Sunday, May 13, 2007

The 64-team NCAA championship softball field has just been announced on ESPNews. The top 16 teams nationally, in the selection committee's view, were seeded 1-16. Then, the teams were divided into 16 four-team regional sites, each site containing one of the nationally seeded teams. Usually, the nationally seeded team was assigned hosting duties, but not always. All but two of the regionals will play their games Friday-Sunday, the others going Thursday-Saturday.

The winners from the 16 regions will then be paired off the next week for eight two-out-of-three super-regional series. For the supers, the winner of the national No. 1 seed's region (probably the No. 1 team, itself, but nothing is guaranteed) plays the winner of the No. 16's region, the regions with the 2 and 15 teams are matched, and so forth (3 and 14, 4 and 13, ...).

Here are my initial reactions to the seedings, cross-posted on one of the Ultimate College Softball discussion boards while the teams were being revealed:

How does Tennessee, the No. 1-ranked team for most of the year, drop to the No. 5 seed nationally? Two teams revealed thus far to be ahead of the Vols are No. 1 Arizona and No. 4 Texas A&M. A&M is pretty shocking; the Aggies were great in the early weeks of the season, but not so much lately.

...Oklahoma has been revealed as No. 3.

...Alabama has been revealed as No. 11. That one doesn't surprise me as much, given the Tide's we[a]k nonconference schedule. It does show that the SEC has not been held in very high regard.


To resume my comments, Northwestern is the No. 2 national seed, and LSU No. 10. ESPNews analyst Stacey Nuveman made a big point of how the SEC was not getting a lot of respect from the committee.

As the No. 5 national seed, Tennessee will likely have to play No. 12 seed UCLA in the super-regionals. As I've noted in recent postings, the Bruins have been rejuvenated by the pitching (and hitting) of frosh Megan Langenfeld and are playing really well at the moment, evidenced by UCLA's taking two of three this past weekend on its Arizona trip (one win each over U of A and ASU, and a loss to ASU).

[One addendum: As projected by some, the Pac 10 did indeed get all eight of its schools that field softball teams into the NCAA tourney: Arizona (No. 1 national seed), Washington (6), Arizona State (7), UCLA (12), Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, and Stanford.]

A listing of the selections and regional assignments are now available on the NCAA women's softball page.