The top college softball games for opening weekend and beyond

The top college softball games for opening weekend and beyond

Opening weekend is here. That means there will be loads of college softball to watch from here on out. Every. Single. Weekend.

Let’s take a look at the top games you won’t want to miss on opening weekend as well as for the rest of the February non-conference slate. So from now until conference play begins, here are the most enticing matchups and tournaments.

Opening weekend

Starting with opening weekend, there are a few tournaments to keep your eye on, particularly the NFCA Leadoff Classic. Texas, Tennessee, Northwestern, Kentucky, Auburn and more will be there in Clearwater, Florida to kick off the season. Top-ranked Oklahoma is headed to California for the Mark Campbell Invitational where Duke, Liberty, Loyola Marymount, San Jose State, Stanford and Washington will also compete. And UCF will host the Black and Gold Tournament. I will list out the top games to keep your eye on, starting Thursday-Sunday. 

Thursday, Feb. 9

No. 13 Georgia vs No. 18 UCF (Black and Gold Tournament) — 6 p.m. ET on ESPN+

First up, we have a matchup between Georgia and UCF at the UCF Black & Gold Tournament. This matchup will feature big-name players, including UCF’s Jada Cody, who came in as D1Softball’s No. 14 preseason player. Georgia has three players that made the top-100 list, highlighted by Sara Mosely at No. 33. 

No. 19 Duke vs No. 1 Oklahoma (Mark Campbell Invitational)  — 7 p.m. ET on FloSoftball

The whole nation will be gunning for Oklahoma this season. The back-to-back champs are the top-ranked team and reloaded their already-stacked squad in the offseason. Duke will be the Sonners’ very first ranked matchup of the season, one of two games the Sooners play on opening day. 

Other ranked matchups:

  • No. 19 Duke vs No. 16 Washington (Mark Campbell Invitational) — 1 p.m. on FloSoftball

Friday, Feb. 10

No. 9 Texas vs No. 8 Northwestern (NFCA Leadoff Classic) — 7:30 p.m. ET 

Estelle Czech

In my opinion, this is the best game of opening weekend. Not just because it is the highest-ranked matchup, but because these are two 2022 WCWS teams facing off. A lot of familiar players return, but to the same point, these teams also lost a lot of talent. Danielle Williams does return to the circle for one last go-around at Northwestern, and Estelle Czech, who helped lead the Longhorns to the national championship series last season, will lead the pitching staff for Texas following the departure of Hailey Dolcini. 

No. 14 Stanford vs No. 1 Oklahoma (Mark Campbell Invitational) — 10:30 p.m. ET on FloSoftball

Here we have another ranked matchup for the Sooners, this time against Stanford. The Cardinal made it to the super regional last season before falling to Oregon State, and they made my eight “way-too-early” picks for the WCWS this preseason. Mostly, because Alana Vawter returns as the ace of the staff. I am so excited to hopefully see her face off against one of the toughest, if not the toughest, lineups in the country. 

Other ranked matchups: 

  • No. 23 Missouri vs No. 9 Texas (NFCA Leadoff Classic) — 4 p.m. on GameChanger

  • No. 22 Oregon vs No. 3 Oklahoma State (Puerto Vallarta College Challenge) — 6 p.m. on FloSoftball

Saturday, Feb. 11

No. 12 Tennessee vs No. 9 Texas (NFCA Leadoff Classic) — 6:30 p.m. ET on GameChanger

The Longhorns have another matchup against Tennessee in opening weekend at the NFCA Leadoff Classic. I am excited to see how the Vols utilize their pitching staff this first weekend with Ashley Rogers leading the way and Peyton Gottshall, who just transferred in for this season. 

Other ranked matchups:

  • No. 25 Oregon State vs No. 20 LSU (SECN+) at 3:30 p.m.
  • No. 23 Missouri vs No. 8 Northwestern (GameChanger) at 4 p.m.
  • No. 19 Duke vs No. 14 Stanford (FloSoftball) at 6:30 p.m.
  • No. 16 Washington vs No. 1 Oklahoma (FloSoftball) at 10 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 12

No. 12 Tennessee vs No. 8 Northwestern (NFCA Leadoff Classic) — 10 a.m. ET on GameChanger

Lastly at the NFCA Leadoff Classic, don’t miss Northwestern and Tennessee. This will be the last top-15 matchup of the weekend. 

Other ranked matchups:

  • No. 17 Kentucky vs No. 9 Texas (GameChanger) at 12:30 p.m.
  • No. 25 Oregon State vs No. 20 LSU (SECN+) at 1:30 p.m.

Non-conference games/tournaments to watch

Clearwater Elite Invitational — Feb. 16-19

A TON of top-ranked teams are headed to Clearwater for some great action Feb. 16-19. You will NOT want to miss these matchups. Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Duke, Florida State, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, UCF, UCLA and Virginia Tech will be playing, among others. Just to name a few. It is unreal how many great matchups we will get to see at this tournament. 

Here are my top games to watch from the tournament. You can see the full daily schedule here.

Megan Faraimo
  • Virginia Tech vs. Oklahoma State — Friday, Feb. 17 at 10 am ET on ESPNU
    • Emma Lemley vs. Kelly Maxwell? Say no more.
  • Arkansas vs. Florida State — Friday, Feb. 17 at 1 p.m. ET on ESPNU
    • I love this matchup, we see the top of the ACC and top of the SEC facing off. 
  • Alabama vs. UCLA — Friday, Feb. 17 at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN2
    • Montana Fouts and Megan Faraimo are two names in the circle we all have been hearing and watching for years. This is a top-10 battle you will not want to miss. 
  • UCLA vs. Florida State — Saturday, Feb. 18 at 10 a.m. ET on ESPNU
    • Same thing here — UCLA and Florida State have two very experienced lineups, and in this case, we have a top-five battle. Even better. 
  • UCF vs. Alabama — Saturday, Feb. 18 at 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+
    • I am excited to watch Jada Cody and the Knights face off against some of the top-ranked teams in the NCAA. 
  • Virginia Tech vs. UCLA — Saturday, Feb. 18 at 4 p.m. at ESPNU
    • The Hokies have yet another huge challenge with the preseason No. 2 ranked UCLA Bruins. 
  • Florida State vs. Alabama — Sunday, Feb. 19 at 5 p.m. at ESPN

Red and Black Showcase — Feb. 17-19

Georgia will host the Red and Black Showcase, and we will have two ranked matchups to keep an eye one. UGA and Stanford will face off twice in the same weekend, once on Friday at 3:30 p.m. ET and again on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET. 

Mary Nutter Classic — Feb. 23-26


Mark your calendars for this one. Guess who will be at the Mary Nutter Classic? None other than the top two teams in the nation heading into this 2023 season — Oklahoma and UCLA. So perhaps the biggest matchup of the non-conference schedule, if not the regular season, will take place between the Sooners and Bruins. Here are the rest of the matchups to watch at this tournament:

  • UCLA vs. Florida — Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m. 
  • Washington vs. Kentucky — Thursday, Feb. 23 at 12 p.m. 
  • Northwestern vs. Oregon — Friday, Feb. 23 at 12:30 p.m.
  • Florida vs. Oregon — Saturday, Feb. 25 at 10 a.m.
  • UCLA vs. Northwestern — Saturday, Feb. 25 at 2:30 p.m.
  • UCLA vs. Oklahoma — Sunday, Feb. 26 at 9:30 a.m. 

Lone Star State Invitational — Feb. 24-26

Virginia Tech will head to Austin, Texas for the Lone Star Invitational. We will likely have two ranked matchups between Virginia Tech and Texas on Friday at 5 p.m. and on Saturday at 4 p.m. Both will be aired on Longhorn Network. 

Bevo Classic — March 10-12

Alabama, Texas and Wisconsin will be apart of the Bevo Classic right before the start of conference play. Alabama and Texas will face off twice on Friday, March 11 at 4 p.m. and again on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Both will be aired on Longhorn Network. 

Cowgirl Invitational — March 10-12

Oklahoma State will host Florida State for a three-game series from March 10-12. By March, I assume this will still be a top-10 matchup. 

Omni Hall of Fame Classic — March 17-19

The Oklahoma Sooners will host the third annual Omni Hall of Fame Classic at USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, March 17-19. The Sooners are 9-0 all-time in the tournament. This season OU will be playing three tourney teams from a season ago in Weber State, Northwestern and Auburn. Northwestern vs. Oklahoma is the matchup to watch and will be on March 17 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

OSU Mizuno Classic — March 17-19

UCF and Arizona State will head to Stillwater for the OSU Mizuno Classic ahead of conference play.