Sunday, May 20, 2007

The NCAA regionals are now over and the match-ups for next weekend's super-regionals known. Each "super" consists of two teams that will play a two-out-of-three series, the winners of which will comprise the eight-team field for the Women's College World Series. This Sunday scoreboard page from the NCAA has links to articles (recaps) of today's decisive games.

ESPN.com has a nice chart of the super-regionals, from which I've adapted the following list of pairings. As can be seen, the nationally seeded teams assigned to each of the four-team regionals (one per region) had a high success rate. To my knowledge, the higher seed in each super-regional pair will host the series. Below the super-regional match-ups, I comment on several of this past weekend's regionals.

Arizona (national No. 1 seed) vs. Cal State Fullerton (winner of Columbus, Ohio region, at which No. 16 Virginia Tech was the nationally seeded team)

Baylor (8) vs. Michigan (9)

Tennessee (5) vs. Hawaii (winner of Los Angeles region, which included No. 12 UCLA)

Texas A&M (4) vs. Florida (13)

Oklahoma (3) vs. DePaul (14)

Washington (6) vs. Alabama (11)

Arizona State (7) vs. LSU (10)

Northwestern (2) vs. South Carolina (host of region that included No. 15 NC State)

Comments on selected regionals from this past weekend

Los Angeles regional: There are certain things in life that we can count on not to change. The Yankees wearing pinstripes, heavy snow in Buffalo, and a Kennedy or two in government, come to mind.

Collegiate softball's closest analogue would have to be UCLA making the Women's College World Series, which before the current season, the Bruins had done 22 times in the 25 years the Series has been under the jurisdiction of the NCAA.

(Two of the exceptions derived from mid-'90s shenanigans in which UCLA put some softball players on soccer scholarships and brought in an Australian player who never even completed a full year of schoolwork; for this, the Bruins had to vacate their 1995 NCAA championship and were banned from postseason play in '98.)

Well, in a game televised late Saturday night on ESPN2, UCLA was eliminated from this year's tourney by Loyola Marymount, the Bruins' first loss of the regional having come to Hawaii. Against LMU, UCLA trailed 4-0 after five innings, scored two in the sixth to halve the deficit, and threatened in the seventh, before falling short.

Columbus, Ohio regional: I was in Columbus attending another of my academic conferences, so I was able to attend a couple of games of this regional on Saturday. I took some photos, which I should have up on the blog in the next day or so. The first game I saw on Saturday was host Ohio State's victory over nationally seeded (16) Virginia Tech, early in the afternoon.

Then, I came back in the evening for the Hokies' game against Cal State Fullerton, which had defeated Canisius in the middle game of the day, a losers' bracket contest. Fullerton captured this elimination game over Va Tech, 1-0, as the Titans got a homer -- a gargantuan blast, actually -- from Candice Baker in the sixth inning, which was their first hit of the game against the Hokies' Angela Tincher.

I flew back to Lubbock this morning, so I couldn't attend any of today's games. I can only imagine the disappointment of Ohio State fans as the Buckeyes, undefeated all year at home and needing only one win to move on, dropped a pair to Fullerton. It was a great year for Scarlet and Grey softball, with Ohio State winning both the Big 10 regular-season and conference-tourney titles, the latter with a championship-game win over Northwestern, but that's as far as it went...

Other regionals: Two teams that looked, shall we say, precarious early on -- Alabama, after Friday's 4-2 to Tennessee Tech, and Texas A&M, after Saturday's 8-1 loss to Houston -- each came back to win their respective regions. Tennessee Tech got a rare opportunity to appear on national television with its ESPN2 appearance Saturday afternoon against Cal.