PAC Ten still ahead of SEC in softball race
The SEC took another huge step forward in the 2011 season. Although they were unable to push through the door and deliver the conference's first national title, they were able to establish many things and are proving year in and year out that they can stand toe to toe with the PAC Ten and have closed the talent gap that once was very huge among the softball powers. The Pac Ten's Arizona State Sun Devils defeated the SEC's Florida Gators in the WCWS best of three final to take down this years national title, but the SEC was able to take this years postseason series from the PAC Ten by winning 9 games between the conferences to just 7 wins for the PAC Ten.
The SEC won 2 of the 3 super regional match-ups between the two conferences. Although the BIG 12 had half of the field participating in this years WCWS, the real battle was between the 2 SEC schools and the 2 PAC Ten schools in Oklahoma City. The BIG 12 schools went a combined 0-5 against both SEC and PAC Ten programs at this years WCWS and were outscored 22-5 in those 5 games. Alabama beat California 1-0 in the opening round and Florida defeated California 5-2 in the elimination round to send the PAC Ten's Golden Bears home from the tournament. Alabama and Florida staged another classic SEC softball match-up in the semis with Florida winning big in both games against the Crimson Tide to make the 2011 WCWS title game against Arizona State.
Both Alabama and Florida should be strong against next season as they both will welcome back ace pitchers who were both just freshman this season in Alabama's Jackie Traina and Florida's Hannah Rogers. Both were able to learn and develop behind strong senior pitchers this season although Rogers had to play a little more as Florida's ace Stephanie Brombacher struggled with an injury for part of the season this past year. Tennessee will be returning the two sister pitching tandem of Ellen and Ivy Renfroe that will make them a force next year. The Georgia Bulldogs also will have a very strong pitching staff they returning and lets not forget the Kentucky Wildcats and the run they had this postseason that saw them host their first super regional and fall just a game short of making this years WCWS. The Wildcats have a lot of young talent returning in the circle and at the plate. Next year looks like another strong one for the SEC and I'm sure the SEC will be well represented again at the WCWS.
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