NCAA Softball Tournament: A Look at Arizona’s Tucson Area Opponents – Ole Miss, Villanova, and UMBC

The number 11 softball from Arizona begins its journey to the Women’s College World Series on Friday when they welcome Ole Miss, Villanova and UMBC to the Tucson Regional.

Ole Miss and Villanova start at 3 p.m. MST and Arizona and UMBC follow at 5:30 p.m. MST. The Friday game winners will meet in Game 3 of the Tucson Regional on Saturday at 3 a.m., while the non-advancing teams will meet at 4:30 p.m. MST in Game 4 on Friday.

The loser of Game 3 and the winner of Game 4 will meet on Saturday at 7 p.m. for a seat in the regional finals on Sunday, which starts at 5 p.m. and starts at 7:30 a.m. MST if necessary.

Here you can see the three teams coming to Tucson.

  • Overall balance: 34-20
  • SEC recording: 12-12 (8th place)
  • RPI: 27
  • Best wins: at No. 23 Baylor against No. 17 Georgia (x2), at No. 15 LSU against No. 25 UCF (x3)
  • Bad losses: in Troy against UAB
  • Overview: The rebels, most recently selected in the SEC’s preseason poll, exceeded expectations, finishing eighth at the highly competitive conference. You may remember them when they lost to Arizona in the Tucson Super Regional in 2019. Ole Miss is a high-ranking heavy team and has at least five starters from this roster. However, they have a new leader in the former Minnesota head coach Jamie Trachselwho took over for Mike Smith in 2020 after he was controversially evicted. The rebels are not found in any statistical category other than shutouts. They had 16 in the regular season, eighth in the nation. They took a 5-3 lead in their SEC series and were eliminated by rival Mississippi State in the first round of the SEC tournament. They play in the postseason with a loss of four games and a 10:17 record away from home. Arizona pitching coach Taryne Mowatt was the rebel pitching trainer from 2015 to 2017.

Player knowing

  • Paige Smith, 3B – The rebels have only met 41 homers all season and 11 of them belong to Smith, who has five more than the next rebel. She also carries Ole Miss in RBI (35). As a sophomore, Smith was not with the rebels when they traveled to Tucson in 2019.
  • Sydney Gutierrez, 1B – As a reserve for the 2019 team, the senior is enjoying a breakout season and scores 0.366 in the SEC game, which is sure to be the top grade on the team. She is exposed even though she only has one homerun for her name. Gutierrez once played with Arizona Pitcher at Pearland High School in Texas Alyssa Denham.
  • Anna Borgen, LHP – Ole Miss leans on three pitchers and they all have ERAs hovering around 2.40. Borgen threw a little more than the other two Ava Tillmann and Savannah Diederich. (Tillmann threw an inning against UA in 2019.) Borgen is 11-3 with an ERA of 2.36 in 124.1 innings. Her ERA was 1.50 at the end of April, but she has struggled on her recent outings. She is not a power pitcher, but has only fanned out 83 clubs so far.
  • Blaise Biringer, 2B – The freshman attended Cienega High School in Vail, about 30 miles from Hillenbrand Stadium. Biringer, a top 60 recruit, immediately impressed the rebels. He started 51 games and scored with a pair of homers, five doubles, five triples and 21 RBI .322.
  • Overall balance: 36-13
  • Big East Record: 15-2 (2nd place)
  • RPI: 26th
  • Notable wins: Villanova haven’t seen any big conference teams, but they beat UMBC 11-2 on the streets in April
  • Notable losses: VU also lost to UMBC 5-2
  • Overview: The Wildcats are making their first appearance in an NCAA tournament after winning their first Big East championship. They led the Great East in all major offensive categories. This included 56 homers and 71 doubles in 49 games. They also posted the third best ERA (3.12) in the conference in the regular season. Villanova has been solid no matter where they play this season. She went 18-2 at home and 18-11 elsewhere.

Player knowing

  • Paige Rauch, DP / P. – Rauch is one of the best two-way players in the country and the first player to be named Big East Pitcher and Player of the Year in the same season. The senior hits with nine homers, 43 RBI and 44 walks .420, twice as many as the next Wildcat. In the circle she is 20-3 with an ERA of 1.97 in 163.2 innings, more than twice as many as VU’s # 2 pitchers. Rauch, a New Yorker who started her career at Fordham and was once the Atlantic 10 rookie of the year, has beaten 182 batters but also allowed 15 homers. Smoke throws right and bats left. Softball America ranked her the number 25 player in the country to enter the season.
  • Ryan Henry, C. – Rauch’s battery colleague has also been appointed to the Big East All-First Team. Henry leads Villanova and the Great East with 13 homers.
  • Chloe Smith, 3B – Smith was a consistent batsman all season, hitting six homers and 34 RBI .370. The Sacramento native had two hits in each of Villanova’s Big East tournament wins against UConn. Their batting average has reached a high of 0.424 this season. How Henry hits Smith from the right.
  • Overall balance: 25-11
  • America East Record: 11-5 (2nd place)
  • RPI: 51
  • Notable wins: Villanova
  • Notable losses: Villanova
  • Overview: The retrievers are back in the NCAA tournament after their first appearance in 2019. Behind the iron arm of Courtney Coppersmith, UMBC won the America East tournament. They are a decent offensive team that hit .285 (second best in America East) with 15 homers. They make up for their lack of power by being active on the bases and stealing 42 steals (50 attempts) in 36 games. Thanks largely to Coppersmith, UMBC has an ERA of 2.23 teams. UMBC is an acronym for University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The retrievers are 8-1 in May.

Player knowing

  • Courtney Coppersmith, LHP – The hard throwing junior is one of the best pitchers in the country. A freshman in 2019, Coppersmith became UMBC’s first All-American while leading the retrievers to their very first appearance at an NCAA tournament. They were eliminated by Notre Dame in the Norman Regional, but Coppersmith tossed 5.2 innings of a two-run ball to keep the game close. It has improved since then. This season, she has an ERA of 0.65 in 140 innings, the third best mark in the country among qualified pitchers. Coppersmith hasn’t seen any big conference teams this season, but she played against Villanova on April 2 and won an entire game 5-2. Coppersmith has fanned 233 batters in 140 innings and re-named America East Pitcher of the Year. She ran 41 batters and passed seven homers. Coppersmith has thrown several no-hitters and even a perfect game in her career.
  • Maddie Daigneau, SS – Daigneau, a fast-paced slapper from New River, Arizona, a small community about 40 miles north of Phoenix, hits team level with 17 stolen bases at .348. The Boulder Creek High product leads to the retrievers.

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