Friday, March 09, 2007

The major story in college softball this weekend, in my view, is the opening of conference play in the SEC, a good 2-3 weeks before the other major conferences start their league play. As gleaned from the composite schedule on the SEC softball page, this weekend's match-ups are as follows:

March 10
Mississippi State at Alabama* (2) 1/3 pm
South Carolina at Arkansas* (2) 1/3 pm
Auburn at Kentucky* (2) 12/2 pm
Tennessee at Florida* (2) 12/2 pm
[Georgia at Florida State Tournament TBA]
LSU at Ole Miss* (2) 1/3 pm

March 11
Mississippi State at Alabama* 1:30 pm
South Carolina at Arkansas* 1 pm
Auburn at Kentucky* 12 pm
Tennessee at Florida* 12 pm
[Georgia at Florida State Tournament TBA]
LSU at Ole Miss* 1 pm


Vanderbilt does not field a softball team, leaving one SEC school without a conference opponent at any given time. As I've bracketed above, Georgia will not be involved in conference play this weekend, instead participating in the Florida State tournament.

Tennessee (a consensus No. 1 in both national polls) and Alabama (No. 3 and 4) are both undefeated. LSU is also in the top 10 (No. 9 and 10). Florida, Tennessee's opponent this weekend, is ranked 19th and 24th.

***

Further west, Arizona State will host the four-team Pac-10/Big 12 Challenge. ASU and Washington, representing the Pac-10, will play a bunch of games against Texas Tech and Missouri, representing the Big 12.

The games between Texas Tech and the University of Washington, in particular, will be interesting, as former Husky coach Teresa Wilson is now in her third season at the helm of the Red Raiders (AP article from a few years ago on Wilson's hiring at Tech). This article from the Texas Tech athletics site explores the impact of Wilson's role at both schools. Among the ripple effects of Wilson's move was the transfer of catcher/infielder Robyn Wike from U-Dub to Tech (note the article's interesting spelling of the word "enticing").