By Maren Angus
As the final out is recorded in 2017, it’s time to take a look at the storylines from this past year that the softball world needs to forget about. At Behind the Plate, we want to focus on the growth and positivity of the game. With that being said, here are five topics that we hope the softball world can move on from this coming season.
The Auburn Tigers were under a microscope after Haley Fagan and Tim Walton got in an argument following the final game of the series at Florida. The scuffle triggered an onslaught of negative events from the resignation of Corey Myers to the Super Regionals loss to Oklahoma to the departure of Carlee Wallace and ending with the sudden retirement of Clint Myers and a Title IX complaint.
The Ragin’ Cajuns were primed and ready to take on the world until former head coach Michael Lotief threatened his own university with a Title IX complaint. The investigation didn’t go according to plan as Lotief was suspended for a month and eventually fired. The firing of Lotief along with the rest of his coaching staff resulted in the departure of standout players; D.J. Sanders, Aleah Craighton and Alyssa Denham.
The University of Minnesota softball program was ranked No. 1 in the polls entering the postseason in 2017. It seemed like the Gophers would host a Regional and possible Super Regional until the NCAA Selection Committee decided otherwise. The Gophers found themselves at No. 17, not hosting any postseason games and then literally at home, after losing twice to Alabama in the Tuscaloosa Regional. In the most surprising of moves, Jessica Allister started the 2017 offseason coaching carousel when she accepted the head coaching position at her alma matter, Stanford.
Have you ever seen a coach more fired up during the Women’s College World Series than UCLA’s Lisa Fernandez? Neither have we. Fernandez was tossed and suspended for the next game after arguing a play at the plate. The suspension took on a life of its own when the UCLA faithful had shirts made with Fernandez’ face and the #FreeTheGOAT. It definitely was entertaining at the time but not what we want to remember UCLA for at the WCWS.
5. Dallas Charge
Something wasn’t exactly right when head coach Crystl Bustos didn’t make it a full season with the NPF franchise. The Charge finished last in the standings and folded at the conclusion of the postseason. The Charge became the second team in one calendar year to fold and the NPF faced a lot of backlash from fans for it.