It’s that time of the year when every D1 college softball team has the hope and possibility of winning a national championship for their school. That’s before the season starts and the reality sinks in that there probably really is only 5 or at the most 10 teams in the whole country that have a legitimate shot at winning the title. It makes for good fodder though on the softball message boards any time predictions are posted. So I figured instead of doing the usual top 20 preseason polls I’d do my best ‘Carnac the Magnificent’ imitation and predict the answer to the question, who will be the 2019 D1 College Softball Champion?
There are several teams that have a good shot at doing just that this year. Oregon would have been one of the teams I would have considered on my list if it hadn’t been for the wild transfer season that devastated the team, along with the loss of head coach Mike White to Texas. Speaking of Texas they could have an interesting year if coach White can pull all the new pieces of the Texas puzzle together for this year. Washington should also have a good season. The defending champion’s Florida State also looks strong and should have another good year.
Another team I was considering as championship caliber for this year was the Louisiana-Lafayette’s Ragin’ Cajuns. Head coach Gerry Glasco has put his stamp on the team and has them playing strong. With the return of pitcher Summer Ellyson and the pick up of several Texas A&M transfer players along with Oregon all-star pitcher Megan Kleist I thought they were set for a big playoff run. But then came the announcement by Kleist that she wouldn’t be competing this season instead deciding to set out this season and play there next year as an Oregon graduate. Another team you always have to consider when talking champions is Oklahoma. They know how to win and are always part of the playoff picture from year to year, but I just don’t have the feeling of them taking it all this year.
All that being said my picks for the two teams to make it to the WCWS finals to play for the 2019 title are Florida and UCLA. Both teams are no strangers to winning and have ace pitchers that can get the job done.
Florida has Kelly Barnhill who last year went, 29-3 with an 1.08 ERA. While she will have to handle most of the load this season the Gators do have several returning pitchers and incoming freshmen that may be able to lighten her load. Florida also picked up several key transfer players that should help them out this season. Playing in the SEC, which may not be as tough as last season, still offers up lots of tough competition to get the Gators ready for the pressure come playoff time.
The other team I predict to make it into the championship series is UCLA. Like Florida they have great pitching that starts with Rachel Garcia who last year had a record of 29-4 and a ERA of 1.31 with 315 strikeouts. Also back is sophomore Holly Azevedo who ended last year with a record of, 15-0 and a 2.18 ERA along with 88 strikeouts. The team did lose the big bat of Kylee Perez due to graduation but still have a big returning class of veteran players. UCLA also has some speed on the bases. The only thing they need to do this season is tighten up their fielding. Like Florida with playing in the tough Pac-12 gives UCLA a lot of games playing against strong competition to hone their skills.
To win a championship you need talent and good coaching but you also need some luck. All it takes is one player getting hurt to change a whole season. But barring any major injuries I see Florida and UCLA playing for the 2019 championship. And my prediction to win it all is:
Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts of who you think will be this year’s champions.