Most preseason polls have either Oklahoma to repeat as champions or other teams like Florida, Auburn, LSU or Florida State to win it all in 2017.
Here’s my choices for long shot teams to keep an eye on this season in no particular order. I’m not saying they’ll win the 2017 championship but if things fall right for them I think their capable of doing it.
Texas- This is a team that’s been hovering around each year getting better. Their pitching should be good this year with Tiarra Davis and Paige von Sprecken returning along with Erica Wright now back after having to set out the entire season last year due to an injury. The team has a nice mix of power and speed (Celina Felix, Stephanie Wong, Reagan Hathaway) to put runs up on the scoreboard. Plus they have several promising freshmen who could contribute immediately to the team.
Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns- I always enjoy watching this team play. They dominate in the Sun Belt Conference and make strong showings in the playoffs. This team is like a culture all their own with a faithful fan base that’s always there to root them on to victory. The soul of the team is head coach Michael Lotief. What makes his coaching success even more remarkable is the fact that since 1983 he’s been fighting throat cancer and some serious infections as a result of it. Although power hitting catcher Lexie Elkins is gone the team still has some power and pitchers Alex Stewart and Kylee Jo Trahan are back to anchor down the pitching staff.
Missouri(Mizzou)- After a turbulent year last year things have calmed down and all investigations surrounding head coach Earleywine are over now. Coach E always had the team’s support but he also now has the school administrations. Maybe after 3 WCWS appearances (2009-11), 8 NCAA Super Regionals since 2008 and 10 straight NCAA Regionals it’s time for Missouri to take the final step to be champions. Star starting pitchers Paige Lowary and Tori Finucane are gone having transferred out but still left is Danielle Baumgartner and Cheyenne Baxter to take care of mound duties this year. Some see this as a rebuilding year for the team but I think the talent and drive is there to take them to the Championship.
Texas A&M- Speed, power hitting and solid pitching Texas A&M has all three and that could help them to surprise a lot of teams this season. If pitchers, Samantha Show and Trinity Harrington, who offer a nice one-two starting rotation punch can bring down their era just a little bit team members, Tori Vidales and Ashley Walters can provide the run production needed to win games. Aggie head coach Jo Evans also has the coaching talent to pull the best out of her young players.