Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 5
Game 7 at 3:30 p.m. (if necessary): Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 5