Monday, May 30, 2016

Super-Regionals Aftermath (2016)

ESPN-W summarizes the key facts for the eight teams that will be playing in the Women's College World Series.

ESPN has a video feature on the Romero sisters, Michigan's Sierra and Oklahoma's Sydney. It has apparently been running on television for over a month, but I didn't catch it until yesterday. With the Wolverines and the Sooners both making the WCWS, the feature remains highly topical!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Super-Regional Tracker -- Sunday (2016)

Game 3 of the UCLA-Oregon super-regional, the final game of a long day, is underway... Duck ace Cheridan Hawkins, who did not pitch Game 2, comes out rusty in the top of the first. A walk, a single, and an airmailed throw to third on the single give UCLA a 1-0 lead... Selina Ta'amilo, who pitched Game 2, goes again in Game 3 for the Bruins... Jenna Lilley leads off Oregon half with base-hit... UCLA can't handle Nikki Udria's bunt, putting runners on first and second... Another bunt (on which UCLA gets out at first) puts Ducks on second and third... Bruins make a quick pitching change, bringing in Paige McDuffee... K for second out... Janelle Lindvall at the plate, HBP to load bases ("Ducks on the Pond")... Lauren Lindvall up, flies out to right, ending threat... UCLA adds a run in the fourth, making it 2-0... Oregon gets a run in the bottom of the seventh and puts the tying run at second with two outs, but can't get the equalizer... UCLA wins 2-1 to advance to the WCWS!

Comments during UCLA-Oregon Game 2:

Game 2 between UCLA and Oregon now taking place in Eugene, with Ducks trying to close out series... Leadoff triple by Jenna Lilley, followed by sac-fly, gives Oregon 1-0 lead in top of first... Nothing but zeroes have been added to the scoreboard, now with UCLA batting in the bottom of the sixth... Bruins have a runner on first with two outs... Oregon SS Nikki Udria makes great inning-ending catch with her back to the infield to grab Brianna Tautalafua's blooper to left... UCLA down to its final three outs, trailing 1-0... Bruins' Gabrielle Maurice homers with one out to tie game in bottom of seventh... No further damage, so Bruins and Ducks going extras... Top 8: Lilley slugs two-out double... Ground-out ends Duck threat... Allexis Bennett leads off bottom half with single for UCLA... Bunt attempt popped up, one out... Fielder's choice at second leaves Bruins with runner on first, two out... Inning ends with UCLA runner being called out for leaving early on steal attempt... Top 9: UO gets first batter aboard on infield hit... Infield pop for first out... K for second out... And another K for third out... Bottom 9: Mysha Sataraka leads off with double... Tautalafua up, bunts potential winning run to third (with one out)... Madeline Jelenicki up... ESPN announcers suggest walking next two batters to set up force at home... Ducks opt against this strategy... Jelenicki singles home winning run, 2-1 Bruins... Game 3 coming up!

Auburn has come back from an opening-game loss to Arizona to win its super-regional (see table below)...

Comments during Arizona-Auburn Game 3:

Game 3 between Arizona and Auburn is underway... Auburn is the home team... Kaylee Carlson starts in the circle, after Makayla Martin had pitched in Game 2... Arizona goes down 1-2-3 in the first... O'Toole Time for Arizona in the circle... HBP to leadoff hitter Tiffany Howard... Wild-pitched to second... Kasey Cooper singles to left, driving in game's first run. Cooper to second on throw home and takes third on hard-to-handle pitch... Auburn leads 1-0... Emily Carosone up... Another HBP... Sac-fly to right by Carlee Wallace makes it 2-0... Carasone out for leaving early trying to steal second... Jade Rhodes to first on strike-out that gets away from catcher. Auburn will thus get four outs this at-bat... And that fourth out comes quickly on a grounder to third... Next couple of innings go uneventfully... ESPN graphic with two out in Arizona third: Auburn defense has recorded 35 of 50 outs this series via ground-out... Auburn with runners at second and third after Cooper single and Carsone double, one out, bottom three... Grounder to third, throw comes home, gets away, both runners score. Auburn leads 4-0, runner to second... Runner to third on ground-out... Nice play by Arizona 2B Ashleigh Hughes to short-hop line-drive and throw runner out at first... Mo Mercado with one-out double in top of fourth. Is Arizona in the market for some runs? Nope, side retired... Nancy Bowling in to pitch for Wildcats in bottom of fourth. Coach Mike Candrea tells ESPN interviewers, "We have some fresh pitchers" who can give Auburn hitters a different look... Haley Fagan solo shot in bottom of fifth makes it 5-0 Auburn... Top 6: Arizona strings together some singles for a run, two out... Hard grounder to first ends half-inning for Wildcats, as they trail 5-1... Auburn adds run in bottom of sixth to increase its lead to 6-1... Zona down to its final three outs... First two Wildcats hit singles, Tamara Statman to center and Dotson via the infield variety... Eva Watson makes it three straight singles (hers to outfield), loading bases... Mandie Perez at the plate, lines out to third, with Statman safely scampering back to the bag... Hughes lines out to second... Mercado hits grounder a short distance in front of home, catcher picks up ball, steps on plate and the game is over... Auburn wins game, 6-1, and series...

SEC will have four teams in Women's College World Series, but two of them had to come back from losing super-regional openers, LSU and Auburn. The other two SEC squads, Georgia and Alabama, swept their respective supers... We'll also have one team each from the B1G (Michigan), Big 12 (Oklahoma), ACC (Florida State), and Pac 12 (Oregon or UCLA).

Comments during Arizona-Auburn Game 2:

Arizona leads Auburn 1-0 in Game 2 of the teams' series, as the Wildcats seek to close things out... Auburn gets a leadoff double from Emily Carosone in the top of the fourth. Carosone was initially called out at second, but was given the bag due to obstruction by the first-baseperson who was ruled to be in the runner's way when the two made contact... Carlee Wallace then HBP... Jade Rhodes pops up bunt attempt for first out... Haley Fagan up, doubles over CF's head to the wall, two score, giving Tigers 2-1 lead... Madi Gipson up, flares a single to right, runners at the corners... Taylor McQuillin replacing Danielle O'Toole in the circle for Arizona (O'Toole's Game-2 difficulties reminiscent of second outing vs. Tennessee in regionals, but Zona hung on in that one)... Whitney Jordan up, HBP, loading bases... Jenna Abbott to pinch hit... Pop to shallow left doesn't advance runners... Tiffany Howard flares single to left-center, just beyond shortstop's glove, putting Auburn up 4-1. Howard takes second on throw in, leaving runners at second and third... Kasey Cooper up, pops to short to end half-inning... Katiyana Mauga leads off bottom of fourth for Arizona with deep fly to right that goes off fielder's mitt and rolls to wall. Mauga gets to second; would have been a tough catch, but ruled an error... Three straight ground-outs end Wildcat threat... Auburn loads bases in top of fifth with two outs for Jordan... Strikes out looking... Auburn pitcher Makayla Martin starts out cruising in bottom of fifth, retiring first two batters and getting 0-2 count on third... Martin then walks batter and hits next one, putting two on... Force at second ends inning... Bottom 6: One-out infield error followed by ground single to left gives Arizona runners on first and second... Ground-out to first advances runners to second and third with two out... Alexis Dotson, who doubled in Arizona's only run thus far, at the plate... Dotson grounds out, ending inning... Wildcats down to their final three outs in Game 2... Leadoff single, followed by fly-out to center... Force at second and infield line-out end game, with Tigers prevailing 4-1... Auburn and Arizona going to a decisive Game 3...

Michigan has swept its series from Missouri, winning 5-4 today. Trailing 4-1, the Wolverines scored four runs in the top of the seventh, then withstood a Tiger rally that put runners on first and third (here's the final out). Michigan's four-run rally included five hits -- two after two were out -- and a Mizzou wild pitch that allowed the go-ahead run to score.

TeamsGame 1Game 2Game 3
Georgia (16) at Florida (1)*GeorgiaGeorgia---
Missouri (15) at Michigan (2)***MichiganMichigan---
LA-Lafayette (14) at Oklahoma (3)*OklahomaOklahoma---
Arizona at Auburn (4)***ArizonaAuburnAuburn
UCLA (12) at Oregon (5)***OregonUCLAUCLA
Washington (11) at Alabama (6)**AlabamaAlabama---
LSU (10) at James Madison (7)**J. MadisonLSULSU
Utah at Florida State (8)**Florida St.Florida St.---
*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.

Here's a link to the bracket on the official NCAA website, for those who would like to follow the super-regionals that way.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Super-Regional Tracker -- Saturday (2016)

Once again, we have our super-regional board (below), documenting the winner of every game. Game articles are available by clicking on the highlighted school names...

Already on Saturday, LSU has evened its series with James Madison at a game apiece, by a 2-0 margin...

In the decisive Game 3, LSU leads JMU 1-0, as the Dukes bat in the bottom of the second... "Good" times for James Madison as Megan ties it up in bottom of fourth... LSU with a rally going in the top of the fifth -- one run in, bases loaded, one out. Megan Good replaces Jailyn Ford in the circle after three walks in inning... Sac-fly to deep center, all runners advance, making it 3-1 Tigers... Dukes' 2B Madyson Moran makes great catch running out to shallow center to snag blooper; saves a run or two! Moran leads of bottom of fifth with single to center... HBP with one out puts runners on first and second... Runners then advance on WP/PB (not sure which)... Ground out holds runners... Another grounder, but throw pulls first-baseperson off bag, allowing run to score. Now 3-2 LSU... Good receives intentional walk to load bases with two outs... Ford comes up, pops out, ending JMU threat... Still 3-2 LSU, as Tigers bat in top of seventh... LSU retired, JMU coming up with last chance to keep season alive... Niki Prince with leadoff walk... Hannah Hayes up... Amazing catch by LSU 2B Constance Quinn on high-liner; runner gets back to first safely... Erica Field strikes out... Morgan Tolle up, singles Prince to third (very close call, runner very well may have been out) and takes second on throw... Good again gets free pass to load bases... Ford up... Count reaches 2-0, walk would tie game... Next pitch a strike... Ford fouls pitch off, then swings and misses.... LSU moves on -- barely!

Michigan puts up three runs in the bottom of the first to lead Missouri 3-0... Mizzou's Chloe Rathburn burns Michigan for a two-run homer in the top of the third, cutting Wolverines' lead to 3-2... Michigan's Lindsay Montemarano drills two-out, two-run homer to left, upping lead to 5-2 in bottom of fifth... Top six: A whack by Kirsten Mack cuts Mizzou deficit to 5-3 (previous batter called out at first on infield grounder was probably safe; could have been two runs for Tigers)... Kolby Romaine walks for Mizzou with two out... Taylor Gadbois chops tough ball towards second; Sierra Romero's throw gets away, sending Romaine to third (Gadbois stays at first)... Fly-out to center ends threat... Michigan closes out Game 1, 5-3. Mizzou leadoff walk brought potential tying runs to plate, but three great defensive plays give Wolverines the win.

Florida State-Utah Game 2 underway... Noles strand runner at third in top of first... Jessica Warren goes opposite field, nailing two-run homer in top of third (distance measure), making it 2-0 FSU... Final is 3-0, as Seminoles advance to Women's College World Series.

Alabama, trying to close out Washington, leads 4-2 heading to the top (Bama) of the fifth... Now 5-2 Tide, heading into top of seventh... That's the final score, as Bama advances.

Arizona takes 1-0 lead at Auburn in the third... Tigers threatening in bottom half... and they take a 2-1 lead... No further scoring for Auburn (runner on third trying to score on grounder to pitcher thwarted for second out)... Top 5: Zona uses bunts, soft grounders to manufacture run, tie game 2-2... Top 6: Wildcats threatening on back-to-back singles (one to outfield, one high infield chopper), leaving runners  with one out... Rachael Walters replacing Kaylee Carlson  in circle for Auburn... Bunt single loads bases... Small-ball being played to perfection! HBP drives in go-ahead run for Arizona, 3-2... Wildcats take Game 1, 5-3.

Oregon dominates UCLA, 8-1.

TeamsGame 1Game 2Game 3
Georgia (16) at Florida (1)*GeorgiaGeorgia---
Missouri (15) at Michigan (2)***Michigan

LA-Lafayette (14) at Oklahoma (3)*OklahomaOklahoma---
Arizona at Auburn (4)***Arizona

UCLA (12) at Oregon (5)***Oregon

Washington (11) at Alabama (6)**AlabamaAlabama---
LSU (10) at James Madison (7)**J. MadisonLSULSU
Utah at Florida State (8)**Florida St.Florida St.---
*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.

Here's a link to the bracket on the official NCAA website, for those who would like to follow the super-regionals that way.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Super-Regional Tracker -- Friday (2016)

I'll be updating the following table all weekend, as results from the super-regionals come in...

Already, we have one shocker, as No. 16 Georgia shutout No. 1 Florida on Thursday night. The two-time defending national champion Gators now have no room for error, as they must sweep two games from the Bulldogs today.

James Madison gets a walk-off win over LSU in Game 1 of their series (video).

Florida in serious jeopardy of a stunning elimination, as the Gators trail Georgia 1-0 in Game 2, top (Florida) half of the fifth... Gators get runners on first and third with one out in top of fifth... HBP on an 0-2 pitch loads the bases... Another hit batter (on a 1-2 count) ties the game... Ground-out to first plates go-ahead Gator run... Grounder to short ends half-inning with 2-1 UF lead... UGA goes down scoreless in bottom of fifth... Nothing for Florida in the top of the sixth... Nothing for Georgia in the bottom half, either... Scoreless top of seventh for Gators... Last chance for Bulldogs... Fly-out to CF, 1 one out...  Maeve McGuire beats out high chopper to short, high throw draws first-baseperson off bag... Line-out to short brings UGA down to last out... Kaylee "Moose" Puailoa pinch-hitting... Hits dramatic two-run homer to center (video)... Florida done!!!

Florida State leads Utah 1-0 in the bottom (FSU) half of the fourth... Seminoles up their lead to 2-0, bottom fifth... Florida State wins 6-2.

Washington leads Alabama 1-0 after two complete... Game tied 1-1, but Huskies threatening with bases loaded and two outs in top of fifth... Fly-out to right ends threat... Bama threatening with runners at the corners, one out, bottom fifth... A rare 6-4-3 groundball double-play gets U-Dub out of the inning... Huskies with runners on first and second, one out, in top of sixth... Fly-out to left and strike-out end threat... Crimson Tide with runners on first and second, one out, in bottom of seventh... Ground-out advances runners to second and third... Washington pitching to Leona Fafaele, rather than issuing intentional walk... Foul-out by third base ends threat... Going to extras... Huskies threatening in top of eighth -- second and third with two outs... Strike-out ends threat... Leadoff walk, wild pitch, give Bama potential game-winning run on second with no outs... Walk puts runner on first (although her run wouldn't matter)... Bama bunt loads bases, as U-Dub tries unsuccessfully for force at third... Demi Turner lines a shot back to pitcher, who can't catch it in the air; run scores to give Alabama a 2-1 win.

Oklahoma leads Louisiana-Lafayette 2-0, with the Sooners still batting in the top of the second... Now 3-0... and that's how the top of the second ends... Sara Corbello solo shot ties the game at 3-3, bottom fourth... Sydney Romero homer puts Sooners back on top, 4-3, top fifth... Cajuns come up in bottom of fifth... OU looking to pad its lead, with runners on second and third, one out, in top of sixth... Infield bloop out fails to advance runners... Shay Knighten singles home two, increasing Sooners' edge to 6-3... ULL coming up in bottom of sixth... OU adds another run in top of seventh for 7-3 lead... Cajuns not going easily -- walk and double off the wall in right-center give them runners on second and third with no outs... Fly-out to center, runners hold... Fly-out to right-center, runners again hold... Kelsey Vincent pounds three-run homer to center, now 7-6 Sooners... Walk to Aleah Creighton puts tying run on base, winning run at the plate... Sooner pitcher Paige Parker looks like she's pitching on fumes... Infield bloop out sends OU to Women's College World Series.

Click on links in table for game articles...

TeamsGame 1Game 2Game 3
Georgia (16) at Florida (1)*GeorgiaGeorgia---
Missouri (15) at Michigan (2)***

LA-Lafayette (14) at Oklahoma (3)*OklahomaOklahoma---
Arizona at Auburn (4)***

UCLA (12) at Oregon (5)***

Washington (11) at Alabama (6)**Alabama

LSU (10) at James Madison (7)**J. Madison

Utah at Florida State (8)**Florida St.
*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.

Here's a link to the bracket on the official NCAA website, for those who would like to follow the super-regionals that way.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Super-Regional Info from Around the Internet (2016)'s Graham Hays previews the super-regionals.

Each super-regional series will be played over two days (a single game on Day 1, with a double-header on Day 2 if a decisive third game is needed). As detailed here, two series will be played on Thursday-Friday (Florida-Georgia, Oklahoma-Louisiana Lafayette); three will be played on Friday-Saturday (Alabama-Washington, James Madison-LSU, Florida State-Utah); and three on Saturday-Sunday (Michigan-Missouri, Auburn-Arizona, Oregon-UCLA).

For many of these teams, making the super-regionals is old-hat. The super-regional format is now in its twelfth year, having been introduced in 2005. Here are the teams with the longest continuous streaks of making the supers:

Alabama, made it all twelve years

Oklahoma, seven straight

Oregon, seven straight

Louisiana-Lafayette, five straight

Florida State, four straight

UCLA, three straight

LSU, two straight

Auburn, two straight

And some impressive near-continuous streaks:

Michigan, eleven out of twelve

Arizona, eleven out of twelve

Florida, nine of the last ten years

Missouri, eight of the last nine years

Georgia, eight of the last nine years

Washington, seven of the last eight years

Finally, James Madison and Utah will be making their first-ever appearances in the super-regionals.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

NCAA 2016 Regionals -- Sunday Status

The following table shows the status of each regional. The "2-0" and "2-1" column headings reflect teams' records entering Sunday's play (with the exception of the Columbia, Missouri regional, which started a day earlier). Under the double-elimination format, the "2-1" team had to beat the "2-0" team twice on Sunday to advance. Teams in bold (with game-article links) have advanced to the super-regionals.

Gainesville, FLFlorida (1)C. FloridaFl. AtlanticAlabama St.
Ann Arbor, MIMichigan (2)Notre DameMiami (OH)Valparaiso
Norman, OKOklahoma (3)Ole MissWichita St.Tulsa
Auburn, ALAuburn (4)Jacksonville St.SC UpstateOregon St.
Eugene, OROregon (5)BaylorLong Beach St.Baylor
Tuscaloosa, ALAlabama (6)CalTexas St.Samford
Harrisonburg, VAJ. Madison (7)LongwoodN. CarolinaPrinceton
Tallahassee, FLFlorida St. (8)S. CarolinaS. FloridaFlorida A&M
Lexington, KYUtahKentucky* (9)IllinoisButler
Baton Rouge, LALSU (10)Arizona St.McNeese St.LIU-Brooklyn
Seattle, WAWashington (11)MinnesotaN. Dakota St.Weber St.
Los Angeles, CAUCLA (12)CS FullertonFresno St.CS Bakers.
Knoxville, TNArizonaTennessee (13)Ohio St.Marist
Lafayette, LAULL (14)Texas A&MTexasBoston U.
Columbia, MOMissouri (15)NebraskaBYULouisville
Athens, GAGeorgia (16)Oklahoma St.*NorthwesternMaine
*Beat the "2-0" team to set up a winner-take-all game.

Here are some comments I posted during the day: 

Tennessee has finally gotten to Arizona ace Danielle O'Toole, with Lexi Overstreet slugging a three-run homer in the top of the fourth to give the Vols a 3-1 lead... Tennessee leaves the bases loaded in the fourth, however, so things aren't as bad for U of A as they could have been... Bottom fifth: A Tennessee fielding error (a grounder to short with a runner on first, which gets through) helps Arizona tie the game 3-3... Wildcats bring O'Toole back, with Vols having runners on first and third with no outs in the top of the seventh. Still 3-3... Tennessee hits into two infield outs, lead runner still at third... Third straight infield out ends threat... U of A can advance to super-regionals with a run in the bottom of the seventh... Zona goes quietly, Tennessee batting in the top of the eighth... Nothing doing for Vols... Wildcats scratch out a run (error puts runner on first, bunted to second, singled home) to win 4-3 and advance...

Cal State Fullerton is out fast against UCLA... However, a three-run homer and a solo shot now have the Bruins in the lead, 5-3...

Also off to an early lead is Washington over Minnesota. Currently 4-1 U-Dub...

Georgia leads Oklahoma State 2-0 in a winner-take-all contest...

Louisiana-Lafayette off to a 1-0 lead over Texas A&M on a homer by senior Lexie Elkins. Elkins, the first overall pick in last month's National Pro Fastpitch draft, played her frosh season at Texas Tech (home of your humble blogger).

Saturday, May 21, 2016

NCAA 2016 Regionals -- Saturday Updates

Only two of the 16 seeded teams have stumbled thus far in the NCAA tournament. Thirteen seeded teams are undefeated and on pace to win their respective regionals. No. 15 Missouri has already won its region, which started a day earlier than the other ones.

No. 9 Kentucky fell to Utah by a 3-0 score. The Utes (2-0) face a rematch with the Wildcats, who rebounded with a win over Illinois Butler in the losers' bracket. Utah needs but a single win to advance to the super-regionals, whereas Kentucky would have to beat Utah twice.

In Knoxville, it was O'Toole Time* as Arizona's Danielle O'Toole nearly pitched a perfect game in the Wildcats' 4-0 win over No. 13 Tennessee. The Vols will play Ohio State at noon (Eastern) Sunday, with the winner getting a crack at Arizona. The Wildcats will need just one win to advance, whereas whichever team ends up being U of A's opponent will need to win twice.

An NCAA bracket that updates after each game is available here.

*The "O'Toole Time" phrasing is a reference to the popular 1990s TV series "Home Improvement," in which Tim Allen starred as host of the fictitious show "Tool Time."

Sunday, May 15, 2016

2016 Geospatial Map of NCAA Tournament

The 64-team field and 16 regional hosts for this year's NCAA tournament were announced tonight (link). The No. 1 and 2 seedings of Florida and Michigan, respectively, were no surprise, even with each losing in its respective conference tournament (SEC, B1G). Oklahoma at No. 3 caught me a little off-guard. The Sooners had been ranked fifth and tied for fourth in the most recent national polls, did not compile a particularly stunning nonconference resume (notwithstanding a single win over Alabama), and played in a conference, the Big 12, which was down this year.

Anyway, below is my annual plotting of where teams are headed in the NCAA tourney. Each map depicts five or six of the regions, for optimal visibility. I have used a new method to create my maps this year, thanks to the free plotting website BatchGeo.

First is a map of the Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, James Madison, Kentucky, and LSU regional sites, each with its own color code (see bottom of map). Teams in the Alabama region, for example, are depicted in red (Alabama, Samford, Texas State, and Cal). You can place your cursor over any "balloon" to see the identity of the team.

View 2016 NCAA Softball Regions 1 in a full screen map

The next map shows the Michigan, Missouri (Mizzou), Oregon, Oklahoma (OU), and Tennessee regional sites. The Oregon region (green) may take the cake for the greatest geographical dispersion (Oregon, Long Beach State, Baylor, and the Bronx, New York-based Fordham).

View 2016 NCAA Softball Regions 2 in a full screen map

Finally, we have a map of the UCLA, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana-Lafayette, and Washington regional sites. The UCLA regional (red) has teams entirely from southern and central California (UCLA, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Bakersfield, and Fresno State), so there is considerable overlap in the balloons. The Florida region (blue) is also pretty compact, but not as much UCLA's.

View 2016 NCAA Softball Regions 3 in a full screen map

Friday, May 13, 2016

No. 1 Florida Ousted by Auburn in SEC Semifinal

Auburn's pitching has struggled lately, to say the least. In the Tigers' final two regular-season SEC series, against Tennessee and Texas A&M, Auburn gave up an average of 9 runs per game! Kaylee Carlson was certainly not the only Auburn pitcher having difficulties, but her performance April 30 at Tennessee vividly illustrates the Tigers' pitching woes. In that game, Carlson lasted only two-thirds of an inning, allowing 6 walks, 3 hits, and 8 earned runs.

Fast forward to today. In Auburn's SEC semifinal match-up with national No. 1 Florida, Carlson didn't give up an earned run as the Tigers upset the Gators 2-1. Earlier in the day, Auburn beat Alabama 6-4.

LSU, a 3-1 winner over Tennessee in the other semifinal, will play Auburn in Saturday's final.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

SEC Regular-Season Wrap-Up; Pac 12 News

Auburn righted its ship a bit, edging Texas A&M, 5-4, to end the Tigers' four-game SEC losing streak. Elsewhere in the conference, Georgia salvaged one win in its three-game series with Alabama, beating the Tide 9-5 today. The SEC will play a conference tournament, beginning on Wednesday; the bracket is available here.

The Pac 12, which doesn't have a conference tourney, will close out its regular season next weekend. With nine schools fielding softball squads, one team always gets a bye from conference play. Next week, it will be UCLA (16-5-1), which is done for the regular season. Barring some unlikely developments, the Bruins will finish second in the conference to Oregon (17-3). The Ducks host Utah for three games next weekend and, should UO get swept, its winning percentage (.739) would fall slightly below UCLA's (.750, counting a tie as half a win). Both the Ducks and Bruins have been very hot of late. Before losing to Cal yesterday, Oregon had won 10 straight conference games. UCLA, meanwhile, concluded Pac 12 play winning nine of its last 10 conference games.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Busy Weekend to End Regular-Season Play in Some Conferences

Lots of televised softball this weekend, as the SEC and B1G conclude their respective conference seasons and head into conference tournaments next weekend...

No. 6 Auburn, which lost a pair of games a week ago to Tennessee by 10-2 and 12-1 scores, and then lost last night's series-opener to Texas A&M, 6-5 in 8 innings, continues to struggle. Today, the Aggies have bolted out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first... A&M's Erica Russell homers to lead off the top of the second, making it 5-0... Tigers battle back for four in bottom half; leave bases loaded. Emily Carosone gets Auburn-record 262nd career hit during this inning... Auburn scores two in bottom of third to lead 6-5... A&M threatening in top of fourth, with runners on first and second, one out... Wild pitch and infield hit tie game 6-6... Three-run homer by Samantha Show gives Aggies 9-6 lead... Cali Lanphear goes deep, back-to-back, now 10-6... The final score is 13-6 Aggies.

No. 4 Alabama, which had trailed Georgia 7-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth, has put up five runs to make it 7-6 and is threatening for more... A bases-loaded walk ties it up and Bama gets the go-ahead run on a fielder's choice... Reagan Dykes singles with two outs to make it 9-7 Crimson Tide... Bulldogs go quietly in top of seventh, giving Bama the win.

No. 2 Michigan has finished off Rutgers, 11-1. With the win, the Wolverines have now won nine consecutive B1G regular-season titles (outright or tied).

No. 9/10 Tennessee, which seemed to be surging, suffered a 3-0 shutout today at Mississippi. The teams' series is now tied at a game apiece.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Tennessee Destroys Auburn in Sunday Doubleheader

Auburn will probably drop from its current No. 3 national ranking in both polls, following a pair of run-rule losses to Tennessee on Sunday. Knoxville rainstorms played havoc with what was supposed to be a three-game series, delaying games and ultimately forcing the cancellation of Monday's Game 3.