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Thursday, June 01, 2006

11:21 pm Central: The first pitch of the UCLA-Tennessee game is delivered. The Bruins' Anjelica (Jelly) Selden throws a strike to the Vols' Sarah Fekete.

10:55 pm Central: It's over! Northwestern wins 6-5 in the bottom of the 10th.

10:35 pm Central: It's a long day of softball! Alabama is batting against Northwestern in the top of the 10th inning, with the score tied 5-5. And there's still another game to go (UCLA-Tennessee)!

One minute it looks like Northwestern is going to win, then like Alabama is going to win, then Northwestern,... The Crimson Tide was one strike away from winning in the bottom of the seventh, and its pitcher, Chrissy Owens (who had earlier replaced Stephanie VanBrakle) had not given up a home run all year. The Wildcats seemed to be in dire straits, but really they were in Dyer straits, Erin Dyer, that is. Sure enough, Dyer hit one over the center-field fence to tie the game.

6:45 pm Central: Texas has just finished off Arizona State, 2-0. The Sun Devils barely got a scratch on Cat Osterman, who struck out 18 ASU batters and allowed only one hit. Next up: Alabama vs. Northwestern.

5:45 pm Central: It seems to be raining on-and-off in OKC. Arizona and Oregon State were able to finish their game, with the Wildcats winning 3-2 in nine innings (which for you newcomers to the game, is extra innings, because regulation is seven innings). ASU and Texas are now underway. Links to newspaper articles previewing today's games are shown below, in my first entry of the day today.

2:45 pm Central: Play seems to have resumed after the rain delay, with Oregon State scoring a run to close to within 2-1 of Arizona, bottom 5.

1:45 pm Central: Play in the opening game of the Women's College World Series between Oregon State and Arizona appears to be stalled in the bottom of the third inning (with the Wildcats up 2-0), due to rain. I'm not by a TV at the moment, but I noticed that the online gametrackers I was checking (at the NCAA and CSTV pages, see links section on the right) were not changing for a long time. To verify my hunch about rain, I checked out the current Oklahoma City weather, on the Weather Channel website, and it says "Heavy T-Storm." The word "Heavy" doesn't sound promising, but rain delays are nothing new.

9:30 am Central: With the opening game of the Women's College World Series just 2.5 hours away, let's go around the horn to see what newspapers in the participating teams' towns are saying (I should note that, whereas most of the newspapers below provide unimpeded access to their pages, a couple require you to jump through some "hoops," such as providing demographic and/or consumer-preference information).

The Daily Bruin emphasizes the enormous experience of Sue Enquist's squad, pointing out that:

If you tally the total number of games played at the World Series by each player on the UCLA roster, you get an amazing, unheard-of 122. The Bruins, who have seemingly made ASA Hall of Fame Stadium their second home, return every player who played in the championship series against Michigan a year ago. On top of the players from last year, 10 current Bruins played on the 2004 national championship team, four of them also playing on the 2003 team that won it all.

As the Corvallis (Oregon) Gazette-Times tells it, however, UCLA's storied past in the WCWS may benefit not just the Bruins, as Oregon State's "coach Kirk Walker has made 10 appearances as an assistant with UCLA and helped the Bruins win six championships."

The Knoxville News-Sentinel, sticking with this experience theme, examines how Tennessee pitcher Monica Abbott may have learned some valuable lessons from pitching against UCLA at last year's WCWS.

This Tuscaloosa News/Tide Sports article develops the theme that last year's national champion Michigan may serve as an inspiration to this year's Alabama squad, based not just on geography, but also the -- you guessed it -- experience of multiple trips to the WCWS.

The Austin American-Statesman tries to dispel the notion that Texas will be hindered by the pressure of trying to win a national championship for senior Longhorn pitcher Cat Osterman:

Will they be feeling the heat in Oklahoma City, realizing that this is their last chance to let Osterman's almost unhittable pitching spur them to a national title?

Probably not. Odds are this fun-loving group will enjoy the journey to the Women's College World Series no matter what the outcome.

The Arizona Republic runs the headlines "ASU doesn't fear Osterman" and (drawing from the Tucson Citizen) "Wildcats to face Beavers' ace."

Finally, the Chicago Sun-Times discusses, shall we say, an unusual "tradition" the Northwestern players have regarding their gloves.

Now that I've finished this write-up, it's actually more like 1.5 hours until play begins!