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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Welcome to my new blog on women's college softball. Given my connections to UCLA (as an undergraduate), the University of Michigan (as a graduate student), and Texas Tech University (as a faculty member), my focus will be on NCAA Division I softball in the Big 10, Big 12, and Pacific 10 conferences, as noted at the top of the page.

As documented in this chart, all but two of the 24 NCAA Women's College World Series (WCWS) softball competitions to date have been won by teams from the aforementioned three conferences (10 alone by UCLA, excluding one that was vacated for infractions).

Further, five of the eight teams in last year's World Series were from the Pac 10 (UCLA, California, and Arizona), Big 10 (Michigan), and Big 12 (Texas). The Southeastern Conference (SEC) is improving its profile in softball, with Tennessee and Alabama making last year's WCWS (Alabama also made it to a regional final against UCLA in 2004, which I attended while visiting in L.A.). I will augment my coverage of the SEC this year, as needed. The final team in the 2005 WCWS was Chicago's DePaul, formerly in Conference USA and now in the Big East.

Having Michigan and UCLA play in last year's NCAA championship round was, of course, softball nirvana for me. I have, however, followed the sport going back many years, so I'm not just a "Johnny Come Lately" to college softball. Also, under second-year Coach Teresa Wilson (who previously guided the University of Washington to six WCWS appearances), the Texas Tech softball team is showing signs of life, recently splitting double-headers with each of two nationally ranked Big 12 teams, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.

In just 12 days (Thursday, April 20), I will be heading out to Texas Tech's softball stadium as the University of Texas comes into town for a conference double-header. Led by 6-foot-2 left-handed star pitcher Cat Osterman, a member of the 2004 U.S. gold medal Olympic team and now a senior, the Longhorns are looking to make the WCWS for the third time in the last four years (Osterman redshirted in 2004 to concentrate on preparations for the Olympics). Texas is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation in a pair of polls (see links in the upper-right portion of this page).

That's enough for now. Keep visiting during the season! In the meantime, you can check out the links to other softball sites I've provided.