Saturday, May 27, 2006

A little after 10:00 pm Central: It got a bit dicey at the end from LSU's perspective. But the Tigers, who led Arizona 3-0 going into the Wildcat (top) half of the seventh, were able to hold on for a 3-2 win, forcing a third and deciding game in their super-regional series later tonight.

It looked to me like LSU might have been able to end Game 2 a little earlier than was the case, as a Wildcat batter took a pitch with two outs and two strikes that easily could have been called for a game-ending strike (discussants on the Ultimate College Softball forums seem to agree). The pitch was called a ball, however, and the batter rifled the next pitch for a line-drive the LSU shortstop was unable to handle. LSU retired the next U of A batter for the win, though.

It's unclear to me whether Game 3 will be televised on one of the "regular" ESPN channels (ESPN or ESPN2), or only on the less-available ESPN-U. The recently concluded Arizona-LSU Game 2 was on ESPN2, but apparently only because ESPN2 had the time blocked out for a possible Texas-Washington Game 3 (which was not needed). ESPN and ESPN2 both have shows other than softball listed for the next few hours; whether they'll switch something around to put the decisive Arizona-LSU game on ESPN/ESPN2 is something we'll find out by tuning in shortly!

A little after 9:00 pm Central: Currently on ESPN2, we have LSU leading Arizona 2-0, bottom of the fourth. The Wildcats (for this game, the visitors on their home field) have left at least one runner on base in the top half of every inning. Update: It's now 3-0. Should the Tigers hold on and even up the series, the decisive third game would be later tonight.

Elsewhere in the Grand Canyon State, Arizona State has defeated Florida State 5-1 to join the field for the WCWS (I'm listing the World Series qualifiers in bold, as they're determined).

Lastly, for now, UCLA has taken a 1-0 series lead over South Florida.

5:30 pm Central: At this moment, we know three of the teams that will be playing in the Women's College World Series:

Alabama, which captured an 8-7 extra inning victory over Stanford, to render moot the embarrassment of blowing a 7-0 lead (2 games to 0 sweep);

Texas, which scored a 9-1 run-rule-shortened win against Washington (2-0 sweep); and

Northwestern, likewise a run-rule victor, stopping UMass 9-0 in Game 3 (2-1 series win).

The Cal-Oregon State super-regional, which the Golden Bears lead 1-0, has been rained out for Saturday and will resume Sunday.

3:30 pm Central: In the first game to get underway today, Tennessee took a 1-0 series lead over defending NCAA champion Michigan, defeating the Wolverines 5-3 in an ESPN telecast. The Lady Vols blended speed and power, along with some poor UM fielding, to take and maintain control for most of the game. Of Michigan's runs, two came on solo homers (one, a typically prodigious blast by Samantha Findlay, who later received the "Barry Bonds treatment" of being walked intentionally).

Also on ESPN, Texas's Tina Boutelle has just hit a grand-slam homer to give the Longhorns a 5-0 lead over Washington, in the top of the second. Barring a monumental U-Dub comeback against Cat Osterman, the Huskies will be "toast" for the series.

Talking about toast, that's exactly what Northwestern was very close to being, down 1-0 in the series and trailing UMass 2-0 after five innings in Game 2. The Wildcats scored two runs each, in the top of the sixth and seventh innings, however, to pull out a 4-2 victory. The decisive Game 3 has just gotten underway. UMass is starting Brandice Balschmiter for the third time this series, despite her apparent tiring in Game 2 earlier today. In Game 2, Balschmiter walked in both Northwestern runs in the top of the sixth.

Finally, Alabama looked to be well on its way to the Women's College World Series, having won yesterday's opener vs. Stanford, and putting up seven runs in the top of the first today. Not so fast. It's now going to the bottom of the seventh, tied 7-up (and I'm not talking about the soft drink).

11:00 am Central: We're moments away from the first pitch of the Michigan-Tennessee super-regional series, being televised on ESPN... Here it comes... The Lady Vols' Monica Abbott hits the Wolverines' Tiffany Haas with a pitch...

By the end of the day, we'll know several of the teams going to the Women's College World Series, which starts Thursday, June 1, in Oklahoma City (WCWS schedule).

As has become my custom, I'll do updates every couple of hours. As always, check out the sources in my links section, in the right-hand column of the page. Various gametrackers, audio feeds, and perhaps even video feeds, are available. Within the discussion forums of Ultimate College Softball, there is ongoing chat throughout the games. Enjoy your day of following softball!