College Sport

Clearwater Elite Invitational preview: X factors, schedule and storylines

This weekend, the three college softball teams that made it to the Women’s College World Series will headline the 2023 TaxAct Clearwater Elite Invitational.

For the fourth year in a row, 16 teams, including 12 from the pre-season top 25, will take part in one of the biggest early-season tournaments.

From Thursday to Sunday, 40 games are televised on Sportzshala, Sportzshala2, SportzshalaU, SEC Network, ACC Network, Sportzshala+ and the Sportzshala app.

The invitation begins Thursday at 10:00 AM ET, when No. 3 Oklahoma State, who advanced to the WCWS semi-finals a season ago, will face Texas A&M and new coach Trisha Ford. On Sunday, Florida State No. 4 plays Alabama No. 7 at 5:00 pm ET on Sportzshala, followed by Mississippi State. 18 UCF on Sportzshala2 at 8pm ET.

We break down each team and let you know how and when you can watch them over the next four days.

Jump to:
Alabama | Arizona | Arkansas | duke
FSU | Indiana | Louisiana | Michigan
Mississippi | Nebraska
Oklahoma | Texas A&M
UKF | University of California at Los Angeles | USF | Virginia Tech

Alabama crimson tide

Record 2022: 44-13 (eliminated at Tuscaloosa Regional)

Tournament Schedule (all times ET):

vs Duke (Thursday, 13:00, SECN)
at UCLA (Friday, 4pm, Sportzshala2)
vs. UCF (Saturday, 2:30 PM, Sportzshala+)
in Indiana (Saturday, 6:00 PM, Sportzshala+)
vs. Florida State (Sunday, 5:00 PM, Sportzshala)

X Factor: RHP Montana Fouts. The three-time All-American, three-time Softball Player of the Year finalist, and 2021 SEC Second Pitcher of the Year has another chance to add the WCWS Champion to her long list of honors. Her 1.72 career ERA is the lowest among Alabama pitchers, and in 2022 she led the Crimson Tide with 275 strikeouts and a .193 batting average.

Arizona Wildcats

Record 2022: 39–22 (eliminated in WCWS quarter-finals)

Tournament Schedule (all times ET):

vs. Florida State (Thursday, 4:00 PM, SportzshalaU)
at Texas A&M (Friday, 10:00 AM, Sportzshala+)
vs. Mississippi State (Friday, 3:00 PM, Sportzshala+)
at Virginia Tech (Saturday, 7:00 PM, Sportzshala+)
in Indiana (Sunday, noon, Sportzshala+)

X Factor: Momentum. The Wildcats ended the 2022 season with regional and super regional road wins and reached WCWS, making Caitlin Lowe the first head coach to lead his team to WCWS in the first year since 1988. With the top four mid-level leaders in Jasmine Translator. , Carly Skupin, Ally Skaggs and Izzy Pacho return, the Arizona offense is expected to remain a major threat.

Arkansas Razorbacks

Record 2022: 48-11 (dropped out to Fayetteville Super Regional)

Tournament Schedule (all times ET):

in Florida (Friday, 1:00 PM, SportzshalaU)
at Duke (Friday, 6:00 PM, Sportzshala+)
vs. Indiana (Saturday, 1 PM, Sportzshala+)
in Louisiana (Saturday, 4:30 PM, Sportzshala+)
vs. Nebraska (Sunday, 9:30 a.m. SECN)

X Factor: 3B Hannah Gammill. Five of Arkansas’ top six hitters retired last season, leaving Gammill as the presumed offensive leader. In 2022, the right-hander hit .374 with 18 home runs and 51 RBIs, which is good for a first-team All-American and All-SEC. She also played defense, earning a spot on the SEC All-Defensive Team with a .964 percentage game.

Duke Blue Devils

Record 2022: 44-11 (eliminated at Super Regional Los Angeles)

Tournament Schedule (all times ET):

in Alabama (Thursday, 13:00, SECN)
vs. USF (Friday, 13:00, ACCN)
in Arkansas (Friday, 6:00 PM, Sportzshala+)
vs. UCF (Saturday, 10:00 AM, Sportzshala+)
in Michigan (Sunday, 9:00 a.m., Sportzshala+)

X Factor: Pitching. All-American Peyton St. George may have finished high school, but don’t underestimate juniors Jala Wright and Claire Davidson. Wright posted a 2.09 ERA in 27 games for 115 strikeouts to end 2022 with a .200 batting average. Davidson is a two-sided threat, hitting .321 on a .623 hitting percentage while recording a 1.94 ERA in 20 rounds.

Florida State Seminoles

Record 2022: 54-7 (dropped out to Tallahassee Regional)

Tournament Schedule (all times ET):

in Arizona (Thursday, 4:00 PM, SportzshalaU)
vs. Arkansas (Friday, 1:00 PM, SportzshalaU)
vs. UCLA (Saturday, 10:00 AM, SportzshalaU)
vs. Louisiana (Sunday, 1:00 PM, Sportzshala+)
in Alabama (Sunday, 5:00 pm, Sportzshala)

X Factor: Sandercock-Edenfield Battery. Katherine Sandercock, a redshirted right-hander senior, posted a 30-3 record with a career-high 159 strikeouts in 2022, earning her U.S. Softball Player of the Year among 25 finalists and a spot on the All-ACC First Team. At 6ft 1, redshirted sophomore Mikaela Edenfield commands the field from behind the plate. In the batter’s field, she led the Seminoles in home runs (16) and hitting percentage (.624) in 2022.

Indiana Hoosiers

Record 2022: 27-22 (did not compete in the NCAA Tournament)

Tournament Schedule (all times ET):

vs. Louisiana (Thursday, 1:00 PM, SportzshalaU)
in Mississippi (Friday, 12:30 PM SECN)
in Arkansas (Saturday, 1 PM, Sportzshala+)
vs. Alabama (Saturday, 6:00 PM, Sportzshala+)
vs. Arizona (Sunday Noon, Sportzshala+)

X Factor: 2B Cora Bassett. Now an adult, Bassett made an immediate impact on the Hoosiers roster after moving from Purdue for the 2022 season. the first season wears raspberry and cream. Bassett also led Indiana in 11 offensive categories, including batting average (.400), hitting (62), and home runs (13).

Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

Record 2022: 47-13 (dropped out to Clemson Regional)

Tournament Schedule (all times ET):

in Indiana (Thursday, 1:00 PM, SportzshalaU)
in Michigan (Friday, 6:00 PM, Sportzshala+)
vs. Oklahoma State (Saturday, 10:30 AM, Sportzshala+)
vs. Arkansas (Saturday, 4:30 PM, Sportzshala+)
vs. UCLA (Sunday, 10:00 AM, SportzshalaU)
in Florida (Sunday, 1:00 PM, Sportzshala+)

X Factor: Continuity. Back-to-back Sun Belt Conference champions enter the season with almost all of their key players from 2022. League Rookie of the Year Jordin Campbell led the offensive players after posting a .392 batting average with 58 hits in her first year, along with Alexa Langeliers and Carly Heath, who each had 13 home runs and a miss percentage of over .770. The Louisiana State pitching also looks familiar with the return of Megan Shorman, Kandra Lamb and Sam Landry.

Michigan Wolverines

Record 2022: 38-18 (dropped out to Orlando Regional)

Tournament Schedule (all times ET):

vs. UCF (Friday, 3:00 PM, Sportzshala+)
vs. Louisiana (Friday, 6:00 PM, Sportzshala+)
in Oklahoma State (Saturday, 1:30 PM, Sportzshala+)
in Mississippi (Saturday, 5:00 PM, Sportzshala+)
vs. Duke (Sunday, 9:00 AM, Sportzshala+)

The X Factor: A New Era. It may be #Team46, but it’s technically #Team1 under new head coach Bonnie Tall, longtime assistant head coach to the recently retired Carol Hutchins. Toll has hired outstanding alumnus Amanda Chidester, a former professional player who can share her offensive experience with returning Lexi Blair and Audrey LeClair. Both Wolverines landed over .320 hits with over 40 hits. Also new to Ann Arbor are transfer pitchers Hannah George and Jessica LeBeau.

Mississippi State Bulldogs

Record 2022: 37-27 (dropped out to Starkville Super Regional)

Tournament Schedule (all times ET):

vs. Indiana (Friday, 12:30 PM, SECN)
in Arizona (Friday, 3:00 PM, Sportzshala+)
vs. Michigan (Saturday, 5:00 PM, Sportzshala+)
USF (Sunday, 3:30 PM, Sportzshala+)
on UCF (Sunday, 8:00 pm, Sportzshala2)

X Factor: Power. Mia Davidson, who ended her career with 92 home runs, may have graduated, but the Bulldogs are bringing back seven of their top eight hitters who contributed to the program’s first super-regional performance in 2022. .500 or higher. Faapito was second in home runs with 14, while she and Cook combined had 82 RBIs.

Nebraska Cornhuskers

Record 2022: 41-16 (dropped out to Stillwater Regional)

Tournament Schedule (all times ET):

in Oklahoma State (Thursday, 4:00 PM, Sportzshala+)
at UCLA (Thursday, 7pm, Sportzshala+)
vs. Virginia Tech (Friday, 4pm, ACCN)
vs. Texas A&M (Saturday, 1:30 PM, Sportzshala+)
in Arkansas (Sunday, 9:30 a.m. SECN)

X Factor: INF Billy Andrews. The 2022 All-Big 12 second-team selection returns for the Huskers after an outstanding sophomore season. Andrews led the team in RBIs (51), slugging percentage (.715), and stolen bases (18), while averaging .330. She also set the Nebraska sophomore school record for home runs (20). Expect Andrews to hold the Huskers’ lead in batting order.

Oklahoma State Cowgirls

Record 2022: 48–14 (eliminated in WCWS semi-finals)

Tournament Schedule (all times ET):

at Texas A&M (Thursday, 10:00 AM, SportzshalaU)
vs. Nebraska (Thursday, 4:00 PM, Sportzshala+)
vs. Virginia Tech (Friday, 10:00 AM, Sportzshala+)
in Louisiana (Saturday, 10:30 am, Sportzshala+)
vs. Michigan (Saturday, 1:30 PM, Sportzshala+)

X Factor: LHP Kelly Maxwell. The 2022 Co-Big 12 Pitcher of the Year and U.S. Softball Player of the Year Top 10 winner returns for her senior season. After redshirting in 2019 and playing in the 2020 shortened season, Maxwell led the Cowgirls to back-to-back WCWS appearances. A staple of the rotation, 2022 proved to be her best season yet, with a 1.22 ERA with 313 strikeouts in 35 games.

South Florida Bulls

Record 2022: 45-16 (dropped out to Tallahassee Regional)

Tournament Schedule (all times ET):

vs Duke (Friday, 13:00, ACCN)
at Texas A&M (Saturday, 10:30 a.m. SECN)
at Virginia Tech (Sunday, noon, Sportzshala+)
vs. Mississippi State (Sunday, 3:30 PM, Sportzshala+)

X factor: speed. USF finished in the top 10 of all 301 Division I teams last year with 121 stolen bases. In 2023, the Bulls will return four of the five stolen base leaders, including junior infielder Megan Pierrot (19 of 22). Redshirted sophomores Megan Sheehan and Jordyn Kadlub combined more than 20 interceptions, while junior Emily Hanlon had a perfect 7-of-7.

Texas A&M Aggis

Record 2022: 31-28 (dropped out to Norman Regional)

Tournament Schedule (all times ET):

vs. Oklahoma State (Thursday, 10:00 AM, SportzshalaU)
vs. Arizona (Friday, 10:00 AM, Sportzshala+)
on UCF (Friday, 7pm, Sportzshala+)
vs. USF (Saturday, 10:30 AM, SECN)
in Nebraska (Saturday, 1:30 PM, Sportzshala+)

The X Factor: A New Beginning. Two-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year Tricia Ford took over the Aggies after…


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