The 2017 college softball season started on Thursday, February 9 and the opening weekend produced some fantastic matchups on paper and the games lived up to the hype. We will take a day-by-day look at the first weekend of games.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The 2017 season started with a rematch of the 2016 Women’s College World Series between #2 Auburn and #1 Oklahoma. Auburn got a small measure of revenge in Puerto Vallarta thanks to two home runs from Kendall Veach and a very good outing from pitcher Makayla Martin. Auburn won 3-2 over the Sooners.

Oklahoma rebounded to defeat BYU later on Thursday 7-1 while Auburn dropped a 2-1 game to #13 Washington in 10 innings. For the Pac-12 they went 10-0 on Thursday in a flying start to the season.

The upset of the day belonged to Fordham. The Rams defeated #21 Baylor 1-0. Lauren Quense threw a complete-game shutout in which she allowed only four hits and one walk. It was the 14th win against a top 25 team for Fordham in program history.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Friday was headlined by the 19 strikeout perfect game thrown by Alabama’s Alexis Osorio. Osorio’s performance came in a 6-0 win over Coastal Carolina and the 19 strikeouts set a school record. It was also the fourth perfect game in Alabama softball history.

Penn State had an up and down day on Friday. They started with a loss against McNeese by a score of 4-1 but came back at later in the day to post a big upset of #4 LSU 7-3 on the road. Penn State scored five runs in the third inning and survived a 12 strikeout performance by LSU’s Carley Hoover in relief.

Butler played in two of the more entertaining games as well. The first game on Friday saw the Bulldogs fall behind 7-0 to Miami (OH) in the top of the second inning. Butler rallied in the bottom of the second to post eight runs of their own. The two teams swapped the lead a few times before Sarah Dixon hit a walk-off two-run ground-rule double for the 13-12 win.

Butler’s second game on Friday was similar to their first. They fell behind 5-0 to Detroit, rallied back to take an 8-6 lead in the top of the fifth. Detroit tied it in the bottom of the fifth before Brandyce Sallee’s sixth inning ground-rule double ended up winning the game 9-8.

The Puerto Vallarta Challenge continued to be just that for the top teams: a challenge. A day after defeating #2 Auburn on Friday night, #13 Washington lost to BYU 4-2. BYU put up a three-run sixth inning while McKenna Bull went the distance to close out the game.

Auburn had a close tussle with Nebraska but came out with the win 3-2 in Puerto Vallarta. Auburn’s three-run fourth inning was supplemented by a good defensive performance and Kaylee Carlson’s complete game without allowing a walk.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The big game of the day came early between #6 Michigan and #4 Florida. In what could be a WCWS matchup in June, the Wolverines and Gators played an extra-innings thriller. The Gators eventually came away with the victory, 2-1 in ten innings.

The Gators took the lead in the top half of the fourth inning with Nicole DeWitt’s single that scored Aleshia Ocasio. Michigan wasted no time tying the game in the bottom of the frame as Aidan Falk had an infield single that brought home Natalie Peters. The Gators took the lead in the top of the tenth after Jordan Roberts singled to center to score DeWitt.

It was a game of strong pitching performances. Florida’s Kelly Barnhill went 7 innings giving up only one run on four hits and one walk while striking out seven. She was relieved by Delanie Gourley who threw three shutout innings. Gourley got the win after striking out four batters, walking only two, and not allowing a hit. Michigan’s Megan Betsa pitched all 10 innings in the loss. She allowed six hits and six walks while striking out 12 Gators.

The day got worse for Michigan as they played #24 South Florida and they dropped their second game of the day 6-4. The Wolverines got out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and still held a 4-2 lead after five. The bottom of the sixth saw the Bulls produce a four-run inning led by Kassandra Moeller’s pinch-hit two-run blast to tie the game.

#1 Oklahoma lost their second game of the weekend to #13 Washington. The pitching duel was broken only by Taylor Van Zee’s solo shot in the bottom of the second. Taran Alvelo out-dueled the pair of Oklahoma Paiges. Alvelo threw the complete game shutout allowing only five hits and two walks. Paige Parker, who took the loss, and Paige Lowary combined to throw a six-hitter, but it was not enough.

The Huskies win over #1 Oklahoma capped a monster weekend for them. Washington upset both the #1 and #2 teams and also defeated Nebraska. The lone blemish was the 4-2 loss against BYU on Friday night.

#17 Missouri and #14 James Madison squared off twice over the weekend and splitting the games. The Dukes silenced Missouri’s bats on Friday thanks to Megan Good’s outstanding pitching performance. She threw a complete-game shutout allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out 10 batters in the 6-0 win. The win over Missouri was James Madison’s 500th win in program history. Missouri rebounded on Saturday to win 8-4 behind Kirsten Mack’s 2 for 3 game with a home run and three runs batted in.

Finally, we have the outstanding pitching weekend of Cal Poly’s Sierra Hyland. She threw a 9 strikeout no-hitter on Friday against Purdue in a 2-1 victory, which would normally be considered a great weekend. However, she out-did herself on Saturday when she threw a perfect game against Creighton. The Mustangs won 8-0 in a run shortened game and Hyland struck out 9 batters again. And for good measure, Hyland went 3-0 on the weekend when she came on in relief against Western Michigan in the second game on Saturday. In two innings, she allowed a run on two hits but struck out five batters.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Fresno State completed their opening weekend with a 24-8 drubbing of Stanford, who was coming into the contest 4-1. New head coach Linda Garza saw her team tie multiple records in runs scored and home runs hit (6). They also tied the Mountain West Conference record of 24 runs scored in a contest.

The Bulldogs defeated the Big Ten duo of Indiana and Purdue along with San Diego over the weekend. The lone blemish on the weekend was a 4-1 loss to Oregon.

Pittsburgh completed an undefeated weekend with a pair of victories over #20 Kentucky and Central Florida. Pittsburgh and Florida State are the only two undefeated teams remaining in the ACC after the first four days of games. In a matchup of undefeated teams, Wisconsin beat Drake 4-1 in eight innings to move to 4-0.

Southern Miss was able to start the season 4-2, but it was their Sunday performances that were most impressive. They beat Louisiana-Lafayette not once, but twice in the same day.

What’s Ahead

The ACC/Big 10 Challenge will take place next weekend (February 17th through February 19). Florida State, North Carolina State, North Carolina, and Georgia Tech will be the hosts. The entire schedule can be found here.

There will also be some mid-major teams worth watching such as James Madison vs South Florida twice, Cal Poly going up against UCLA, Drake against Arizona (twice), SIU-Edwardsville against Auburn (twice), and undefeated Liberty running the gauntlet against Cal Poly, UCLA, and Oregon.

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