Sunday, February 27, 2011

The annual Cathedral City Classic is now over, so I thought I'd report on the win-loss records at the event of teams that were either highly ranked coming in or pulled some surprises (tourney site). (Rankings are shown as ESPN.com/USA Softball listed first, USA Today/NFCA second.)

No. 1/3 Arizona 4-1 (lost to Georgia)

No. 3T/1 Georgia 4-1 (lost to Oklahoma State)

No. 3T/2 UCLA 3-2 (lost to Florida and Tennessee; the Bruins also appear to be a little banged up at the moment)

No. 5/4 Florida 5-0

No. 6/6 Oklahoma 1-4 (lost to Georgia, Hawai'i, Long Beach State, and UCLA)

No. 9/7 Washington 5-0

No. 10/8 Tennessee 5-0

No. 11/10 Hawai'i 1-3 (lost to Nebraska, Syracuse, and Virginia; summary)

No. 18/19 Oklahoma State 4-1 (lost to Fresno State)

(Unranked) Syracuse 5-0 (summary)

(Unranked) Fresno State 3-1 (lost to Syracuse)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The 34-team Cathedral City Classic, hosted in the Palm Springs, California area by Oregon State, runs from today through Sunday. Eight teams currently ranked in the national Top 10 by one or both of the major polls are playing at Cathedral City, as follows (ESPN.com/USA Softball ranking listed first, USA Today/NFCA ranking listed second).

Arizona (1/3)
Georgia (T3/1)
UCLA (T3/2)
Florida (5/4)
Oklahoma (6/6)
Washington (9/7)
Tennessee (10/8)
Hawai'i (11/10)

Three Top 10 teams are not competing in the tournament: Alabama (2/5), Michigan (7/9), and Arizona State (8/12).

As of early this evening, there already has been one upset, with Oklahoma State beating Georgia. The Bulldogs did rebound, however, to defeat Oklahoma. Some of the more attractive upcoming games include:

*UCLA facing a pair of tough opponents Friday, first Florida and then Oklahoma.

*UCLA against Tennessee on Saturday.

*Arizona vs. Georgia, Saturday.

Friday, February 18, 2011

This weekend's top tournament appears to be the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic, hosted by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The 17-team field is headed up by defending national champion UCLA and two other teams that played in last year's Women's College World Series, Tennessee and Hawai'i.

Monday, February 14, 2011

That Texas Tech (the school where I teach) could go undefeated in a major tournament, including wins over two nationally ranked teams, would have been unimaginable a few years ago. Under coach Shanon Hays who came on board last year, however, the Red Raiders advanced to the final of the Stanford regional before losing to Hawai'i, and now Texas Tech has opened 2011 with a bang.

Playing in Arizona State University's Kajikawa tournament -- an event with roughly 20 teams, so that any given team plays only a subset of all teams in the field -- the Red Raiders won all five of their games. These wins included a 5-4 decision over No. 12 Cal, and a 7-5, nine-inning, win over No. 16 BYU. The latter win included an eighth-inning triple-play to escape a major Cougar threat. In the team's final game of the tournament, the Red Raiders got a two-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the seventh, to beat Appalachian State, 10-9, and finish 5-0.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Welcome to another college softball season! As longtime visitors to this blog may have noticed, I've totally redone the graphic design. I hope you like it.

The season's pre-conference tournaments get underway tomorrow. The annual Kajikawa Classic, hosted by Arizona State, presents a large field of teams, a few of whom have been ranked in this year's preseason Top 10 (Arizona, ASU, Oklahoma; see posting immediately below) and many others of whom appeared in last year's NCAA tournament (e.g., BYU, Oregon, Stanford, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech).

Over at Ultimate College Softball, they have a monster compendium of all of this weekend's tournaments, so you can see where your favorite team is playing.

Also, ESPN.com's Graham Hays has a mega-preview of the upcoming season.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The two major national polls -- ESPN.com/USA Softball and USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association -- released their preseason rankings about a week ago.  The two polls agree that UCLA and Arizona, last year's NCAA finalists, should be the top two teams this year, too. However, the polls disagree on the order. USAT/NFCA clearly favors the Bruins with 27 first-place votes to just 3 for the Wildcats. ESPN/USAS, though giving UCLA 10 first-place votes to Arizona's 9, puts the Wildcats ahead on overall points.

Both polls also place four SEC teams -- Alabama (3/6), Florida (5/5), Georgia (4/3), and Tennessee (7/4) -- right behind the two Pac 10 powers (ESPN/USAS ranking listed first).

Other teams making the preseason Top 10 in one or both polls include Oklahoma (6/9), Michigan (8/11), Missouri (9/7), Arizona State (10/13), Hawai'i (13/8), and Washington (11/10).