Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pitcher Aucoin Transfers from Texas Tech to Tennessee

Here's an article about pitcher Gretchen Aucoin transferring from Texas Tech to Tennessee in the aftermath of the Red Raiders' coaching change. As the article notes, "Aucoin should be able to contribute immediately in Knoxville, as Tennessee’s top pitcher, Ellen Renfroe, graduated following last season."

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

2014 WCWS Game 2

Each team has scored a run in the first... Florida puts up four in the second, including a three-run homer by Kirsti Merritt, to go up 5-1... Bama scores one in the top of the third to make it 5-2 and is threatening in the top of the fourth (runners on second and third with no outs)... Florida escapes the top of the fourth unscathed, as Crimson Tide hitters go down on a weak pop-up, a strike-out, and (following a walk) a hard one-bounce liner to the second-baseperson (who bobbles the ball, but throws to first in time)...

Bama is down to its final at-bats in the top of the seventh, trailing Florida, 6-2... A diving catch in center by Merritt puts the Gators two outs away from the title... After a Haylie McCleney triple for the Tide, an Alabama fly out to shallow left marks the second out. Gators one out away from the title...

Kaila Hunt singles in McCleney, 6-3 Gators...

Grounder back to pitcher Hannah Rogers ends the game. Florida wins its first-ever NCAA softball title, the second by an SEC team (Alabama in 2012 was the first)...

Monday, June 02, 2014

2014 WCWS Game 1

Florida's Aubree Munro kicks off the scoring with a solo shot in the top of the third; Gators lead Alabama, 1-0... Gators increase their lead to 3-0 in the top of the fifth... Florida wins 5-0 to take a 1-0 series lead.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

2014 WCWS Sunday Observations

As seen in the chart below, we're down to four teams. Florida and Baylor (both in red) have been paired up for the day, as have Alabama and Oregon (both in green).

Florida currently leads Baylor 6-3 after five-and-one-half innings (and it could have been worse, as the Gators had the bases loaded with two outs, but didn't pad their lead). Should Florida hold on, the loss would be Baylor's second and the Bears would be eliminated. Florida would go straight to the two-out-of-three championship series, beginning tomorrow night... No more magic from Baylor, as the 6-3 score holds up.

It's a short day! Alabama shuts out Oregon, 2-0, to make the championship series and eliminate the Ducks.

No LossesOne LossTwo Losses (Gone)
Florida*

Alabama*


OregonOregon

KentuckyKentucky

BaylorBaylor

Florida StateFlorida State

Lou.-LafayetteLou.-Lafayette

OklahomaOklahoma
HTML Tables

*Has advanced to the two-out-of-three championship series beginning Monday night.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

2014 WCWS Survival Saturday

All games today will eliminate someone, so I've got my handy chart ready below...

Barring a major rally, Florida State will be the first team to be eliminated, as the Seminoles trail Baylor 7-2 in the bottom (FSU) half of the sixth. The Seminoles get runners on first and second with no outs, but rally fizzles... The 7-2 score holds up and FSU is out...

Oklahoma leads Louisiana-Lafayette 2-0 after two complete innnings... Sooners survive ULL bases-loaded threat in top of the third... Oklahoma has now sent ULL home, the result of a 3-1 Sooner victory.

In one of the great comebacks in NCAA softball history, Baylor overcame a 7-0 deficit to oust Kentucky, 8-7, in eight innings. As seen in this box score, Baylor came up in the bottom of the sixth, trailing 7-0. However, three runs in the sixth and four in the seventh (three of the runs coming with two out) tied the game, and the Bears scored once in the eighth to win. A tough way for Kentucky to exit, in the Wildcats' first WCWS appearance.

Oklahoma scores a run in the bottom of the fourth to cut Oregon's lead to 3-1. What looks like a failed squeeze play (in which an OU runner heading for home is thrown out retreating to third for the second out of the inning) helps short-circuit the Sooners' rally, as they score no more runs in the fourth... Homer in fifth by OU's Shelby Pendley cuts Sooner deficit to 3-2. Ducks coming to bat in top of sixth... Oregon adds insurance run in top of seventh, wins 4-2 to eliminate Sooners...

No LossesOne LossTwo Losses (Gone)
Florida

Alabama


Oregon

KentuckyKentucky

Baylor

Florida StateFlorida State

Lou.-LafayetteLou.-Lafayette

OklahomaOklahoma
HTML Tables

Friday, May 30, 2014

2014 WCWS Friday Observations

A solo shot by Bailey Castro in the top of the second inning has given Florida a 1-0 lead over Oregon... It's now 4-zip Florida, as the Ducks bat in the bottom of the third... That's how it ends: Florida 4, Oregon 0. The Gators have won seven games so far this postseason, and all of these wins are by shutout. (Florida did lose one game in the super-regionals to Washington.)

Alabama leads Kentucky 2-0 on a two-run shot by Leona Lafaele. The Tide is now up in the top of the third... The 2-0 score holds up for a Bama win, although not without some late-inning suspense.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

2014 WCWS Underway

In the opening game, Florida has taken a 4-0 lead over Baylor and Bears pitcher Whitney Canion, as the Gators bat in the bottom of the fourth... A one-out Florida double in the fourth chases Canion... Gators add another, making it 5-0 after four... Final score: Florida 11, Baylor 0.

Oregon
, aided by Cheridan Hawkins's one-hitter, blanks Florida State, 3-0.

Kentucky
, a 4-1 winner over Louisiana-Lafayette, and Alabama, a 6-2 winner over Oklahoma, complete a great first day for the SEC. Of the four teams that will be playing in Friday night's winners' bracket match-ups (Florida vs. Oregon; and Alabama vs. Kentucky), three are from the SEC.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hays Previews 2014 WCWS

ESPN.com's Graham Hays previews Thursday's four opening-day match-ups of the Women's College World Series. The article is available here.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

2014 Super-Regionals Sunday Update

Here is where things stand today. Four teams (Alabama, Baylor, Louisiana-Lafayette, and Florida State) have clinched slots in the Women's College World Series. The other four slots are at stake today (see chart below).

Washington has evened up its series with Florida, with a 4-3 victory in Game 2. The deciding game is now underway, as is Game 3 between Tennessee and Oklahoma.

Oklahoma takes Game 3 over Tennessee, 8-2, to move on to the WCWS next week in nearby Oklahoma City. Oklahoma has just taken a 3-2 lead over Tennessee, as the Vols come up to bat in the top of the fifth.

Game 3 between Florida and Washington is in a lightning delay in the top of the fourth, with the Gators leading 1-0. Upon resumption, Florida ups its lead to 4-0 in the fourth, before the game is delayed again. Finally, Florida wins 8-0 in a five-inning run-ruled contest and takes the series.

Kentucky is making a strong bid to take UCLA to a decisive third-game, leading the Bruins 7-3 in the bottom of the fifth inning in Game 2. The lead holds up and UK forces a third game.

Kentucky leads UCLA 4-1 in Game 3, as the Bruins bat in the home half of the fourth. The Wildcats pull away to win 7-1 and get to the WCWS for the first time in school history.

Oregon has defeated Minnesota, 6-2, to sweep the series and advance to the WCWS. Oregon, looking to close out its series in Game 2, bats in the top of the seventh, leading Minnesota, 3-2.


TeamsGame 1Game 2Game 3
 Minnesota (16) at Oregon (1)***OregonOregon---
 Nebraska at Alabama  (2)*AlabamaAlabama---
 Kentucky (14) at UCLA (3)***UCLAKentuckyKentucky
Baylor (13) at Georgia (4)**BaylorBaylor----
 Washington (12) at Florida (5)***FloridaWashingtonFlorida
 Arizona (11) at Louisiana-Laf (6)**ULLULL---
Tennessee (10) at Oklahoma (7)**+OUTennesseeOU
 Michigan at Florida St. (8)*MichiganFSUFSU
*Game 1 Thursday, Games 2 and (if necessary) 3 on Friday.
**Game 1 Friday, Games 2 and (if necessary) 3 on Saturday. 
***Game 1 Saturday, Games 2 and (if necessary) 3 on Sunday.
+Delayed one day due to rain-out/rainy conditions.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

2014 Super-Regionals Saturday Update

As shown in the chart below, Baylor has become the third team to qualify for the Women's College World Series, sweeping Georgia.

Barring a major Arizona comeback, Louisiana-Lafayette will shortly be joining the WCWS field. The Ragin' Cajuns, who lead 1-0 in games, also lead 6-1 in Game 2, with the Wildcats coming up in the bottom of the fifth. ULL has finished off Arizona, 7-1, in Game 2.

Florida has taken a 1-0 series lead over Washington, hammering the Huskies 9-0 in a five-inning run-rule contest.

UCLA has defeated Kentucky, 6-4, to open their series. A noteworthy aspect of this game is that each team hit a grand-slam homer. I doubt that has happened too often in NCAA postseason action.

Tennessee, seeking to stay alive, has now defeated Oklahoma, 4-0, via an Ellen Renfroe shutout. leads Oklahoma 1-0 in the bottom of fifth (with the Vols as home team for this game). I would have thought Game 3 would be delayed until Sunday due to the lateness of the hour, but apparently Game 3 will be played Saturday night at around 11:00 pm Central time. Game 3 will indeed be played on Sunday.

Minnesota, the last hope for the B1G, now trails Oregon 8-1. is tied with Oregon 1-1 in the first inning of the teams' opening game. The Ducks go on to win, 10-2.

TeamsGame 1Game 2Game 3
 Minnesota (16) at Oregon (1)***Oregon

 Nebraska at Alabama  (2)*AlabamaAlabama
 Kentucky (14) at UCLA (3)***UCLA

Baylor (13) at Georgia (4)**BaylorBaylor
 Washington (12) at Florida (5)***Florida

 Arizona (11) at Louisiana-Laf (6)**ULLULL
Tennessee (10) at Oklahoma (7)**+OUTennessee
 Michigan at Florida St. (8)*MichiganFSUFSU
*Game 1 Thursday, Games 2 and (if necessary) 3 on Friday.
**Game 1 Friday, Games 2 and (if necessary) 3 on Saturday. 
***Game 1 Saturday, Games 2 and (if necessary) 3 on Sunday.
+Delayed one day due to rain-out/rainy conditions.

2014 Super-Regionals Friday Update

The chart below summarizes where things stand in all of the super-regional series after Friday's busy day.

Alabama notched its second straight one-run victory over Nebraska -- today by a score of 2-1 -- to advance to the Women's College World Series.

A day after putting 17 runs on the board to take Game 1 of its super-regional series with Florida State, Michigan experienced a dramatic reduction in its offensive output. The Wolverines lost Game 2 by a 6-0 score. FSU than took the decider, 4-2, on a walk-off homer in the bottom of the seventh. The Wolverines outhit the Seminoles in Game 3, 10-7, but Michigan's downfall was the 12 runners it left on base.

Baylor dominated Georgia in the teams' series opener, winning 9-1 in a run-ruled six-inning affair. Michigan's experience can serve as a lesson to the Bears that, no matter how convincingly you win Game 1, a win in the series is not guaranteed. One big difference, however, is that Michigan did not have a pitcher as overpowering as Baylor's Whitney Canion, who allowed only two hits to Georgia.

The same lesson goes for Oklahoma, which routed Tennessee 8-1 in a rain-delayed Game 1. This series, of course, presents a rematch of last year's WCWS championship round, which was captured by the Sooners.

TeamsGame 1Game 2Game 3
 Minnesota (16) at Oregon (1)***


 Nebraska at Alabama  (2)*AlabamaAlabama
 Kentucky (14) at UCLA (3)***


Baylor (13) at Georgia (4)**Baylor

 Washington (12) at Florida (5)***


 Arizona (11) at Louisiana-Laf (6)**ULL

Tennessee (10) at Oklahoma (7)**OU

 Michigan at Florida St. (8)*MichiganFSUFSU
*Game 1 Thursday, Games 2 and (if necessary) 3 on Friday.
**Game 1 Friday, Games 2 and (if necessary) 3 on Saturday. 
***Game 1 Saturday, Games 2 and (if necessary) 3 on Sunday.
+Delayed one day due to rain-out.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

2014 Super-Regionals Begin Tonight

The super-regionals get underway tonight, with the start of the Michigan-Florida State and Nebraska-Alabama series (see chart below). This year, 14 of the 16 seeded teams have made it to the "supers." Only No. 9 Arizona State (which lost in its region to Michigan) and No. 15 Missouri (which lost in its region to Nebraska) are absent. Only once before, in 2005 (the year the super-regional format began), have so few non-seeded teams crashed the party. That year, DePaul and Bethune-Cookman were the unseeded teams in the super-regionals.

ESPN.com's Graham Hays previews the super-regionals here. Once the games begin, I will be updating the following chart and commenting on interesting developments...

TeamsGame 1Game 2Game 3
 Minnesota (16) at Oregon (1)***


 Nebraska at Alabama  (2)*Alabama

 Kentucky (14) at UCLA (3)***


Baylor (13) at Georgia (4)**


 Washington (12) at Florida (5)***


 Arizona (11) at Louisiana-Laf (6)**


Tennessee (10) at Oklahoma (7)**


 Michigan at Florida St. (8)*Michigan
*Game 1 Thursday, Games 2 and (if necessary) 3 on Friday.
**Game 1 Friday, Games 2 and (if necessary) 3 on Saturday. 
***Game 1 Saturday, Games 2 and (if necessary) 3 on Sunday.
+Delayed one day due to rain-out.

Florida State held an early 3-1 lead over Michigan, but for whatever reason, the Seminoles collapsed both offensively and defensively. Wolverines win 17-3, run-ruled after 6 innings.

Nebraska squandered an early 4-0 lead, losing in 12 innings to Alabama, 6-5.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

2014 NCAA Regionals -- Who's Advanced, Who's Still Alive, Who's Been Eliminated

The following table shows the status of each regional. The "2-0" and "2-1" column headings reflect teams' records entering Sunday's play. Teams in bold (with game-article links if available) have advanced to the super-regionals.

Region2-02-1EliminatedEliminated
Eugene, OROregon (1)WisconsinAlbanyUtah Valley
Tuscaloosa, ALAlabama (2)So. AlabamaSC-UpstateSIU-Edwards.
Los Angeles CAUCLA (3)Notre DameLB St.Southern Utah
Athens, GANC StateGeorgia (4)UABChattanooga
Gainesville, FLFlorida (5)UCFStetsonFlorida A&M
Lafayette, LAULL (6)TexasMississ. St.TX Southern
Norman, OKOklahoma (7)Texas A&MHofstraBryant
Tallahassee, FLFla. St (8)S. FloridaS. CarolinaFordham
Tempe, AZAriz. St (9)Michigan*SanDiegoStDartmouth
Knoxville, TNTenn. (10)LipscombVA TechCharl Southern
Tucson, AZArizona (11)LSU*Boston U.Louisville
Seattle, WAWash. (12)N'westernBYUIona
Waco, TXBaylor (13)Tulsa*HoustonNW State
Lexington, KYKentucky (14)DePaul*J. MadisonOhio
Columbia, MOMizzou (15)Nebraska*KansasBradley
Minneapolis MNMinn. (16)Auburn*N Dak StWisc-GB

Winners of each region are highlighted in bold.
*2-1 team has won the first game against the 2-0 team on Sunday, setting up a decisive rematch.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Saturday (5/17/14) Regional Observations

Most of the seeded teams are doing well, but one has lost and two four others have squeaked by...

No. 4 Georgia has fallen to NC State, 5-4.

No. 6 Louisiana-Lafayette needed a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh to edge Texas, 3-2.

No. 7 Oklahoma put across three in the bottom of the seventh to escape against Texas A&M, 9-8.

No. 8 Florida State took 11 innings to put away South Florida, 2-0.

No. 11 Arizona also won 9-8, as LSU's three-run rally in the top of the seventh came up just short.

No. 12 Washington, whose regional began a day earlier than the others, has advanced to the super-regionals via three straight run-rule shutouts.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday (5/16/14) Regional Observations

Arizona State Region

Michigan survives against San Diego State, 8-7 in nine innings, but its late-season pitching woes continue. Hayley Wagner, driven from the circle early, does better in seventh-inning re-entry for the Wolverines...

Monday, May 12, 2014

2014 NCAA Tournament Geospatial Map

Here is my annual geospatial map of NCAA tournament teams, based on the official bracket. As I did last year, I created two separate maps, one for what I call "relatively compact" regionals (i.e., in which all or most of the teams come from contiguous states or even a single state) and one for "scattered" regionals (i.e., in which geographically disparate teams are brought together). Within each map, groups of four teams with the same color scheme are in the same regional, hosted by the seeded team (seed numbers are in parentheses). For example, fifth-seeded Florida hosts Florida A&M (FAMU), Stetson, and Central Florida, these schools appearing in orange boxes with blue letters in honor of the Gators' school colors. You may click on the maps to enlarge them.



One thing that may have jumped out at you is the emptiness of the West Coast, especially in northern California. Cal (4-18) and Stanford (5-19) pulled up the rear in the Pac-12 standings, along with Oregon State (5-17). All three of these schools have appeared in the Women's College World Series in the 2000s, so their recent declines are surprising.

Also, as sometimes happens, the tournament seedings are out of whack with the national polls. Georgia, which was ranked No. 11 and 14 in the polls, is seeded all the way up at No. 4, and Alabama, ranked No. 5 and 6 in the polls, is seeded second. However, in what the NCAA softball website simply describes as "rankings" (perhaps from the RPI or other quantitative system), SEC schools Florida, Alabama, and Georgia comprise the top three in the nation.

One school that was bumped down relative to its poll ranking is Arizona State; the Sun Devils were ranked No. 3 in both major polls, but seeded ninth. Two other Pac-12 teams, Oregon (No. 1 seed) and UCLA (No. 3) held their own in the seedings.

The Missouri (No. 15 seed) region includes three schools that, before the major conference realignment of a few years ago, were all in the Big 12 conference. These three are Kansas, who remains in the Big 12; Nebraska, which moved to the Big 10; and Mizzou, which shifted to the SEC. Bradley is the fourth team in this region.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Michigan Run-Ruled for First Time in 270 B1G Games

On April 22, 2000 (or April 23, according to some sources), B1G* softball power Michigan suffered a five-inning loss to Northwestern by a score of 12-0, via run-rule.

From 2000-2013, Michigan's softball program won 10 regular-season B1G titles (nine outright and one tie), made the Women's College World Series six times, and captured the NCAA national championship in 2005 (see UM's softball record book).

Entering Friday night's game at Illinois, the Wolverines had played 270 B1G regular-season conference games (i.e., excluding the conference tourney) since being run-ruled by Northwestern in 2000. In fact, Michigan had lost only 41 conference games during that time, an average of roughly three per season.

With Michigan coming into last night's game with a 15-2 conference record, compared to Illinois's 3-14, the occasion would not have seemed ripe for the Wolverines to be run-ruled in a B1G contest for the first time in 14 years and 270 games!

As a proud University of Michigan graduate, it pains me to say it, but it happened. The Wolverines were indeed run-ruled by the Illini, 10-2 in 6 innings. Credit Illinois with timely hitting in bunches. As the linked game article notes, "Four two-out hits in the bottom of the fourth led to Illinois' three runs. Three doubles in the sixth led to the run-rule decision." Four Michigan errors didn't help either.

---
*This is the wordmark for the Big Ten Conference. If one reads the "1" like an "I," it says BIG. Also, the "1G" is supposed to be read as a 10.

Cross-posted at my Hot Hand Blog on sports streakiness.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Top Teams Struggle

National No. 1 UCLA avoided a three-game sweep at the hands of No. 3 Oregon today in Eugene, with a 6-1 win. The Ducks had taken the first two games of the series, 9-7 and 12-4 (run rule).

No. 2 Tennessee likewise (and more unexpectedly) lost two of three this weekend, playing against unranked LSU. The Tigers defeated the Vols in the first two games of the series, before Tennessee salvaged Game 3.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Bruins-Ducks Battle; Vols and Tide on the Rise

No. 1 UCLA plays a three-game series at No. 3 Oregon this weekend, in the nation's marquee match-up. According to the UCLA news release, "With a 33-2 record, the Bruins are off to their best start since the 2001 season when they began the year 39-2."

Tennessee, having risen to No. 2 in both of the major national polls after a three-game sweep over Florida last weekend, travels to Baton Rouge to take on LSU. The Vols (8-1) are one of two SEC teams with only one conference loss. The other is Alabama (11-1), which hosts Arkansas this weekend (two of the games will be shown on the ESPN Family of Networks). The Crimson Tide has overcome some non-conference losses to reach No. 4 in the two national polls.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sweeps Characterize Big 12 Opening Weekend

I don't know how many fans took brooms out to Big 12 softball fields today, but it would have been appropriate, as all three of the conference's opening-weekend* series ended in three-game sweeps:

  • Kansas over Oklahoma State (link);
  • Oklahoma over Iowa State (all three wins via run-rule; link); and
  • Baylor over Texas Tech (link).

The reason for the late start to Big 12 conference play is that relatively few series are needed, given how few schools field teams. Despite its name, the conference has only 10 institutions to begin with. Further, three of them -- Texas Christian (TCU), Kansas State, and West Virginia -- don't field softball teams, yielding only seven squads.

---
*Baylor and Texas played once before this weekend, a game won by the Longhorns.

Monday, March 24, 2014

UCLA Likely to Take Undisputed No. 1 Ranking

Heading into this past weekend's play, UCLA and Florida essentially were co-No. 1 teams in the nation. UCLA held the No. 1 position, with Florida No. 2, in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. However, in the USA Today/NFCA poll, it was Florida No. 1 and UCLA No. 2. This past weekend's play likely will give the Bruins a nudge to the No. 1 spot in both polls. UCLA took two of three from Washington in Seattle, improving to 5-1 in the Pac 12 (28-2 overall). Florida, meanwhile, dropped two of three to Alabama on the Gators' home diamond in Gainesville.

Friday, March 21, 2014

B1G Conference Play Gets Underway

The B1G is the latest major conference to begin league play (see conference news release). The B1G logo is supposed to look like the word BIG when the one is viewed as an I, and the 1G is supposed to look like a 10 when the G is viewed as a zero.

Friday, March 14, 2014

SEC, Pac 12 Begin Conference Play

Among the major conferences, league play begins this weekend in the SEC and Pac 12. In the SEC, national No. 1 Florida headlines the schedule with a three-game series at LSU (Friday, Saturday, Sunday). In the Pac 12, the marquee match-up is a three-game series featuring Arizona at UCLA, in an unusual Saturday-Sunday-Monday format.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Judi Garman Classic

Arizona State went 5-0 in the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, California over the weekend, outshining other top teams in the field. A full compilation of results is available here.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Michigan Hands UCLA its First Loss of the Year, Gains Split in Series

The following Twitter tweet says it all...
Shortstop Sierra Romero led the Wolverines, falling a triple shy of the cycle (see box score and play-by-play). Tonight's win gives Michigan (14-3) a split in the two-game series after last night's extra-inning Bruin victory. UCLA is now 17-1. Originally, the teams were supposed to play once last Sunday in the Louisville Slugger Invitational in Long Beach, California, and then a second time tonight at UCLA. However, the first meeting was rained out, so the teams improvised and agreed to play Tuesday and Wednesday on the Bruins' diamond.

The UCLA-Michigan softball rivalry is near and dear to my heart, as I received my Bachelor's degree from UCLA and Ph.D. from Michigan. With both teams doing so well this season -- each currently ranked in the top 5 nationally -- perhaps a Women's College World Series rematch of the teams' epic 2005 championship series will be in the cards.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mary Nutter/Cathedral City Tournament

The 35-team Mary Nutter Classic (previously known as the Cathedral City Classsic) begins today in the Palm Springs area. As the tournament website states, "Five of the eight teams from the 2013 NCAA Women’s College World Series, including defending champion Oklahoma, will be at this years tournament. (Oklahoma, Tennessee, Washington, Texas, Nebraska)." The field includes additional top programs such as Arizona, UCLA, Stanford, Cal, and Oregon, from the Pac 12; Missouri, Texas A&M, and LSU from the SEC; and Northwestern from the Big 10.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Arizona Shuts Out No. 4 Alabama -- Twice!

The University of Arizona softball program has won eight NCAA championships, but has been down a little the last few seasons, not having made the Women's College World Series since 2010. It's still very early in the season, but the Wildcats may be back!

This weekend, the No. 24/22  Wildcats went 6-0 at home in the Hillenbrand Invitational, advancing to 9-0 overall. Particularly newsworthy is that Arizona recorded a pair of shutouts over No. 4/6 Alabama. U of A's first shutout over Alabama occurred yesterday, with the Wildcats winning 3-0 behind the pitching of Estela PiƱon and Kenzie Fowler. The Wildcats then blanked the Crimson Tide again today, this time in run-rule fashion (8-0 in five innings), with Shelby Babcock in the circle for Arizona. It appears that few, if any, schools will be able to match the Wildcats' pitching depth this season.

Wildcat shortstop Kellie Fox, a transfer from UCLA and younger sister of former U of A great Kristie Fox, hit four homers over the weekend. Look for the Wildcats to move up big when the next national polls are released.

Here is the NFCA summary of how all the nation's top teams did this weekend.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Littlewood Classic

Arizona State hosts this weekend's Littlewood Classic, which features Washington and Oklahoma, among other teams.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sunday, February 09, 2014

How Leading Teams Did -- Week 1

The National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) has put out this document, showing how all of the nation's leading teams did in their games from February 3-9. Summaries are available for all teams in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25, plus all teams that received votes in the poll but didn't make the Top 25. I assume the NFCA will do this every week, so interested readers might want to check the NFCA website every Sunday night. Here are some noteworthy results from this weekend's play:

  • Defending NCAA champion and preseason No. 2 Oklahoma losing its first two games of the season, to Kentucky and Cal State Fullerton.
  • No. 4 Florida scoring a stunning come-from-behind victory over No. 5 Michigan. As shown in the play-by-play sheet (under the box score), the Gators were down to their final out in the top of the seventh, with one runner on base and trailing 4-0. However, Florida then put together three hits, a hit-batter, a walk, and another hit to tie the game 4-4. After the Wolverines failed to score in their half of the seventh, the teams went to extra innings, where UF scored five times in the top of the eighth. UM went quietly in the bottom half, giving the Gators a 9-4 win.
  • No. 8 Oregon losing to Cal Poly (San Luis Obispo)
  • No. 9 Nebraska and No. 15 Florida State splitting a pair.
  • No. 10 Texas losing to Northern Iowa and Purdue.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

2014 Season Gets Underway

The 2014 college softball season is now underway, with a variety of weekend tournaments going on.  Most years, the Kajikawa Classic at Arizona State is the premier opening-weekend event. However, this year's field looks weaker than those of earlier years. This weekend's marquee event, instead, is probably the Wilson-DeMarini tourney at the University of South Florida. This tournament includes a Saturday match-up of No. 3/4 Florida against No. 4/5 Michigan.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

2014 Preseason Rankings and ESPN Television Schedule

Here is this upcoming season's schedule of telecasts on ESPN and its partner networks. The ESPN news release alludes to teams' preseason rankings. Here are links to the ESPN/USA Softball and USA Today/NFCA preseason polls. The two polls concur in ranking Tennessee No. 1 and Oklahoma No. 2, a reversal of the results of last year's Women's College World Series.