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).

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*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.