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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Amateur Softball Association's 50-player "watch list" for possible national collegiate Player-of-the-Year honors has been announced by USA Softball.

Based on my recollections of how various players did last year, I'll go out on a limb and name a "Dandy Dozen" really serious candidates, as follows alphabetically by team:

Taryne Mowatt (Arizona) Sr. P

Katie Burkhart (Arizona State) Sr. P

Kaitlin Cochran (Arizona State) Jr. OF

Kirsten Shortridge (Baylor) Soph. P/OF

Brandice Balschmiter (Massachusetts) – Jr. P

Angela Findlay (Michigan) Soph. OF

Samantha Findlay (Michigan) Sr. 1B

Lauren Eckermann (Oklahoma) Sr. P

Megan Gibson (Texas A&M) Sr. P/1B

Amanda Scarborough (Texas A&M) Sr. P/1B

Krista Colburn (UCLA) Sr. OF

Ashley Charters (Washington) Sr. IF

Friday, January 25, 2008

The USA Today/NFCA preseason softball poll came out a couple of days ago, and the overwhelming No. 1 choice is two-time defending NCAA World Series champion Arizona (see link to poll in the right-hand column). The Wildcats received 27 of the 29 first-place votes. Taryne Mowatt, Arizona's pitching stalwart in last year's World Series, returns for her senior year. Two seniors who powered the Cats' offensive engine last season, Caitlin Lowe and Kristie Fox, are of course gone, leaving somewhat of a question mark about this year's run production.

The remainder of the projected top 5 include (in order)Texas A&M, Arizona State, Alabama, and Oklahoma. Major teams' returnees and senior losses from last season are summarized here.

I'm a University of Michigan alumnus (Ph.D., 1989), so maybe I'm looking at things through maize and blue-tinted glasses, but a preseason No. 12 ranking seems unduly low. Samantha Findlay, who hit the big home run to lead the Wolverines to the 2005 NCAA championship, returns for her senior year, accompanied by soph sister Angela Findlay. Also, by the end of last season, newcomer Nikki Nemitz (now a sophomore) had established herself as a solid pitcher.

Friday, January 18, 2008

It's been a long time since I last posted, but the start of the 2008 season is only a few weeks away and it's time to get going again!

The Big 12 conference just announced its pre-season coaches' poll, and Texas A&M is the favorite to win the conference title. I am on the faculty at one of the Big 12 schools, Texas Tech, and this press release from the school's athletic department presents an optimistic view of the Red Raiders' predicted seventh-place finish.