Aaliyah Jordan, UCLA (UCLA photo)

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Week Two Primer: Matchups To Watch

Analysis

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No. 2 Washington vs. No. 5 Florida State
Where: St. Petersburg-Clearwater Elite Invitational
When: Friday, 1 p.m. ET, ESPNU

The Seminoles had arguably the most impressive opening weekend considering the strength of opponents they played at the JoAnne Graf Classic. FSU beat then-No. 1 Alabama twice and North Carolina once. Senior pitcher Caylan Arnold had an immediate impact. The Tennessee transfer was 1-0 in two appearances with an unblemished ERA, seven strikeouts and two walks in 12.1 innings pitched. Arnold threw a complete-game shutout in a run-rule win over Alabama, scattering two hits and two walks. Redshirt freshman Kiersten Landers batted .579 with 11 hits, seven RBIs and seven runs scored in the tournament. Senior Dani Morgan sparked FSU’s remarkable comeback in the first win against Alabama with a clutch grand slam, while senior Sydney Sherrill made some great plays at third base throughout the five games. Head coach Lonni Alameda picked up her 700th career win to cap the tournament.

Washington went undefeated at the Buzz Classic in Atlanta, scoring in double digits three times in its five games. The Huskies gave up more runs than some expected in two of the victories, but the offense provided enough support to overcome the output. Junior pitcher Gabbie Plain, who was named a finalist for the Australian Olympic team this week, earned the win in three of Washington’s five games last weekend. Senior shortstop Sis Bates played her trademark stellar defense and was 10 for 16 at the plate. Washington’s record in February over the last three seasons is 37-1.


No. 7 LSU (5-0) vs. No. 12 Louisiana (4-1)
Where: LSU Invitational
When: Saturday, 5 p.m. ET, Cox Sports TV (In Lafayette); Sunday, 4 p.m. ET, SECN+ (In Baton Rouge)

The in-state rivals will stage a home and away doubleheader as part of the LSU Invitational. LSU leads the all-time series 15-10. LSU swept through the Tiger Classic last weekend at home with two close victories against Oklahoma State and two run-rule wins over Florida A&M. Georgia Clark batted .667 with two home runs, five RBIs and eight walks. Freshman Taylor Pleasants had a strong collegiate debut, batting .692 with five runs scored and four RBIs. Her first career home run was a walk-off in LSU’s 3-2 win over OSU. The LSU pitching staff combined for a 0.45 ERA, giving up 13 hits and only two earned runs in 31 innings.

Louisiana finished 3-1 in the season-opening Louisiana Classic, suffering a 2-1 loss to North Texas. Head coach Gerry Glasco wasn’t pleased with his team’s performance and was considering lineup changes. The Ragin’ Cajuns bounced back with a midweek victory over Lamar, boosted by a perfect game from Summer Ellyson. The senior ace finished with 11 strikeouts in the 8-0 six-inning victory. In her first appearances since the 2018 season while at Oregon, Megan Kleist has started 1-1 with a 0.54 ERA, 20 strikeouts and four walks in 13.0 innings.


No. 3 Arizona (5-0) vs. No. 4 Oklahoma (4-0)
Where: Hillenbrand Invitational
When: Saturday, 6:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks (Arizona Livestream)

Last weekend, both Oklahoma and Arizona went undefeated and showed off their offensive skills in their respective tournaments. This Saturday at the Hillenbrand Invitational in Tucson, Ariz., Oklahoma and Arizona will face off in an early-season test for both teams. The game is scheduled for a 4:30 p.m. MST first pitch on Saturday.

Only Arizona played a ranked team last weekend, posting an 8-0 (5 inn) win over No. 12 Tennessee at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. As a team last weekend, the Wildcats hit .382 with seven doubles, a triple, 10 home runs, and five stolen bases. In the circle, Arizona has a 1.69 team ERA with 32 strikeouts over 29 innings, led by Mariah Lopez and Alyssa Denham.

Reyna Carranco went 8-for-15 on opening weekend with six runs scored, a triple, a home run, and three RBI. Three other Wildcats, Malia Martinez (6-for-12, 4R), Ivy Davis (.5-for-10, 3R, 3RBI), and Marissa Schuld (4-for-8, 3R, 1HR) enter this weekend with a .500 batting average

Oklahoma opened its 2020 schedule at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge with wins over Nevada, Long Beach State, George Washington, and BYU. The Sooners hit .313 as a team with 27 runs scored, but just two home runs. In the circle, Shannon Saile pitched 14 of the team’s 28 innings and anchored a staff that’s standing on a 1.75 ERA with 34 strikeouts.

Freshman Kinzie Hansen came out of the gate with an 8-for-15 (.533) opening weekend, scoring one run with two doubles and a team-high eight RBI.


No. 1 UCLA (6-0) vs. No. 8 Alabama (1-3)
Where: St. Petersburg-Clearwater Elite Invitational
When: Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU

There was a time when the defending NCAA Champion would automatically be ranked No. 1 in the preseason polls.

There was a time when it was unthinkable a team that topped at least one preseason poll would go 1-3 opening weekend.

But it’s 2020. UCLA was not ranked atop any of the preseason polls, and Alabama got off to an extremely rocky start on opening weekend. The Bruins enter the St. Pete-Clearwater Elite Tournament minus Rachel Garcia and Bubba Nickles, who are both taking an “Olympic Year Out” to play with Team USA (both are expected to return to UCLA for the 2021 season), but on a mission to prove that they’re not just the defending champions but are still the team to beat in 2020, even without Garcia and Nickles.

The Crimson Tide will be on a mission of their own, intending to prove that last weekend in Tallahassee was not who they are. Two high-scoring one-run games went against Alabama last weekend, falling to Florida State 8-7 (8 inn) and 8-0 (5 inn), and closing out the tournament with a 9-8 loss to North Carolina.

Yes, we are three-plus months left in the 2020 softball season. But this Friday afternoon match-up could be a tantalizing glimpse of what’s in store for this season.


No. 6 Texas (6-0) vs. No. 19 Tennessee (3-1)
Where: Puerto Vallarta College Challenge
When: Friday, 8:30 p.m. CT, Flo Softball (Subscription needed)

The Longhorns will face their first real test of the season in a late Friday night contest against No. 17 Tennessee at the Puerto Vallarta College Classic in Jalisco, Mexico. Texas enters the weekend undefeated after a record-breaking opening weekend, scoring the most runs (78) over the first six games in program history combined with the most consecutive run-rule wins (6). An unstoppable Miranda Elish, the Big 12 Conference Player of the Week, batted .818 with 4 home runs, including a grand slam, and 17 RBI along with two wins in the circle.

Keys to the game for the Longhorns:

  1. Build off of last weeks momentum
  2. Don’t let off the gas pedal
  3. Patience at the plate

The Lady Vols travel to Mexico after a long weekend in Tempe, Ariz., picking up key wins over two ranked teams, Northwestern and Arizona State. Tennessee finished the weekend with 3 wins without their ace in the circle, Ashley Rogers.

Keys to the Game for the Lady Vols:

  1. Limit free passes and recover quicker in the field
  2. Put pressure on the defense with text book Tennessee aggressive base running
  3. Pitch by committee: keep the Texas hitters off balance by splitting innings between lefty Callie Turner and right-hander Samantha Bender

No. 16 Missouri  (5-0) vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State (2-2)
Where: St. Petersburg-Clearwater Elite Invitational
When: Sunday, 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3

Can Mizzou take down another top-ranked team? The Tigers aren’t playing to win a national championship, they are playing for each other. With the NCAA post season ban still in place, the sanctioned Tigers were the only team to go undefeated at the NFCA Leadoff Classic. Talk about pitching depth, Mizzou used five different pitchers on opening weekend becoming the only school in the country to have five different pitchers pick up a win during week one.

Jazmyn Rollin (.529) led the Mizzou on offense with a double, triple, a pair of home runs and 6 runs batted in. The Tigers welcomed back Cayla Kessinger, recording a hit in every game, who missed 2019 due to right shoulder surgery. Kessinger also hit a grand slam against Baylor helping secure a 9-1 win against the Bears. Adding to the offense, Hattie Moore (.333) blasted three home runs combined and four RBIs.

Oklahoma State dropped two one-run games on opening weekend to LSU at the Tiger Classic. The Cowgirls finished the weekend 2-2 with two wins over Florida A&M including a perfect game for freshman Kelly Maxwell.  Carrie Eberle (1-1) got the start against No. 11 LSU going the distance giving up just one run in the bottom of the sixth on a one out single. Look to the Cowgirls to bounce back with a quartet of plus 400 hitters in Chyenne Factor (.500), Kiley Naomi (.462), Sydney Pennington (.462), and Sydney Springfield (.400).

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