Monday, June 09, 2008

Here's my annual list of top teams' senior losses from this year's squad and top returnees for next year...

WORLD SERIES TEAMS

ARIZONA STATE

Seniors: Katie Burkhart (P), Mindy Cowles (IF), Rhiannon Baca (SS), Jackie Vasquez (OF)

Key returnees:Kaitlin Cochran (OF, Jr.), Krista Donnenwirth (SS-3B, Fr.) (year of school shown is from past season)

TEXAS A&M

Seniors: Megan Gibson (P), Amanda Scarborough (P), Jami Lobpries (IF-OF), Jamie Hinshaw (3B)

Key returnees: Erin Glasco (C, Jr.), Kelsey Spittler (OF, Fr.), Natalie Villarreal (IF, Fr.), Alex Reynolds (DP-1B, So.), Holly Ridley (RF, Jr.)

FLORIDA

Seniors: Mary Ratliff (OF)

Key returnees: Kim Waleszonia (UT, Jr.), Stacey Nelson (P, Jr.), Francesca Enea (C, So.), Ali Gardiner (1B, Jr.), Aja Paculba (2B, Fr.)

ALABAMA

Seniors: Jordan Praytor (UT), Chrissy Owens (P), Dani Woods (IF)

Key returnees: Kelsi Dunne (P, Fr.), Brittany Rogers (OF, Jr.), Kelley Montalvo (UT, Jr.), Lauren Parker (IF, Jr.), Charlotte Morgan (P-UT, So.)

UCLA

Seniors: Anjelica Selden (P), Ashley Herrera (IF), Krista Colburn (OF)

Key returnees: Megan Langenfeld (P-1B, So.), GiOnna DiSalvatore (IF, Fr.), Donna Kerr (P, Fr.), Monica Harrison (SS, Fr.), Amanda Kamekona (IF, Jr.)

LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE

Seniors: Holly Tankersley (DP-OF), Vanessa Soto (2B)

Key returnees: Ashley Brignac (P, Fr.)

ARIZONA

Seniors: Taryne Mowatt (P), Callista Balko (C), Adrienne Acton (OF)

Key returnees: Lauren Schutzler (OF, Fr.), Brittany Lastrapes (OF, Fr.), Sam Banister (1B, Jr.), Jenae Leles (3B, Jr.), Laine Roth (1B, Jr.), K'Lee Arredondo (SS, So.)

VIRGINIA TECH

Seniors: Angela Tincher (P), Caroline Stolle (OF)

Key returnees:

SUPER-REGIONAL TEAMS

Michigan

Seniors: Samantha Findlay (2B), Alessandra Giampaolo (OF)

Key returnees: Angela Findlay (OF, So.), Maggie Viefhaus (3B, So.), Dorian Shaw (1B, Fr.), Jordan Taylor (P, Fr.), Nikki Nemitz (P, So.)

Northwestern

Seniors: Darcy Sengewald (IF)

Key returnees: Tammy Williams (SS, Jr.), Lauren Delaney (P, So.), Nicole Pauly (2B, So.), Erin Dyer (C, Jr.), Kelly Dyer (OF, So.)

Oklahoma

Seniors: Lauren Eckermann (P), Savannah Long (IF)

Key returnees: Amber Flores (OF, So.), D.J. Mathis (P, Jr.), Samantha Ricketts (1B, Jr.), Lindsey Vandever (C, So.)

Stanford

Seniors:

Key returnees: Missy Penna (P, Jr.), Alissa Haber (OF, So.)

Houston

Seniors: Angel Shamblin (P)

Key returnees: Jessica Valis (SS, Jr.), Laurie Wagner (OF, Jr.)

Missouri

Seniors: Jen Bruck (P/UT), Amanda Renth (1B)

Key returnees: Stacy Delaney (P, Jr.), Rhea Taylor (OF, Fr.), Andee Allen (2B, Jr.)

Georgia

Seniors: Sojourner Moody (UT)

Key returnees: Sarah McCloud (P, Fr.), Taylor Schlopy (P-OF, Fr.), Kristin Schnake (IF, Jr.), Megan Wiggins (IF-OF, Fr.)

California

Seniors: Julie Meyer (C), Erika Racklin (OF), Katie Vickers (IF)

Key returnees: Valerie Arioto (UT, Fr.), Marissa Drewrey (P, So.)


One team that did not make the super-regionals, but is worthy of notice, is the University of Washington. As noted in this article looking forward to next year's Pac 10 season, star pitcher Danielle Lawrie is expected to return to the Huskies after pitching this year for the Canadian Olympic team.

UPDATE: As is inevitable, I tend to omit a few players whom many observers feel are important to their respective teams, either as departing seniors or returing players. Both to publicize the list and to allow others to suggest additions to it, I traditionally start a discussion thread at Ultimate College Softball. Here is the current thread, which contains several suggestions for additional players. My thanks to the contributors to this discussion from UCS.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

2008 WCWS Game 2

...CONGRATS TO ARIZONA STATE... ...2008 NCAA WOMEN'S SOFTBALL CHAMPIONS...

Sun Devil pitcher Katie Burkhart tossed her second straight shutout of the championship series against Texas A&M, to clinch the national title for ASU. Even if the Aggies had managed to get on the board, however, Burkhart's teammates had things under control offensively, the result being an 11-0 victory for ASU in Game 2. The Devils' Kaitlin Cochran, who had repeatedly been walked intentionally in the World Series, finally put the metal to one, belting a three-run homer tonight.

With all the great pitchers gathered in Oklahoma City -- Virginia Tech's Angela Tincher, Arizona's Taryne Mowatt, and Florida's Stacey Nelson, among others -- Burkhart was perhaps overshadowed. Back-to-back shutouts in the championship round speak for themselves, however. A&M's Megan Gibson also had a great year in the circle, but she evidently ran out of gas tonight.

Article links:

ESPN.com/Associated Press

Graham Hays column (ESPN.com)

Arizona Republic

Bryan-College Station (Texas) Eagle

ASU athletics website

Texas A&M athletics website

Monday, June 02, 2008

2008 WCWS Game 1

Arizona State has pushed across a run in the bottom of the first against Texas A&M, to lead 1-0 in the opening game of the two-out-of-three final championship series...

Krista Donnenwirth, whose hit drove in the Sun Devils' first run, adds a solo homer in the third, making it 2-0 ASU...

Donnenwirth adds yet another RBI in the fifth inning -- 3-0 Sun Devils...

...GAME OVER... ...3-0 ASU... ...SUN DEVILS LEAD SERIES 1-0...

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Game 3

With a spot in the final championship series against Arizona State on the line (see the Game 2 summary below), Texas A&M and Florida are scoreless after eight innings (the regulation seven, plus one extra inning).

UPDATE: Texas A&M has defeated Florida, 1-0 in nine innings. The Aggies got a key triple in the top of the ninth when Kelsey Spittler pulled a hard grounder pulled down the right-field line, to drive in the game's first -- and ultimately only -- run. A&M second-baseperson Natalie Villarreal, who dropped a crucial pop-up in the first game of the day with Florida, engineered a nice double play in the bottom of the ninth to help short-circuit a Florida rally.

The final two-out-of-three championship series, beginning Monday night, will thus pit Texas A&M against Arizona State. Not to toot my own horn too heavily, but I did write the following exactly one week ago, before the World Series even started.


Actually, over many years of being a sports fan, my predictive ability has probably not been any better than chance. Given how rare it is for me to forecast so well, I just wanted to bask in this success.

Game 2

Arizona State rode the three-run homer of Jackie Vasquez to a 3-1 win over Alabama. With the victory, ASU becomes the first team to qualify for the final championship series, a two-out-of-three affair that will take place on Monday, Tuesday, and (if necessary) Wednesday nights.

Game 1

Florida has just beaten Texas A&M by a score of 6-1, leaving each team with one loss for the World Series and setting up a rematch at 6:00 Central on ESPN2 for the right to go to the final championship series. Each team scored a run in the second inning. The Gators really broke the game open in the fourth. With one out and a runner on third, the Aggies dropped an infield pop up, allowing the runner to score. Florida then started teeing off on A&M pitching ace Megan Gibson with some long drives and the next thing you knew, it was 4-1 Gators.

A&M removed Gibson in the fourth, presumably because Coach Jo Evans thought a three-run deficit would be difficult to overcome and thought it better to save Gibson for the rematch. Interestingly, Gator Coach Tim Walton answered by removing his ace, Stacey Nelson, at the earliest available opportunity.

Next up: Undefeated Arizona State vs. once-beaten Alabama.