College softball: Stanford hires alumna Jessica Allister as new head coach

STANFORD, Calif. – Jessica Allister has been named the head coach of Stanford softball, as announced Tuesday by director of athletics Bernard Muir.

Allister, the fourth head coach in program history, joins the Cardinal after leading Minnesota the past seven seasons. She led the Gophers to unprecedented heights in 2017, registering a program-best 56-5 record and earning the first No. 1 national ranking in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll in program history. She has accumulated a 290-107 (.730) overall record during her career.

“I am thrilled to welcome Jessica back to Stanford to lead the program she helped build,” said Muir. “She was an elite competitor during her time on The Farm and has continued to excel in her coaching career. Jessica has established herself as an excellent coach and I believe she will push our student-athletes to be their best on the field, in the classroom and in the community.”

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It will be familiar territory for Allister who returns to Stanford where she was a second-team All-American as a catcher in 2004 and helped lead the Cardinal to Women’s College World Series appearances in 2001 and 2004. She graduated in 2004 with a degree in economics.

“Stanford is home,” said Allister. “Stanford has always been home. I had an amazing experience as an athlete and have always been a proud member of the Stanford community. To be able to come back and lead my alma mater is a dream come true.”

Welcome home, @JessicaAllister. #GoStanfordhttps://t.co/NQZ8nxjV70

— Stanford Softball (@StanfordSball) July 18, 2017

Allister produced one of the best individual careers in Stanford history as a four-year starting catcher. She still holds the record for most games played (266) and graduated among the top-10 in numerous career categories including fielding percentage (.994), home runs (32), RBI (162), slugging percentage (.473), doubles (47), hits (217), putouts (1103) and batting average (.283).

Allister was a three-time all-conference selection, led the team to four NCAA Regional appearances and started at catcher in both of Stanford’s Women’s College World Series appearances.

“There is not a better person who embodies and understands what it takes to be a Cardinal,” said Jessica Mendoza, a teammate of Allister’s during the 2001 and 2002 seasons. “Having played with her at Stanford, and watching her lead the team to two Women’s College World Series appearances, she understands how to win at the highest level. But more importantly, she gets what it takes to be a student-athlete at Stanford. There is no one better for this job than Jessica Allister.”

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During her freshman season in 2001, Allister earned all-region recognition and helped lead the Cardinal to a program-record 54 victories.

“Some people are just born leaders,” said Ramona Shelburne, a senior during Allister’s freshman season in 2001 and a senior writer for ESPN.com. “I remember when she was a freshman catcher back in 2000-01 and she already had the presence and confidence to lead our pitching staff. We went to the first Women’s College World Series that year in Stanford softball history and I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I’d look back behind the plate at Allister calling pitches and setting the tone for our defense with so much confidence. She just made you feel good that she was in charge.

“And now, all these years later, she really is in charge. It’s been awesome to watch her coaching career grow, but I can’t say it’s surprising. She’s always had this in her. As an alum, I’m both so excited to see how she guides the program and so proud of her and the coach she’s become. I can’t wait for the current team to meet her.”

Allister played in two Women's College World Series for Stanford from 2001-04.

Stanford Athletics
Allister played in two Women’s College World Series for Stanford from 2001-04.

This will be Allister’s second coaching position at Stanford after serving as an assistant coach from 2007-09. During the 2008 season, Allister helped guide the Cardinal to 49 victories – the second-highest win total in program history.

Allister led Minnesota to its best season ever in 2017, guiding the Gophers to their first regular season Big Ten title since 1991 and its third Big Ten Tournament championship in the past four seasons. She was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year and her staff earned NFCA Great Lakes Regional Coaching Staff of the Year honors.

Seven of Minnesota’s 17 NFCA All-America selections came during Allister’s tenure and the Gophers have accumulated 29 NFCA All-Region honors.

Allister’s coaching success goes beyond the field with her teams producing 61 student-athletes who earned Academic All-Big Ten accolades. Three student-athletes earned CoSIDA Academic All-America recognition and seven have received CoSIDA Academic All-District honors.

Prior to leading Minnesota, Allister was one of the country’s top assistant coaches, helping Georgia (2005-06), Stanford (2007-09) and Oregon (2010) to NCAA postseason appearances, including five berths in a six-year period.

WELCOME HOME, @JessicaAllister!!! Thrilled to have one of my favorite coaches back on The Farm! Excited for the future of @StanfordSball

— Jenna Becerra (@JennaBecerra01) July 18, 2017

After graduating from Stanford in 2004, Allister played professionally as a member of the New England Riptide of the National Pro Fastpitch League in 2004 and 2005.

Allister succeeds Rachel Hanson, who stepped down as the head coach last week to become the executive director of the Baseball and Softball Education Foundation in St. Louis, Missouri.

College softball: Panel approves obstruction rule change

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a rule banning defenders in softball from blocking the plate or base before they have possession of the ball, effective for the 2018 season.

The NCAA Softball Rules Committee believes this change is equitable for the base runner and the defensive team. Under the rule, a base runner will have a clear path to the base. Also, if the defender has possession of the ball and is in front of the plate or base, the runner can slide and have contact with the defensive player if the runner is making a legitimate attempt to touch the plate or base.

If a defender blocks the plate or base before gaining possession, the runner will be called safe. If the runner contacts the defensive player without making a legitimate attempt to slide, the runner will be called out.

Currently, the defender could block the plate or base while in the act of catching the ball. The rules committee felt the language was too ambiguous.

The rule change clarifies the rule and seeks to remove any gray area for plays of that nature.

Runner’s lane

The panel approved a rule requiring that the runner’s lane be drawn on the field down the first base line, reverting to the rule that was in place in 2014 and 2015.

The lane will be 3 feet wide and 30 feet long. If a runner is outside the lane and is hit by the ball, and in the judgment of the umpire interferes with the defensive player receiving the ball at first base, the runner will be declared out.

During its 2015 annual meeting, the rules committee voted to eliminate the runner’s lane as a required line on the field. However, this change inadvertently and fundamentally changed the concept of the runner’s lane.

The committee felt there is a need for the line to help umpires determine whether a runner interfered with a throw to first base, and to give the runner a clear area where she can run without penalty.

Media format

The panel approved a two-minute time limit to resume play between each half-inning in televised games.

When using the media format, teams will be allowed only seven charged conferences per seven-inning game. Each team is allowed one charged conference per half-inning for each extra inning. If a team doesn’t use all seven conferences in regulation, they do not carry over into extra innings.

Several Division I conferences experimented with a time limit between innings and restricted number of conferences during the 2017 season.

Stay in the batter’s box

The panel approved a rule prohibiting batters from having any part of their foot touch the ground outside the lines of the batter’s box when bat-ball contact is made. If a batter violates this rule, she will be declared out.

Pace and flow

The panel approved a rule prohibiting the defense from huddling after throwing the ball around the infield after an out. Several Division I conferences also experimented with this rule during the 2017 season.

Technology

The panel approved a rule allowing bats with data tracking sensors embedded into the knob to be used during the game. However, the data cannot be transmitted or accessed during the game.

11 of the greatest winning streaks in NCAA history

The Cleveland Indians made history in Major League Baseball on Wednesday, setting a new American League record with 21 consecutive wins.

That got us thinking. What are the most impressive winning streaks in NCAA history?

Dating back as early as 1953, college sports has seen some incredible winning streaks from a variety of sports at every level with six surpassing the 100-game streak.

In honor of the @Indians setting an American League record with 21 straight wins, here are the longest NCAA streaks. pic.twitter.com/BAt1Mqh5FK

— NCAA (@NCAA) September 13, 2017

Here’s a look back at some of the standouts:

137 – Miami (FL) men’s tennis: 1957 to 1964

The Hurricanes’ 60-year-old streak still remains the longest in all of college sports and is one that is guaranteed to stand alone for at least the next few years, if not for eternity. Coached by two Intercollegiate Tennis Association Men’s Hall of Famers in Bill Lufler and Dale Lewis, Miami’s streak began with a 7-2 win over Presbyterian (S.C.) in the third match of the 1957 season and extended to the third to final match of the 1964 season. Strangely enough, the Hurricanes did not win any national championships during their streak because prior to 1977, the NCAA used a point system to determine its champions rather than the metric of head-to-head dual matches (singles and doubles).

130 – BYU-Hawaii women’s tennis: 2002 to 2005

The Seasiders’ streak began at the start of 2002 after they lost in the DII championship game the year before, and continued into the 2005 season where they won three consecutive national championships during that stretch. Prior to the championship loss, BYU-Hawaii held the previous women’s tennis winning streak and is the only school in the NCAA to surpass at least 100 consecutive wins on two separate occasions.

111 ­– Connecticut women’s basketball: 2014 to 2017

Since Geno Auriemma took the reins of the UConn women’s basketball team in the 1985-86 season, the Huskies have propelled themselves into the national spotlight as an iconic program. One of UConn’s most impressive characteristics since the turn of the century is that it continues to break its own previous records. UConn had set the previous mark of 90 consecutive wins only to up that record with 111 wins from Nov. 23, 2014 to this past year’s Final Four, where they lost to Mississippi State 66-64 on an overtime buzzer beater.

Thank you, #UConnNationpic.twitter.com/uZcv0vAlKP

— UConn Women’s Hoops (@UConnWBB) April 1, 2017

109 – Penn State women’s volleyball: 2007 to 2010

Mark Selders | Penn State Athletics

Penn State was on top of the volleyball world from 2007-10 and its streak is full of numerous records that put into perspective how dominant the Nittany Lions truly were. During the four-year stretch of the streak, the Nittany Lions won four national championships. No other Division I team has won more than back-to-back titles. However, what’s even more impressive is the fashion in which Penn State its record; during that run, the Nittany Lions lost only 19 total sets and set a record off 111 straight set victories from Dec. 15, 2007 to Dec. 18, 2008.

“Given the competitiveness of women’s volleyball across all of the divisions, I don’t foresee this record ever being broken,” said Kathy DeBoer, executive director of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA).

Fittingly, in the volleyball world, Penn State’s run is simply referred to as “The Streak.”

103 – BYU-Hawaii women’s tennis: 1999 to 2001

Before the Seasiders set the now-record 130-game winning streak, they previously won 103 consecutive matches from 1999 to 2001. During the first streak, BYU-Hawaii won back-to-back championships in 1999 and 2000, which started its run of five titles in six years.

102 – The College of New Jersey women’s lacrosse: 1991 to 1997

The Lions’ streak during the 1990s featured six national championships under head coach Sharon Goldbrenner-Pfluger. TCNJ’s record is the lone streak in lacrosse at any level, men’s or women’s, to surpass the triple-digit mark.

92 – North Carolina women’s soccer: 1990 to 1994

Just how impressive was UNC’s 92-game winning streak? For starters, 84 of its 92 wins during the streak were decided by two or more goals. Looking at the bigger picture, the Tar Heels won nine consecutive national championships from 1986 to 1994 and only suffered one loss during that stretch. That came in 1994, and the Tar Heels went on to defeat Notre Dame 5-0 in the championship game later that season. Prior to UNC’s 92-game winning streak during its championsip run, the Tar Heels went 103 consecutive games without a defeat starting in 1986 and ending in 1990. There’s no secret to UNC’s talent when their roster featured future Olympians such as Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly and Tisha Venturini.

88 – UCLA men’s basketball: 1971 to 1974

Regarded as one of the greatest dynasties in all of college sports, the Bruins’ run in the early 1970s is one that most likely never be seen again in men’s college basketball. Coached by Hall of Famer John Wooden, UCLA won the final three of its seven straight national championships during the Bruins’ 88 game winning streak. Bill Walton is the most familiar name associated with the early 70s UCLA teams, while Henry Bibby, Sidney Wicks, and Jamaal Wilkes were all key contributors to the Bruins teams that will forever be remembered as one of the most dominant runs of any sport at any level.

62 – Minnesota women’s ice hockey: 2012 to 2013

The Golden Gophers set a collegiate hockey record winning 62 games between 2012 and 2013, winning two championships during the span.

“For everybody who has been a part of it, it’s been a really special thing,” head coach Brad Frost said of the winning streak. “I think they helped grow the game of women’s hockey here in Minnesota and nation-wide, and that’s a huge testament to them. There was a lot of pressure, a lot of media attention and a lot of excitement every time we stepped on the ice, which was great, but it’s over, and we’re happy to have been a part of it.”

47 – Oklahoma football: 1953 to 1957

Since Oklahoma set the record for most consecutive wins in the 1950s, no other program in FBS has come within 11 games of the Sooners’ mark of 47 from 1953 to 1957. After a loss in the 1953 season opener and a tie the following week, Oklahoma rattled off nine wins to finish the season and defeated Maryland 7-0 in the Orange Bowl. During the Sooners’ run, they won back-to-back national championships in the 1955 and 1956 seasons. Since the turn of the century, Miami’s 2000-03 34-game winning streak and Florida State 2012-14 29-game winning streak were the only ones to even come close to Oklahoma’s mark.

47 – Arizona softball: 1996 to 1997

The Wildcats have been regarded as one softball’s premier programs in the history of the sport and their record of 47 consecutive wins that spanned from the 1996 to 1997 season were among some of their best in program history. Arizona won national championships in both years the winning streak touched, and finished with a 119-16 combined record during those years. Not a bad run.

Oregon softball made its own run at the record this year, starting the season with 35 consecutive victories. That tied the mark for most consecutive wins to open up a season.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NCAA or its member institutions.

11 college sports mega-rivalries that may have slipped under your radar

Rivalries bring out some of the most exciting, intense and (sometimes) heartbreaking moments in college sports.

Duke-North Carolina in basketball. Auburn-Alabama in football. Countless others — from the Apple Cup in Washington to the Crosstown Shootout in Cincinnati, from the Little Brown Jug in the North to any number of Lone Star Showdowns — help make college athletics what they are.

But rivalries, and the history and traditions that accompany them, go beyond these well-known showdowns. Here are 11 college sports rivalries you may not know about.

Pick a side. Wisely.

UC Santa Barbara vs. Cal Poly

Known as the Blue-Green rivalry, this battle between UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly was established in the fall of 2012. UCSB and Cal Poly first met on the football field in 1921 and became rivals years later when both became members of the California Collegiate Athletic Association. The schools, located about 100 miles from each other along the central coast of California, battle it out each year in various sports. They’re even hoping to have a trophy in the future, but, for now, bragging rights will have to do. The winner of every regular season match in head-to-head competition receives a point for the school, with the most points resulting in the official winner. One of the most popular events for this rivalry is in men’s soccer, when fans pack the stands to watch the Mustangs and Gauchos duel.

Henderson State vs. Ouachita Baptist

You know the saying, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Well, it certainly applies to this rivalry. The football programs literally play next door to each other. From NCAA.com’s Mike Lopresti:

“A rivalry game, anything can happen. The favorite doesn’t usually win that game,” Henderson’s coach Scott Maxfield said of the Ouachita Baptist series. “We’ve had some really close games across the street.”

And he means literally across the street. If the wind is right, you can hit a golf ball from the end zone of Henderson State’s Carpenter-Haygood Stadium to the end zone of Ouachita Baptist’s Cliff Harris Stadium with a driver and 3-iron. The Reddies golf coach has done it. It’s a five-minute walk for Henderson State’s players to that away game, with state police stopping traffic on two-lane U.S. 67, so they can cross. The rivalry drew 12,228 in 2014 in Henderson State’s stadium, which was 1,500 more than every man, woman, child and football fan in Arkadelphia, Ark.”

In the rivalry, also knowns of the Battle of the Ravine, Henderson State holds the lead at 43-41-6. The rivalry is also the oldest in DII football.

Lafayette vs. Lehigh

Named simply “The Rivalry,” this football matchup is the longest-running rivalry in the nation. These two teams have met each year since 1884, with the exception of 1896. The two schools are located only 17 miles apart in eastern Pennsylvania. Back in 2014, they played the much-anticipated rivalry game at Yankee Stadium. Lafayette leads the all-time series 78-69.

Denver vs. Colorado College

With their campuses only 65 miles apart, this hockey rivalry, also known as The Battle for the Gold Pan, began in 1950. That first Gold Pan trophy was a rusty old pan from Cripple Creek, Colorado that had actually been used for prospecting. That trophy was lost in Denver after the 2003–04 season. The current trophy was created by Colorado sculptor Mike Halterman and donated by the Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mine in 2005. These two teams have squared off more than 300 times, playing each other four times in a single season. On Feb. 20, 2016, the teams played in their first outdoor match at Coors Field in Denver in front of more than 35,000 spectators.

Minnesota vs. North Dakota

These two rivals have met over 300 times, too, but last season marked the first meeting since 2014. When the Western Collegiate Hockey Association split up in the fall of 2013, it ended a run of 66 consecutive years of regular season meetings between the border rivals. Of course, the rivalry couldn’t die that easily, and the squads met in the 2014 Frozen Four when Minnesota won 2-1 (the Golden Gophers scored with 0.6 seconds left to earn a spot in the championship). Together, the rivals are impressive on the ice, combining for 13 national titles and 12 national championship appearances.

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UCLA vs. Arizona

The success of these two top Pac-12 softball programs has created a much-anticipated rivalry over the years. To break it down: The Bruins have 12 titles and have made 27 Women’s College World Series appearances, while the Wildcats have eight national championships and 22 WCWS appearances. So yes, these two programs mean business when it comes to competition on the diamond.

Boise State vs. Oregon State

In the world of college wrestling, this rivalry is known as “The Border War.” It began in 1975, and in 2009 finally got some hardware when a former Broncos wrestler crafted an axe out of wood to serve as the trophy. The teams have met 40 times, with Oregon State winning 32 of those battles.

Augsburg University vs. Wartburg College

This rivalry has been coined the “Battle of the Burgs” which is fitting for these two DIII wrestling powerhouses. Each year they meet for a huge battle. Just check out the championship history. They’ve combined for 25 titles.

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Marquette vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee

This match is known as the Milwaukee Cup. The two schools are only 10 minutes apart and face off annually in men’s soccer. Beginning in 1973, Milwaukee leads the all-time series 28–11–5. However, there has been a draw five times, which results in the cup remaining in possession of the school who held it prior to the match. The rivalry games hold the record for the biggest crowds in the history of either program.

Calvin vs. Hope

The men’s basketball rivalry between these two teams spans over 96 years and 196 games. Hope leads the series 101-95. In women’s basketball, Calvin leads 47-41. Both teams, located in Michigan, play at the DIII level. When it comes to basketball rivalries, this ranks with Duke-UNC and Kentucky-Louisville to many. An awesome website dedicated to the rivalry tracks the 80-plus places in the world where fans can celebrate the rivalry.

Salisbury vs. Washington College

The “War on the Shore” is a lacrosse legend, contested between two schools 82 miles apart on the eastern shore of Maryland. These two DIII schools play each spring and is often the most anticipated game of the season. The trophy, the Charles B. Clark Cup, has been awarded to the winner since 2004, in the name of “The Biggest Little Lacrosse Game in America.”

Some others you may not know:

Field hockey: North Carolina vs. Maryland

Men’s lacrosse: John Hopkins vs. Loyola (Battle of Charles Street)

Women’s gymnastics: Utah vs. Georgia

Men’s soccer: South Florida vs. Central Florida

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NCAA or its member institutions.

College softball: Young super fans of Yale softball get special roster spots this season

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – There will be two very special additions to the Yale softball roster this season. Six-year-old Hailey Greist and her seven-year-old brother Edwards Greist have joined the Bulldogs through Team Impact, whose mission is to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses through the power of team.

Hailey and Edwards are both from Stratford, Connecticut, and have been diagnosed with common variable immunodeficiency, an immune disorder where children have very low antibody levels and are very susceptible to infections.

An official Draft Day ceremony was held on Friday night in the Ray Tompkins House varsity room where Hailey and Edwards, accompanied by their parents, signed official Letter of Intents and met with the team and coaching staff. Handsome Dan even made a surprise visit.

“We couldn’t be happier to officially welcome Hailey and Edwards to the Yale Softball family,” said head coach Jen Goodwin. “They have brought smiles to our players faces since the first time we met them. We realize we are in a position where we can make a difference in their lives, and that’s our No. 1 priority. Our time together provides Hailey & Edwards an outlet and a place they can be themselves, while also helping the team more than we could ever put into words.”

Hailey and Edwards will attend practices, games and other special events. They have already brought the Bulldogs some good fortune. Yale won a pair of scrimmages on Saturday, knocking off Manhattanville 3-1 and Fairfield 8-2.

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Since its inception in 2011, Team Impact has matched 1,100+ children to over 450 colleges and universities throughout the country. The child gains great strength, camaraderie and support and the student athletes are taught lessons about courage, resiliency and life perspective that they can’t learn in a classroom.

“Our team absolutely loves any time Hailey and Edwards can come around,” said softball captain Allison Skinner. “They are so full of life and love. They remind our team every day that sports are supposed to be about bringing people together and the family you create through them. When Hailey is around, she takes the time to ignore all of our real names and has given us all new nicknames, that we now have started calling each other. And whenever Edwards gets his hands on a ball, you know he’s going to show off his lefty arm to you. Their official addition to our family is going to add so much passion and joy back into our game that we love so much. We are very happy to have them as a part of Yale Softball.”

Team IMPACT gives children with illnesses opportunities to become members of NCAA programs

Each year, thousands of high schoolers across the country sign their national letters of intent to play a variety of sports at one of the NCAA’s three intercollegiate levels. But sometimes the players who make the biggest impact on each other’s lives will never step on the playing surface or even appear in any game for their respective programs.

They’re the teammates you laugh and share stories with behind the scenes. They’re the teammates that teach you that there is always a bigger meaning behind participating in sports. They’re the same teammates that teach us how to love, care and respect each other.

Those teammates are the children from Team IMPACT.

Team IMPACT is a program that gives children, ages 5-15, with life-threatening or chronic illnesses that have resulted in treatment or extended hospital stays within the past three years, an outlet of support from NCAA programs. Participants are drafted to local colleges to any sport at any level. According to the organization’s website, teams are determined based on proximity to the child’s family as well as the program’s enthusiasm and committment to providing the child “consistent and active socialization both on and off campus.” Team IMPACT participants stay with their respective teams and participate in all team activities from their “Draft Day” until their graduation, which generally is two or three years later.

On Draft Day, a child signs the dotted line and officially becomes a member of the team. They go through the standard signing procedure and hold an introductory press conference before they meet their teammates and get their jerseys and team gear at their own individual locker in the locker room.

After attending practices, games, meals and other team-oriented activities and trips, the team holds a graduation ceremony for the child, where their accomplishments are celebrated as they begin to transition back into their regular routines. Like any other student-athlete, after graduation they will forever be remembered as an alumnus of the school’s program.

Team IMPACT began in 2011 when co-founders Jay Calnan and Dan Kraft, and a group of their former classmates and business associates wanted to bring together children, families and college programs together to help a bigger causes than sports themselves. Less than a decade into the program’s existence, thousands of children have benefited while tens of thousands of student-athletes have joined a movement greater than their on-field responsibilities.

Team IMPACT’s mission statement is to “improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses through the power of a team.”

Take a look at some of this year’s Team IMPACT participants and the NCAA programs involved:

Welcome our newest Terp!

Maryland signs top recruit Mason Mazzuca from @GoTeamIMPACT! #MasonStrong

https://t.co/6HaoqaoYJdpic.twitter.com/Vo9Py7U2pE

— Maryland Baseball (@TerpsBaseball) October 18, 2017

Incredible @GoTeamIMPACT Draft Day at @BabsonIce, as @BabsonHockey welcomed Coleman Walsh to the family. #BeTheIMPACT#GoBabopic.twitter.com/N5h1UImz4O

— Babson Athletics (@BabsonAthletics) October 10, 2017

#UConnSB with teammate Abbie Brouker, 11-year-old from Farmington, at Tuesday’s practice. @GoTeamIMPACT

RELEASE: https://t.co/ov1IliONohpic.twitter.com/hmaaYtBAyW

— UConn Softball (@UConnSoftball) October 4, 2017

ICYMI | Last week the Vanderbilt spirit squad welcomed nine-year old Kinsey Keever to the team through @GoTeamImpact! #AnchorDownpic.twitter.com/HtpR3PEtmf

— Vanderbilt Athletics (@vucommodores) October 3, 2017

Had to get the win tonight for our teammate Kayla’s birthday! @GoTeamIMPACT#ThisIsVermontpic.twitter.com/64DsYcRIsg

— UVM Women’s Hockey (@UVMwhockey) September 30, 2017

Look for 10-year-old Tay’Shawn Landry’s story tonight on @KATCTV3 at 10 pm. #GeauxCajuns#BeInspired@RaginCajunsFB@GoTeamIMPACTpic.twitter.com/e1gLuyEVsI

— Ragin’ Cajuns FB (@RaginCajunsFB) September 23, 2017

THANK GOD FOR @GoTeamIMPACT AND @UMichFootball

WHAT A DIFFERENCE THEY HAVE MADE IN THE LIFE OF OUR BEAR!! They are Larry’s TEAM TEAM TEAM!! pic.twitter.com/pN1O9Jxbpj

— Prout Family (@gardens8) September 25, 2017

FINAL | @UIndywsoccer celebrates @GoTeamIMPACT member Rory Halbert’s graduation and picks up a 1-0 win over @LewisWSoccer! #GLVCwsocpic.twitter.com/pWob95YRXG

— UIndy Athletics (@UIndyAthletics) October 6, 2017

For more information, visit http://www.goteamimpact.org and on Twitter @GoTeamIMPACT.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NCAA or its member institutions.

College softball: John Rittman selected as Clemson’s first softball coach

CLEMSON, S.C. – John Rittman, a longtime head coach and member of the USA Softball Women’s National Team coaching staff, has been named the first head coach of Clemson softball. Rittman will lead the program in preparation for its first competitive game in February 2020.

“John Rittman is a proven winner and nationally respected coach, and the right person to lead our new softball program at Clemson,” Director of Athletics Dan Radakovich said. “We have 27 months until first pitch, and John has the vision and experience to build a strong foundation and culture for years to come.”

Rittman comes to Clemson after serving as associate head coach at the University of Kansas for the past two seasons. Rittman joined the Jayhawks after 18 seasons as the head coach at Stanford University and 10 years on the United States National Team coaching staff (2001-08, 2016-present).

Historic moment for our program…

Today we proudly announce John Rittman as our first head coach!#ClemsonFamilyhttps://t.co/4fPKHVafimpic.twitter.com/UjaCnWyWww

— Clemson Softball (@clemsonsoftball) November 3, 2017

Under Rittman, the Cardinal recorded 18-consecutive winning seasons, made 16-straight NCAA appearances, notched 13 40-win seasons and produced at least one All-American in 15 of his last 17 seasons. As head coach, Rittman accumulated a 750-351-3 overall mark, coached a national player of the year, 16 All-Americans, earned five Super Regional appearances, two Women’s College World Series appearances and maintained a spot in every regular-season National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Top 25 poll for more than a decade.

Who’s excited?

Go Tigers! pic.twitter.com/ObVijxdZFy

— Clemson Softball (@clemsonsoftball) November 3, 2017

“I am thrilled and grateful for the opportunity to build the Clemson softball program,” said Rittman. “I want to thank the Board of Trustees, President Clements and Dan Radakovich for the opportunity. We want to recruit the best student-athletes in the country, and we’ll embrace the Clemson culture and passionate fan base. I can’t wait to get started.”

RELATED: Young super fans of Yale get roster spots

The past two years, Rittman has served on the staff of USA Softball team which won gold at both the 2016 Women’s Softball World Championship and the 2017 Pan Am Games. He also worked with Team USA from 2001-08, coaching the 2004 Olympic gold medal winners in Athens and the 2008 silver medalists in Beijing. Team USA also won gold medals at the Pan Am Games and the U.S. Cup in 2003.

“People kept telling us, ‘if you have a chance to get John Rittman, your search is over.'” – @ClemsonDRadpic.twitter.com/Nuzvng9h1M

— Clemson Softball (@clemsonsoftball) November 3, 2017

Prior to being named head coach at Stanford, Rittman spent four seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Washington, focusing on hitting and defense. Rittman helped start the program and, within just four seasons, the Huskies had earned a No. 1 national ranking, won the 1996 Pac-10 Championship, made three NCAA Tournament appearances and notched a runner-up finish in their first trip to the Women’s College World Series. Washington became the first team since Texas A&M (1983) to advance to the championship game in its first appearance at the WCWS. Before his appointment at Washington, Rittman spent two seasons as an assistant at the University of Minnesota. During his second year, the Golden Gophers won the Big Ten Conference with a 20-4 league record. The team batting average jumped from .235 to .269 and the Gophers set team and individual records in almost every offensive category. The Minnesota squad led the nation in hits and total bases en route to a No. 15 national ranking. Rittman also helped produce two Golden Gopher All-Americans. From 1988-90, Rittman was an assistant coach at the University of Oregon. During his stay, the Ducks played in the 1989 Women’s College World Series, set several team and individual offensive records and produced an All-American. Rittman graduated from New Mexico State with a degree in journalism in 1986. He was a three-year letterwinner in baseball as an outfielder at NMSU after transferring from Yavapai Junior College in Prescott, Arizona.

Rittman and his wife, Lorie, a former softball player at the University of Oklahoma, are the parents of Justin, a senior fullback at UCLA, and Jake, a high school senior.

College softball: Stanford alum Jessica Mendoza is blazing a trail in the broadcast booth

For some athletes, playing college sports is their pinnacle achievement. But for someone like Jessica Mendoza, it’s simply been a launching pad to a lifetime of success.

A 1998 graduate of Adolfo Camarillo High School in California, Mendoza was named the L.A. Times Player of the Year during her senior season. At Stanford, she earned First-Team All-American honors and broke single-season program records for home runs (9), batting average (.415) and RBIs (57) in her freshman year before leading the nation with a .474 average as a sophomore.

Just kicking it with the bulldog at ESPN this am. Tune in all morning to hear @MLB playoff previews & hot topics! pic.twitter.com/Bt9r5TfvL6

— Jessica Mendoza (@jessmendoza) September 29, 2017

Mendoza’s collegiate career included four consecutive First-Team All-American honors and program records for batting average, hits, doubles, triples, home-runs, runs scored and stolen bases. She also led Stanford to its first Women’s College World Series, where she was named to the all-tournament team.

Mendoza graduated in 2002 with a Masters in Social Sciences and Education. She played in the National Pro Fastpitch League and for Team USA, earning a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics, a silver in ‘08 and an NPF championship in ‘10.

After her playing career, Mendoza joined ESPN, becoming the first female analyst for an Major League Baseball game in the history of the network. She has since become a fixture on Sunday Night Baseball.

Stanford softball: Cardinal hire alumna Jessica Allister as new head coach

“When I’d play in the World Cup and other tournaments that would be covered by ESPN, they’d say that my enthusiasm and passion for the game would be really good on television and asked if I had ever thought about doing it,” Mendoza said. “I would just sort of laugh. I thought, ‘Are you kidding me?’ [I have] no filter, I don’t know how this is going to turn out.”

Just months after her audition, Mendoza was the lead analyst for softball and broadcast the WCWS. ESPN then expanded her role to sideline reporting for college football and she later filled in for Kyle Peterson in the same position at the CWS.

“From the very beginning in Omaha, even though I was a sideline reporter, I was basically an analyst. And that started to really push me. When I started doing that, I realized, ‘Wow, I can do baseball. I would love to do more of this.’”

Who’s pumped for Game 6?Apparently I am as I chat with @Astros Jose Altuve. Good info from @Dodgers Turner & Seager too #WorldSeriespic.twitter.com/dq1a7AetoN

— Jessica Mendoza (@jessmendoza) November 1, 2017

Mendoza rose to her position quickly and became a pioneer for women in sports broadcasting. The reaction, however, was not all positive.

“I think that’s the no-brainer part of anything you do that is different. People are going to either be really excited about it or against it,” she said. “For me, it’s been more about how to handle my relationship with social media. When I had been doing softball and even reporting, I had loved being on Twitter. Even if people were negative, it was pretty much people saying like, ‘Hey, I disagree with what you were saying about his back foot. [Once I became an analyst,] it got so bad at first of just like, ‘I hate you, you’re a woman.’ I just had to step away, and that was different for me. I had to start to ignore those people.”

Despite the backlash, Mendoza loves her job and working with the likes of play-by-play announcer Dan Shulman.

“I remember watching Sunday Night Baseball and listening to his voice welcome people. His was “the” voice to me. Even when I started to get involved in baseball like four or five years ago, when they would be at Dodger Stadium, I would show up and just hang around him like a total groupie because of how much I admired the show. I still get goosebumps when I sit next to him and he says, ‘Welcome to Sunday Night Baseball.’ Like, are you freaking kidding me? It’s something I’ll never get over.”

RELATED: Young super fans of Yale softball get special roster spots this season

Mendoza prepares extensively for each broadcast, re-watching games, scouting scheduled starting pitchers and chatting with players.

“My biggest goal in this is to get in with the players and the guys. As I’m learning stuff, I want to have people learn it with me. I don’t care how much you even know about baseball, you’re still learning. Being able to dive into the individuals and tell their story of how they play the game, I love it. I just come with this open notepad of not knowing what I’m going to learn that day, and then I walk away thinking, ‘That is really, really cool.’”

She enjoys learning but also knows it’s how to do the job right. With her status as a trailblazer for women in broadcasting, she knows her presence has an effect, despite it not being at the forefront of her mind.

Blessed to host @NCAA Woman of Year Awards & be inspired by these AMAZING women!! They r motivated to pay it forward & make our world better pic.twitter.com/SdcsiJyLP1

— Jessica Mendoza (@jessmendoza) October 23, 2017

“I take that more with a responsibility,” she said. “I am very aware of the fact that I need to be doing my job and be doing it well because I want to make sure that more girls and women have these opportunities. That’s so important to me.”

Mendoza is dialed in on her current job but keeps an open mind about the future.

“I went to Stanford to be an orthopedic surgeon and I graduated from there to be a senator. There’s all these different things I’ve done and wanted to do. My biggest thing is to keep an open mind,” she said. “I love Sunday Night Baseball, and if I end up doing it for the next 50 years, I know I would be happy. But I’m also open to other things and seeing what else is in store for me.”

Best feel-good stories and moments in college sports from 2017

Sure, game-winning plays and record-breaking performances are easy to remember. But there are plenty of moments that transcend the outcome on the playing field that are worth another look.

The 2017 calendar year was chock full of feel-good moments across college athletics. With 2018 just around the corner, it’s time to revisit some of the most memorable examples that are sure to bring a smile to your face.

An emotional Senior Day for Drake’s Jacob Enevold

Things got a little dusty in the Knapp Center for Senior Day as Jacob’s parents surprised him by coming in from Denmark pic.twitter.com/5vBLpYquhs

— Drake Basketball (@DrakeBulldogsMB) February 25, 2017

It’s a long way from Lunderskov, Denmark to Des Moines, Iowa. But the parents of former Drake basketball player Jacob Enevold made the 4,300-mile trek for an unforgettable Senior Day surprise. As Enevold was being honored before Drake’s home game on Feb. 25 of last season, the center’s parents caught him off guard when they walked onto the court to join in the festivities. Enevold’s reaction was priceless.

A sibling reunion at Sacred Heart

Surprise visits from family members are always special, as was the case in February when former Sacred Heart women’s hockey player Teagan Ketchum was reunited with brother Trevor for the first time in 14 months due to his deployment. Lined up with her teammates before a game against Franklin Pierce, Teagan was shocked to see Trevor walk out of the tunnel to perform a ceremonial puck drop. It doesn’t get better than this.

Eron Harris enters one last time for Sparty

What a beautiful moment as @MSU_Basketball‘s Eron Harris goes out the right way on senior day. https://t.co/1IPBS9g3vP

— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) February 26, 2017

Michigan State’s Eron Harris did not expect to see any game action for his Senior Day last Feb. 26, considering his season-ending knee injury left him in a bulky brace. But in the final minute of an 84-74 upset over Wisconsin, coach Tom Izzo called a timeout and inserted Harris into the game to a thunderous ovation from fans. As fans stood to acknowledge Harris’ MSU career, he lowered himself down to the ground to kiss the half-court Spartans logo.

Karnowski gets to play in front of father at Final Four

Przemek Karnowski’s father traveled 6,000 miles from Poland to watch his son’s Gonzaga squad advance to title game: https://t.co/squsY1F9HPpic.twitter.com/hyJy8cLp8V

— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) April 2, 2017

One special figure was in attendance last April in Phoenix to see former Gonzaga star Przemek Karnowski celebrate a trip to the program’s first national championship game. Bonifacy Karnowski, Przemek’s father, traveled nearly 6,000 miles from Poland to Phoenix to see his son score 13 points as the Bulldogs put away South Carolina 77-73 in the semifinals. “I’m very happy. It’s a great moment for Gonzaga, for Przemek, for Polish supporters, because Polish television make a direct transmission from here. The whole country is watching. First time in history,” Bonifacy told our Mike Lopresti.

Ohio State superfan scores special TD in spring game

Attention, national writers looking for a best moment of spring football:

It’s this, courtesy of @OhioStateFB. https://t.co/RyfQr7o1Lh

— Brent Yarina (@BTNBrentYarina) April 15, 2017

Ohio State fan Jacob Jarvis, 17, had the play of the day during the Buckeyes’ spring game last April. Jarvis, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, has served as an inspiration to his beloved Buckeyes since 2014-15, the same season that OSU took home the CFP trophy. His involvement in the program was on full display in front of the 80,000 fans in attendance for Ohio State’s 2017 spring game. For the final play of the day, Jarvis entered the game, received a handoff from J.T. Barrett and coasted into the end zone for a Scarlet touchdown. The whole team then rallied around him to celebrate for one of the top moments of the spring.

Nebraska spring game reunites family

After ten months away from home, welcome Home Staff Sergeant Hawke. pic.twitter.com/TzOcrJjysg

— Nebraska Football (@HuskerFBNation) April 15, 2017

Spring game surprises did not end in Columbus. Over in Lincoln, Nebraska, the Cornhuskers took part in Staff sergeant Matthew Hawke’s special reunion with his wife and kids after he served 10 months in Afghanistan. Hawke suited up in a Nebraska jersey, pads and helmet and walked to midfield to participate in the coin toss, where his family served as honorary officials. Hawke then took off his helmet and reconnected with his family in a touching moment.

An unforgettable first pitch for Arizona

.@UA_Softball‘s Ashleigh Hughes got an incredible surprise before her #Pac12SB game in Tucson https://t.co/K00s19dUdT

— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) April 22, 2017

Arizona softball player Ashleigh Hughes was treated with a similar surprise moments before an April 21 home game against Oregon. Her brother Raynard, a senior airman who Ashleigh hadn’t seen in two years, walked onto the field to deliver the first pitch. The two embraced in the pitcher’s circle before the Wildcats took the field in a 2-0 win. These types of moments never get old.

BC’s Cortez wins it for her father

“She should be America’s star.” We agree, @ESPN! Tatiana Cortez made it to @SportsCenter! #BCEaglespic.twitter.com/EjF7G4FsQB

— BC Softball (@BC_Softball) May 2, 2017

This story’s straight out of a Hollywood script, or so it seems. Former BC softball player Tatiana Cortez closed out her Senior Day last May with a dramatic walk-off homer against NC State. Meanwhile, her father, a Houston police officer, was 1,600 miles away in a hospital recovering from a gunshot wound that he suffered two months prior. While Ronny, Tatiana’s father, couldn’t be in attendance, more than 100 Boston-area police officers showed up for support, along with her mother. “I don’t think I’ve ever given my mom a bigger hug. An emotional hug. I still get goosebumps thinking about it,” she told Lopresti.

Oklahoma rounds bases with moms after huge win

#Sooners Steele Walker, JB Olson and Connor Berry round the bases with their moms following OU’s walk-off win pic.twitter.com/4ZzPyJblId

— Ryan Aber (@ryaber) May 14, 2017

Oklahoma baseball’s Steele Walker, JB Olson and Connor Berry gave their mothers a very special Mother’s Day present on May 14 following a big win over Big 12 rival TCU. The day started with Austin O’Brien securing a Sooners win with a game-winning single over the then-No. 6 Horned Frogs. To celebrate, the trio of Sooners invited their moms onto the field to round the bases with them. What a great gift.

Barnes fulfills promise to attend Ford’s graduation

Rick Barnes came back to #Texas to watch TJ Ford graduate 15 years after he first stepped on campus. Watch this emotional exchange: pic.twitter.com/prkmCPqvpO

— Chris Tavarez (@ChrisTavarez) May 19, 2017

Former Wooden Award winner T.J. Ford went down as a Longhorns legend for his two years in Austin. Now, he’s officially a graduate from the University of Texas. Fourteen years after leaving early for the NBA, Ford walked at UT’s 2017 graduation in May with a degree in applied learning and development. And former coach Rick Barnes, now coaching Tennessee, was in attendance. “I’m so happy for him. Proud is an understatement, but he deserves it more than anybody,” said an emotional Barnes after the ceremony.

Gales walks for first time after being paralyzed in 2015

Im on the way!! pic.twitter.com/4Kz77luWdT

— devongales (@devongales) May 25, 2017

Former Southern wide receiver Devon Gales’ football career was ended abruptly in 2015 after a kickoff collision against Georgia left him paralyzed from the waist down. But this past May, Gales made a major step in his recovery when he posted a video of him walking for the first time since the hit. Gales has continued to progress, and in August, he released another video of him playing catch with a football.

IUPUI T&F star inspires at NCAA championships

Former IUPUI track & field runner Robert Murphy made program history at last year’s outdoor championships, becoming its first-ever representative on the national stage. He finished the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 22nd (9 minutes, 10.92 seconds). But the results didn’t matter as much as his journey to get there. Murphy, who was diagnosed with autism a three years old, soaked in every moment of his experience at Hayward Field last June. “The whole season I was just like, ‘To make it here. To make it here. To make it here.’ That’s pretty much all that was going through my head,” he told NCAA.com’s Beth Maiman.

Uncle of CSUF’s Richards snags CWS keepsake

That’s a special ball for Timmy Richards… His Uncle Brett manages to get it for the trophy case! #CWSpic.twitter.com/KhnU9FYMQW

— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 17, 2017

Thanks to his uncle Brett, former Cal State Fullerton shortstop Timmy Richards has a memento from his time in Omaha playing in the 2017 College World Series. In the very first inning of the first game of the CWS, Richards crushed a three-run homer against Oregon State, deep into the left field stands. Meanwhile, walking around the concourse, uncle Brett caught sight of the jumbotron, featuring the teenager who caught the souvenir. He tracked down the kid and negotiated for the ball — in exchange for $100 — which he said he planned on giving Timmy after the game. “He’s a senior, he’s been playing for four years, he’s a grinder, he’s been drafted in the major leagues three times now. It’s just a great memory. It’s a special moment,” he told Lopresti.

Colleges collaborate for Hurricane Harvey relief

Hundreds of schools provided support and supplies in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Twitter | Houston Athletics
Hundreds of schools provided support and supplies in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey’s destruction through Texas in late August, college programs near and far came together to help in relief efforts in all sorts of ways. Houston basketball coach Kelvin Sampson used Twitter to ask schools from all levels to donate school equipment and clothing, leading to hundreds of shipments from across the country. Houston baseball coach Todd Whitting followed suit with a similar message while several other schools assisted volleyball programs whose travel plans were altered by the storm. Kudos to all schools involved in every relief effort.

UAB’s inspirational presentation in first game back

FIRST STEPS on Legion Field! Tim Alexander promised he would WALK out when @UAB_FB returned #theReturn#GreaterBHAM#GoBlazerspic.twitter.com/b89GsL3lBQ

— UAB (@UABNews) September 2, 2017

It was a successful first season back on the gridiron for UAB (8-4), whose football program was temporarily disbanded from 2015-16. But perhaps the best moment of the season came before the Blazers’ opening kickoff of the season. Ahead of their season opener on Sept. 2, Timothy Alexander, a 2015 UAB grad who was paralyzed in a 2006 car accident, left his wheelchair to walk and present the game ball. Alexander was a key figure in gaining support for the program’s return, and witnessed a 38-7 victory in UAB’s triumphant return.

USC’s Jake Olson enters game vs. WMU

This is anything but a regular PAT.

Jake Olson, blind since age 12, just snapped for the first time in a live game. https://t.co/amyHcFoVue

— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) September 3, 2017

Redshirt sophomore Jake Olson has been involved with the USC football program since he was 12 years old. But in the Trojans’ season-opening win against Western Michigan this year, he finally got the chance to enter a game. Olson, who lost his eyesight in 2009 due to cancer, received a warm ovation from the USC faithful as Clay Helton inserted him as the long snapper on a late PAT attempt. What followed was a perfect first snap of his career in an eventual 49-31 victory.

Iowa starts new tradition waving at children’s hospital

Everyone knows about “The Wave” at Iowa football games by now. Starting this year, Hawkeye fans take a moment right after the first quarter ends to turn and wave toward the new children’s hospital located right next to Kinnick Stadium. Here’s to hoping this tradition lasts many more seasons in Iowa City.

Ex-UT star cycles 1,098 miles in honor of Pat Summitt

If you missed my live #PedalforPat report from the ferry on Twitter, here are some pix @WeBackPatpic.twitter.com/6GwXwYQown

— Michelle Brooke-Marciniak (@mmarciniak3) October 23, 2017

Former Tennessee women’s basketball standout Michelle Brooke-Marciniak embarked on a 1,098-bicycle marathon from Knoxville, Tennessee to Marathon, Florida back in October to support Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt in the “Pedal for Pat” project. The project’s goal is to raise money and awareness for the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, which Summitt suffered from before dying in 2016. The 1,098 miles represented each of Summitt’s victories as head coach of the Lady Vols. “It was really just my desire to acknowledge and appreciate a woman who made a huge difference in the world of women’s sports,” said Gilder days before the trip.

Yale softball fans get special roster spots

Team IMPACT is an amazing program that gives children with serious illnesses opportunities to become official members of NCAA programs. One such example this year was when siblings Hailey (six) and Edwards Greist (seven) joined Yale softball in October. Both suffer from common variable immunodeficiency, an immune disorder where children are susceptible to infections due to low antibody levels. The Greists went through typical Team IMPACT procedures, including a Draft Day ceremony, and will be regulars at Yale’s practices and games this upcoming season. “They are so full of life and love. They remind our team every day that sports are supposed to be about bringing people together and the family you create through them,” Yale captain Allison Skinner said.

West Florida football’s Cinderella run

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DII Football: West Florida advances over Indiana (PA)

Sometimes a “feel-good” story is an underdog tale. Take West Florida football’s incredible run to the DII championship game in just the second season in program history. After a 5-6 inaugural season, the Argos finished 11-4 in 2017, including an upset over No. 1 Indiana (Pa.) in the national semifinals. West Florida may have fell short in the title game against Texas A&M-Commerce, but they enjoyed every second of their breakthrough season.

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Arizona-UCLA, Michigan-Northwestern headline top five college softball rivalries of all-time

Whether it’s due to proximity or tradition, NCAA softball rivalries take shape across the country. Here are the top five:

5. Louisiana vs. LSU

LSU Athletics

Louisiana has finished the last 17 seasons ranked in the Top 25 while LSU has done so every year since 2005. Only 83 miles separate the two campuses, and the two teams met in NCAA DI Softball Championships regional action in 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2017. The Tigers lost their first six meetings against the Ragin’ Cajuns but won the final two in the series last season to advance to Super Regionals.

4. Washington vs. Oregon

Washington Athletics

This rivalry is the top matchup in the Pacific Northwest. Oregon finished fifth in the Women’s College World Series in 2012, beating the Huskies along the way for the first time ever in the postseason. Washington is the definition of a name-brand NCAA softball program, reaching the NCAA tournament in 24 consecutive years. The Huskies have never had a losing season.

RELATED: 11 NCAA rivalries that may have slipped your radar

3. Northwestern vs. Michigan

Michigan Athletics

Michigan is the crown jewel of Big Ten softball. Under Hall of Fame coach Carol Hutchins, the Wolverines have not lost 20 games in a season since 1994, and they were the first team from east of the Mississippi River to win the Women’s College World Series (in 2005).

Northwestern is a top-tier program, but over the past 20 years, the Wildcats have taken a backseat to the Wolverines. Northwestern has reached the NCAA tournament 11 times since 2000 but has only won the Big Ten championship twice in that time period. The Wildcats are always out to take that top spot from Michigan, making this the best game you’ll see around the Great Lakes.

2. Alabama vs. Oklahoma

The Sooners have made 15 Women’s College World Series appearances in their illustrious history and are the two-time defending champs heading into 2018.

Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide have been rolling through the SEC for years. Alabama has never had a losing season since its inception in 1997.

Alabama Athletics

It may be odd that two schools 700 miles apart have such an intense rivalry, but these schools rival as a result of the postseason success of their programs, not their proximity. The Sooners and Tide have faced each another nine times since 2012, and Alabama holds the edge in their recent games 5-4. Some of the matchups between Alabama and Oklahoma have been at the highest level. In the 2016 Women’s College World Series, Alabama and Oklahoma faced off in the third game of the Women’s College World Series championship series. It was an instant classic won by the Sooners on Shay Knighten’s three-run home run in the eighth inning.

MORE: Catching up with Stanford alumna Jessica Mendoza

1. UCLA vs. Arizona

Pac-12 foes UCLA and Arizona have combined for 20 national titles and have appeared in the Women’s College World Series championship final a combined seven times. Under head coach Mike Candrea, the Wildcats have won more than 1,600 games in 31 seasons. Kelly Inouye-Perez is in her 12th season at the helm for the Bruins and in 2010 she led UCLA to its 12 national title.

Arizona Athletics

The past four years have been strong for this rivalry. Both the Bruins and Wildcats have finished in the top 15 of the final NFCA poll for four consecutive seasons. The Bruins and Wildcats have combined for 53 Women’s College World Series appearances.

DII Softball Power Rankings: North Georgia slides to No. 1 in Week 6

In the Week 6 Power Rankings, the top five were shaken up with North Georgia coming out as the new No. 1.

*Note: These power rankings are not affiliated with the NCAA selection committee and teams are ranked at the sole discretion of the writer.

Rank School Record Comments Previous
1

North Georgia

44-10 It’s making its 10th-straight appearance in the regionals of the Division II Softball Championship. 2
2

Harding

54-6 The team enters the Central Regional on a nine-game winning streak. 4
3

West Texas A&M

42-9 Since 2011, West Texas is 197-30 at Schaeffer Park, which is the site of a South Central regional. 5
4

Minnesota State

54-6 It enters the Central Regional on a team-record 24-game winning streak. 3
5

Angelo State

52-5 The team had its 16-game winning streak snapped with a 2-1 loss to West Texas. 1
6

West Virginia Wesleyan

44-7 It won the MEC championship and were the winners of 19 of its last 20 games. 6
7

Central Oklahoma

47-9 The Bronchos are making their sixth-straight appearance in the regionals of the Division II Softball Championship. 7
8

Colorado Mesa

46-6 The team rides into the Division II Softball Championship on an eight-game winning streak. 8
9

Humboldt State

38-13 Last year’s national runner-up earned the No. 2 seed in the West Regional. 13
10

West Florida

40-13 For the first time since 1998, the team will play host to a regional tournament. 16
11

Carson-Newman

43-11 The program earned its 13th appearance in the Division II Softball Tournament. 14
12

Cal State Monterey Bay

43-11 It lost 2-1 in eight innings to Humboldt in the CCAA Tournament. 10
13

Pfeiffer

44-6 It had a great regular season, but it will be tested as a No. 7 seed in Southeast Regional. 9
14

West Chester

44-10 It earned the No. 1 seed in the Atlantic Regional. NR
15

Adelphi

35-13-1 It won its first NE10 title in four years. NR
16

Alabama-Huntsville

41-15 The team is making its 15th-straight appearance in Division II Softball Championship tournament. NR

2017 Division II softball regionals: Times, matchups and results for the tournament

The 2017 Division II Softball Championship is set with 16 regionals. Four teams will participate at each of the regional sites in double-elimination tournaments. Regional competition will be held May 11-13. Each winner will advance to the super regionals the following weekend, where they will take on the respective winner from their region (i.e., Atlantic 1 vs. Atlantic 2). The finals will be held May 25-29 in Salem, Virginia. Check back often for results and matchups.

REGIONAL BRACKETS: