Thursday, May 25, 2017

Super-Regional Tracker -- Thursday (2017)

Here is the super-regional tracking board (with links in the results area) and comments on the games below...

TeamsGame 1Game 2Game 3
Alabama (16) at Florida (1)*Alabama
Baylor (15) at Arizona (2)**


Kentucky (14) at Oregon (3)**
LSU (13) at Florida State (4)**


Mississippi (12) at UCLA (5)*UCLA

Utah (11) at Washington (6)**


Oklahoma (10) at Auburn (7)**


Texas A&M (9) at Tennessee (8)**

*Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (if necessary)
**Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (if necessary). 

Alabama has upset No. 1-seeded Florida, 3-0, in the opener of the teams' super-regional series. According to the Tide's Twitter feed, "Alabama pitching has only allowed one run in NCAA Tournament play, including a current streak of 28.2-straight scoreless innings."

Ole Miss, having been no-hit for the first five innings by UCLA frosh Rachel Garcia, has cut the Bruins' lead in half, to 4-2, in the top of the sixth. A single, homer (by Brittany Finney), single, and single, with none out, have the Rebels in strong position... A popped-up bunt is the first out of the inning, but a walk loads the bases for Ole Miss... A wild-pitch (or passed-ball) allows each Ole Miss runner to advance a base, making the score 4-3... A solid single to the left-center gap gives the Rebels a 5-4 lead... Another single, on a chopper over the third-baseperson, runners on first and second... Ground-out to pitcher advances runners to second and third, with two out... HBP reloads the bases, with Finney coming up again... Strike-out to end inning... Still 5-4 Ole Miss as UCLA comes up in bottom of seventh... Lead-off bloop-single to right... Wild-pitched to second... Fly-out to shallow left-center, runner doesn't advance... Grounder to short for second out, runner moves to third... Tying run scores as pitch gets away from catcher... Pop-up to end inning. We're going extras! Rebels leave runner on second in top of eighth... Bruins go quietly in bottom of eighth... Nothing for Ole Miss in top of ninth... nor UCLA in the bottom half... Rebels put first two batters on base in top of 10th -- a single to center and a mishandled bunt. Passed ball advances runners to second and third... Alyssa Gonzalez, who had two-run single in sixth for Ole Miss, does it again in 10th, but thrown out trying to stretch single to a double; 7-5 Rebels... Two more singles put runners on first and second for Ole Miss... Back-to-back strike-outs end the half-inning... UCLA again with its back to the wall, coming up in bottom of 10th... Bruins get lead-off runner on base, as blooper just eludes shortstop's glove... Soft bouncer to second results in double-play. UCLA down to final out... Pitcher Garcia singles on hard grounder to left... Bruins won't go away -- ground-ball single up the middle... Bubba Nickles triple off right-field wall ties game, 7-up (actually a double, with Nickles taking third on throw home)... Ground-out to short sends game to 11th... Nothing for Ole Miss in top half... UCLA leads off bottom half with a walk... Bunted over to second... Two-out single to right drives home winning run for UCLA, 8-7 is your final...

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Schedule for Super-Regionals (Beginning Thursday)

The schedules for all the super-regional match-ups are available here. Two series (Alabama at Florida, and Ole Miss at UCLA) will play their games on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (if necessary). The other six series will be held Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Monday, May 22, 2017

NCAA 2017 Regionals -- Monday Status

Two games are being played today, to finish off the regionals (scroll down to yesterday's entry and see chart).

Oklahoma leads Tulsa 2-0 in today's winner-take-all game, with the Sooners batting in the top of the sixth... OU staged a dramatic comeback against the Golden Hurricane yesterday to force today's decisive game... Make that 3-0 Oklahoma (Monday gametracker)... 3-0 is the final score as OU moves on to the super-regionals...

In action late Sunday night, LSU defeated McNeese State and then Louisiana-Lafayette to force a decisive rematch today between LSU and ULL... ULL leads today's rematch 1-0, with the Rajin' Cajuns batting in the top of the third (Monday gametracker)... LSU roars back to win 5-1 and advance to the supers...

When all is said and done, all 16 national seeds advance, the first time this has happened in the 13 years the super-regional format has been in effect.

FLO Softball has a nice overview of the recently concluded regionals.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

NCAA 2017 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 Salt Lake City 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.


Region2-02-1EliminatedEliminated
Gainesville, FL
Oklahoma St.*
Florida IntlFlorida A&M
Tucson, AZArizona (2)S. CarolinaSt. FrancisNM State
Eugene, OROregon (3)WisconsinMizzouIllinois-Chi.
Tallahassee, FLFlorida St. (4)GeorgiaJacksonville St.Princeton
Los Angeles, CAUCLA (5)CS FullertonSan Jose St.Lehigh
Seattle, WAWash. (6)MichiganFresno St.Montana
Auburn, ALAuburn (7)CalNotre DameE. Tenn. St.
Knoxville, TN LongwoodOhio St.SC-Upstate
Coll. Station, TX TexasTexas St.Texas Southern
Norman, OK
Tulsa
Okla. (10)*N. Dakota St.Arkansas
Salt Lake City, UT BYUMississippi St.Fordham
Oxford, MS N. CarolinaArizona St.S. Illinois
Baton Rouge, LA
Lou-Lafayette
LSU (13)*McNeese St.Fairfield
Lexington, KY IllinoisMarshallDePaul
Waco, TXBaylor (15)J. MadisonOregon St.Kent St.
Tuscaloosa, ALAlabama (16)
Minnesota 
La.TechAlbany
*Beat the "2-0" team to set up a winner-take-all game. (Winner-take-all games between Oklahoma-Tulsa and LSU-ULL being played on Monday.)

Running commentary during the day: 

Oklahoma State, trying to force "if necessary" rematch with Florida, scores game's first run in bottom of sixth, leaving Gators with just three outs left... UF lead-off walk in top of seventh... Bunted to second... Fly-out to center, two outs for Gators... Fly-out deep to left, Cowgirls win 1-0, forcing winner-take-all game later today... UF takes 2-0 lead in bottom of first on home-run blast... Gators win 5-0 to advance...

Florida State survives a late rally by Georgia for an 8-5 victory and trip to the super-regionals...

Oklahoma, looking to stay alive, is off to a quick start in rematch with North Dakota State, scoring four in top of first (including three-run homer by Shay Knighten)... Sooners need to win this game, and then beat Tulsa twice...

Minnesota, fighting for its tournament life, is in extra innings with Louisiana Tech... Gophers batting in top of ninth of 2-2 game, threatening with runners on the corners with one out... No one covering first on infield grounder, so Gophers load bases... Kendyl Lindaman singles in two, putting Minnesota up 4-2... Gophers prevail 5-3 over LA Tech, now must beat Alabama twice...

Alabama, needing just one win, leads Minnesota 1-0, as Gophers come up in bottom of fourth (gametracker)... That's the final, 1-0... Minnesota fails to score in two games vs. Crimson Tide (16 innings total: seven innings today, nine yesterday)...

Tulsa, needing just one win to advance, off to 1-0 lead on Oklahoma as routine throw from catcher to pitcher returning ball gets away... Tulsa and OU tied 2-2, Sooners batting in bottom of sixth (gametracker)... Going extras, as Golden Hurricane bat in top of eighth... Tulsa scores two in top of 10th, OU counters with four on pair of two-run homers, first by Caleigh Clifton, second by Sydney Romero... Sooners win, forcing decisive game tomorrow...

Baylor's Gia Rodoni pitches two no-hitters in regionals to lead Bears to supers...

West Coast games now underway: Oregon 4-0 over Wisconsin, Ducks batting in bottom of second; Michigan 1-0 over Washington, two complete; Arizona and South Carolina scoreless, two complete...

'Zona goes up 2-0 on SC in top of third (gametracker)... 9-0 is the final...

U-Dub takes 2-1 lead over Michigan in top of third (gametracker). Huskies threatening more, with bases loaded, two out... Nice catch of blooper by Wolverine 2B limits damage... Michigan ties game 2-2 in bottom of fourth... Two-out, two-run double gives Huskies 4-2 lead in top of sixth... That's how it ends... Very subpar season for Michigan ends early...

Oregon finishes off Wisconsin, 9-0, to advance...

UCLA scores two in top of first, Fullerton scores one in bottom half. Still 2-1 in top of third (gametracker)... Bruins close it out, 9-1...

LSU site continues to look gloomy with rain... McNeese and LSU are now playing, scoreless in the bottom of the second, around 8:30 pm Central...

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Saturday Updates (2017 NCAA Regionals)

Although Minnesota received many statements of support after being omitted from the group of 16 nationally seeded teams, I felt there was also considerable pressure on the Gophers to prove the NCAA tournament committee wrong. Whatever pressure there was before has been increased tremendously, as the Gophers' vaunted offense was stymied in a 1-0 nine-inning loss to No. 16 seed Alabama... Minnesota will need to sweep three games (including two over Alabama) or its season is over!

No. 10 seed Oklahoma looked to be in a bit of danger, trailing North Dakota State 2-0 after five innings. However, The Sooners scored a pair in the bottom of the sixth to tie things up (gametracker)... Bison and Sooners will be going extras, as OU retired in the bottom of the seventh when batter thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double... NDSU scores in top of ninth, then, aided by this catch in the bottom half, closes out Oklahoma, 3-2.

Oregon survives by the skin of its teeth against Wisconsin, while Washington eviscerates Michigan.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Interview on Iowa Radio Show

I had the pleasure Tuesday morning of chatting with radio host Derek Martin of Iowa radio station KMA about the upcoming NCAA women's softball tournament. A recording of my segment, running about 10 minutes, is available at this link.

The big topic in the interview, as indeed it is among college-softball observers nationwide, was the NCAA's exclusion of Minnesota among the 16 nationally seeded teams, forcing the Gophers to face a daunting road to the Women's College World Series. As I alluded to in the interview, not long after the NCAA's snub, the Gophers were announced as the No. 1 team in the nation in the weekly NFCA/USA Today poll. Criticism of the NCAA's seedings continues to roll in.

Toward the end of the interview, Derek pointed out that Minnesota frosh catcher Kendyl Lindaman is from Ankeny, Iowa and he told some interesting stories about her power-hitting prowess in high school. Now, at the NCAA level, Lindaman has a slugging percentage of .942, third-highest in the nation.

Other players we discussed were Florida pitchers Kelly Barnhill and Delanie Gourley, both of whom have Earned Run Averages below 1.00; Arizona's Katiyana Mauga, who has 89 career homers and needs six more to tie the NCAA record of 95 by former Oklahoma Sooner Lauren Chamberlain; and Lindaman's battery-mate at Minnesota, Sara Groenewegen, who sports a 0.59 ERA.

It turns out that -- going from memory -- I misspoke slightly about two of the regional lineups during the interview. I said that a Florida regional contained teams exclusively from the Sunshine State, but that regional actually contains only three Florida teams (UF, Florida A&M, and Florida International, plus Oklahoma State). It is actually a regional in Texas that is entirely intrastate (UT-Austin, Texas A&M, Texas State, and Texas Southern). Also, in describing the Oregon regional, which brings in three teams from the Midwest, I listed DePaul as one of the teams, when it is really Illinois-Chicago. The brackets are available here.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

2017 NCAA Softball Tournament Geospatial Map

We're back once again with our annual geospatial map of where the 64 teams have been sent for regional play in the first weekend. This map allows you to see the extent to which the NCAA has kept regionals compact to save on travel costs, as opposed to sending teams across the country. For the last couple of years, I have used the Batch Geo website, which allows one to import an Excel list of schools (with addresses) and then generates a color-coded map, grouping schools by regional.

There are 16 regional sites, each containing four schools, which would probably create too much clutter for most readers' tastes, so I have broken the regionals up into three graphs, one with six regionals and the other two with five each. The regional hosts are identified in a black horizontal bar at the bottom of each graph.

"Balloons" of the same color within the same graph represent schools playing in the same regional. You can "hover" the cursor over a given balloon and the school's name will appear. There are additional tools on the graphs, allowing you to manipulate them in various ways.


View 2017 NCAA Softball Regions 1 in a full screen map


View 2017 NCAA Softball Regions 2 in a full screen map


View 2017 NCAA Softball Regions 3 in a full screen map

Getting to the substance of the NCAA committee's decisions, the biggest shocker of the evening is that Minnesota, ranked No. 2/3 in the final national polls and sporting a 54-3 record, did not receive one of the 16 national seeds. As a result, the Gophers will have to travel to 16-seed Alabama for regional play (see Map 1 above). As noted on ESPN's Tournament Selection Show, Minnesota was ranked No. 12 in the RPI, but had only two wins all year over teams ranked in the Top 25 (but not the Top 10) when they faced the Gophers, LSU and Cal. Minnesota did not play traditional B1G power Michigan (No. 17 in both polls) this season, as not everybody can play each other in a 14-team league; also, the Wolverines bowed out of the conference tourney before they could face Minnesota. Playing -- and beating -- Michigan might have gotten Minnesota a national seed, but we'll never know.

Also of note, the SEC got all 13 of its softball-playing schools into the tournament. According to the SEC website:

The SEC earned eight national seeds, as SEC regular season champion Florida (50-6) earned the national No. 1 seed for the third straight year. Auburn (46-10) earned the No. 7 seed, while Tennessee (44-10) was awarded the No. 8 seed. Texas A&M (42-10) is the No. 9 seed, and SEC Tournament Champion Ole Miss (40-18) is the No. 12 national seed. LSU (41-18) is the No. 13 seed, and Kentucky (36-17) was tabbed the No. 14 seed. Alabama (42-16) rounds out the list as the No. 16 seed.

Arizona seemed to stumble a little bit down the stretch, going a combined 6-6 in series vs. Utah, Oregon, ASU, and UCLA (including two shutout losses to the Bruins). However, that didn't stop U of A from getting the No. 2 national seed. 

Rounding out the top six national seeds are (in order) Oregon, Florida State, UCLA, and Washington, giving the Pac 12 four of the six highest seeds. In addition, eight of the Pac 12's nine softball-playing schools made the NCAA field (Stanford was left out).

Friday, May 12, 2017

Conference Tourney Updates (2017)

Quarterfinal play in the SEC featured three upsets out of the four games (see bracket):

  • Eighth-seeded Mississippi shutout No. 1 Florida, 2-0.
  • Sixth-seeded LSU took care of No. 3 Tennessee, 6-2.
  • Fifth-seeded Alabama edged No. 4 Texas A&M, 2-1.
Only second-seeded Auburn held form, blanking No. 7 Kentucky, 2-0.

In Friday's opening quarterfinal of the B1G tourney, top-seeded Minnesota dismissed No. 8 Northwestern, 5-1. Currently, fourth-seeded Illinois bats in the bottom of the second, leading No. 12 Penn State, 2-0... Illinois wins 3-0.... Third-seeded Ohio State beat No. 6 Wisconsin, 3-2... Finally, seventh-seeded Michigan State ousted intrastate rival and No. 2 seed University of Michigan, 5-4.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Catching Up with Florida State

No. 2 Florida State's past week of play had its ups and downs, which I completely blanked on. Most hardcore college softball fans already know about the Seminoles' week, but to preserve this blog's historical record, I would still like to summarize what happened.

A week ago, on Wednesday, May 3, Alex Powers powered FSU to an 11-inning walk-off win over No. 1 Florida, with a two-run homer. The Seminoles' jubilation would be short-lived, however.

With your friendly blogger concentrating on key conference series such as Arizona-UCLA last weekend, I did not know that FSU was playing a non-conference series at No. 5 Oregon simultaneously. As it turned out, the Ducks swept three games from the Seminoles, the finale going nine innings.  

These results, along with Arizona dropping two games (both shutouts) out of three to UCLA, really have shaken things up at the top of the national polls.

Florida is now No. 1 in both major national polls. The ESPN.com/USA Softball poll has Oregon at No. 2 and Minnesota at No. 3, whereas the USA Today/NFCA poll transposes the Gophers and Ducks.

Coming up are conference tournaments in the SEC (starting today), ACC (starting tomorrow), B1G (starting tomorrow), and Big 12 (starting Friday). The Pac 12 doesn't have a tournament and will have regular series going on.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Arizona, Scoreless vs. UCLA on Friday and Saturday, Salvages Sunday Contest

After getting shut out by UCLA on Friday and Saturday, Arizona rebounded for a 7-2 win over the Bruins on Sunday. The win gave the Wildcats the conference championship.

Friday, May 05, 2017

UCLA Routs Arizona in Series Opener

UCLA scored an 8-0, run-rule, victory over Arizona in the opener of the teams' three-game series in Los Angeles. Saturday's (6:00 pm Pacific) and Sunday's (1:00 pm Pacific) games will be televised on ESPN 2. As the above-linked article notes, the Bruins have now won nine straight games. Six wins during this stretch were over the Pac 12's two weakest teams, Cal and Stanford, but UCLA's win over Arizona suggests the Bruins really may be getting hot with the postseason approaching.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Oklahoma Wins Big 12 Regular-Season Title

With a 3-0 win tonight over Oklahoma State, OU has clinched its sixth straight conference title.

This year, for the first time in seven years, the Big 12 will also play a conference tournament.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Weekend Round-Up (4/30/2017)

Florida wrapped up the SEC regular-season title in Saturday's win over Tennessee.

Arizona improved its Pac 12 record to 17-4 by taking two of three from ASU this weekend. U of A took tonight's deciding game, 8-0. The Wildcats close out conference play with a three-game series at UCLA May 5-7. Utah (12-4) remains tied with Arizona in the loss column. The Utes will play a three-game series at Oregon State May 5-7 and then host Washington for three May 11-13. Utah also had two conference games cancelled.

In the Big 12, Oklahoma (14-1) swept Texas Tech to open up a two-game lead over OSU (12-3), which lost two of three to Baylor.  The Cowgirls will need to sweep the Sooners in their mixed-venue series (May 3 in Stillwater, May 5 in Norman, and May 6 in Stillwater) to win the league title.

Finally, Minnesota improved to 19-1 and is closing in on a rare conference title. According to this article, "The Gophers have not won a B1G regular season title since 1991." Barring a stumble next weekend at Penn State, Minnesota will be league champions. Michigan (17-3), which plays next weekend at Rutgers, is Minnesota's primary challenger. The Gophers and Wolverines did not meet during conference play -- a full round-robin is very different in a 14-team league -- but they could face each other in the conference tournament.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday Update (4/23/2017)

Two streaking teams (no, not that kind of streaking) saw their string of wins come to an end this weekend, as several match-ups of top teams took place...

Baylor, looking to even its series with Oklahoma at one game apiece, leads 4-3 in the top of the seventh in today's first game of a double-header... Bears miss a chance to add an insurance run, stranding a runner at third. Sooners coming up in the bottom of the seventh... OU retired in bottom of seventh, Baylor wins 4-3, ending Sooners' 17-game winning streak... Closing game of double-header (and of series as a whole) coming up... Oklahoma takes second game of Sunday's double-header, 6-0, to win series from Baylor...

Oklahoma State sweeps today's double-header from Texas Tech, which along with yesterday's Cowgirl win, gives OSU a series sweep... Big 12 standings now show OU (11-1) and OSU (11-1) tied at the top, ahead of Baylor (9-3)... Oklahoma State's next two series are at Baylor (April 28-30) and Oklahoma (May 3, 5, and 6). The Cowgirl-Sooner series will feature Games 1 and 3 in Stillwater, and Game 2 in Norman...

Game 3 between Oregon and Arizona underway, as the Ducks try to salvage one game in the series... Tied 2-2 going to the bottom (Arizona) half of the third... Nikki Udria socks solo shot for Oregon to tie game 3-3 in top of sixth... Lauren Lindvall adds another solo shot in the same inning, giving Ducks a 4-3 lead. As ESPN2 broadcasters have been reminding us, all of Oregon's runs this weekend, but one, have come via the long ball... Wildcats down to their final three outs, trailing 4-3 in bottom of seventh... ESPN2 graphic notes Oregon has not been swept in conference series since 2011... Lead-off walk for U of A... Nearly a rare ground-ball double play; runner out at second, but batter beats throw to first... Slugger Katiyana Mauga up... Mauga out on grounder to short (fielder's choice); tying run on second with two down... Arizona in the market for tying or winning run with Mo Mercado... Nice catch of pop-up by Oregon shortstop in shallow left, to end game... Ducks win 4-3... Oregon keeps six-year streak intact of not being swept in Pac 12 series...

Elsewhere in the Pac 12, Utah took two of three at Arizona State, leaving the Utes at 12-4 in conference play... Arizona (15-3) continues to lead the pack, with Oregon in third at 11-6...

Florida (18-2 in conference) did nothing to harm its lead in the SEC, not only sweeping three games from Mississippi, but shutting out the Rebels throughout the series! Next up for the Gators in SEC play is Tennessee, which had its 20-game winning streak snapped this weekend by LSU, but still took two of three from the Tigers...

Finally, in the B1G, Minnesota (16-1) has put some daylight between itself and Michigan (14-3) and Illinois (12-3). The Gophers swept Iowa this weekend, whereas the Wolverines took two of three from Wisconsin, and the Fighting Illini did likewise vs. Nebraska.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

NCAA's Interim Top 10 Rankings (April 2017)

As announced on ESPN2 during Saturday afternoon's Oregon-Arizona game, here are the NCAA's Top 10 rankings as of last Thursday:

1. Florida
2. Arizona
3. Texas A&M
4. Florida State
5. Auburn
6. Washington
7. Oregon
8. Minnesota
9. Tennessee
10. UCLA

An explanation of what these rankings do and do not indicate is available here.

Another set of rankings will be issued on May 6.

Saturday Update (4/22/2017)

Oklahoma (9-0 in Big 12 play) and Baylor (8-1) are scoreless, going to extra innings in Norman... Still no score as Baylor bats in the top of the ninth... The Bears put one across, so OU will have to score in the bottom of the ninth to stay alive (or win)... Sooners with the tying run on second with one out after a sacrifice bunt... Nicole Mendes doubles to the base of the center-field wall to tie the game, 1-1... However, Mendes can't get back to second base on fly out and is doubled up, ending inning. On to the 10th... Baylor scores again in top of 10th, making it 2-1. OU now batting with a runner on first and one out... Walk puts runners on first and second... Fly-out leaves Oklahoma down to final out... Fale Aviu doubles just inside left-field line to the wall, driving home both runners and giving OU a stunning 3-2 win! The Sooners and Bears will conclude their series with a Sunday double-header.

Oklahoma State (also 8-1) faces Texas Tech in a single game today and twin-bill tomorrow... OSU has taken Saturday's opener on a walk-off single.

Game 2 of the Oregon-Arizona Pac 12 clash is now getting underway... Gwen Svekis belts a three-run homer off Taylor McQuillin in the top of the first to give Oregon a 3-0 lead... Arizona tallies one run in the bottom of the first, cutting the deficit to 3-1... Two walks and a single load the bases for the Wildcats with none out in the bottom of the second; Miranda Elish (rhymes with "relish") replaces Maggie Balint in the circle for the Ducks... Single scores two to tie game 3-3, with Arizona runners advancing to second and third on misplaying of ball by left fielder... Shortstop tries to get runner from third at home on chopper, not in time: 4-3 Cats... Runners on first and second for U of A, still none out... Walk loads bases for slugger Katiyana Mauga... Arizona lead up to 6-3, still batting with bases loaded and two outs. Ground-out ends inning... All things considered, Ducks lucky to be down by only three... Svekis's second homer, this time with one on, brings UO to within 6-5... Mauga hits solo homer in bottom of the fourth, to give her sole possession of the Arizona record for career home runs (88) and increase her team's lead to 7-5... Mauga is now only seven blasts behind NCAA career record-holder Lauren Chamberlain of Oklahoma (active 2012-2015)... Arizona 10, Oregon 7 is your final for today.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Arizona Takes Series Opener Over Oregon

In a showdown series of two of the Pac 12's top teams, Arizona has taken tonight's opener over Oregon, 2-0. Danielle O'Toole's pitching and Katiyana Mauga's homer to tie the U-of-A career record were too much for the Ducks to handle.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunday (4/16/17) Round-Up

Arizona, which had risen to No. 1 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll and No. 2 in the USA Today/NFCA ranking on the strength of a 40-1 overall record (the Wildcats' only loss coming to Florida State on February 25) ran into a buzzsaw in Salt Lake City this weekend. After Arizona won the opening meeting on Thursday, No. 16/14* Utah came back to take the series with wins on Friday and Saturday.

The Wildcats still lead the Pac 12 standings at 13-2, but the Utes (10-3) and No. 4/4 Oregon Ducks (10-4) are close in pursuit.

Things are similarly tight in the SEC. No. 3/3 Florida, which took two out of three from No. 22/21 Kentucky this weekend (losing the middle game Saturday), sits atop the league standings at 15-2.

No. 5/5 Texas A&M, which took two of three from No. --/24Arkansas, is one game behind the Gators in the loss column at 11-3. The same holds for No. 14/16 Tennessee, who is 10-3 at the moment, but is playing later tonight. Tennessee is hosting No. 10/9 Alabama in a Saturday-Sunday-Monday series. The Vols took Saturday's opener. (UPDATE: Tennessee moved to 11-3 in the SEC with a walk-off win over Bama on Sunday night.)

In the Big 12, No. 8/10 Oklahoma (9-0) leads No. 12/13 Baylor and Oklahoma State, both at 8-1.

No. 2/1 Florida State is running away with the ACC at 18-0. In other ACC news, Clemson will be adding softball, tentatively scheduled for 2020.

Finally, No. 6/6 Minnesota (11-1) leads a tight B1G race over No. 17/18 Michigan (11-2) and unranked Illinois (10-2).

---
*The ESPN.com/USA Softball poll is listed first for schools with two rankings listed.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

No. 1/2 Florida State at No. 3 Florida

Florida State, ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the major national polls, is playing tonight at consensus No. 3 Florida in a non-conference match-up. The teams are scoreless as the Gators bat in the bottom of the third... UF takes it 1-0, with the game's only run coming in the bottom of the seventh on a two-out single (video).

The two teams will meet again in Tallahassee on May 3.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Oregon No Longer Unbeaten

Oregon has fallen from the ranks of the undefeated, losing tonight, 2-0 to UCLA.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Weekend Round-Up (3/31-4/2, 2017)

Arizona (9-0, 37-1) and Oregon (8-0, 33-0) continue to lead the Pac 12, with Utah (6-2, 24-7) also off to a strong start. The Ducks were ranked No. 1 in the last ESPN.com/USA Softball national poll.

Florida (10-1, 33-2), Texas A&M (9-2, 31-3), and LSU (7-2, 31-7) hold down the top three slots in the SEC. So tough is this league that Auburn, the preseason national No. 2-ranked team, is currently tied for fifth (6-3, 31-5).

Florida State, No. 1 in the USA Today/NFCA poll, continues to make a mockery of the ACC, leading the circuit with a 15-0 mark (35-1-1 overall).

Finally, although Michigan has slipped at the national level, it is off to a strong start in B1G play. The Wolverines have not allowed a run in sweeping Penn State and Northwestern. With a non-conference blanking of Central Michigan thrown in, Wolverine pitchers have thrown seven straight shutouts.

Minnesota, which lately has been the B1G team with the highest national ranking (sixth in both polls), is 5-1. The Gophers swept Nebraska, but dropped one of three to Illinois.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday (3/27/17) Updates

Auburn, seeking to salvage the final game of its three-game series at Florida, leads 1-0 on a second-inning homer by Kendall Veach (video)... The Gators fail to take advantage of runners on second and third with one out in the bottom of the fourth... Auburn pitcher Kaylee Carlson makes the one run stand up, as 1-0 is the final... Auburn coach Clint Myers, who previously had coached at Arizona State, gets his 1,500th career win. (Arizona's Mike Candrea had gotten his 1,500th win just days earlier.)

Rain cancels Oregon at Utah finale.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday (3/26/17) Updates

Arizona has swept Washington, 5-2 in the finale, giving Wildcat coach Mike Candrea his 1,500th career win.

Oregon has moved to 28-0 with a 12-3 win over Utah in the teams' series opener. Ducks take second game of the doubleheader, as well, raising their record to 29-0.

Florida beats Auburn 7-0 in the second game of the teams' three-game series.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Saturday (3/25/17) Updates

Florida has taken a 2-0 lead over Auburn in the bottom of the second in their series opener (airing on ESPN 2). There was a controversial play at the plate, in which Auburn's catcher appeared to tag the Florida runner in time, but was ruled to have bobbled the ball while doing so... Top 3: Auburn leaves bases loaded for second straight inning... Florida falls behind 3-2, then scores a pair in the bottom of the seventh to win 4-3. Video highlights here.

Last night, Arizona's Danielle O'Toole no-hit Washington in the teams' series opener. The Wildcats followed up this afternoon with a 12-0 rout, limiting the Huskies to two hits.

Oregon's series opener at Utah today has been rained out, so there will be a doubleheader tomorrow.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Four Top Conferences Now in League Play; Key Tilts in Pac 12 & SEC

The Big 12 opens conference play today. Only two Big 12 teams, Baylor (26-5) and Oklahoma (24-7), avoided double-digit losses in non-conference play. With only seven softball-fielding schools, one school must play non-conference games or take the weekend off. This weekend, Oklahoma faces Mississippi State. Baylor plays at Kansas.

Last weekend in the Pac 12 (which has nine softball schools), all four series were 3-0 sweeps. By coincidence, all the teams that went 3-0 are facing each other this weekend. Washington (24-3, 3-0) travels to Arizona (29-1, 3-0), and Oregon (27-0, 3-0) plays at Utah (21-4, 3-0).

Several SEC series begin today (most notably, No. 15 Georgia at No. 11 LSU). The headliner event within the SEC, however, starts Saturday, as No. 6/4 Auburn visits No. 1/2 Florida.

Finally, the B1G also begins conference play. Minnesota, a consensus No. 8 nationally, plays at Nebraska. Michigan, at an uncharacteristically low No. 19/18, hosts Penn State, and No. 22/21 Wisconsin is at Northwestern.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Utah Sweeps Three From UCLA

UCLA doesn't get swept three games at home in a conference series very often, but it happened this weekend as No. 20 Utah took out the broom on the No. 10 Bruins.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Monday, March 06, 2017

2017 Judi Garman Classic Round-Up

No. 1/3 Florida went 5-0 at the Judi Garman Classic, including a win over No. 8/7 UCLA. The Gators' smallest winning margin was three runs (vs. Northwestern).

Baylor put together an impressive string of four wins in the Garman, before losing its finale to host Cal State Fullerton. According to an article from the Baylor athletics website:

The UCLA game marked the fourth-straight win for the Lady Bears over a top-20 opponent, with BU notching wins over No. 20 Arizona State, No. 14 Michigan, No. 7/8 Washington, and No. 8/7 UCLA.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

2017 Judi Garman Classic Preview; Weird Week for Texas A&M

This year's Judi Garman Classic at Cal State Fullerton, featuring 14 teams, gets underway today. Over the years, the Garman has shifted from late to mid to early March, so that now it comes the week after the Mary Nutter Classic. Possibly the two tournaments are now held consecutively so that teams can participate in both with just one trip to southern California (albeit a long trip!).

Leading teams in the Garman include No. 1/3 Florida (15-1); No. 8/7 UCLA (13-3); No. 7/8 Washington (11-2); and No. 14/14 Michigan (9-4-1).

***

Texas A&M, which is hosting its own small tournament this weekend, has had a strange week. The Aggies beat the previous No. 1 team, as well as three other nationally ranked teams, in last weekend's Mary Nutter Classic, to advance their record to 15-0 at the time.

The wins vaulted the Aggies from 18th to fifth place in both major national polls, with the team also getting a substantial number of first-place votes. Texas A&M received the second-highest number of first-place votes (6) in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, and the third-highest number of first-place votes (5) in the USA Today/NFCA poll.

One would not have expected Wednesday's midweek tilt with the 6-and-11 Houston Cougars to derail A&M's momentum. As they say, however, that's why they play the games. Final score: UH 1, A&M 0.

Monday, February 27, 2017

2017 Mary Nutter Classic Round-Up

The big winner at the Mary Nutter Classic appears to be Texas A&M. The Aggies went 5-0 in Cathedral City, including wins over No. 1 Florida State, No. 14 Michigan, No. 21 Arizona State, and No. 23 BYU, to extend their overall record to 15-0.

Full scores from this past weekend's Mary Nutter play are available here. Another non-win on FSU's schedule was a 5-5 tie with Michigan, in a game terminated due to the Seminoles' travel considerations. As noted in this Michigan article, Wolverines' "senior RHP Megan Betsa struck out the side in the top of the eighth, but the game was called -- without U-M getting a chance to hit in the bottom half..."

Preseason No. 1 Oklahoma suffered its third and fourth losses on the season, falling to Tennessee and Notre Dame at the Mary Nutter.

Utah had a nice early run, shutting out No. 13 Tennessee and No. 7 LSU (both by 3-0 scores), as well as unranked Houston (by an 8-0 tally). However, the Utes dropped their final two games to San Diego State and Cal State Fullerton.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

2017 Mary Nutter (Cathedral City) Classic

The second (more extensive) weekend of play gets underway today in the annual Mary Nutter Classic. The tournament is played in Cathedral City, California, near Palm Springs.

Nearly half of the 35 teams playing this weekend are ranked nationally, including consensus No. 1 Florida State and No. 4/5 Oklahoma. Eight of the nine softball-fielding schools in the Pac 12 are playing this weekend in Cathedral City (the exception is Oregon, which was part of the Nutter's first weekend).

Monday, February 13, 2017

Weekend Round-Up (February 9-12, 2017)

No one could run the table at the Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, tournament.

Auburn, which won the opener over Oklahoma, lost to Washington, 2-1, in 10 innings later that same day.

Washington also beat Oklahoma, 1-0, giving the Sooners a 2-2 record in the event.

However, Washington lost, 4-2 to BYU, depriving the Huskies of a perfect record in Puerto Vallarta.

Over in Tampa, the University of Florida swept its five games in the USF-Wilson DeMarini tournament. The Gators' weekend included a 10-inning, 2-1, win over Michigan. The Wolverines also fell to host South Florida, 6-4, in the tourney.

It's obviously very early in the season, but it looks like the top teams are going to be very competitive with each other.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Auburn Defeats Oklahoma in 2017 Season Opener

No. 2 Auburn beat No. 1 Oklahoma, 3-2, in the season-opening Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, tournament. The Tigers were in control most of the game, with the Sooners' two runs coming in the bottom of the seventh.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

2017 Preseason Polls

Welcome to the College Softball Blog for the 2017 season, which begins this weekend. The blog, now in its 12th season, has a new look, which I hope you like!

Three preseason polls are out, the longstanding ones from ESPN/USA Softball and USA Today/NFCA, plus one from a newcomer, Flo Softball (see links in the right-hand column). I have compiled the rankings and averaged them to get an overall impression. You may click on the following graphic to enlarge it.


Defending NCAA champion Oklahoma is ranked No. 1 in all three polls. Last year's runner-up Auburn is ranked No. 2 in the average of the three polls, followed by Florida State, Florida, and LSU.

Oklahoma and Auburn get right back on the diamond against each other, opening the season tomorrow in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico at 1:00 Central (televised on ESPN U).

Another match-up of top teams will occur Saturday morning, as Florida and Michigan face off in the University of South Florida tournament.

A season preview by Graham Hays of ESPN-W is available here.