The top 64 teams in NCAA softball began their march toward the Women's College World Series on Friday, playing at eight regional tournaments.
The Division I field is loaded with Houston-area alumni, with more than 70 playing in the bracket. Local fans could have rooting interests in several regionals as play continues this weekend.
Baton Rouge Regional
Prairie View A&M won its second consecutive SWAC championship with the help of 13 local graduates, including Navasota's Mia Nunez, who has team-high seven home runs, 38 runs and 28 RBI to go with a .954 OPS.
The Panthers' starting lineup includes Cy Lakes' Audrey Garcia (.837 OPS, 23 RBI), Paetow's Rayna Lewis (.848 OPS), Clear Falls' Destinee Smith (.726 OPS), Cy Springs' Maya Barnes and Terry's Brandi Juarez. Legacy School of Sport Science's Hailey Elizarraras compiled a 5-6 record in 70 innings pitched.
The PVAMU roster includes Tyler Scott (Bridgeland), Jessica Hickman (Atascocita), Makala Barnes (Hightower), Kailey Herrera (Channelview), Mariah Redmond (Oak Ridge) and Caidence Martin (Pearland).
Louisiana won its fourth straight Sun Belt title with eight Houston area products on the roster. Barbers Hill's Sam Landry has worked a team-high 136 innings with an 18-4 record, 1.96 ERA, 89 hits and 144 strikeouts.
The Ragin' Cajuns' starters include Kingwood's Jourdyn Campbell (.896, 4 HR, 28 RBI), Alvin's Victoria Valdez (.762, 3 HR) and New Waverly's Cecilia Vasquez, with The Woodlands' Kayla Falterman adding 23 starts.
Ridge Point's Taylor Roman has a 1.129 OPS off the bench, while Oak Ridge's Samantha Graeter has played in 22 games. Friendswood's Chloe Riassetto has a 3.50 ERA, 22 strikeouts and three saves in 26 innings.
Regional host LSU's lineup includes three productive hitters from the Houston area, with Stratford's Georgia Clark swatting a team-high 12 home runs and a 1.003 OPS, along with 43 RBI and 34 runs.
Dobie's Taylor Pleasants (.995, 8 HR, 51 RBI) and Angleton's Danieca Coffey (.982, 43 R, 10 SB) have been key to a 41-15 record entering regional play, while Clear Springs' Emma Strood has played in five games.
Angleton's Mia Scott has a team-best 50 runs and .390 average to go with 32 RBI and a .989 OPS for regional host Texas.
Dawson's Courtney Day (.931, 7 HR, 25 RBI) and Atascocita's Katie Cimusz (.868, 6 HR, 25 R) help lead a potent attack. Barbers Hill's Sophia Simpson has 78 strikeouts and a 2.44 ERA in 57 innings, while Texas City's Mya Holmes has played eight games for the 42-13-1 Longhorns.
Lake Creek's Emiley Kennedy leads Texas A&M with 102 strikeouts and a 12-5 record in 107 innings, posting a 2.49 ERA. The Aggies have five area alumni on the roster.
La Porte's Koko Wooley leads A&M with 19 stolen bases, adding 39 runs, three homers and an .861 OPS. Brazoswood's Morgan Smith (.793, 2 HR, 21 R) is a starter, while contributors include Kempner's Star Ferguson (.685, 9 SB) and Dayton's Paige Lott (1.080 in 8 AB).
Barbers Hill's Jessica Mullins led Texas State to regionals with a 21-12 record, 1.94 ERA and 170 strikeouts in 195.1 innings.
Deer Park's Sara Vanderford leads the lineup with a team-high .893 OPS, seven home runs and 38 RBI. Starters include Willis' Hannah Earls (.722, 25 R, 20 SB), Santa Fe's Ciara Trahan (.701, 32 R, 13 SB), Lutheran South's Anna Jones (.648, 27 R) and George Ranch's J.J. Smith (.645, 24 RBI), while Klein Oak's Makayla Hall has made 11 starts.
Seton Hall has three local alumni including Cy Ranch's Ashly Colonnetta (.636, 35 R, 25 RBI) and Ridge Point's Taylor Soanes, who as appeared in 22 games.
Lutheran South's Shelby Smith has been a two-way standout, leading the Pirates with a 16-6 record, 2.63 and 141 strikeouts in 144 innings while posting a .995 OPS, eight home runs and 38 RBI.
Dickinson's Baylee Klingler has had another outstanding season for regional host Washington, leading the Huskies with a 1.207 OPS, 12 home runs, 47 RBI and 41 runs. Dawson's Olivia Johnson (.786, 4 HR) has made 32 starts for a 39-12 squad.
Santa Fe's Reese Reyna clinched McNeese State's third consecutive Southland championship with a walk-off home run. She had an .821 OPS, 32 runs, 24 steals and a team-best 24 RBI entering regional play.
Two of the Cowgirls' top three pitchers were Willis' Ashley Vallejo (18-8, 2.17 ERA, 105 K, 138.2 IP) and Splendora's Shaelyn Sanders (7-0, 1.54, 38 K, 54.2 IP).
The Woodlands' Alayis Seneca led the team with a .380 average and 33 runs, along with 23 steals and an .860 OPS. Starters include Spring's Chloe Gomez (.824, 20 R), and Santa Fe's Rylie Bouvier (.721, 29 R, 23 RBI), while Ridge Point's Grace Janik and Barbers Hill's Delaney Dunham (13 starts) are true freshmen on the roster.
Salt Lake City Regional
Mayde Creek's Shaylon Govan provides the power for Baylor, leading the Bears with a .383 average, 11 home runs, 51 RBI and a 1.223 OPS in her sophomore season.
Northland Christian's Josie Bower starts for the Bears as well, providing a .665 OPS and 19 RBI, while Kinkaid's Ellington Whitaker has appeared in 13 games.
Angleton's Tate Whitley leads Ole Miss with a .324 average, to go with 24 runs and a .729 OPS. Crosby's Grace Sparks has pitched 44.1 innings as a freshman, recording 31 strikeouts, a 4-4 record and a 3.32 ERA.
Friendswood's Kelly Maxwell is the ace of a 42-14 regional host, recording a 1.82 ERA and a 15-5 record in 127 innings. She has been dominant, striking out 208 with only 65 hits allowed.
Cy Woods' Katie Lott gives the Cowgirls a punch off the bench with a .360 average and a 1.004 OPS in 36 games.
The Woodlands' Abbey Newlun has played in 12 games for Nebraska, while La Porte's Krystin Nelson has a .630 OPS and 20 runs as a starter at Wichita State.
Kingwood's Haley Lee is putting up another stellar season with a 1.253 OPS, 13 home runs, 45 RBI and 48 runs for Oklahoma, which at 52-1 is the top seed for the entire tournament.
Fort Bend Christian's Avery Hodge has appeared in 47 games as a freshman for the Sooners, who won the Big 12 championship.
Ridge Point's Payton Jackson is a starter for Missouri, scoring 25 runs to go with a .636 OPS and 11 steals.
North Shore's D'Auna Jennings is making an early impact for regional host Duke (46-10), leading the Blue Devils with a .448 average and 19 steals while scoring 44 runs.
Campbell's roster includes Summer Creek's Tyra Parker and Travis' Noemi Cortez, with Parker producing a .784 OPS, 27 stolen bases and 32 runs as a starter.
Klein's Allie Clements and Cy Ranch's Camryn Carmouche helped the Cardinal earn a 41-13 record and home regional. Clements has a .670 OPS, two home runs and 16 RBI as a starter, while Carmouche has appeared in six games.
Kingwood's Gretchen Mead and St. Agnes' Shelby Echols have been key to Middle Tennessee's regional appearance.
Mead is the Blue Raiders' top pitcher with an 18-5 record, 2.13 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 160.2 innings. Echols has started every game, posting an .890 OPS, three home runs, 47 runs and 26 steals.
Memorial's Bri Ellis has started every game for Auburn, slugging a team-high 13 home runs while leading the Tigers with 44 RBI and recording a 1.019 OPS.
La Porte's Madison Applebe pitched in her first two collegiate games this year as a true freshman at Central Florida, recording her first strikeout.
Cy Ranch's Britton Rogers is in her third season at regional host Georgia, appearing in two games as a junior and starting one.
Klein Cain's Emily Tran has been effective as a pinch runner for Notre Dame as a sophomore, scoring 20 runs and stealing four bases in 36 games, including five starts.
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