Tuesday, May 08, 2007

In football, teams sometimes have a "quarterback controversy." The softball equivalent would have to be a pitcher controversy. Unlike in baseball, where the strain of throwing overhand limits a starting pitcher to one appearance every five days or so, softball's underhand pitching motion is relatively untaxing physically, so that a team can use one pitcher exclusively in a regional or national tournament, if the coach desires.

At my undergraduate alma mater, UCLA, the Bruins are facing some uncertainty over who should be the lead pitcher. Junior Anjelica (Jelly) Selden has been UCLA's pitcher in the previous two years' Women's College World Series. Despite a few memorable homers given up and a mental block about throwing the ball to first base on grounders hit to her, Selden's World Series showings have generally been strong.

Selden has struggled at times this season, however, and combined with the emergence of frosh Megan Langenfeld, the UCLA pitching situation is now up in the air.

The question of "Selden or Langenfeld?" has also been the subject of a lengthy discussion thread, begun a couple of weeks ago, on Ultimate College Softball.

UCLA's Daily Bruin has also run an upbeat feature article on Langenfeld, in the April 19 issue. As pointed out in the article, Langenfeld also contributes offensively, starting at first base when she's not pitching.

Perhaps as a result of UCLA not being so dominant this year, there seems to be less softball discussion on the Bruin Report Online board, as compared to other years. There has been some, though, and as one commentator on this forum noted:

Selden has been inconsistent this year. It's like she is a different person out there compared to her freshman and sophomore year. Then again she has her moments. She two[-]hit Arizona earlier in the season and has looked awesome at times only to lose composure the next inning.

As shown in these UCLA pitching lines from this past weekend's three games against the northern California teams, Langenfeld has, for the most part, been the more impressive of late (copied from the UCLA softball site, with my insertion of commas to aid readability). Langenfeld, in particular, doesn't seem to give up many walks, as highlighted in bold.

LOSS TO CAL, 3-1

UCLA Bruins IP, H, R, ER, BB, SO, AB, BF, NP
--------------------------------------------------
Selden, Anjelica...... 2.1, 3, 3, 3, 2, 1, 10, 13, 52
Langenfeld, Megan... 4.2, 3, 0, 0, 0, 7, 16, 16, 64

WIN OVER STANFORD, 3-0

UCLA Bruins IP, H, R, ER, BB, SO, AB, BF, NP
--------------------------------------------------
Langenfeld, Megan... 7.0, 4, 0, 0, 0, 6, 26, 26, 99

LOSS TO STANFORD, 4-1

UCLA Bruins IP, H, R, ER, BB, SO, AB, BF, NP
--------------------------------------------------
Langenfeld, Megan... 5.1, 8, 2, 2, 1, 2, 23, 26, 110
Selden, Anjelica...... 1.2, 2, 2, 2, 0, 1, 5, 7, 32

UCLA concludes the regular season this Thursday through Saturday with a swing through the Grand Canyon State, with one game at Arizona and two at ASU. These games presumably should give Bruin coach Kelly Inouye-Perez a final opportunity to finalize her pitching line-up heading into NCAA play. An unquestionable positive of this situation from UCLA's perspective is the pitching depth and flexibility afforded by having these two players.