No. 1 seed Oklahoma, 2019 champ UCLA highlight WCWS field

AP Sports

Oklahoma’s Giselle Juarez (45), Jocelyn Alo (78), Lynnsie Elam (22) and Nicole Mendes (11) carry a pad from the outfield wall after winning the second game against Washington in an NCAA college softball tournament super regional in Norman, Okla., Saturday, May 29, 2021. (Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman via AP)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Top seed Oklahoma and 2019 national champion UCLA highlight the Women’s College World Series field.

Last year’s event wascanceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, UCLA defeated Oklahoma in the best-of-three championship series to claim its 13th national title and 12th NCAA championship.

USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City has been expanded to a capacity of 13,000 this year — an increase of 4,000. This year’s double-elimination bracket action begins Thursday and the championship series will start June 7.

Oklahoma will open against James Madison on Thursday. The Sooners won national titles in 2000, 2013, 2016 and 2017 and were runners-up in 2012 and 2019. James Madison qualified for the first time after topping Missouri twice in a best-of-three super regionals.

The Oklahoma-James Madison winner will play either No. 5 seed Oklahoma State or Georgia on Friday. If Oklahoma and Oklahoma State win their openers, the rivals would face off in a World Series game for the second time. Last time, Oklahoma defeated Oklahoma State 6-1 in a winner’s bracket game in 2019.

Oklahoma State advanced to the WCWS by defeating fellow Big 12 member Texas twice in the super regionals.

UCLA is on the other half of the bracket. The Bruins, who feature two-time USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Rachel Garcia, will open against No. 10 seed Florida State. The winner will face No. 3 seed Alabama or No. 11 seed Arizona on Friday.

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