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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Here's a direct link to the official NCAA Saturday scoreboard.

Final posting of the evening!

And then there were six... Arizona State defeated LSU, 7-4, to sweep the teams' super-regional series and advance to the Women's College World Series. I guess Purple Power has its limitations!

Down the road, Arizona pulled away from Cal State Fullerton to defeat the Titans 11-6 in the opener of the teams' series.

8:55 pm Central

Another three-run homer, this time by Laine Roth, has put Arizona in the lead, 6-5, over Cal State Fullerton. The Titan third-baseperson's inability to field cleanly a two-out grounder left the door open for the Wildcats, and they certainly took advantage.

8:20 pm Central

Callista Balko has just hit a three-run homer to bring Arizona within 5-3 of Cal State Fullerton.

We have two more teams that have qualified for the Women's College World Series:

Tennessee bounced back from its Game 2 loss to Hawaii earlier today to knock off the Rainbow Wahine, 7-1.

In a similar situation, Texas A&M rebounded to shut out Florida, 2-0, and thus take the series.

A little after 8:00 pm Central

Arizona experienced a "Half-Inning from Hell" right away in the top of the first, as visiting Cal State Fullerton put 5 runs on the board. Not only that -- the Wildcats lost senior All-America outfielder Caitlin Lowe (for how long, has not been announced), who had to be carted off the field after appearing to run face-first into the fence pursuing a long Fullerton fly. U of A starting pitcher Taryne Mowatt looked like she may have gotten injured herself, as her back leg gave out a little when she was fielding a bunt, but after a few practice tosses, she was back pitching. As Arizona comes up in the bottom of the fourth, the score remains 5-0.

5:45 pm Central

Michigan is coming up in the bottom of the seventh, trailing Baylor, 4-0. Going to the last commercial break, the CSTV announcer said, "We're on the cusp of history...," referring of course to the possibility of Baylor making its first Women's College World Series.

We have one out... Two outs... As Howard Cosell would say, "It's all over!"

Baylor becomes the third qualifier for the WCWS.

5:15 pm Central

Florida's Lauren Roussell has just hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the seventh against Texas A&M, winning the game 3-2 and forcing a decisive Game 3, in 30 minutes.

We'll have another Game 3 in Knoxville. Tennessee closed its deficit against Hawaii to 9-6, but that was it.

A little after 5:00 pm Central

We now have a second team going to the World Series and, like Northwestern, it also wears purple and also eliminated an SEC team. The latest super-regional winner is... Washington, which a short time ago beat Alabama.

Also, in perhaps the most startling development so far, Hawaii leads Tennessee 9-2, top seven. Looks like there'll be a Game 3...

Almost 5:00 pm Central

Florida has tied up its game with Texas A&M, 2-2, bottom six.

Michigan's lower part of the batting order is staging a bit of a rally, putting runners on first and second with one out, but nothing comes of it.

4:35 pm Central

Another Baylor home run, by Alex Colyer, makes it 3-0 Bears, top two. Lorilyn Wilson is on to replace Nemitz. A walk and two hits have made it 4-0...

4:15 pm Central

The decisive Game 3 between Michigan and Baylor has just started. The Wolverines are the home team, so it must be decided by coin flip. Nikki Nemitz is starting for UM.

The Bears' Ashley Monceaux has just doubled off the wall in the opening at-bat, followed by a homer by Kirsten Shortridge, making it 2-0 Baylor. UM shortstop Teddy Ewing has just made an error, her third of the day (counting Game 2). Ewing comes back to make a nice catch on a line drive, and doubles off the runner at first. Baylor then gets a solid single to center, and the Wolverine pitching coach is out to talk to Nemitz. Nemitz stays in and gets a strikeout to end the inning.

Baylor's going with Lisa Ferguson in the circle, so one of my two predictions was correct!

Texas A&M continues to lead Florida, 2-1, top of the fifth.

3:40 pm Central

Michigan closes out Baylor, 3-0, a two-hitter for Wolverine frosh Nikki Nemitz. The decisive Game 3 will be in a half-hour. Each team faces a tough decision regarding whom to start in the pitching circle.

For Michigan, Nemitz has just finished a superb performance, but she also pitched part of the game Friday. She could thus tire as Game 3 moves along. Lorilyn Wilson has had her bright spots this season, but was knocked out of the game after starting yesterday. Perhaps you start Wilson, but with Nemitz at the ready.

For Baylor, Lisa Ferguson, Friday's pitcher, has looked more impressive than Kirsten Shortridge, today's Game 2 starter. It would seem to be an easy decision to go with Ferguson, but she wasn't exactly scintillating in her Game 2 relief role.

About 3:15 pm Central

The other rain-delayed game, in College Station, Texas, has also gotten underway. Texas A&M (in the visitors' role) has put up 2 runs right away against Florida in the top of the first. This game is on ESPN.

Michigan, leading Baylor 1-0 in the bottom of the fifth, is threatening again and has knocked out Bear starter Kirsten Shortridge; Lisa Ferguson now has to deal with Wolverines on second and third with one out. A sac fly makes it 2-0... and a line single up the middle makes it 3-0...

About 2:30 pm Central

Northwestern is the first team to punch its ticket to the Women's College World Series, with a 3-0 victory this afternoon over South Carolina.

Michigan's off to a much better start today, taking a 1-0 lead over Baylor in the second inning.

2:00 pm Central

Game 2 of the Michigan-Baylor series (on CSTV) is now underway, after a rain delay. The starting pitchers are Nikki Nemitz for the Wolverines and Kirsten Shortridge for the Bears. The game is only a few minutes old, and already the Wolverines have committed an error, after four yesterday! Michigan is the home team for this game. Even though each super-regional series is played in only one location, the teams apparently rotate home-team status to balance out the advantages of getting final at-bats. If a series goes to a Game 3, I'm not sure if a coin-flip is used to determine the home-team status or if the higher-seeded team gets the honors.

About 1:15 pm Central

Here's an update on the rain situation in east and central Texas affecting the Florida-Texas A&M and Michigan-Baylor super-regional series. I've copied and pasted this screenshot from the U.S. government's National Weather Service, depicting the current forecasts.

Noon Central

Before discussing today's play, I just wanted to mention the results of Friday's late game, which also ran really long. Arizona State defeated LSU 1-0 in 10 innings, as summarized in this article.

OK, on to Saturday's slate of games. One is going on already, with DePaul and Oklahoma playing their series opener on ESPN. The Blue Demons have just broken through with the game's first run in the top of the sixth. [Update: DePaul has taken Game 1 by a 3-0 score. As the ESPN announcers have pointed out, the Blue Demons have now gone four NCAA games -- three in last week's regional and then again today -- without allowing a run. Here's DePaul's game-by-game log, if you want to examine the team's results for yourself.]

The other series that begins today is Cal State Fullerton vs. Arizona, at 7:00 Central on ESPN.

All the remaining series will have their second (and third, if necessary) games today. As a Michigan alumnus, I'll be interested to see how the Wolverines respond to yesterday's shellacking by Baylor (Game 2 begins shortly, at 1:00 Central on CSTV).

In past years, UM has shown resilience in similar situations. As many of you will recall, in the 2005 championship round of the Women's College World Series, the Wolverines dropped the opener to UCLA, 5-0, but came back to win the series. Then, in a 2006 super-regional series against Tennessee, Michigan also lost Game 1, but came back to win Game 2 and take things to the wire in a 1-0 loss to the Vols in Game 3.

Come back often for updates throughout the day!

[Update 2: ESPN is reporting a rain delay in College Station, Texas for the Florida-Texas A&M series. With Waco, Texas only about 100 miles away, my first thought was that Michigan-Baylor might also be delayed, and that indeed seems to be the case.]