By JASON PATTYSON
The road to Oklahoma City and the Women’s College Softball World Series started in late February and each team started with a clean slate and a common goal in mind of achieving a trip to the Sooner State.
There will be 64 teams that will see that dream take the next step on Sunday night at 7 p.m. when the NCAA Tournament Softball Selection Show is televised on ESPN.
No. 12 Arkansas will be looking to host one of 16 NCAA Tournament Regionals after going 38-17 overall and 14-10 in conference play this season.
The Razorbacks will enter NCAA postseason play on a three-game losing streak, dropping the final two regular season games at Mizzou and a 3-2 nine-inning heartbreaker to Alabama Thursday night in an SEC Tournament quarterfinal round clash.
“We’re ready to see where we are on Sunday,” Arkansas head coach Courtney Deifel said. “We think we’re in a position to host. I think that the body of work that these athletes have put together has earned that, and they’re ready.”
Top-seed Tennessee (43-8) and 10th-seeded South Carolina (37-19) will square off Saturday at Bogle Park in a 2 p.m. championship game.
Both teams pulled off stunning comeback to get to Saturday’s winner-take-all contest.
The Volunteers fell down 4-0 to Alabama, but rallied for a 7-6 victory in one Friday semifinal.
The Gamecocks had continued their magical tournament run earlier in the day as senior Jordan Fabian’s two-out, two-run home run in the top of the seventh inning toppled third-seeded Auburn 3-2.
The SEC announced its league regular season awards list on Thursday with the first and second-team All-SEC selections:
Player of the Year: Skylar Wallace, Florida
Pitcher of the Year: Maddie Penta, Auburn
Freshman of the Year: Karlyn Pickens, Tennessee
Coach of the Year: Karen Weekly, Tennessee
Arkansas senior Chenise Delce was the lone Razorback selected to the All-SEC First Team this year.
Five Hogs did make the second team list – freshman Lauren Camenzind and Reagan Johnson, juniors Rylin Hedgecock and Cylie Halvorson, and graduate transfer Kristina Foreman.
Arkansas placed seven players on the first and second team last season when it won a second consecutive SEC regular season championship and also added the tournament title.
Photo by John D. James