10:55 pm Central: Northwestern got by Tennessee, 2-0, a little while ago. What this means is that Northwestern and Arizona are each one victory away from making it to the championship series, a 2-out-of-3 affair that would start Monday night. If Northwestern and Arizona indeed were to meet in the championship round -- and it's still very premature to say so -- it would be the Wildcats vs. the Wildcats!
Let's take a look at the brackets, now that losers' bracket play will begin tomorrow...
First, let's look at the top half of the draw (the part that started out with Arizona, Oregon State, Arizona State, and Texas). In the losers' bracket of this section, Oregon State and Arizona State meet tomorrow at 11:00 am Central, the loser going home.
In determining the next opponent for the winner of this game, a little "switcheroo" comes along. Of the two teams that suffered their first losses tonight -- Texas and Tennessee -- Texas would seem to be the logical opponent for the OSU-ASU winner, as the Longhorns started out the tournament in the same part of the bracket as the Beavers and Sun Devils. However, as can be seen in the bracket, Tenneseee and Texas get switched to the opposite brackets from where they came. Thus, it's the Vols that will await the ASU-OSU winner.
Saturday's second game pits Alabama against UCLA, with -- again, due to the aforementioned shift -- Texas awaiting the winner. Alabama is not exactly in an enviable position; if it is to have any chance of making the championship round, it will have to begin that journey by knocking off UCLA and then Texas, the latter two each having been ranked No. 1 in the nation during stretches of the regular season!
On to Saturday!
9:00 pm Central: About an hour ago, No. 2 seed Arizona defeated No. 3 Texas, 2-0. It's technically not an upset, in terms of the seeding, but many people will still consider it so, because of the seeming invincibility of Longhorn pitcher Cat Osterman.
Invincible, indeed, Osterman seemed, not giving up a hit until two outs in the bottom of the sixth (and not giving up any more hits after that). The Wildcats' hit drove in their first run, after a hit-by-pitch, steal, and walk put a runner in scoring position. Then, with U of A having runners on first and third, the former took off toward second, attempting to draw a throw from the Texas catcher to second. The throw indeed was made, allowing the runner on third to score.
Arizona senior Alicia Hollowell give up four hits, but spaced them out sufficiently to minimize the threats the Longhorns could get going. Texas now goes down to the losers' bracket, where it potentially will have to play No. 1 seed UCLA tomorrow (more on that later).
2:01 am Central: Tennessee has just defeated UCLA, 4-3, to end the first round of the WCWS [link to game story added later on Friday]. The Bruins' Anjelica Selden looked to have things under control, allowing only one hit over the first five innings, as UCLA led 2-0. The Vols then went on a "hit parade," going ahead 3-2 in the top of the sixth, and adding a run in the top of the seventh to increase the lead to 4-2. UCLA rallied for a run in the bottom of the seventh and had the potential tying run on second base, but Tennessee pitcher Monica Abbott closed the door on the Bruins, the game ending on a grounder to third base that resulted in a force out. In similar fashion to last weekend's super-regional final against Michigan, Abbott "bent but didn't break," at the end.
Later today, we have two games, both in the winners' bracket. Texas faces Arizona at 6:00 pm Central, followed by Northwestern and Tennessee.
Losers' bracket play will begin Saturday.