Alabama softball coach Patrick Murphy returns to the Women's College World Series (WCWS) for the eleventh time (2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Once again, they face a familiar foe.
Clearly the stronger of the two groupings, this half of the bracket features Alabama (2012 champ, 2014 runner-up), Oklahoma (2013 champ, 2012 runner-up), Michigan (2015 runner-up).
#6 ALABAMA vs #3 OKLAHOMA
Thu. June 2, 6pm CT, ESPN2
Despite being "snubbed" with a 6-seed, the Crimson Tide cruised their way through their regional tournament and Super winning all five of their games. Sophomore pitcher Alexis Osorio was dominating in the Super against 11-seed Washington.
It's becoming apparent that the NCAA may have given Alabama the sixth seed so that they could set-up a potential match-up with the Sooners. The Tide has broken the Sooners hearts on several occasions of late and ESPN loves drama. OU is 52-7 and have not lost since April 1.
Oklahoma may want revenge but so does Osorio. Bama lost to the Sooners 2-0 back on March 19 in a tournament in Fullerton, CA. Both teams had two hits apiece but Okie's were a single and a walk-off homer in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Alabama eliminated Oklahoma in the 2015 Super. They also defeated them in the first round of the 2014 WCWS and in the 2012 WCWS Championship series.
#10 LSU vs #2 MICHIGAN
Thu. June 2, 8:30pm CT, ESPN2
Michigan had one of the more simpler paths to Oklahoma City devouring unseeded Notre Dame and #15 Mizzou along the way. LSU upset 7-seed James Madison two games to one to advance. The Bayou Bengals and Wolverines did not face each other during this regular season.
Bama 2016 meetings:
Alabama lost two of three to LSU in Baton Rouge. The Tide did not face Michigan this season.
Alabama lost to Michigan twice during the 2015 regular season and the first round of the 2015 WCWS. Bama beat the Wolverines in the 2012 Super en route to the championship.
Only UCLA has appeared in the WCWS finals, winning way back in 2010.
#16 UGA vs #8 FSU
Thu. June 2, 11am CT, ESPN
There is something to be said for facing your fiercest rival. Georgia sent the #1 ranked Florida Gators packing two games to none. FSU defeated unseeded Utah.
#12 UCLA vs #4 AUBIE
Thu. June 2, 1:30pm CT, ESPN
Despite #5 Oregon and #4 Auburn receiving higher seeds than Alabama, neither fared as well against their Pac-12 opponents. The Ducks lost to the Bruins 2-1 in the Supers. The Tigers struggled against unseeded Arizona who had upset Kentucky in the regional. They only advanced after winning the rubber match of the Super.
In the double-elimination format, the winners of each opening game will face each other, as do the losers. Lose two games and a team goes home.
The winners from each bracket then play a best-of-three series for all the marbles. If Alabama can wade through these treacherous waters of Bracket #2, they could face Auburn in the final series.
Kudos go out to Bama centerfielder Haylie McCleney for winning the 2016 Senior CLASS Award. The senior is not only an All-American on the field, she is also an academic All-American carrying 4.0 GPA.
She is batting .441, slugging .717 with an on base average of .600. In 58 games, she has 64 hits and 72 runs.
UPDATE: Junior pitcher Sydney Littlejohn and senior first baseman Leona Lafaele were named second-team All-Americans by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA).
Bama-Okl and Mich-LSU delayed by rain, will be played on Friday. Bracket #1 gets the benefit of resting Friday and resuming play on Saturday.
Aub 10 UCLA 3 - F
UGA 5 FSU 4 - F
Bama 0 Okl 0 - suspended at 0-0, Bottom 2nd, Friday 6pm ESPN2
Mich vs LSU - Friday 8:30pm ESPN2