Thursday, July 13, 2006

As those of you watching ESPN are aware, the World Cup softball tournament is now underway (official World Cup website).

Great Britain has just avoided -- for now -- a run-rule defeat to the US. A sliding-scale run rule is being used -- a bigger deficit is needed to terminate a game, the earlier it is. One such termination point is a 15-run deficit in the fourth inning, and the US was stopped in that inning with a 14-0 lead.

The first two pitchers used by the American team were both collegians during this past NCAA season, Tennessee's Monica Abbott and Arizona's Alicia Hollowell. UCLA's Andrea Duran also made a big splash, socking a three-run homer.

Jennie Finch, the early 2000's U of A star who gave birth in early May of this year, has now gone in to pitch the fifth for the US (an eight-run lead after five also ends the game). Great Britain has just gotten its first hit of the game, but doesn't score in the fifth. Game over.

Many of the British players apparently have affiliations with American colleges, as noted by the ESPN announcers. For example, starting pitcher Stacie Townsend just completed her high school career in Florida and will be an incoming frosh at the University of Texas, El Paso (UTEP); she obviously must have some tie to Great Britain, perhaps having been born there or having relatives from across the pond. Other British team members were said to play (or have played) for schools such as Syracuse and Florida State, if I recall correctly.

Not to overgeneralize from the background of a small number of British players, but the dominance of the US over Great Britain would seem to stem, in good part, from two factors: the greater experience of the American players and the higher caliber of the collegiate programs for which they played.

Update: Here's an article on the game.