Monday, April 27, 2015

LSU Stops Losing Streak

LSU ended its three-game losing streak on Monday, with a 9-0 run-rule win over Missouri. The losing streak included the final game of last week's LSU series with Texas A&M and the first two games of the Mizzou series.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

OU's Chamberlain Ties All-Time Home-Run Record & Alabama/Auburn Updates

As seen this afternoon on regional Fox Sports television, Oklahoma's Lauren Chamberlain has just drilled a Baylor pitch to straightaway center, over the fence, to tie UCLA great Stacey Nuveman for the all-time NCAA Division I home-run record at 90. Click here for the Twitter tweet from the official OU softball feed.

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In anticipation of bad weather on Sunday, Alabama and Auburn are playing two today to complete their three-game series. Following up its 6-0 opening win Friday night, the visiting Crimson Tide has taken Saturday's first game, 13-3.

Game 3 is currently underway. Alabama looked well on its way to a series sweep, jumping out to a 5-2 lead after three and one-half innings. However, Auburn tied the game 5-5 in the bottom of the fourth...

The Tide puts up a five-spot in the top of the sixth, to lead 10-5...

But Auburn's not going quietly, narrowing the deficit to 10-9 after six...

Tigers have the tying run on third and winning run on first, with one out in the bottom of the seventh. Grounder to pitcher on which Bama clumsily gets an out at first allows runner to score from third tying the game, and runner on first to advance all the way to third. Intentional walk gives Auburn runners on first and third. Hit-batter on a two-strike pitch loads the bases.

KEY PLAY: After third pitch to next hitter (making count 1-2), Tide catcher (naturally) tosses ball back to pitcher. Auburn runner tries to catch Bama off guard by darting for home on steal attempt, but Tide pitcher reacts quickly and throws runner out at plate. Going to extras...

Alabama gets a two-run dinger in the top of the eighth; Tide leads 12-10...

An Auburn double puts tying runs on second and third with one out in bottom of eighth. A walk loads the bases...

Single ties game, 12-12. Runners on first and second, still only one out...

Bama gets force at second on grounder to middle infield; throw to first for attempted double-play goes awry, allowing Auburn to score winning run! Final: 13-12 Tigers.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Roll Tide/War Eagle in Softball

The series I'm most looking forward to this weekend features Auburn hosting Alabama tonight (7:30 Central), Saturday (5:00), and Sunday (1:00). Auburn is ranked No. 6 and Alabama No. 7 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, whereas the positions are reversed in the USA Today/NFCA poll.

Whereas Alabama has already achieved elite national status, winning the 2012 NCAA title and making the 2014 final round, Auburn is trying to reach a similar tier. That effort was given a big boost when, after the 2013 season, Auburn hired Clint Myers away from Arizona State, where had led the Sun Devils to two NCAA titles (article).
 
Former Auburn coach Tina Deese had a strong record of getting to the NCAA tournament, doing so eight of the last 10 years before she was fired two years ago. Auburn has never made it to the Women's College World Series or a super-regional, however. In 2014, with Myers in his first season at the Auburn helm, the Tigers nearly reached their first super-regional.

This year's Tiger squad fared well in the Judi Garman Classic during the non-conference part of their schedule and are 12-3 thus far in the SEC, having lost one game each in series vs. Missouri, Tennessee, and Texas A&M. However, Auburn has not yet played the toughest part of its schedule. The going will be a lot tougher from here on out, with the Alabama series this weekend, and a series at No. 3 LSU May 1-3. Auburn and Florida don't meet each other in regular-season SEC play this year.

This weekend's series should tell us whether Auburn is finally ready for prime time!

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Top Teams Holding Own, But Not Sweeping

A trend that I noted a week ago has continued into this weekend. Many top teams are taking two of three from conference opponents, but haven't been able to sweep. In the following series completed today, brooms were nowhere to be found:
  • No. 1 Oregon routed UCLA in Westwood to take the series, after dropping the opener. The Ducks needed a dramatic comeback on Saturday to avoid losing the series.
  • No. 4 Michigan, whose pitching had been shaky last week vs. Iowa and in Friday's series-opener at Minnesota, shut down the Gophers 9-4 Saturday and 9-1 today, to take two of three.
  • No. 5/6 Alabama got a two-out, bases-loaded single in the top of the sixth to beat Kentucky, 2-0, and win the rubber game of the teams' series.