Legends On Deck

Softball Heat in the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational

With the Division-1 season kicking off just last weekend, this weekend will be sure to provide some crucial early season matchups, as every single American Athletic Conference softball program will be in an Invitational or Tournament play this weekend, and none bigger than the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational.

This will be the return for the event this season, after last year’s event was not played due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but the event has featured some top, power five programs over the first two years (2019 & 2020) that have created the event to what it is, which is a sure-fire top notch preseason invitational.

Looking at the numbers heading into the Invitational, 14 Power 5 programs will be coming into Clearwater this weekend out of the 16 who will be entered in. The other non-power 5 programs will be ones who will make some magic though this weekend, as UCF and USF, two top AAC programs will be walking into the fight. Looking into the rankings, 4 teams are coming out of the top 10 this weekend, and there in total 14 teams who are either ranked or are receiving votes for a Top 25 spot, proving the claim as to why this will be a top invitational to watch.

Enough said though on statistics, as at the end of the day, it’s about the games on the field, high-profile games at that. This weekend will feature some big top 25 matchups, none bigger than the Invitational Night Cap on Sunday, as #3 UCLA will face #5 Florida State at 7pm EST in a game that has since been moved to ESPN, the only game that will be featured on the main ESPN channel. Other games to keep an eye on this weekend will include #11 Texas vs. #5 Florida State, #15 Clemson vs. #18 Tennessee, and #19 Michigan vs. #21 LSU.

UCLA Senior Infielder Briana Perez ready for the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational (Pics: Kaiya Pomeroy-Tso/Daily Bruin senior staff)

UCLA Senior Infielder Briana Perez ready for the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational (Pics: Kaiya Pomeroy-Tso/Daily Bruin senior staff)

As for the generals around the event, the event kicks off today, as a majority of the teams will be scheduled to play, however only Friday & Saturday is when the entire field will be in action, as the action will wrap up this Sunday evening. As for games, the game times will be strewed, as games will be scheduled from 10am EST being the earliest to late games being played at 7pm EST at multiple different fields at the Eddie C. Moore Sports Complex. As for fans, tickets are all SOLD OUT, as the tickets went quick, but there is an opportunity as day of tickets are available but only for Fields 1 & 3 at the complex.

This weekend will for sure be an exciting weekend of Softball action, as 16 top programs will be showcased on a national stage and in the beautiful city of Clearwater. With top schools coming in and the chance for some surprises from the locals in UCF & USF, we are for sure in for a treat here in the Bay Area. Here are my rankings for the Invitational:

  1. UCLA
  2. Florida St.
  3. Oklahoma St.
  4. Washington
  5. Texas
  6. Michigan
  7. Clemson
  8. Tennessee
  9. Notre Dame
  10. UCF
  11. LSU
  12. Northwestern
  13. Auburn
  14. USF
  15. Texas Tech
  16. Wisconsin

 

Dylan Spaulding
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