6) Florida State (52-11) will open the World Series in Oklahoma City against (3) UCLA (56-5) on Thursday at approximately 9:30pm (ESPN2). The Seminoles advanced when they won the Tallahassee super regional defeating LSU two games to one. The Bruins advanced by eliminating (14) Arizona two games to zero.
The following chart compiles some relevant statistics comparing the two teams. The first number is the value of the statistic while the number in parentheses is the national rank for that statistic. The schedule rank is through May 13th so it does not include NCAA tournament games. I have included the schedule rank because there has been discussion that FSU’s numbers are inflated because the Seminoles play in the weaker ACC. While the ACC isn’t as strong as the PAC12 the Noles played the toughest non-conference schedule in the nation so their overall schedule strength is comparable to a PAC12 team.
The stats reveal that UCLA is an offensive machine. No lead will be safe against them. The only thing that the Bruins don't do at an elite level is steal bases. FSU will have the edge defensively and on the base paths. If the Noles can avoid letting UCLA have a big inning they will have a much greater chance in this game. FSU would really benefit by keeping this game close so that they can use their speed to manufacture one or two runs.
However, it won't be easy to keep the UCLA offense quiet. Only two of their starters bat less than .300. They are led by redshirt sophomore pitcher (and likely starter vs FSU) Rachel Garcia (27-3, 1.02 ERA). In addition to those gaudy pitching numbers she hits (.356/.419/.595) with 11 HR and 53 RBI. Garcia was named today as USA softball's collegiate player of the year. Aaliyah Jordan hits (.434/.498/.736) with 12 HR and 66 RBI. Jordan will likely be the DP tomorrow and she is only a redshirt freshman. Sophomore Bubba Nickles (.405/.470/.642) with 8 HR and 49 RBI will likely play centerfield. This lineup is potent. There won't be many soft spots for Nole starter Kylee Hanson (28-5, 1.05 ERA) to exploit.
The Women's college world series bracket is here. The world series is a double elimination tournament. If FSU beats UCLA the Noles would play the winner of the (2) Florida - (7) Georgia game in the winner's bracket. With a loss FSU would play the loser of that game in the loser's bracket.
The NCAA Tournament has been very chalky up to this point. All 16 seeds made the super regional round and all of the top eight seeds made the world series. While there has been no shortage of excitement, there have been no upsets up to this point. This means that the eight best teams in the nation are in Oklahoma City. Any of these teams could win. There will be no upsets no matter what happens because there simply isn't much difference talent-wise between these teams.
Because the talent is comparable the winner will likely be determined by who can play the cleanest and avoid mistakes. FSU has a real chance here because the Noles have the third best fielding percentage of anyone left in the field (Florida, Oklahoma).
The world series will begin on Thursday when (8) Arizona State takes on (1) Oregon at noon (ESPN).