NCAA softball tournament preview: Dixie State opens with Sonoma State

Dixie State's Josey Hartman (15), Dixie State University vs. Concordia University, Softball, St. George, Utah, Apr. 30, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

GAME ONE

No. 5 Sonoma State v. No. 4 Dixie State

SEAWOLVES

Record: 36-18-0
Invitation: At-Large, finished fifth in the CCAA
Record Against Region Pod Teams: 9-8
Record Against NCAA Tournament Teams: 9-9
Team Batting Average: .294
Team ERA: 2.47
Key Players: 2B Jenny Collazo (.314 BA, .547 slg% 6 HRs), 1B Karly Macdangdang (.295, .519 slg%, .983 fld%, 20 sb), SS Alex Flores (.349 BA), LF Jordann White (.316 BA, .497 slg%, .947 fld%)
Key Pitchers: Brielle Vidmar (14-8, 20 starts, 2.44 ERA), Brigid Ruiz (11-4, 20 starts, 2.52 ERA)

BLAZERS

Record: 39-12-0
Invitation: At-Large, finished second in the PacWest
Record Against Region Pod Teams: 3-1
Record Against NCAA Tournament Teams: 8-4
Team Batting Average: .333
Team ERA: 2.38
Key Players: CF Janessa Bassett (.416 BA, .520 slg%, .534 ob%, .980 fld%, 36 sb) 2B Bailey Gaffin (.387 BA, .570 slg%), C Jessica Gonzalez (.626 slg%, 10 HRs), 1B Mallory Paulson (.367 BA, .626 slg%, 8 HRs)
Key Pitchers: Brooklyn Beardshear (17-6, 25 starts, 1.39 ERA), Alexis Barkwell (10-1, 13 starts, 2.52 ERA)

These two teams met in the Super Regional two years ago when Dixie State made it all the way to the NCAA championship. The Seawolves are not a power club and rely on slap hitters and team speed to get runs across. They also play excellent defense. Dixie State has better power and pitching. Janessa Bassett missed 13 games earlier this year due to injury or she would have been among the leaders in several NCAA offensive categories. Look for the Trailblazers to advance in the winner’s bracket.

GAME TWO

No. 8 Western Washington v. CSU-Monterey Bay

VIKINGS

Record: 33-17-0
Invitation: Automatic, won GNAC tournament
Record Against Region Pod Teams: 1-4
Record Against NCAA Tournament Teams: 1-4
Team Batting Average: .314
Team ERA: 3.30
Key Players: 1B Emily Benson (.432 BA, .763 slg%, .556 ob% 12 HRs), 3B Makinlee Sellevold (.401 BA, .648 slg%, .438 ob%, 8 HRs), RF Carlie Richards (.380 BA, .520 slg%, .479 ob%), DP Shearyna Labasan (.366 BA, .427 slg%, .448 ob%)
Key Pitchers: Anna Kasner (15-5, 21 starts, 2.29 ERA), Shearyna Labasan (12-5, 18 starts, 3.41 ERA)

OTTERS

Record: 43-11-0
Invitation: At-Large, finished first in the CCAA
Record Against Region Pod Teams: 10-7
Record Against NCAA Tournament Teams: 10-7
Team Batting Average: .349
Team ERA: 2.51
Key Players: 3B Julia Garcia .457 BA, .806 slg%, .520 ob%, 14 HRs), 1B Madison Casto (.387 BA, .532 slg%, .413 ob%, .997 fld%), SS Jayme Stark (.365 BA, .497 slg%, .415 ob%), DP Mikal Cuellar (.360 BA, .420 ob%)
Key Pitchers: Hayley Fein (29-10, 38 starts, 1.85 ERA), Rosalia Keirns (9-0, 9 starts, 2.69 ERA)

Biggest mismatch in the regional. The Otters have eight players with above .400 on-base percentage. The other two in the rotation are above .350. CSU-MB’s Julia Garcia is a leader in several NCAA offensive categories. The Otters also have a great pitcher. Western Washington finished second in a weak GNAC this year. But the mere fact they are here means they are good. Don’t count them out. The strong bet is on the Otters to advance.

Between the Otters and Trailblazers it really comes down to which team is on their game. They both have strong offensive games and they both have great pitching. This should have been the matchup for the Super Regional as these were the two top Region teams according to the NCAA selection criteria.

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Twitter: @oldschoolag

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