It's Softball Time in Tennessee: Lady Vols in the Women's College World Series Preview

Recently: Tennessee earned a trip to Oklahoma City and the Women’s College World Series with a 2-0 sweep of Texas (5-2, 9-0) in the Knoxville Super Regional. 

Previously on Lady Vols in the WCWS: This will be Tennessee's eighth WCWS appearance, and the first since 2015. UT has never won a national championship. but were runners-up in 2007 and 2013. 

Tennessee is 4-1 this season against their first tournament opponent, Alabama. 

What to Watch: First, understand the format is different from the baseball CWS. In Omaha, you get put in a four-team pod and basically do the regional/super regional format again. The women are instead put into a double-elimination bracket with all eight teams. The last two teams left standing then play a best-2-of-3 series. This format probably benefits UT because as the #4 overall seed, they would’ve been in #1 Oklahoma’s pod under the men’s format. The Lady Vols will still likely need to beat OU twice if they want to win the whole thing, but there is a path to the championship series for UT without having to beat Oklahoma twice to get there. 

As it stands, the Sooners are heavy favorites to win the whole thing. DraftKings currently has OU at -800, Florida St. at +500, and OSU and Tennessee both at +1000. Consider how many Oklahoma batters are in the top 20 of hitters at the WCWS:

That's sorted by batting average, maybe not the most complete picture of what a hitter can do. But it still paints a pretty clear picture of why OU is expected to take the title. There's a lot of Utah in that chart as well, which is interesting since the Utes were seeded #15 overall and took all three games to knock out unseeded San Diego State. It's tempting to say Utah lucked into the WCWS since they dodged UCLA when the Bruins lost their own regional, but it looks like Utah has some legit hitters. Decent pitching too:

Notice there's not a single Alabama batter in the hitting chart and just one pitcher on the pitching chart. That seems to bode well for the Lady Vols in their opening game. 

I won't pretend to know more about the sport than what I can glean from the stats, but it looks like if anyone can make a run at the Sooners in this tournament, the Lady Vols might be the ones to do it.


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