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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Weekend Roundup -- March 16-19, 2018

Washington and UCLA were both undefeated and ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively, in the Softball poll before last Friday. However, once the first weekend of Pac-12 play was over, each had two losses. The Huskies lost two out of three to Arizona State, whereas the Bruins did likewise at Oregon. The University of Arizona swept three games from Utah, with the closest margin in any of the games being three runs.

The standings were also shaken up in the SEC. Florida, which was No. 2 in the USA Today/NFCA poll and 3-0 in conference after sweeping Kentucky March 9-11, lost two of three games to Georgia, including one via run-rule.

Tennessee, which swept Missouri the weekend of March 9-11 and then breezed through mediocre opposition in a Hawai'i tournament this past weekend, has now jumped to No. 2 in both national polls. The Vols (30-1) have some good wins this season (Arizona State, Oregon), but their real proving ground will come against top SEC competition. Tennessee's only loss so far came against Florida Atlantic in mid-February.

Friday, March 16, 2018

2018 Pac-12 Season Opens This Weekend

The Pac-12 (which only has nine schools that field softball teams) has dominated the national rankings thus far, with five teams in the Top 10 of the Softball poll: No. 1 Washington (27-0), No. 2 UCLA (24-0), No. 6 Oregon (23-4), No. 9 Arizona (21-2), and No. 10 ASU (21-2). The other major poll, USA Today/NFCA, has similar rankings, but with UCLA one notch and ASU three notches lower.

Accordingly, it is with great excitement that Pac-12 conference play begins this weekend with four series (each three games) beginning today or Saturday:
  • Washington at ASU
  • UCLA at Oregon
  • Utah at Arizona
  • Cal at Oregon State
Stanford, as the odd team out, has the weekend off. 

Further details on the above series is available at the Pac-12 website.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Judi Garman (and Other) Roundup (2018)

No. 2/2 Florida breezed through its three games in the Judi Garman Classic, closing with a 4-0 no-hit win over No. 8/9 Baylor. Two other Gator games were cancelled due to inclement weather.

The team that may have helped itself the most in the tournament is Michigan. The Wolverines came in ranked No. 23/25 after an 8-6 start. However, Michigan went 5-0 at the Garman, including wins over Baylor and No. 17/18 Louisiana-Lafayette.

Elsewhere, No. 1/1 Washington moved to 23-0 with five wins in the Husky Classic, including two over No. 11/11 Alabama (here and here).

The nation's only other undefeated squad, No. 3/3 UCLA, improved to 19-0 with four wins in the San Diego Classic. The Bruins' schedule hasn't been that tough so far, but one of their wins this weekend was over a ranked team, No. 20/21 Minnesota.

No. 8/9 Arizona took two of three from unranked Texas in Austin.

Friday, March 02, 2018

2018 Judi Garman Classic

No. 2/2 Florida heads a thin field at this year's Judi Garman Classic this weekend. No. 8/9 Baylor is the only other Top 10 team making the trip to Fullerton, California.

Monday, February 26, 2018

2018 Mary Nutter Classic Roundup

The Mary Nutter Classic Win-Loss Wheel, which I hadn't used for a few years, is back! Tennessee, with the best record during the tournament (6-0), is at 12 o'clock. As you move clockwise, the teams' records gradually get worse. Finally, when you approach 12:00 again, you see the teams with the worst ledgers. You may click on the graphic to enlarge it. A master list of results is available here.

As can be seen, four teams were undefeated, with UCLA, Arizona, and Washington (all 5-0) joining Tennessee in that department. Each of these teams had a signature win at the Nutter. Tennessee defeated a Top 5 Oregon squad, Arizona beat another Top 5 team, namely Oklahoma, UCLA topped No. 7/8 LSU, and Washington knocked off No. 6/9 Texas A&M.

The big disappointment would have to be Oklahoma State, a Top 20 squad that went 1-4.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Annual Mary Nutter Classic Underway (2018)

The more extensive weekend of the annual Mary Nutter Classic (32 teams rather than 16) is now underway in Cathedral City, California (near Palm Springs). Among the participating squads are the No. 2-6 (Oregon, Washington, UCLA, Oklahoma, and Auburn, in that order)  and 8-9 (LSU, Texas A&M) teams in the latest Softball poll. Florida, who is not in the Mary Nutter, is No. 1 in that poll. The other major national poll, by USA Today/NFCA, sees things a little differently, with Washington at No. 1.

Oklahoma dropped substantially from its previous No. 1 status, due to an unimaginable loss to Boston University last week (BU's current record is 4-4, with losses to Bethune-Cookman, Ohio State, Ball State, and New Mexico State).

Oregon also has one loss, a nine-inning affair vs. No. 15 Mississippi.

No. 1/2 Florida also has one loss, but it came in a three-game series the Gators won at Louisiana-Lafayette. UF is hosting the Aquafina Invitational this weekend, with a field that includes Maryland, Illinois State, Iowa State, and Georgia Southern.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Oklahoma the Runaway Preseason No. 1, as Sooners Seek Third Straight Title

Two-time defending Women's College World Series champion Oklahoma dominates the preseason polls, holding the No. 1 spot heading into the 2018 season. The Sooners captured all the first-place votes in the Softball poll and all but one in the USA Today/NFCA poll.

As the above-linked article notes:

Oklahoma returns all nine of its 2017 All-Big 12 honorees from a squad that went 61-9 overall, 17-1 in the Big 12 and won the program's third national title in the last five years (fourth overall). Returning first-team All-Big 12 selections are junior infielder Shay Knighten, senior pitcher Paige Lowary, sophomore utility player Nicole Mendes (unanimous pick) and senior pitcher Paige Parker. Returning second-team All-Big 12 honorees are junior outfielder Falepolima Aviu, junior infielder Caleigh Clifton, senior outfielder Nicole Pendley and junior infielder Sydney Romero. Mendes and pitcher Mariah Lopez were members of the 2017 Big 12 All-Freshman Team.

Florida and Oregon hold the second and third positions, respectively, in both polls. UCLA and Washington round out the Top 5 in both polls, but in a different order. The Huskies are ranked fourth and the Bruins fifth by USA Today/NFCA, with the teams switching order in the Softball poll.

The season begins three days from now with the annual Kajikawa Classic at Arizona State and other tournaments.