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Female Athletes Can Participate in Sports and Receive Top of the Line Education
The top 10 softball colleges offer female athletes a place to further master their forte, by placing them with other athletes of the same caliber. They provide the ideal platform where players can learn advanced training techniques, all while receiving some of the best education the United States has to offer. All of these colleges are ranked within the top 10 slots as of January 25, 2011, according to ESPN.com.
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Best Colleges for Softball in Western United States
The University of Arizona – Ranked #1 in the U.S., the Arizona Wildcats have won eight championships. Their head coach, Mike Candera has been with the team since 1991 and is one of the most prestigious coaches, placing him third against other coaches as having the most wins. They won back-to-back championships in 2006 and 2007. Their last victory of the Women’s College World Series was in 2007.
University California at Los Angeles – Ranked #2 as one of the top 10 softball colleges, the UCLA Bruins is known for having a top-ranked women’s softball team for the past thirty years. They are led by a professional coaching staff of heavy hitters, with names such as Kelly Inouye-Perez, Lisa Fernandez, Gina Vecchione and Natasha Watley. The UCLA Bruins have won a record 11 NCAA softball titles, including back-to-back titles in 2003 and 2004. They were also runners up in 2005, setting a College World Series record of 13 straight wins. Their home stadium, “Easton Stadium" was used as the practice field for the Olympic Softball Team in 1996.
Arizona State University – Ranked #10 in the U.S. as one of the top 10 softball colleges--the Arizona State Sun Devils, lead by former baseball player Clint Myers--is a force to be reckoned with. Since, Coach Myers has taken over as head coach he has helped propel the continuing success of the Arizona State Sun Devils. Since he has been in the driver’s seat, the Sun Devils have won their first NCAA Championship in 2008. He has also led them to four consecutive WCWS appearances, which is a school record.
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Best Colleges for Softball in Eastern United States
University of Alabama - While they are ranked #3 in the United States by ESPN.com, the Alabama Crimson Tide women’s softball team led by head coach Patrick Murphy is ranked #1 by coaches and is a favorite to seize the Southeastern Conference Crown in 2011. This is the second year that Alabama has been chosen to win both the Western Division and the crown. The Crimson Tide is defending champions of both the SEC regular season and tournament championships. While under the coaching guidance of Murphy, the Crimson Tide has experienced six Women’s College World Series, an SEC title and 12 straight NCAA Tournament bids.
University of Georgia- Currently ranked #4 in the U.S.; the Georgia Bulldogs is one of the newest franchises. It has only been participating in women’s softball competitively, since 1997. They have won two Southeast Conference championships as of 2010 and have been in the Women’s College World Series twice. The head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs women’s softball team is Lu-Harris Champer--who has been with them for 10 seasons.
University of Florida-Ranked #5, the Florida Gators women’s softball team is lead by head coach Tim Walton, who has been with the Gators for six consecutive seasons. Since he has been the head coach, Walton has guided the Gators to the Women’s College World Series three times. One of which includes a trip to the championship series. He has also brought home two Southeastern Conference titles and was awarded the SEC Coach of the Year two times. The Florida Gators have won the SEC Championships, three time, including two back-to-back-titles in 2008 and 2009.
Tennessee State University- Ranked # 7 in the U.S. the Tennessee Tigers will have a new head coach Jeff Dabney, who will replace Joyce Maudie--who had been with the Tigers since 2002. This will be a difficult feat for the new head coach to follow, since Maudie was present when the Tigers won their first season in 2007. However, Dabney is not a stranger to women’s softball, his experience as a coach for the Southeast Missouri pitching and catching players along with slap hitters--solidifies his dedication to the sport. He also has a strong background in sports conditioning.
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Best Colleges for Softball in Midwestern United States
University of Oklahoma - The Oklahoma Sooners are ranked #6 in the United States and led by head coach Patty Gasso--who has been in the industry for 20 years. She was the head coach at Long Beach Calif. City College before coming to Oklahoma in 1995. Gasso was recognized by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association for reaching 900 career wins. The Sooners have made it to the Women’s College World Series five times, since she has been head coach. She has also seen the Sooners advance to postseason in each of her 16 seasons with them. The Oklahoma Sooners won their first and only NCAA National Championship in 2000.
University of Michigan - Ranked # 8 in the top 10 softball colleges in U.S., the Michigan Wolverines will start the 2011 season with returning head coach Carol Hutchins--who has been with the team for 26 seasons. Hutchins has used her coaching techniques to mold the team into an elite program. In 2006, Hutchins was introduced into the NFCA Hall of Fame and was recognized for her coaching success and the memorable mark she has left on both Michigan and college softball. Since becoming head coach of the Michigan Wolverines, Hutchins has led them to the Women’s College World Series, nine of the last 16 seasons, and in 2005, the Wolverines won their first NCAA national championship. In that same year, the softball squad set a program best of 65 wins.
University of Missouri - Currently ranked #9 in the United States as one of the top 10 softball colleges, the Missouri Tigers earned a repeat and fifth overall College World Series bid, they also set a school record with 51 wins. They reached #3 status in the country in 2010 and finished in eighth place--tying the college’s best finish ever. Head coach Ehren Earlywine has led the Missouri Tigers to phenomenal success in a short amount of time. Since he has taken over the softball program, Earlywine has seen the squad capture consecutive regional championships, a Big 12 Title, and the first two seasons where the team has won 50 games. He has also taken his team to the Women’s College World Series twice--which is a first for a Tiger coach.
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Photo Credit: Pasta Boy Sleeps