LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The 21st edition of the NFCA Division I Leadoff Classic will take place Feb 8-11 at the Eddie C. Moore Complex in Clearwater, Fla. This four-day showcase of collegiate softball features 17 programs from 12 different conferences.
Highlighting the field are 2023 Women’s College World Series (WCWS) participant Utah and a pair of Super Regional programs in Clemson and Oregon. In all, every participant competed in their conference tournament a year ago, with nine advancing to the 2023 NCAA Regionals. Clemson, Oregon and Utah all claimed regional titles with the Utes winning their first-ever Super Regional series and participating in their first WCWS since 1994.
Along with the three aforementioned programs, the other six 2023 regional participants in the field are Central Arkansas, Indiana, Liberty, Missouri, North Carolina Central and Notre Dame. Additionally, 2023 National Invitational Softball Championship (NISC) winner Iowa is headed to Clearwater.
Rounding out the field are Army West Point, Kansas, Missouri State, North Carolina State, South Alabama, St. John’s and Western Kentucky
Each team will play a minimum of five games at the 2024 Leadoff over four days.
In 2023, Tennessee collected the title in a weather-shortened tournament. The Lady Vols won all three of their contests, including a 6-0 shutout of Northwestern, and outscored the opposition 36-3. Kentucky finished as the tournament runner-up, posting a 2-0-1 mark and was just one of two undefeated teams. Auburn and Louisville finished 4-1, while Pittsburgh and Indiana posted 3-1 marks and Texas was 3-1-1.
This marks the sixth consecutive tournament in Clearwater (2012-14, 2020, 2023, 2024). The first 15 tournaments were held in Columbus, Ga., from 1996 through 2010. Michigan has captured the most Leadoff titles with three, while Louisiana and Washington (won the inaugural in 1996) have each won twice.
2024 participating teams: Army West Point, Central Arkansas, Clemson, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Liberty, Missouri, Missouri State, North Carolina Central, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Oregon, South Alabama, St. John’s, Utah, Western Kentucky
Previous Division I Leadoff Classic champions
2023 – Tennessee; 2020 – Mississippi State; 2014 – Hofstra; 2013 – Louisiana; 2012 – DePaul; 2010 – Illinois; 2008 – Michigan; 2007 – Georgia Tech & Michigan; 2005 – Oklahoma; 2004 – LSU; 2003 – UMass; 2002 – Nebraska; 2001 – Stanford; 2000 – Washington; 1999 – Louisiana; 1998 – Michigan; 1997 – South Carolina; 1996 – Washington
*2006 & 2009 tournaments were rained out
Celebrating 40 years in 2003, the NFCA (National Fastpitch Coaches Association) is the professional organization for fastpitch softball coaches. Known for its highly-regarded Leadoff Classic tournaments, the NFCA also educates and supports softball coaches on a variety of different levels: from webinars to awards, to in-person and virtual events, and a National Convention.