The NCAA tournament begins today, with the Seattle region (Washington, Portland State, Auburn, and BYU). This regional is starting a day earlier than the other 15, apparently to accommodate BYU's school policy of not competing on Sundays.
The host Huskies, a participant in the last two Women's College World Series and 2009 national champions, started off the 2011 season 20-0 and rose to as high as No. 4 in the national rankings. However, their non-conference schedule was not of the highest difficulty. U-Dub went on to compile a 9-12 record in the Pac 10, yielding a No. 12 seed for the NCAA tourney.
Auburn recently made some noise by upsetting highly ranked Florida in the SEC tournament. BYU played a number of nationally ranked teams during the season, going 5-8. The Cougars have won 26 of their last 28 games, playing against Mountain West Conference opponents and non-conference teams from the immediate region (e.g., Southern Utah, Utah Valley, Idaho State).
I wanted to pass along a message I received yesterday from Joe Bleymaier, co-founder of Lateral Sports. This free website allows fans of all college sports to look up -- and connect to -- whatever Internet coverage is available for their favorite teams on a given day, whether it be by video, audio, or gametracker. Here's a direct link to Lateral's softball page.
Michele Smith, a TV analyst for ESPN and a dominating pitcher in her day, joins with ESPN.com writer Dave Scheiber to evaluate this year's top collegiate pitchers.
[Updated early Thursday evening.]