5 can’t miss picks for ‘Zona regional

Zach Silka

No. 3 NU (32-18) v. No. 6 UC-Santa Barbara (32-29)

The Cats will need to play much better than they did at the Big Ten tournament and also will need a better performance out of sophomore pitcher Courtnay Foster. Freshman slugger Garland Cooper, who has smacked 10 home runs this season, also needs to break out of her “mini-slump” for NU to advance. UC-Santa Barbara outfielder Leslie Simien, who has 33 stolen bases this year, may present some problems for the Cats with her speed on the basepaths. The Gauchos’ record is somewhat deceiving because of a tough nonconference schedule, but it was not as gruesome as the preseason slate Kate Drohan’s squad faced. UC-Santa Barbara’s Big West schedule is also nothing compared to the Big Ten, which sent six teams to the NCAA regionals. The Cats will take their first step towards a College World Series berth this morning with a close victory in the opening round.

The DAILY’S PICK: NU

No. 2 Oklahoma (39-19-1) v. No. 7 Temple (29-16)

The Sooners finished fifth in the Big 12 Conference this season but had a blazing nonconference record by going undefeated in their first nine games of the season. They will easily handle a weaker Temple squad.

THE DAILY’S PICK: Oklahoma

No. 4 South Carolina (27-22) v. No. 5 Louisiana Lafayette (55-6)

The Ragin’ Cajun’s five seed was the snub of the tournament. Lafayette was consistently ranked in the top 10 all season, but the selection committee only ranked the team in the top 40. The Ragin’ Cajuns will prove them wrong in this opening-round game when they blow out South Carolina.

THE DAILY’S PICK: Louisiana-Lafayette

No. 1 Arizona (53-4) v. No. 8 Centenary (35-28)

Apparently the NCAA wasn’t even sure where Centenary was located when it placed Louisiana in brackets behind the school’s name when it released the regional matchups. The other Wildcats will send the Ladies to the loser’s bracket in a five-inning mercy game.

THE DAILY’S PICK: Arizona.

Loser’s Bracket (First Round)

No. 6 UC-Santa Barbara v. No. 7 Temple

The Gauchos will do California softball proud by staying alive in this elimination game.

THE DAILY’S PICK: UC-Santa Barbara.