By Earl Heath
Contributing Sports Writer
It’s spring and that means it’s softball tournament time. Seven teams from the Pac-12 Conference were chosen to participate in this year’s NCAA road to the Women College World Series in Oklahoma City.
UCLA (43-8, 19-5) is the highest seed from the conference at 5 and will host the regional at Easton Field. They will play Grand Canyon on Friday., It will be the 37 appearance in the tournament for Coach Kelley Inoyne-Perez and the Lady Bruins.
During the 2022 season the Bruins went 21-1 at home with a team ERA of 1.45 with 20 shutouts to go with a team batting average of .317. They just completed a weekend sweep of the CAL.
The Antelopes won the WAC going 19-5, also boasting the top overall record in the conference at 39-14. It will be the schools first ever appearance in the tourney for the team that also claimed the WAC tournament title and has won 22 of its last 28 games. They had big win over Minnesota (Big-10) and are led by first year coach Shannon Hayes.
“This is bonus softball for us right now and we’re happy to be there,” said Hayes. “Hopefully, that’s how we’ll play – see an opportunity and not have any fear. It’s a way to prove what we do.
“I was fairly certain that we’d go to Arizona State. You’re going to great programs either way, but it’s nice to get that road trip and get that real regionals experience, especially going to a storied program like UCLA. It’s going to be fun and we’ll try to step up to the challenge.”
The Bruins won its only meeting with Grand Antelopes, 7-6, on Feb. 19, 2018
Others in the Los Angeles Regional include Ole Miss, Loyola Marymount and Grand Canyon. The Rebels and Lions will get things started on the other side of the bracket.
“Our team is real confident right now,” said Rebel head coach Jamie Trachsel. “We’ve been playing our best when it matters the most, and you know, you have to be this time our year.”
The team features So Cal players Mikayla Allee of Norco High and outfielder Nyomi Jones a former Mater Dei standout. The four-time letter winner helped lead the Monarchs to the 2016 Southern Section Championship with a win over The Nation’s #1ranked Orange Lutheran.
This season the junior outfielder played in 53 games batted .280 while scoring 14 runs on 17 hits.
She’s the daughter of Jaymon and Jamila Jones and has three siblings Nyah, Nyari and Jace.
Allee was a five-time letter winner at Norco High School in Norco and named all-league four times.
During the 2022 season the Junior played in 51 games, starting all of them. She batted .220 was fourth on the team with 39 RBI’s to go with six homers to go with six doubles.
Her parents Ryan and Natalie will be in Westwood most likely joined by her sisters Brooklyn and Delaney.
It will be double-elimination format, the winners of the opening two games will face off Saturday with a spot in the Regional Finals on the line Sunday. The losers may have a brutal way out of the loser’s bracket.
Arizona State (39-9, 20-4) earned the Pac-12’s automatic bid to the 64-team NCAA field by winning the conference title. The Sun Devils (39-9, 20-4) were given a No. 8 seed.
Also landing in the field is 13th seeded Washington Huskies. (35-15, 14-10), Oregon (31-17, 10-14), Stanford (36-19, 11-13), Oregon State 33-19, 9-15) and Arizona (33-20, 8-16).
Defending champion Oklahoma (49-2) received the No. 1 overall seed, despite losing to rival Oklahoma State in the Big 12 tournament championship game.
The Sooners will be vying for their sixth National Championship.