Sunday, March 30, 2008

The opening weekend of Pac 10 play had the Arizona schools in northern California, and the Oregon schools taking on UCLA and Washington (USC and WSU don't field softball teams). ASU swept its three games -- one at Cal, two at Stanford. Arizona, by splitting two with Cal and beating Stanford, ended up with a 2-1 record, whereas Cal and Stanford each had losing records for the weekend.

UCLA also was a perfect 3-0, with two wins over Oregon and one over OSU. Washington had its one scheduled game with UO rained out, and split with OSU.

At the end of the Big 10's first weekend of play, traditional powers Michigan, having taken two games from each of the Indiana schools, IU and Purdue; and Northwestern, with a pair of two-game sweeps over Wisconsin and Minnesota respectively, are tied atop the conference at 4-0.

Only two Big 12 teams still have perfect conference records at this point, Texas A&M (6-0) and Oklahoma (4-0). Baylor is struggling at 1-5.

For further details, see the various official conference and team pages in the links section on the right. The SEC, in particular, provides nice weekend round-up articles, which saves me a lot of work!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Last night, I attended my first softball game of the season, as Texas Tech held on for a 5-4 win over Texas, here in Lubbock. This was one of the Red Raiders' first home games, as they played in several tournaments around the country during the nonconference part of the schedule. I was very impressed with Texas Tech's defense.

The Big 10 and Pac 10 open conference play this weekend, joining the SEC, Big 12, and other leagues that have already done so. See the conference softball pages in the links column to the right, for further details.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I noticed recently that Michigan's slugging senior Samantha Findlay, a longtime first-baseperson in the field, has been moved to second base. A little research turned up the fact that this change was first made a while ago.

The move allows frosh Dorian Shaw to play first; Shaw homered for the Wolverines last weekend in Fullerton at the Judi Garman tournament. As of UM's March 22 statistical report, Shaw had a slugging percentage of .475, essentially matching third-baseperson Maggie Viefhaus (.488), but still well behind Findlay (.815). How's that for a power-hitting infield? (Full disclosure: I received my Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Fresno State was the only team to go through the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, CA without losing a game. En route, the Bulldogs handed two teams, Michigan and Long Beach State, their only losses of the tournament. No. 1 Arizona State (with a loss to Florida State) and San Diego State (with a loss to the Wolverines) also finished with one loss each (for further details, go to the tournament website and then scroll down when the page comes up).

A round-up of this weekend's SEC play through Saturday (there was only a limited amount of non-conference action on Easter Sunday) is available here.

After the first weekend of Big 12 play, four teams are undefeated in the conference: Texas A&M (3-0), Missouri (2-0), Oklahoma (2-0), and Texas (2-0). For further information, see the official Big 12 conference page via the links in the right-hand column.

Friday night in Lubbock, Texas Tech appeared on the verge of upsetting #7/9 Texas A&M, leading 3-0. However, A&M rallied in the late innings of regulation to tie the game, then broke out for 4 runs in the 9th, eventually winning 7-3.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Here are a couple of major developments taking place in the coming days...

Play in the Big 12 conference gets underway Wednesday night, with Texas A&M hosting Baylor in a battle of nationally ranked squads; both were in the Women's College World Series a year ago. A full slate of conference games will then be played on Friday and Saturday (no games are on Easter Sunday). Also, I noticed from the Aggie softball page that pitcher Amanda Scarborough is writing a blog this season.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT UPDATE: Aggies win big. FURTHER UPDATE: Amanda Scarborough is out for the season, due to a foot injury originally suffered a month ago. Scarborough's injury -- the exact nature of which was not specified in the news release -- is said to be to the Lisfranc area of her right foot.

Out west, Cal State Fullerton will be hosting the Judi Garman Classic, from Wednesday to Saturday. Top teams in the field include Arizona, Arizona State, DePaul, Michigan, and Washington. The host Titans own a recent upset win over highly ranked UCLA.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Alabama and Florida split a doubleheader earlier tonight. This SEC battle of top 5 nationally ranked programs caught me off-guard, as marquee match-ups tend to take place on the weekends. In fact, I was just looking at some softball sites to see what the big games were for this upcoming weekend, when I discovered that the Tide and Gators had already played!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Alabama took 2-of-3 from Tennessee in the teams' SEC opening-weekend series, while Florida swept Ole Miss. The concluding games of these series are summarized in this Sunday round-up from the SEC softball page.

At the Long Beach State Invitational, UCLA went a perfect 5-0, including an eight-inning 1-0 win over the host school. The tourney was not kind to Northwestern, who lost three games -- to Virginia Tech, Long Beach State, and UCLA -- without scoring a single run. The Wildcats' Lauren Delaney actually threw a no-hitter against VaTech, but lost 1-0 in eight innings, in good part due to the international tie-breaker policy of having each team start its at-bats in an extra inning with a runner automatically placed on second; for her part, Hokies pitcher Angela Tincher allowed only one hit in the contest (article, box score).

Another bunch of Wildcats -- the ones from Arizona -- had their 13-game winning streak snapped by Creighton.

Friday, March 07, 2008

The highlight of this weekend's action is the beginning of conference play in the SEC -- and it begins with a bang! The league's two premier programs, national No. 2 Alabama and No. 4 Tennessee, will be meeting in Tuscaloosa. So eagerly anticipated is the three-game series (a doubleheader Saturday, plus a single game Sunday) that 'Bama is selling special hillside general-admission seats to accommodate the excess crowd. There's no question that the Vols suffered greater senior losses from last year's team (including pitching ace Monica Abbott) than did the Tide, but Tennessee seems to be hanging in there.

Also within the SEC, Florida (24-1 and No. 5 in both polls with a few first-place votes in each) hosts Mississippi.

Speaking of Florida, the only team to defeat the Gators this season, Long Beach State, hosts a tournament this weekend that also includes UCLA and Northwestern (Long Beach tournament site).

Sunday, March 02, 2008

No. 1 ranked Alabama suffered its first loss of the season, falling 6-3 to host University of Washington at the Husky Classic.

Meanwhile, at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Georgia, two teams, Tennessee and Michigan, compiled 5-0 records against their respective opponents. Texas A&M went 4-1, losing only to UMass (which went 2-3). DePaul went 5-1, losing only to Texas A&M.

Among the other highly ranked teams nationally, UCLA swept all of its games in the San Diego tournament, with frosh pitcher Donna Kerr tossing a five-inning perfect game against St. Peter's; Northwestern dropped a game to Bradley in the Southern Illinois tournament; and Arizona State swept all its games in another of the many tournaments the Sun Devils are hosting this season.

Lastly, my local team, the Texas Tech Red Raiders, tasted victory for the first time this season, going 3-2 in the Fullerton tourney; Tech had been 0-12 coming in.