The 2012 season began in February with 289 teams.
The best of the best has been narrowed by competition to eight teams
They include the top 4 teams in the final polls: California, Arizona State, Alabama and Oklahoma.
The top 10 in the polls included Tennessee. Oregon was regularly ranked in the top 15, while LSU and South Florida were consistently ranked Top 25.
A separate post identifies the 2012 All American honorees — many of whom are in this WCWS.
The WCWS coaches include LSU coach Beth Torina who, at 33, is believed to be the second-youngest coach to bring a team to WCWS. Pat Murphy achieved that distinction at age 32. Three former champions are here: Clint Myers of ASU, Patty Gasso of Oklahoma, and Diane Ninemire of California. The absence of Arizona and UCLA, who dominated WCWS in many past seasons was noted, coaches said the field this year reflects the parity in collegiate softball. But, as Spy has noted, the odds are against an unranked team surviving the gauntlet of regional and super regional competition.
We talked to each of the eight coaches. All agree this could be one of the most competitive Series, which any team could win.
The players include Jessica Mouse who just graduated at LSU after a stellar career with the Tigers, but who is using a last year of eligibility to play for South Florida where she is pursuing a Masters degree.
Post-WCWS: several players have mapped their immediate future.
Keilani Ricketts of Oklahoma, Valeria Arioto of California, and Lauren Gibson of Tennessee are members of the USA national team. Those numbers could increase in June when national team tryouts conclude.
The list of invitees includes several players who may well star in this WCWS:
K Boyd, ASU
E Caporuscio, ASU
L Chamberlain, Oklahoma
D Escobedo, ASU
J Henderson, Cal
D Martinez, Oklahoma
S Nevins, South Florida
E Renfroe, Tennessee
J Richardson, South Florida
M Shipman, Tennessee
J Shults, Oklahoma
L Ziegenhirt, Cal
The USA national team is coached by Ken Eriksen, South Florida. USA will also form an Elite team which will be coached by Tennessee co-head coach Karen Weekly.
Several players have been drafted by NPF: Arioto and LSU’s Brittany Mack by the Pride, which is coached by LSU’s coach Torina. Brittany Mack of LSU and Jamia Reid of Cal have been drafted by the Pacers.
Footnote: after the formal press conference, I asked Diane Ninemire about the pressure of being #1 most of the season. The Cal coach said her players never dwelled on the #1 ranking or thought of themselves as the best; this is a very competitive group of players, Ninemire said, whose goal is to win the WCWS. She said the return of Alioto, the enhancement of Jolene Henderson as a pitcher, the progress of younger players like Danielle Henderson – great arm, makes any throw, and hits, contributed to a team realization this could be their year.
Also asked Jessica Mouse, whom we have known since travel ball, was there a moment when the Bulls realized the WCWS was a reachable goal. We exceeded our original expectations, Mouse said, when we beat Florida at Gainesville last year, and then we beat UCF and FSU this year and knew our goal was reachable.