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Underdog Teams To Watch During The 2023 Season

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(Photo by Wichita State Athletics)

As the 2023 Division I softball season begins, it is easy to focus on the top-ranked teams around the country. But, coming off an unprecedented 2022 college softball season that saw upsets both early and late in postseason play, we can look at and appreciate the teams that may fall under the radar a bit.

Below, we examine five underdog teams to watch during the 2023 Division I softball season.

Wichita State

Wichita State had a stellar 2022 season, going 34-18 overall and 14-4 in conference play. With many high-scoring games under their belts last spring, there was no denying the offensive power that the Shockers had in 2022. With losses to ranked opponents like Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and UCF last year, Wichita State and its returners have been battle-tested. We expect the return of their top offensive producers, Sydney McKinney and Addison Barnard, to help propel the Shockers to another successful season.


After going 8-16 in Pac-12 play during the 2022 season and finding themselves uncharacteristically towards the bottom of their conference's ranking, the Wildcats shocked the softball world last spring and advanced to the Women's College World Series. With key offensive contributors returning in Allie Skaggs and Carlie Scupin, Arizona is still in a great position to make some noise in 2023, despite the losses of some key players from last season to the transfer portal. Don't sleep on the Wildcats.


With the graduation of standouts from its pitching staff last year, LSU will likely rely primarily on Ali Kilponen in the circle in 2023. With an overall record of 34-23 and a 13-11 SEC mark last spring, it will be important for the Tigers to come out strong once they reach conference play this season. Though the Tigers had a seemingly disappointing 2022 season, specifically losing both NCAA regional games they played against San Diego State and Cal State Fullerton, the Tigers welcomed seven freshmen into their program for this season. Expect many of them to make an impact right away.

Ole Miss

Expected to lead the Ole Miss offensive attack in 2023 is returning senior Tate Whitley. Her 77 hits and 51 runs scored last spring led the Rebels, who are coming off a 41-19 overall record and 12-12 SEC mark last season. With several pitchers from 2022 returning this year, expect the Rebels to make a repeat appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2023.

James Madison

To say no one in the softball world will forget the postseason run James Madison made in 2021 would be an understatement. After making the heartbreaking decision to end their season early in 2022, the Dukes are expected to return to full strength in 2023, as they face off against several Power Five opponents this spring. JMU returns Hannah Shifflett, who ended the 2022 season with a .392 batting average and 53 hits, as well as Alissa Humphrey, who finished the campaign with a 3.92 ERA and 13 complete games after a stellar freshman year. The Dukes also have six solid first-year players on their roster for 2023, who could help them make another strong postseason run this spring.

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