Friday, May 31, 2013

Day 1 Reflections (2013 WCWS)

Oklahoma was just as dominant over Michigan last night as my sabermetric statistical preview of the Women's College World Series suggested the Sooners would be. That makes me happy as a statistician, but sad as a Michigan alum! Keilani Ricketts pitched just as advertised, no-hitting the Wolverines in a 7-1 OU win (and the first WCWS no-hitter in six years). The most you could say for UM is that it managed to avoid being run-ruled.

As I wrote on Wednesday, "even though Florida is the No. 2 seed and Tennessee is No. 7, the Volunteers put up better numbers [during the season] than the Gators in all four [sabermetric] categories (although not necessarily by large margins)." As it turned out, the statistical information was a better predictor than the seeding, as the Volunteers won easily, 9-2.

Texas vs. Arizona State looked to be the most evenly matched contest, both in terms of seeding (No. 4 and 5, respectively) and the teams' sabermetric profiles. However, except for a brief ASU offensive outburst that ended Longhorn pitcher Blaire Luna's streak (over multiple games) of 12 straight no-hit innings, Texas was pretty dominant, winning 6-3.

The one close game on opening day featured Washington and Nebraska, as the Huskies won on an extra-inning walk-off homer, 4-3.

One trend I noticed across the games was all eight teams committed at least one error (Florida committed 2, all the other teams 1 each). The short distance between the bases almost certainly contributes to the error rate in softball, as infielders are going to feel pressure to throw the ball to first base in as little time as possible. Legendary college-basketball coach John Wooden's advice to "Be Quick, But Don't Hurry," may be applicable here.

Tonight, we have two winners' bracket games: Tennessee vs. Washington, and Oklahoma vs. Texas. OU took two of three from Texas during Big 12 conference play this season.