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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Today marks the end of the regular season in three of the four power conferences -- the Big 10, Big 12, and SEC -- all of which will be holding postseason conference tournaments during the latter part of this coming week. The remaining conference, the Pac 10, does not hold a tournament, so next weekend will consist of "regular" conference play.

The final standings are now known for the Big 10. Ohio State has once again defeated Penn State, this time by a 4-0 score, to edge out Northwestern for first place. The Big 10 awards its regular-season champion the right to host the conference tourney, so teams will be converging on Columbus in the next several days.

Likewise, the Big 12's regular-season champion has been determined. As noted in this article from the Missouri website:

In a game with Big 12 title implications, the Tiger softball team (37-21, 13-4) was unable to hold off Nebraska (37-20, 10-8), 3-1, and finished the regular season in third behind No. 7 Baylor (14-3) and No. 3 Oklahoma (14-4).

The Big 12 tournament has a permanent site in Oklahoma City.

Finally (for now), in a game televised on ESPN, Tennessee routed Alabama, 9-2, in the opener of a doubleheader. I have not been able to locate a final score on Game 2 yet.

UPDATE: Tennessee took Game 2 over Alabama by a score of 4-0.

The Lady Vols are now being referred to as the SEC regular-season champion, even though the conference's official softball page has consistently listed the standings separately for the SEC East and West. SEC teams play a balanced conference schedule (three games each, barring weather-related cancellations, against 10 conference opponents, with Vanderbilt not fielding a team). The only purpose I can think of for the East/West separation is perhaps to aid in seeding for the conference tourney (which will be hosted by Auburn).

Something I forgot to mention in my original posting today is that Tennessee's Monica Abbott surpassed former Texas pitcher Cat Osterman (who was in the broadcast booth for ESPN) for the NCAA career strikeout record with a first-inning "K" in Game 1 against Alabama.