8:00 pm Central: In what for the last few innings was just a formality, Arizona has defeated Tennessee to claim the second spot in the championship series.
It all now comes down to the Wildcats (Northwestern) vs. Wildcats (Arizona), two-out-of-three starting Monday night, for the national championship. See you tomorrow...
7:40 pm Central: 6-0 Arizona, midway through the sixth.
6:55 pm Central: Another inning, another run, 5-0 Arizona. I wonder if the "run rule" (an eight-run lead after at least five innings) applies in the WCWS?
6:35 pm Central: It's now 4-0 Arizona in the second. This game could be getting out of hand soon, if it's not already!
6:25 pm Central: Arizona has taken a 2-0 lead over Tennessee in the top of the first inning of their winner-take-all game to qualify for the championship series. The Wildcats were helped in good part by shoddy Vol infield play (an apparent carryover from the ending of the two teams' first contest earlier today).
4:45 pm Central: One out for UCLA... (Keep hitting your "refresh" button, as I'm doing real-time updates.)... Two outs...
Northwestern pitcher Eileen Canney zaps Zaplatosch (strike-out swinging), and we have our first team into the championship series! Starting Monday night, Northwestern will either face Arizona (in a battle of the two Wildcat squads) or Tennessee.
Canney holds the top four batters in the Bruin batting order -- including seniors Andrea Duran, Caitlin Benyi, and Emily Zaplatosch -- hitless.
On to Tennessee vs. Arizona...
4:35 pm Central: Tammy Williams homers in the top of the eighth to put Northwestern back on top, 2-1. Garland Cooper immediately follows with another homer, 3-1.
UCLA (again) coming up for its last shot.
4:20 pm Central: Jodie Legaspi leads off the bottom of the seventh for UCLA with a double. Sacrificed to third, one out. Ground out, runner can't score. Two outs...
Dedmon does it again! Kristen Dedmon, who got a clutch pinch hit in the 2004 World Series, does it again. Tie game!
Tara Henry beats out a bunt, as the Northwestern player covering first lifts her foot off the bag.
Up comes Andrea Duran, the hitting hero of yesterday, with runners on first and second. Duran pops out. Going to extras...
2:40 pm Central: Jamie Dotson drives one over the right-field fence to give Northwestern a 1-0 lead over UCLA.
2:00 pm Central: Tennessee has just finished off Arizona, 1-0. It now becomes a one-game showdown between the Vols and Wildcats later today at 6:00 pm Central, for a spot in the championship series.
Tennessee shortstop Lindsay Schutzler helped keep the game more exciting than it needed to be, committing two errors in the seventh and leaving U of A with first and third with two outs (I can only imagine the angst among Vol fans). Schutzler redeemed herself, however, throwing out the Wildcats' Caitlin Lowe on a bang-bang play at first base.
Upon being called out, Lowe slammed down her helmet and (even though I have no training at reading lips), appeared to yell, "That's [BS]." It was definitely an extremely close play. I would need to see it over and over again from different angles, in slow-motion and freeze-frame. In the umpire's defense, of course, it's a split-second call. Also, it was not the kind of call that would lead me immediately to say it was clearly wrong, the way Lowe seemed to think.
Next up, Northwestern and UCLA. A win sends Northwestern directly to the championship series, whereas UCLA needs to win twice.
1:25 pm Central: Just as I was about to say that there was not much to report at this point in a scoreless Tennessee-Arizona game, the Vols' Katherine Card has hit one out to give her team a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth. Wildcat outfielder Caitlin Lowe herself went over the fence, in pursuit of the ball!
I was just looking over the UCLA discussion board, and one of the participants made an interesting observation about the Bruins' situation in the tournament, particularly the circumstances under which they got to face star Texas pitcher Cat Osterman:
In a curious way, UCLA's first-round loss may have been a blessing in disguise. The way it's played out, UCLA has had to beat Texas only once instead of twice, as would have been the case had the teams met in the final. ...no other single player scares me so much [as Osterman]. When she's on, she's absolutely dominating.
Back to the Vols and Wildcats, Arizona had a threat going in the top of the sixth with runners on first and second and one out, but didn't score.