The Ducks outscored opponents 73-12 over the weekend, finishing the Kajikawa Classic with a 6-0 record that included a season-opening win over Georgia and run-rule victories over Missouri, Fresno State, CSU-Northridge, UTEP, and New Mexico. The Ducks hit seventeen home runs, nine of them from Gwen Svekis and DJ Sanders and the pitching staff enjoyed forty-five strikeouts while allowing just ten walks.
The Gators scored forty-three runs on the weekend, with ten members of the roster scoring at least three times each. Amanda Lorenz led the team with seven hits, while Jordan Matthews clubbed a pair of home runs. Kelly Barnhill was her usual effective self, allowing just four hits and no runs in nine innings, while Aleshia Ocasio, who pitched a team-high fourteen innings in three appearances, allowed just three runs and struck out fifteen from the circle. A shutout 2-0 victory over Michigan and a blowout 14-3 win against South Florida already begin building the non-conference resume for the Gators, who will take on Louisiana-Lafayette in a three-game set this weekend.
After having to knock a little rust off to come back from a deficit to Weber State in the season opener, the Sooners took care of business with five wins, three of them in shutout fashion, over a handful of mid-major opponents in Phoenix on opening weekend. Five different pitchers saw action in the circle for the Sooners and, as a group, allowed just three earned runs on the weekend, all of them in the season-opening matchup against Weber State. Freshman Jocelyn Alo reached base in each of her team’s first five games and hit two home runs along the way to lead the team in dingers.
The Bruins outscored their opponents 49-5 on the weekend, and bested some of the better young and mid-major pitchers in the nation, including Maryland’s Sydney Golden and Cal Poly’s Lindsey Chalmers, respectively. The Bruins took home three run-rule victories and two shutouts on the weekend. Brianna Tautalafua put together a three-home run performance and hit .500 with seven hits in fourteen at-bats, while Briana Perez leads the team in RBI with eleven and boasts a .611 batting average. The Bruin pitching staff collected twenty-eight strikeouts from the circle and allowed just four earned runs on eighteen hits scattered across the weekend.
The Aggies were not without their question marks on opening weekend; a four-run deficit to Houston and a five-run hole against Texas Tech were just two instances through the course of the quartet of games where the Aggies looked a bit questionable. Big innings were the theme of the week – a three-run inning to take the lead for good from Houston; a five-run fourth inning to bring in the run rule against Boston College; and a five-run bottom of the sixth took the lead and the game from Texas Tech.
Offense was the name of the game for the Huskies in Peoria on opening weekend. Led by Kirstyn Thomas and her five home runs, the Huskies hit sixteen roundtrippers in all and scored seventy runs in total. The squad put double-digits on the board against every opponent, including nineteen against Miami (Ohio). The pitching wasn’t too bad, either; the Husky pitching trio of Taran Alvelo, Gabbie Plain, and Samantha Manti combined to post four consecutive shutouts to close the weekend and held opponents to an official .132 batting average.
Traveling to San Marcos, Texas to begin their season, a pair of matchups between the Seminoles and the Texas State Bobcats were sure to be good ones. The ‘Noles got to Bobcats ace Randi Rupp in the first game between the clubs, to the tune of four runs on seven hits and three walks. The Seminoles will now host Minnesota and Michigan for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in Tallahassee over the weekend.
Big innings played a big role in the Lady Vols’ undefeated start to the 2018 campaign, including a four-run fourth against San Jose State that gave the Lady Vols the eventual game-winning lead and a three-run bottom of the seventh that, while not without controversy, led the Lady Vols over Utah. The newly-polarizing and extraordinarily-controversial catcher’s interference rule came into play in the Lady Vols’ comeback attempt against Utah, allowing the game-winning run to score. Nevertheless, Ralph and Karen Weekly’s team seemed to mesh at the right time over the course of the weekend and saw an offensive power show from the Meghan Gregg/Scarlet McSwain/Chelsea Seggern trio.
The Tigers ended a rain-hampered weekend with a 4-0 record and convincing victories over UT-Arlington and Southern Miss after something of a slow offensive start to the season against Illinois-Chicago on Thursday night. With rain keeping the Tigers from matching up against Syracuse, arguably the next-best team in the Tiger Classic field, the Tigers did what was expected, but still have some questions to answer before the meat of conference play begins.
A 23-2 shellacking of San Diego State got the Bulldogs off on the right foot as they seek to bound back from a disappointing 2017. A loss to Oregon dampened the happiness, but consecutive wins over Utah, BYU, and Oregon State closed out the weekend on a high note for Lu Harris-Champer’s club. Junior Kendall Burton led the offense with a .722 batting average, while Alyssa DiCarlo picked up three home runs to along with her own .474 batting average – a mark that is fourth on the team. The Dawgs hit twelve home runs and posted a team slugging percentage of .745 on the weekend.
Gia Rodoni started the year with her third consecutive home no-hitter, continuing a streak that stretches back to the end of the 2017 season. She struck out eleven batters in her five-inning no-no against Northwestern State and added three more KOs in a relief appearance later in the series. The Bears swept the Lady Demons by a combined score of 20-5 and after a “soft” open, the Bears will face off against McNeese State and Alabama, among others, this weekend for their first real test of the year.
An early run was all that the Tide needed to beat South Alabama on opening night, but the offense broke out en route to double-digit victories over Penn State and Lamar. The Tide shut out their first three opponents of the year, and first-year New Zealand junior Courtney Gettins threw a no-hitter against Lamar. After just three games (thanks to a weather-shortened weekend), the Tide may be a little high at #12 for their inaugural ranking, but our biggest question coming into the year was about the pitching depth and that question seems like it is being answered already.13. Auburn Tigers
A surprising loss to Oklahoma State in the second game of the season clouded what otherwise would have been an impressive weekend slate for the Wildcats, including a victory over Northwestern and a run-rule win over Fresno State. Taylor McQuillin settled down a bit as the weekend went on, throwing a no-hitter against New Mexico, but still has a lot to prove in the circle.
Hosting the Kajikawa Classic, the Sun Devils took a loss to Tennessee and Meghan Gregg to start the season but rebounded to best four other Power Five opponents in Purdue, Nebraska, Notre Dame, and Indiana, as well as Saint Mary’s to close the tournament. Fresno State transfer Morgan Howe led the team with a .600 batting average on the weekend and three home runs, as well as a 1.150 slugging percentage. Maddi Hackbarth, also a former Fresno State Bulldog, led the squad with twelve RBI on a pair of home runs and an .824 slugging percentage.
Led by JWOS Player of the Week Vanessa Shippy, the Cowgirls overcame a stumble in their season opener against Oregon State to shock then-#7 Arizona; beat Missouri; and crush New Mexico and Western Michigan, the latter to the tune of a sixteen-run differential. Madi Sue Montgomery joined Shippy in leading the offensive show.
After being down for most of the game, the Huskers mounted a thrilling, late-inning comeback to open the year against BYU. A four-run fourth inning wasn’t enough in a loss to Arizona State, but the Huskers rebounded to finish the weekend on a high note, including shutting out the PAC-12’s Utah and beating San Diego State, Cal State Northridge, and Seattle by a combined score of 17-6.
Picked near the bottom of the conference in the preseason PAC-12 polls, the Beavers started their season with a dominating 8-2 victory over Oklahoma State and bested Indiana, BYU, and Missouri also on the weekend. A shutout loss to Georgia on Saturday ended the Beavers’ chances at beginning the year undefeated, but it was an impressive opening week showing from Laura Berg’s squad.
For the defending Big Ten champions, the week ended about as expected – a 5-0 record that included two shutouts and thirty runs scored on offense. The Gophers bested Southern Utah, Utah Valley, North Dakota State, and UNLV to start the weekend and were behind for just one-half inning in those first four games. On Sunday, though, it took a six-run seventh inning to beat Creighton; worthy of note, all but one offensive starter reached base at least once for the Gophers in the game against the Blue Jays.
The Cowgirls began the season by twice besting former head coach Joanna Hardin and the ACC’s Virginia Cavaliers. As a follow-up act, the Cowgirls put a pair of wins on the board against defending AAC champion Tulsa, shellacking Golden Hurricane ace Emily Watson for seven runs on seven hits in four innings before chasing her from the game completely in the teams’ second game.
It took the Buckeyes an extra inning to beat Boston University on Sunday, but it was a solid ending to the program’s undefeated start to the season. The OSU pitching staff showed out, with forty-four strikeouts and eight runs allowed in thirty-five innings; Shelby McCombs and Lilli Piper both ended the weekend with batting averages of .500 and .450, respectively, and slugging percentages above .800.
The Cajuns looked solid in Gerry Glasco’s first game as head coach, as Lamar transfer Brittany Rodriguez led the program with a .583 batting average and Kylee Jo Trahan allowed just one run in fifteen innings in the circle, striking out nineteen. Though against primarily lesser opponents, the Cajuns were able to get the job done and work out some kinks; the coming midweek tilt against Oregon State and three-game weekend set versus Florida will be the first true tests to see what the Cajuns are made of.
Ken Eriksen’s Bulls opened the season with a victory over Illinois State in shutout fashion, then had to hold a late Georgia State rally to escape with a one-run victory. A 3-2 win over Michigan and a victory over UAB that gave Eriksen the 900th “W” of his career ended the positive side of the weekend. A 14-3 loss to the Florida Gators was a bit of a shellacking, thanks to an eight-run third inning and six-run fifth in the run-rule-shortened matchup.
Closing the weekend by being no-hit was not exactly what Mike Smith’s Rebels had in mind, but the team put the bat on the ball and just couldn’t get hits to drop against a fiery Lipscomb squad. The Rebels went to extra innings with Lamar before besting the Cardinals and added victories over Virginia Tech and Florida A&M while in Gulf Shores. The Rebel pitching staff allowed just six runs on the weekend and held opposing hitters to a .163 batting average.
One of four teams participating in the season-opening Puerto Vallerta College Challenge, the 49ers went 4-1 on the weekend with a tight win over Louisiana Tech; a pair of victories over Nevada; and a 1-1 split with James Madison in two games that went to extra innings. Freshman Naomi Hernandez hit .632 on the weekend with twelve hits in nineteen at-bats and ace pitcher Cielo Meza put up a 1.27 ERA in twenty-two innings with twenty-seven strikeouts.