Tuesday, April 18, 2006

As I’ve alluded to in recent postings, I wanted to discuss the four major softball conferences’ scheduling formats for league play. Below are the formats, as best as I could figure them out. You can, of course, see actual schedules via the links on the right-hand side of the page to conference and team websites. Teams may, of course, complete fewer conference games than scheduled, due to weather-related cancellations.

Big 10: Each school plays each other twice. The standard format is for a given team to go play two single games at one school on a Friday and Saturday, respectively, then move on to play a Sunday double-header at a different school. The Big 10 actually has 11 schools (thanks to the addition of Penn State roughly 15 years ago). All schools participate in softball, giving each team 10 opponents and thus a 20-game conference schedule.

Big 12: Each school plays each other school twice, either in a double-header or on consecutive days. Conference play can be on weekends or weekdays, but there always appears to be at least one day off between playing different opponents. Colorado and Kansas State do not participate in softball, leaving each school nine opponents and 18 conference games.

Pac10: Each school plays each other three times, but in a very creative way. As an example, Stanford is playing the two Oregon schools in the following manner: over a weekend, Stanford hosts Oregon State for one game and the University of Oregon for two; later in the season, the Cardinal go to UO for one and OSU for two. Conference play appears confined to weekends, with a format of either three single games, or a single game and a double-header. USC and Washington State do not participate in softball, giving each school seven opponents and 21 conference games.

SEC: Alone among these conferences, the SEC keeps separate softball standings by division, in this case Eastern and Western (the Big 12 uses North and South divisions for football, but not for other sports). Vanderbilt, which would be in the Eastern Division, is the only conference team not to participate in softball. Teams play each other three times each, in the format of a double-header one day, followed by a single game the next day. Weekdays as well as weekends are used, but there’s always at least one day off between playing different opponents.

Alabama has a particularly taxing stretch up ahead, with six SEC games in five days: the Crimson Tide hosts Georgia in a double-header on Saturday, April 22, followed by a single game on Sunday; after taking Monday off, 'Bama travels to Auburn for a twin-bill on Tuesday and a single game Wednesday. With 10 opponents, each team plays 30 conference games.

In other softball notes...

Today's Michigan Daily has a story on the Wolverines' recent offensive woes.

Northwestern's agog over its first-ever nationally televised home game (on CSTV), today against Notre Dame. Northwestern is currently in first place in the Big 10, but all four of the Wildcats' remaining conference series are on the road.