Sunday, March 04, 2007

Illinois State, which has been right on the border of the national top 25, with a No. 25 ranking in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll and a position just outside the top 25 in the USA Today/NFCA poll, should be moving on up after this weekend's games. The Redbirds played in the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament at UCLA and went 4-1, including a win over the host Bruins and two over nationally ranked Florida; the one ISU loss was to Cal State Long Beach, which the Redbirds avenged later in the tournament.

UCLA went 3-1 in the same tournament, with two wins over Loyola University Chicago and one over Florida. The Bruins gave up only five runs in the four games. However, reflecting some difficulties experienced in previous weeks by Anjelica Selden, now in her third year as the Bruins' No. 1 pitcher, there's a thread on the UCLA sports discussion board asking the question, "What's wrong with Jelly?" The initial commentary presents a number of statistics about Selden's performance over the years, followed by several replies.

Cal State Fullerton pitcher Candice Baker turned in another strong performance against a Pac-10 opponent, tossing a two-hit shutout against Oregon State (No. 11 and 13 in the national polls), with the Titans winning 1-0. Expectations for Oregon State were high going into this season, coming off the momentum from last year's Women's College World Series appearance, with the Beavers being ranked as high as No. 6 in the nation early in the season. The Beavers' record of 11-7 at this time may strike some as disappointing, but a lot of softball remains.

LSU lost another game to Washington in the Husky Classic, 6-3. I believe the original schedule said LSU and U-Dub would play two on Sunday, but they only played once today.

The 2005 NCAA champion, Michigan, has been out of the limelight of late, probably a combination of star pitcher Jennie Ritter (and a few other seniors) completing their eligibility last season and the Wolverines' absence from the top tournaments of the current season. For what it's worth, Michigan has now won 16 straight games and is 20-1 overall, having just finished play in the Jacksonville, Florida tournament. Frosh pitcher Nikki Nemitz is providing added depth in the circle, along with Stacy Delaney and Lorilyn Wilson.

Before arriving in Jacksonville, the Wolverines, ranked No. 9 and 13 in the two national polls, swept a doubleheader from Florida State in Tallahasse, giving their coach, Carol "Hutch" Hutchins, her 1,000th win.