Monday, October 25, 2010

I received an e-mail today from Marielle Tymon of Cambio Goes Home, a website that features short video pieces on celebrities returning to visit their hometowns. Specifically, Marielle wanted to notify me of this new mini-documentary of former University of Arizona and U.S. national team pitching star Jennie Finch going back to her old college field in Tucson to play her final professional game. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

2010 WCWS Game 2


The board above says it all. UCLA is this year's NCAA champion, giving Kelly Inouye-Perez her first title as head coach. Arizona added a late run, but it was nowhere near enough. UCLA needed a huge amount of luck to win Game 1, but tonight, the Bruins' pitching depth played a decisive role. Megan Langenfeld, who never was needed in the circle tonight, along with Aleah Macon (4 1/3 innings) and Donna Kerr (2 2/3), gave UCLA three top-shelf pitchers for the postseason. Not to mention how Langenfeld, coming off last night's walk-off homer, added a two-run blast in the top of the first tonight.

Meanwhile Wildcat frosh Kenzie Fowler, who pitched heroically for much of the tournament, just didn't have it tonight, and U of A's relief corps couldn't do much, either. Fowler's line in the box score tonight read:

1 inning pitched, 2 hits allowed, 3 earned runs, 9 batters faced, 3 walks,1 homer, and 1 hit batter.

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Below are postings I made during the game (of which I missed the first few innings).

UCLA adds a homer in the top of the sixth, making it 15-6. Chambers adds another two-run shot in the bottom half: 15-8 Bruins.

Wildcat slugger Stacie Chambers homers to left with a runner on, making it 14-6 Bruins.

ESPN announcer Beth Mowins delivers a key bit of information: There is no run-rule in the championship series. Otherwise, Arizona would be down to its final three outs, needing three runs to get the deficit below eight runs.

Just when it looked like Arizona might make a game of it, UCLA explodes for seven runs in the top of the fifth -- helped by seven consecutive hits -- to make it 14-4.

We're in the bottom of the fourth, with Arizona having scored three times to cut a 7-1 UCLA lead to 7-4. The Wildcats are still threatening, with runners on first and third and nobody out. UCLA has removed Megan Langenfeld from first base to send her out to the bullpen, as Aleah Macon struggles for the Bruins... Macon gets the side out, however, so it remains 7-4.

Monday, June 07, 2010

2010 WCWS Game 1


Langenfeld, who gave up the back-to-back homers to Arizona in the top of the seventh, homers with two outs in the bottom of the eighth to win it for UCLA -- her second homer of the game! I'm not much into premonitions, but you just kind of "knew" Langenfeld was going to homer in that last at-bat.

Macon, cool as ice, strikes out Chambers with the bases loaded to get UCLA out of a jam. Still 5-5, with the Bruins coming up in the bottom of the eighth.

UCLA, trailing 5-4 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, is kept alive by a Wildcat fielding faux pas. A not-so-hard fly ball lands between Lastrapes in left and Lauren Schutzler in center, and the Bruin batter gets to second when the fielders collide. U of A intentionally walks the next batter. Arizona's right-fielder Karissa Buchanan can't hang onto a hard-hit ball to right, tying the game!!! We go to extras...

Arizona ties it 4-4 in the top of the seventh on a K'Lee Arredondo two-run homer. Stacie Chambers follows with a homer of her own, 5-4 Cats. That one went well beyond the bleachers to straightaway center. Still nobody out. UCLA replaces Langenfeld (moving her to first-base) with Aleah Macon, who retires Arizona with no further damage. Bruins down to their last three outs.

This time, it's the Wildcats who have a threat denied. Langenfeld strikes out Lastrapes with two out and a runner on third in the top of the sixth. UCLA's Monica Harrison hits a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the inning that barely -- and I mean barely -- catches the left-field foul-line. Bruins lead 4-2.

Arizona stages a two-out rally to tie the game, 2-2, in the top of the 5th. UCLA wastes a second-and-third/one-out situation in its half.

Thanks to some sloppy Wildcat defense, UCLA now leads 2-1 after 3 innings. The Bruins' GiOnna DiSalvatore hit a deep drive to left, which the Wildcats' Brittany Lastrapes got a glove on, but couldn't hold. The play was ruled a hit, as I think it should have been, but with Lastrapes's defensive prowess, I think most observers would have expected her to catch the ball. A passed ball/wild pitch (I'm not sure which) advanced DiSalvatore to third, where she scored on a single by Langenfeld.

It's 1-1 after 1. Arizona took advantage of two walks from UCLA pitcher Megan Langenfeld to rally for a run, but then Langenfeld homered in the Bruin half of the inning.

Pregame note: The teams met just a few weeks ago, in a Pac 10 series in Tucson. UCLA took two-of-three, but Wildcat pitching standout Kenzie Fowler saw very little action in those games.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

My apologies for the lack of updates toward the end of Sunday night's action. Blogger.com, which I use for my blogs, went down Sunday night and the situation wasn't corrected until Monday afternoon.

Arizona defeated Tennessee, 5-2, in the teams' second game of the day, and will face UCLA in the best two-of-three championship series, starting tomorrow night. The Wildcats' K'Lee Arredondo hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth to pad what had been a 3-2 lead. The Vols continue to be snake-bit against Arizona, being eliminated by the Wildcats in 2006, 2007, and 2010. Below are some postings I made during the game.

Bottom 5: Arizona has scratched out a run to take a 3-2 lead.

Bottom 3: Wildcats get a two-run homer to tie things up, 2-2.

Heading to Bottom 3: Tennessee puts together a little two-out rally, making it 2-0 Vols.

Top 2: Arizona left-fielder Brittany Lastrapes makes one of the nicest catches you'll see in a long time, on a deep fly ball to left-center. Look for it on YouTube! Tennessee had a runner on second who apparently didn't think the ball would be caught and ran toward home -- she was easily doubled off second. The Vols' next two hitters got a double and walk, respectively, but a strikeout ends the threat.

It's 1-0 Vols, as Arizona walks in a run in the top of the first. In the bottom of the first, Tennessee does something it couldn't do in the previous game -- get out of a jam unscathed.

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Arizona has posted an 8-0 run-rule victory over Tennessee in the teams' first Sunday match-up, turning the tables on what the Vols did to the Wildcats on opening day of the World Series. The Vol offense, which had been a juggernaut for much of the postseason, didn't even get a hit until the fifth inning.

Early in Arizona's first Sunday game against Tennessee, the Wildcats benefited yet again from a bizarre baserunning situation involving its opponent (see also yesterday's write-up of Arizona vs. Washington). The Vols had the bases loaded with one out in a scoreless game. The batter hit an easy pop-up in front of the plate, for which the home-plate umpire immediately called the infield fly-rule. The rule automatically makes the batter out and ends the play, so that the defense cannot intentionally drop the ball and easily force out at the next base a runner who has stayed close to her present base. Arizona dropped the ball anyway and Tennessee's runner on second, apparently confused by the situation, started running to third and was easily thrown out. The whole intent of the infield fly-rule is to prevent such confusion, but the Vols still got in trouble, ending what turned out to be their last serious scoring threat with the game still competitive.

UCLA made it to the championship series with a 5-2 win over Georgia in today's first action. The Bruins used a combination of power-hitting and defense to pull if off.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Arizona has defeated Hawai'i tonight, 5-1, to send the Rainbow Wahine home and propel the Wildcats into the semifinals on Sunday against Tennessee. U-of-A needs to knock off Tennessee twice to make the championship round, whereas one win will suffice for the Volunteers. The first (and possibly only) Arizona-Tennessee game will begin around 2:30 Central, following the first (and possibly only) UCLA-Georgia contest. Fans will recall that in Arizona's two most recent runs to the World Series title, the Wildcats fended off tough challenges from the Vols both times, in the 2006 semifinals and the 2007 championship round.

In today's next-to-last game, Georgia dismissed Florida from the tournament, 3-2. The Bulldogs take on UCLA Sunday at noon Central. Georgia must beat UCLA twice to make the championship series, whereas the Bruins need only to beat the Bulldogs once.

Defending NCAA champion Washington is washed up, having lost an elimination game this afternoon to Arizona, 4-3. Neither teams' defensive units (who combined for five errors), nor the umpires, covered themselves in glory in this one.

One play in particular was when Washington baserunner Jenn Salling, with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning and the Huskies trailing 3-1, was called out for an apparent technical violation to end the inning. Salling had advanced to third on an infield grounder, apparently leaving U-Dub with runners on first and third. However, Salling went a few steps past third toward home, during which time Arizona had thrown the ball back to the pitcher in the circle. In what I (someone who has not had technical training in the softball rulebook) would interpret as an extension of the rule forbidding baserunners from taking lead-offs while the pitcher has the ball, Salling appeared to be called out for not immediately returning to third once the ball was with the pitcher. Salling did appear to be walking back toward third, but evidently not fast enough. We have no way of knowing, of course, whether Washington would have scored any runs even if Salling had been allowed to stay at third. There were two outs, after all. Still, it's a hard way to end an inning.

Missouri was the first team to be eliminated from the Women's College World Series, falling 5-0 to Florida.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Tennessee holds off a late Georgia rally to win 7-5 in tonight's nightcap.

No late-inning magic for Hawai'i in tonight's session opener against UCLA. Bruins win 5-2.

Tomorrow is the famous "Survival Saturday," with games entirely in the losers' bracket. Missouri-Florida at 11:00 AM Central starts things off, followed by Arizona-Washington. Georgia and Hawai'i wait in the wings.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The nightcap of Day 1 of the Women's College World Series, a battle of the dogs, goes to the Georgia Bulldogs over the defending champion Washington Huskies, 6-3.

Fans attending the World Series are getting shortchanged of innings of softball! We've now had our second straight run-rule game, this one lasting five innings, as Tennessee has shut out Arizona, 9-0.

UCLA has routed Florida, 16-3, in a run-rule-shortened six-inning contest. The Bruins have now taken three straight games by run-rule, going back to their two games in the super-regionals.

Just as it did in the super-regional clincher, Hawai'i has used a seventh-inning home-run to defeat Missouri, 3-2, in the opener of the Women's College World Series. Traci Yoshikawa nailed a two-run blast to give the Rainbow Wahine what proved to be the winning margin.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

ESPN.com's Graham Hays previews the Women's College World Series, which starts tomorrow. The first-round match-ups in the double-elimination event, with starting times (Eastern), are as follows:

Missouri vs. Hawai'i (1:00)
UCLA vs. Florida (3:30)
Arizona vs. Tennessee (7:00)
Georgia vs. Washington (9:30)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

This year's super-regionals are now on the books. Here is the final Big Board (on which you can click to enlarge). Note also the little tributes I did to each victorious team using their respective school colors!


In the day's most dramatic moment, Hawai'i's Jenna Rodriguez hit a two-out, two-run walk-off homer, her second long ball of the day, to give the Rainbow Wahine a shocking 5-4 win over national No. 1 seed Alabama in the decisive game of the Tuscaloosa super-regional.

Joining Hawai'i in the Women's College World Series will be:

Missouri, who closed out Oregon today;

Florida, who finished off Arizona State, 5-2; and

UCLA, who eliminated Louisiana-Lafayette via two straight run-rule victories.

The Women's College World Series begins Thursday.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Here's the Big Board (which you may click on to enlarge) at the end of Saturday's play...


Florida (over Arizona State) and UCLA (over Louisiana-Lafayette) each won its opening game in shortened, run-rule fashion.

Alabama and Hawai'i have split the first two games of their series, setting up a decisive Game 3 on Sunday.

Georgia has finished off Cal to make the Women's College World Series.

Arizona has defeated BYU, 10-2, sending the Wildcats back to yet another World Series.

Missouri has taken the first game from Oregon in their series.

Friday, May 28, 2010

It's been a long day of softball, and here's what the Big Board looks like at the conclusion of Friday's play (you may click on the graphic to enlarge). Washington has just closed out Oklahoma, 4-0 in Game 3, after the Huskies took a 3-0 decision in Game 2. Thus, Washington will be returning to the Women's College World Series to try to defend its NCAA title from last year. Note also that the Alabama-Hawaii opener was rained out, with the teams scheduled to play two on Saturday and once on Sunday, if necessary.


Tennessee was the first team to qualify for the Women's College World Series, holding off a late charge from Michigan to win Game 2 of the teams' super-regional series, 4-3.

It's been a good showing thus far for the SEC, as Georgia routed Cal 7-0 in the teams' super-regional opener earlier today.

The Pac 10 isn't doing too badly either, with Arizona edging BYU, 2-1, to take the lead in their series.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

THURSDAY NIGHT UPDATE: The NCAA super-regionals (two-out-of-three series to determine the eight participants in the Women's College World Series) began tonight, with two match-ups. Below is what our annual College Softball Blog "Big Board" looks like at the end of the day (you can click on the board to enlarge it).


Tonight's two games had remarkably similar story lines, with two of the highest seeded teams -- No. 2 Michigan and No. 3 Washington -- losing, to Tennessee and Oklahoma, respectively.

Both Michigan and Washington lost by five runs, the Wolverines by 5-0 and the Huskies by 6-1.

Michigan and Washington each got two hits. The pitching gems were turned in by Ivy Renfroe for Tennessee and Keilani Ricketts for Oklahoma (the younger sister of former Sooner Samantha Ricketts).

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From Thursday morning:

Articles on the Michigan-Tennessee series are available from the Detroit Free Press and The Tennessean. The Seattle Times has an article on the Washington-Oklahoma match-up.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

All spots in next week's super-regionals are set. The super-regional bracket is available here. Following is a compilation of game articles on the teams' clinching of their respective regional titles.

Alabama

Arizona

Arizona State

BYU

California

Florida

Georgia

Hawai'i

Louisiana-Lafayette

Michigan

Missouri

Oklahoma

Oregon

Tennessee

UCLA

Washington

Saturday, May 22, 2010

BYU is the first team to reach next week's super-regionals, after knocking off East Carolina earlier today to win the Austin, Texas regional. Tomorrow will be a busy day, with the other 15 regionals being concluded to fill out next week's super-regionals.

In the 15 remaining regionals, each of the nationally seeded teams (one per region) are still alive, except LSU, in the Baton Rouge region. Here, Louisiana-Lafayette and Texas A&M remain. ULL just needs to win once over the Aggies to advance, whereas A&M must beat the Ragin' Cajuns twice.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Late Evening Updates

Because there are so many games, I will be focusing at this stage on upsets. Thus, if you're a fan of a nationally seeded team (one per regional), then it's a no-news-is-good-news situation.

One team for whom the news isn't good is Texas, the one national seed (No. 7) in its region (edited to correct Texas's seed number). The Longhorns have already been eliminated from this year's tournament, falling first to BYU and then to East Carolina.

Morning Notes

More articles on the NCAA tournament from around the U.S. (and beyond), with the bulk of the regional action starting today...

Lubbock Avalanche Journal (on Texas Tech)

UCLA Daily Bruin (on UCLA)

Mobile Press Register (on Alabama)

Canadian Press (on University of Washington pitcher Danielle Lawrie)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Austin, Texas regional begins tonight, with Texas hosting Iona, East Carolina, and BYU. The Austin American-Statesman has a preview. The 15 other regional sites begin play on Friday.

In anticipation of the Michigan regional, AnnArbor.com has a feature on Wolverine slugger Dorian Shaw.

Finally, ESPN.com's Graham Hays previews the overall tournament.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Here is my annual geo-spatial diagram of regional assignments for the 2010 NCAA women's softball tournament, with state shapes modified to reflect population (the conventional style bracket is available here). On my map, numbers represent seedings and host schools are underlined. To avoid excessive criss-crossing of arrows, I've made notes around the perimeter to indicate teams traveling a long distance. I haven't done a rigorous comparison to other years, but it really seems as though the NCAA kept a large number of regions geographically compact, perhaps to save travel money in the present economic climate. You can click on the map to enlarge it.


The seedings that jumped out at me were Alabama's rise to No. 1, Washington's placement at No. 3, and Arizona's plummet to No. 10. Regarding the latter, someone on the Ultimate College Softball discussion board suggested that the Wildcats' top two pitchers are not at full strength, hence the team's demotion.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

ESPN.com's Graham Hays has an article about the rising fortunes of the University of Texas program and Longhorns' freshman pitcher Blaire Luna.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Here's how things look in the major conferences, with two weekends of play left until the NCAA regionals take place May 21-23.

BIG 10

Top 3 in current standings (remaining opponents)

Michigan 14-1 (Mich. St., Iowa)
Ohio State 12-2 (Penn State, Northwestern)
Illinois 10-2 (Iowa, Purdue, Minnesota)

No conference tournament; regular-season games until May 15.

BIG 12

Top 3 (remaining opponents)

Texas 13-2 (Baylor)
Oklahoma 13-3
Oklahoma State 12-4 (Texas A&M)

Conference tournament: May 14-16, Oklahoma City

PAC 10

Top 3 (remaining opponents):

Washington 12-3 (Stanford, ASU)
Arizona 10-5 (Oregon, UCLA)
UCLA 10-5 (Cal, Arizona)

No conference tournament; regular-season games until May 15.

SEC

Leading teams in each division (remaining opponents):

EAST: Florida 17-4 (S. Carolina), Georgia 18-8, Tennessee 15-7 (LSU)
WEST: Alabama 20-4 (Miss. St.), LSU 19-6 (Tennessee)

Conference tournament: May 13-15, Fayetteville, Arkansas

Note: Only remaining conference opponents are shown.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Oklahoma State at Texas Tech (2010)

Oklahoma State brought a perfect 9-0 Big 12 record and No. 7 and 8 national rankings in the two major polls to Lubbock today to face a struggling Texas Tech squad in a doubleheader. Somehow, though, the Cowgirls managed to leave their bats back in Stillwater, falling to the Red Raiders 6-0 and 4-1. The sweep lifts Texas Tech to a 5-8 conference mark and 33-12 overall record; it also gives the Raiders a pair of "quality wins" that could help in their bid to make the NCAA tournament for the first time in nine years. I stopped by for the early innings of Game 1 and had my departure hastened by a brief, but intensifying, rain fall. Before I left, I took the following pictures.

In the first photo, OSU's Megan Castle, last week's offensive Player of the Week in the conference, steps in to hit against the Raiders' Ashly Jacobs.


As shown in the next shot, Oklahoma State threatened early a couple times in Game 1, here getting a runner to third, but the Cowgirls never did score in the opener.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Big 12 conference has had a number of great teams in recent years, the following of which have made the NCAA Women's College World Series: Missouri (2009), Texas A&M (2008, 2007), Baylor (2007), Texas (2006, 2005, 2003), and Oklahoma (2003). However, the team at the top of the 2010 conference standings, thus far, is none of the above. In first place, with a 7-0 record, is Oklahoma State (schedule). The Cowgirls have swept two-game series from Baylor, Mizzou, and Iowa State, and taken one from Oklahoma (OSU and OU are splitting their games this year between Stillwater, played on April 7, and Norman, April 28). Further, Oklahoma State has entered the Top 10 in the national polls after a 12-year absence. Rounding out the recent good news for the Cowgirls, senior right-fielder Megan Castle was just named Big 12 offensive Player of the Week.

Monday, April 12, 2010

No. 1 Washington swept No. 2/3 Arizona over the weekend.

Friday, April 09, 2010

The Washington Huskies will put their consensus No. 1 ranking in the two major polls on the line this weekend (single games Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) when Arizona comes up to Seattle. The Wildcats are ready to take over at the top if things work out well for them, as U of A is No. 2 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll and No. 3 (behind Michigan) in the NFCA/USA Today balloting. Additional information is available from news releases issued by UW and UA. The Washington release showcases Arizona's strengths:

As always, [the Wildcats] boast one of the country's most powerful offenses, scoring a nation-best 8.36 runs per game. UA is led by USA Softball Player of the Year candidate Brittany Lastrapes, who is one of the best hitters in the country, batting .443 with 12 home runs, 43 RBI and 41 runs scored. Freshman Brigette Del Ponte has added some serious pop, blasting a team-high 15 home runs and driving in 55 runs to lead the Pac-10. The Wildcats, who were thin on pitching last year, now also boast one of the top pitchers in the country in freshman phenom Kenzie Fowler. Rivaling [the Huskies'] Danielle Lawrie nearly stat for stat, Fowler is 21-2 with a 0.83 ERA and has struck out 192 batters in 134.2 innings pitched.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Pac 10's two marquee series this weekend went to Washington, who took two of three from UCLA, and Arizona, who did likewise against ASU.

LSU, which had compiled a 24-game winning streak heading into this weekend (albeit largely against unranked opposition), got a rude awakening, being swept by Florida.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pac 10 play gets underway tomorrow, with each pair of geographic rivals playing each other in a three-game series (Washington and UCLA are treated as paired rivals, as Washington State and USC don't have teams).

Washington vs. UCLA is the marquee match-up, as the Huskies are a consensus No. 1 in the two major national polls, whereas the Bruins are a consensus No. 5. Arizona (No. 2/3) vs. ASU (No. 7/10) is also big, whereas Stanford-Cal, with each team on the outskirts of the Top Ten, isn't bad either.

The conference's weekly press release contains extensive information on the teams and match-ups.

One thing I noticed is that the Pac 10 apparently has changed its travel format. For example, all three ASU-Arizona games this weekend are listed as being in Tempe, whereas in previous years, there would be a 2/1 split between the two campuses. Similarly, all three Stanford-Cal games are in Palo Alto, and all three OSU-Oregon games are in Corvallis. I can understand avoiding a geographic split with UCLA and Washington, as the distance is hardly drivable, but the other changes seem harder to grasp. I posted a message on the discussion boards at Ultimate College Softball to see if anyone knew more about the Pac 10 travel situation. One person has suggested the changes reflect a cost-saving move.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Any list of the nation's most improved college softball squads (thus far) would have to include Texas Tech. From a 15-42 record a season ago, the Red Raiders are now 29-4. That record includes a 6-3 victory this afternoon against Iowa State. Shown above is the Tech squad celebrating at home plate after a Logan Hall home run, her first of two. I attended under blustery conditions and took some pictures, on which you can click to enlarge them.


Raider senior Ashly Jacobs, shown warming between innings in the shots directly above and below, allowed the Cyclones only one run through six innings, before giving up a pair in the seventh.


Texas Tech batters, including Ashley Hamada (below), left only one runner on base the whole game, compared to six for Iowa State (box score).


The Cyclones' offense did perk up here and there, including when Heidi Kidwell beat out an infield hit in the third inning.


Iowa State starter Rachel Zabriskie struck out six in five and one-third innings, but gave up three homers to Texas Tech. The way the wind was blowing toward the outfield, virtually any well-hit fly ball had a good chance to leave the yard.


The Red Raiders' dramatic improvement has taken place under first-year coach Shanon Hays, who literally moved down the street from Lubbock Christian University, where he led LCU to the NAIA national championship in 2008, to take over at Texas Tech. (In an interesting development, Shanon's father Larry Hays, the retired Tech baseball coach who amassed over 1,500 wins as a skipper, replaced his son with the LCU softball squad.) To some extent, the Raiders' improved softball record this season reflects an easier non-league schedule than in the past. Previously, the team would play in several out-of-town tournaments that attracted some of the nation's top teams. This year, Texas Tech hosted three tourneys of its own, with a lower quality of competition. Whether the Red Raiders are for real will be revealed over the coming weeks of Big 12 play.

***

Here's my "Softball Squares" bingo card, different versions of which were given out to fans at the game today. Whenever a given type of play occurs, one can cross-out the play on his or her card, if it appears. Needless to say, I was not in the winning group of fans. There were a couple of ambiguous situations. On an infield single, the public address announcer said fans could cross-out "Infield Single" if their card had it. Wouldn't an infield single qualify under "Single"? Also, a pitched ball got away from the catcher, but there was never an announcement of wild pitch or passed ball. Finally, there was no inside-the-park home run; the announcer simply instructed everyone who had that event on their card to cross it off, to speed the game along (hence, my dashed cross-out).

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

With March Madness and the climax of the health care reform debate going on this past weekend, I'm a little behind in writing my softball synopsis. Please forgive me. The key event in the college softball world was the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, California and, for those who enjoy upsets, the Garman delivered!

No. 1 Washington had its 18-game winning streak snapped by DePaul, who going into the weekend was listed as one of 2010's biggest disappointments on an Ultimate College Softball discussion thread.

No. 2 Arizona, whose loss to No. 4 Michigan is documented in an earlier entry, also lost to unheralded Virginia.

Finally, the aforementioned Wolverines lost to No. 15 Texas. Perhaps the Longhorn program, which hasn't done much in the post-Cat Osterman era, can return to the national spotlight.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

No. 4 Michigan edged No. 2 Arizona, 1-0 in eight innings, earlier today in the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, California. The Wolverines' Jordan Taylor allowed the Wildcats only one hit.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Judi Garman Classic at Cal State Fullerton has gotten started with a couple of games today. The main action begins Thursday, however. The marquee match-up Thursday pits No. 2 Arizona vs. No. 4 Michigan, with a listed starting time of 11:15 AM Pacific. No. 1 Washington is also in the field, but has no game scheduled against Michigan (teams in the same conference, as are Washington and Arizona, generally do not play in mid-season tournaments, saving their contests for league play). Other Top Ten teams participating include Oklahoma and Arizona State (depending on which poll one looks at).

Monday, March 15, 2010

Conference play has begun in the SEC, and there was a key weekend series matching two Top Ten teams to mark the occasion. In that series, Alabama took two of three from Georgia. The SEC's website provides excellent recaps of each day of league play, so I'll direct interested readers there to find out more about the Bama-Georgia series. The Bulldogs were scheduled to play another tough series, against Florida, in the middle of last week, but those games were rained out.

Starting dates for league play in other major conferences include: Big 10, March 27; Big 12, March 27; and Pac 10, April 1. Please see the conference and team webpages via the links section in the right-hand column.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Michigan used the home-run ball to defeat Alabama, 5-2, tonight, in a battle of Top Ten teams in Tuscaloosa.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Arizona and Washington went undefeated in the Cathedral City Classic, and Missouri did so in the NFCA Leadoff Classic, to highlight this past weekend's action. With so many games going on in these tournaments, there was bound to be a few upsets. Indeed, Central Florida took a 3-2 decision over Alabama in the NFCA tourney, whereas UCLA dropped two games in the Cathedral City event, including a 7-0 blowout loss to Ohio State.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Two big tournaments are taking place this weekend, the Cathedral City Classic (hosted by Oregon State in the Palm Springs, California area, beginning today) and the NFCA Leadoff Classic (in Columbus, Georgia, beginning Friday). Roughly speaking, the Cathedral City Classic will be featuring the best teams from the western half of the U.S., whereas the NCFA Leadoff Classic will showcase the best teams from the eastern half.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

None of this weekend's tournaments looked all that scintillating on paper. In many cases, one powerhouse team would be in a field against a number of unranked teams. A few of these elite teams indeed romped to victories in their respective tourneys (for example, here and here). However, there also were some surprises. No. 1-ranked Washington suffered its first loss of the season, falling 7-4 to Utah State in San Diego's Campbell Cartier Classic; star Husky pitcher Danielle Lawrie was not in the circle for that game.

Alabama had to deal with another ranked team, Ohio State, with the Tide winning Stetson University's Hatter Invitational in Florida. In Baton Rouge, LSU won its own tournament, despite dropping a game to Michigan (which itself lost to Virginia).

Missouri has been taking a different approach, thus far, from playing tournaments. Opening weekend, the Tigers played a three-game series with Alabama. This weekend, Mizzou was scheduled to play three with Arizona, but rain shortened the series to two games. The teams split.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The dominant story of college softball's opening weekend would have to be the scope of the weather-related postponements and cancellations across the U.S. To take last Friday as an example, Ultimate College Softball's comprehensive collection of scores shows 13 tournaments suffering some type of disruption. Of the games that did get played, here are some results involving Top 10 teams.

At Arizona State's Kajikawa Classic, defending NCAA champion and preseason consensus No. 1 Washington won all five of its games. The Huskies did not face any highly ranked opponents, though. Arizona, No. 4 and 6 in the two major national polls, went 6-0 in the same tournament, including a win over Top 20 Northwestern. Kentucky upset No. 5/7 host ASU.

At the NTC tournament in Clermont, Florida, No. 3/4 Michigan lost to No. 7/8 Georgia, but the Wolverines left on a high note, pulling out a 13-inning win over No. 6/8 UCLA. The Bruins did beat Georgia, though.

No. 3/5 Florida won three of four in a University of South Florida-sponsored tournament in Clearwater.

Outside the tournament structure, No. 9 Missouri went down to consensus No. 2 Alabama and bested the Crimson Tide in a three-game series, two games to one.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The 2010 college softball season begins this weekend (with weekend being defined loosely, i.e., starting this Thursday). A huge number of preseason tournaments will be held, with the NTC/Dot Richardson and Kajikawa tourneys appearing to have the deepest and most talented fields. Over at Ultimate College Softball, "UMass Fan" has posted an amazingly detailed preview of each and every one of the tournaments.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The local Lubbock, Texas newspaper writes about new Texas Tech softball coach Shanon Hays and the Red Raiders' prospects for the coming season.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The two major national polls, USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association and ESPN/USA Softball, have just released their pre-season Top 25 rankings. The defending NCAA champion Washington Huskies are picked No. 1 in both polls; in the USAT/NFCA poll, all 30 first-place votes went to U-Dub, whereas in the ESPN/USAS survey, the Huskies garnered 17 of 20 first-place votes. Alabama is ranked second in both polls. Michigan is slotted third by ESPN/USAS and fourth by USAT/NFCA, whereas Florida is picked third by NFCA/USAT and fifth by ESPN/USAS. Other consensus Top 10 schools include UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Georgia, and Missouri.

Play begins the second weekend in February with a bunch of tournaments!