The NBA playoffs are heating up and the finals are right around the corner. The MLB season is underway and looks as exciting as ever. The PGA tour has been extremely entertaining. The NFL offseason is always intriguing. Sports are in a good place right now, but one tournament might be even more entraining and competitive than all those major associations: the NCAA Softball tournament.
The 2018 NCAA Softball tournament is underway with some very exciting games wrapping up during the first round of the Super Regionals. The Women’s College World Series will begin on June 4th and will be televised on ESPN.
There are plenty of exciting teams across this tournament but the two teams that are playing in the first round are two of the most storied softball programs in the history of the sport. UCLA and Arizona have won 19 of the 35 National Championships. These two powerhouses are playing in Los Angeles this week and is one of the most anticipated match ups in not just Women’s softball, but across the entire sports spectrum.
This is the first time these two teams have met other than the Women’s College World Series. During Game 1 of their three-game series, UCLA was victorious. Despite a 7 to 1 victory, the seven inning softball game was extremely competitive because this is the best rivalry in college softball.
“There’s so much history there and it’s a battle all the time,” said Alyssa Palomino, Arizona first basemen.
According to Go Joe Bruin, UCLA’s Rachel Garcia has been named ESPNW’s Softball Player of the Year, as well as being named one of the four finalists for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award. Garcia, who is the Bruin’s best hitter and pitcher, retired 10 consecutive batters during game 1 and allowed only two baserunners. Additionally, she was 2 for 4 at the plate and struck a two-run home run off Arizona’s ace pitcher Taylor McQuillin during the fifth inning.
Though UCLA is only ranked as a third seed in the tournament, many players and coaches around the country think they are still the team to beat.
“They’ve got all the parts to the puzzle,” said Arizona head coach Mike Candrea. “Going in there, we’ve got to find a way to pitch well, we’ve got to find a way to get quality and efficient at-bats, doing the little things, moving runners and playing great defense.”