We are down to 16 teams in the 2023 DI softball tournament. There will be eight super regional matchups, with the winners advancing to the Women's College World Series. Three seeded teams are already knocked out of the tournament — No. 2 UCLA, No. 10 LSU and No. 11 Arkansas. Now that we have our super regional teams, I have re-ranked the remaining top 16. This is mostly based on regional performances, but there are other factors as well, including overall strength of team and performance all season.
Here is the top 16 teams, re-ranked (NCAA tournament seed):
1. Oklahoma (1)
The Sooners are the No. 1 team in my book, and probably most books for that matter. They were absolutely dominant in the regionals — as they have been all season. They posted SIX home runs in one game, and will look to make it back to the WCWS and go for the back-to-back-to-back title.
2. Tennessee (4)
The UCLA Bruins, the No. 2 team entering the tournament, were knocked out of the field in the regionals. That opens up the No. 2 spot, and I decided to go with the Tennessee Volunteers. The Vols were dominant in their regionals performance, with two big offensive wins over Indiana. The offense hit four homers in the first 9-1 win, and the pitching staff and defense allowed just four runs all weekend. Payton Gottshall also threw five innings of shutout ball. Everything is clicking for Tennessee and that dominance, to me, deserved the two spot.
3. Florida State (3)
The Noles come in as my No. 3 team in the re-rank, the same as their tournament seeding. They did have to play the if necessary game against South Carolina after the Gamecocks shut them out in Game 6. But this was a REALLY hot South Carolina team, and quite frankly, I don’t think the No. 3 team should have had to play South Carolina in the first place. Kathryn Sandercock came back and threw a perfect game, the first in Florida State softball NCAA tournament history, to put the team on her back and secure a 1-0 win in Game 7. I am keeping them at 3, despite the offensive slump, with a good guess that the FSU bats will come back to life and look closer to their regular season form in the supers.
4. Stanford (9)
The Cardinal come in as my No. 4 team in this re-rank after two HUGE wins over Florida. They held the Gators offense, with Skylar Wallace, to just two runs scored over two games, and posted 19 runs of their own. The Cardinal dominated every facet of the game against a strong SEC team, and they deserve a big boost based on that regional performance.
5. Georgia (14)
Before this ranking takes you by total surprise, I am totally aware at how high this seems, especially since this team was the No. 14 seed. But the offense exploded for two very impressive wins over Virginia Tech, and if this ranking is based off of regional performances, the Dawgs looked really impressive, totaling 32 runs in three regional games. I couldn’t justify putting any of the teams right below them, so the Dawgs get a huge boost to the No. 5 spot. I can't believe they will be playing FSU in the supers, a terrific matchup.
6. Oregon (not seeded)
The Ducks are ALL the way up at No. 6 after the regionals after entering the tournament unseeded. Quite the jump in the rankings. Oregon swept No. 11 Arkansas to knock them out and advance to the supers. But not only did they sweep them, they doubled their score in both wins. On Saturday, Oregon put up eight runs in one innings for a 10-4 win. And on Sunday, just a year after being eliminated from the postseason by Arkansas, the Ducks turned the tables by run-ruling the Razorbacks on their home field to advance. This was a crazy impressive two-game performance over a talented Arkansas team, and I have them up at No. 6 because of it.
7. Texas (13)
The Texas Longhorns jump six spots to my No. 7 team. The Longhorns had two wins over Texas A&M — the first was a tight 2-1 victory, but they followed it up with a big 11-5 win to advance to the supers. The Longhorns were able to get the bats going early against some tough Texas A&M pitchers, and sweep to advance.
8. Duke (8)
The Blue Devils remain at No. 8 for me in this re-rank after their regional performance. I would have raised them higher, but the 5-0 and 4-2 win over Charlotte wasn’t enough for me to move them up further, or justify them above any of the higher teams. This team still had a strong regional outing, and has a lot of depth in the circle that I am excited to see face off against Stanford in the supers.
9. Oklahoma State (6)
Alright, I have Oklahoma State in as my No. 9 team. This is three spots lower than their original seeding, despite the fact that they won all three games in the regionals. My reasoning for this is that I thought OSU was a little too high in the seedings to begin with. However, their offense was able to get things going in the regionals, and they pulled out wins over Wichita State, a really strong team, and Nebraska. They looked to be in trouble on Sunday against the Huskers, but rallied behind a four-run seventh inning to secure a comeback victory and advance to the supers. So, not a dominant performance, but two good wins and good signs for the OSU offense. Nine felt like a good place for the Cowgirls.
10. Utah (15)
This team is on absolute fire right now. Utah beat Ole Miss TWICE in the regionals, and this was the regional discussed as one of the toughest in the bracket. The Utes were the 15 seed, and I am moving them up five spots after the regionals. Mariah Lopez has been a workhorse in the circle, throwing two consecutive full-games against Ole Miss with just one run allowed in each. This team is hot at the right time and is looking really dangerous.
11. Northwestern (12)
I have Northwestern up one spot from their original seeding at No. 11. The Wildcats had two tight victories over Kentucky and Miami (Ohio) in the regionals. The Wildcats scored the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh the advance to the supers against Miami. None of the wins were no-doubters, but they got it done in three games. This is a team that made it to the WCWS last season and will look to be back again against Alabama in the supers.
12. Clemson (16)
The Clemson Tigers come in at No. 12 with the last remaining Player of the Year candidate competing in Valerie Cagle. This team got through Auburn, which some argued could have been a seed in the tournament. I have them up from their original seeding based on their regional performance over Auburn. I think this is a strong team that unfortunately has a date with OU in the supers.
13. Washington (7)
At 13, I am going with Washington. I dropped them from No. 7 because they struggled against McNeese. BUT, they then went off for one of the greatest moments of the tournament so far with a seven-run inning to come back and win Game 7. They finally gave us a glimpse of what we had been seeing from them all season, and got it done.
14. Alabama (5)
I know it feels like a drastic drop, and they were playing without Montana Fouts. But they still struggled against Middle Tennessee, and the offense has really been slumping. They escaped with a 1-0 win against Middle Tennessee after losing 5-1 in Game 6. The offense needed to show up more for me to justify putting them higher. If Fouts is back and the bats come alive in the supers, that is a different story.
15. Louisiana (not seeded)
At No. 15, I have the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns. They were unseeded in the tournament and knocked off their in-state rival LSU with a one-run win in a dramatic Game 7. Trailing 8-7 heading in to the seventh, Louisiana posted two-runs in the top of the seventh and then held them off in the bottom of the inning to pull off the comeback victory. Oregon took a huge jump as an unseeded team because of two double-digit dominating wins over Arkansas while Louisiana narrowly escaped in Game 7, hence the difference and No. 15 ranking.
16. San Diego State (not seeded)
And finally, San Diego State. The Aztecs are in the supers at No. 16 for me because they didn't have to play UCLA, but still looked really impressive with a 6-3 win over a strong Liberty team to get out of the region.