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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Super-Regional Tracker -- Sunday (2017)

Today, barring any weather-related issues, the super-regional tracking board will be completed and we'll have our field for the Women's College World Series. There are four decisive Game 3's today. Comments on the games are shown below the table.

TeamsGame 1Game 2Game 3
Alabama (16) at Florida (1)*AlabamaFloridaFlorida
Baylor (15) at Arizona (2)**ArizonaBaylorBaylor
Kentucky (14) at Oregon (3)**OregonOregon---
LSU (13) at Florida State (4)**FSULSULSU
Mississippi (12) at UCLA (5)*UCLAUCLA---
Utah (11) at Washington (6)**WashingtonUtahWashington
Oklahoma (10) at Auburn (7)**OklahomaOklahoma---
Texas A&M (9) at Tennessee (8)**TennesseeA&MA&M
*Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (if necessary)
**Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (if necessary). 

LSU has come back from an opening-game loss on Friday to win its super-regional, with a 6-4 decision today over Florida State. LSU's win ensures that the SEC will have three teams in the WCWS (Florida is already in, and Texas A&M and Tennessee, who are facing each other, are both from the SEC).

Talking about Texas A&M and Tennessee, the Aggies lead 4-3 after three, but the tarps are out in Knoxville during a rain delay. According to the Tennessee Twitter feed, the delay is not expected to be long... Aggies add one more run and win 5-3 to advance...

Baylor comes up with one in the top of the first at Arizona, failing to score more with runners on second and third with one out. 1-0 Baylor... After one-out intentional walk to Katiyana Mauga, Mo Mercado doubles to wall in left-center, giving Wildcats runners at second and third... Wild-pitch brings Mauga home, but Mercado rounds third too aggressively and thrown out in run-down... Two-out single keeps inning alive... But, fly-out to right ends inning for U of A... Shelby Friudenberg socks two-run homer to left to give Bears a 3-1 lead, one out, top 3; Friudenberg had RBI double in first... Shelby McGlaun doubles deep to center... K for second out... Grounder to first retires Baylor... Key at-bat for Mercado and Arizona, trailing 3-1, with two outs, bases loaded, bottom 5... High infield chopper, allowing no play for Baylor, scores run and leaves bases loaded. 3-2 Baylor... Jessie Harper singles up the middle, but only one run scores. Tied 3-3... Fly to left ends inning... Bears with a two-out threat, top 6, on back-to-back singles... Third straight single, by Kyla Walker, appears to give Baylor 4-3 lead; however, as replay clearly confirms, Baylor runner never stepped on third base en route to home plate. Inning is over and run taken off the board... Lead-off triple for Wildcats' Dejah Mulipola, as pop to shallow right eludes diving fielder ... Flare single to left gives U of A 4-3 lead... Another single gives Wildcats first and second, none out, bottom 6... Gia Rodoni in to pitch for Bears, replacing Kelsee Selman... Bunt advances runners to second and third, one out... Bunt single loads bases... Baylor's consistently been walking Mauga, but can't now, with bases loaded... Mauga flies out to center, not deep enough for runner to tag, two outs... Walk makes it 5-3 Zona... K ends inning... Baylor needs two (or more) runs or its season is over... Interesting move by Arizona, as Danille O'Toole pulled before start of seventh, replaced by Taylor McQuillin... Lead-off double to CF wall by Ari Hawkins gets Bears off to good start, top 7... The dangerous Friudenberg gets intentional pass... McGlaun homers to center, giving Baylor 6-5... Infield single for Bears; even if 2B-person fielded it cleanly, it would have been hard to get batter at first; bunted pop-up for first out... K for second out... Fly to right ends inning... Now, Arizona faces a score-or-stay-home situation... Walk, but out stealing on wild-pitch/passed-ball, leaves U of A with one down... Another walk... After Ball 1 to next batter, Baylor brings back Selman... Two outs, runners on first and second in Wildcats' last stand... Grounder to second sends Bears to WCWS...

Utah and Washington underway in their traditional late-night slot... Huskies score a run in first inning to lead 1-0, but leave runners at first and second... Washington prevails 2-1, to advance... Quite a turnaround from the 17 runs these two teams combined for in Saturday's game!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Super-Regional Tracker -- Saturday (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)*AlabamaFloridaFlorida
Baylor (15) at Arizona (2)**ArizonaBaylor
Kentucky (14) at Oregon (3)**OregonOregon---
LSU (13) at Florida State (4)**FSULSU
Mississippi (12) at UCLA (5)*UCLAUCLA---
Utah (11) at Washington (6)**WashingtonUtah
Oklahoma (10) at Auburn (7)**OklahomaOklahoma---
Texas A&M (9) at Tennessee (8)**TennesseeA&M
*Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (if necessary)
**Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (if necessary). 

Oklahoma closes out Auburn, 5-2, to get back to Women's College World Series... Nicole Pendley's three-run homer begins the scoring and Sooners never look back...

LSU, batting in bottom of third vs. Florida State, scores game's first run. Tigers may well get more, with runners on the corners and none out... Bases loaded... FSU's Meghan King strikes out Tiger hitting stars Sahvanna Jaquish and Bailey Landry... Seminole 1B-person drops foul pop that would have ended inning... Moot point, as fly-out to right ends inning, still 1-0... LSU again threatens in bottom of fourth (first and third, one out), but doesn't score... Florida State, with a 36-game winning streak on the line as per the ESPN graphic, bats in the top of the seventh, trailing 1-0... Nice catch by infielder on pop to shallow center for first out... K for second out... Chopper for single up the middle keeps Noles alive... Pop-up to center ends the game, forcing decisive Game 3 tomorrow... One-hit shutout for Tiger pitcher Allie Walljasper, who throws 67 strikes in 100 pitches...

Alabama-Florida Game 3: NCAA tourney scoreless streak ends for Bama pitcher Alexis Osorio, as Gators score in bottom of first on single to drive in runner from second, to lead 1-0... UF still up, runners on first and second, with one out... Walk loads bases...  Pop-up for second out... HBP drives in second UF run... Gator bunt almost drives in third run, but Osorio throws batter out at first narrowly... 2-0 Gators after 1... Two-out triple leads to Bama run in top of second; 2-1 Florida, with Gators coming up in bottom half... Crimson Tide comes up in top of seventh for final chance... Lead-off hitter gets on base via strike-out pitch that gets away from catcher... Next batter strikes out (and ball held)... Chopper to short, force-out at second for second out... Another strike-out, 12th thrown by Kelly Barnhill, ends game and sends Florida to WCWS...

Texas A&M-Tennessee Game 2: Tied 1-1, top 2... Vols with runners at first and second, and none out... Ground-out to first advances runners... K for second out... Tight play at first on grounder to short -- batter called safe, but replay shows ball may have entered 1B-person's mitt with incoming runner's foot an inch away from bag -- brings in runner from third for 2-1 Vol lead (no replay rule). Another infield hit, this time with batter clearly safe at first, brings home another, 3-1 Tennessee... Wild-pitch (or passed ball) puts runners on second and third, followed by walk to load bases... Force at home ends half-inning... A&M puts runners on first and second, with two out in bottom of second... Tennessee brings in ace Matty Moss... Ground-out to third ends inning... Vols add a run in top of fifth, now lead 4-1... Aggies get something going in bottom of fifth, as single drives in runner from second, cutting Tennessee lead to 4-2; A&M with runners on first and second and one out... Near-home run, high off the wall in center, drives in another and puts runners on second and third; 4-3 Vols... Sac-fly to left ties game 4-all (trail runner advances to third)... Double to warning track in left-center, just beyond outfielders, puts Aggies up 5-4... Another pitching change for Vols, with starter Caylan Arnold coming back in to replace Moss... Ground-out ends inning... Knotted again in Knoxville, 5-5, top 6, as shown here... Vols now with bases loaded and one out... Infield pop-up for second out... Hard grounder to 3B-person, who steps on bag to end threat... Bottom 6: Aggies retake lead, 6-5, on lead-off HBP and sharp liner to wall in left-center by Tori Vidales (only for a single)... Vols coming up, top 7, need a run or series goes to Game 3 tomorrow... Vol lead-off hitter strikes out... Grounder between short and 2B finds it way to OF for single... Bloop single to left gives Tennessee runners on first and second... Easy foul-out to first-base side for second out... Ground-out to second gives A&M the victory...

Kentucky off to 2-0 lead over Oregon in bottom of first... UK ups lead to 3-0, bottom 4, as Abbey Cheek goes deep for solo shot... UO with threat in top of fifth, runners on first and second and one out... Walk to load bases... Illegal pitch call, in which pitcher appeared to release ball after sliding forward being rubber, advances runners and brings in run... Wildcat shortstop Katie Reed makes great play to snare hard grounder up the middle and throw out batter, probably saving a run (runner from third scores, but one on second probably would have too, if ball went to outfield)... Inning ends on another nice play by Reed, snagging liner, with UK still up 3-2... Wildcats scratching for some insurance runs in bottom of sixth, with runners on second and third, and two outs... HBP loads bases... Ground single to right brings in two for Kentucky, who now leads 5-2... Strike-out ends inning... Oregon needs at least three runs in the top of the seventh, or else a Game 3 will take place tomorrow... Ducks get lead-off single to right... Bunt and ill-advised, stray throw to first puts runners on second and third, none out... Walk loads bases... Single up the middle cuts UK lead to 5-4, still none out with runners on first and second... UO bunts runners to second and third, now one out... Flare inside left-field foul-line by Mia Camuso (younger sister of former UCLA player Samantha Camuso) drives in two, Ducks take lead, 6-5... Kentucky stops Oregon with no further damage, but now Wildcats need at least a run or their season is over... Strike-out for first UK out... and another for the second out... Ground-out to third ends it... Ducks to WCWS...

Arizona-Baylor underway, with Wildcats batting, top 2, of scoreless game... Bears break through in bottom of fourth with two runs on single to center (second run scoring as fielder misplays ball)... Arizona single off right-field wall ties score, 2-2, top 5... Two-out bloop single to center puts U of A ahead 3-2, top 6... High-chopper single to left makes it 4-2... Baylor with tying runs on base (first and third) and two out in bottom of sixth... With starting ace Danielle O'Toole on in relief, infield high-chopper brings home one, as fielder doesn't even risk throw to first. 4-3 Zona... Sydney Christensen, who ESPN notes was 0-22 vs. left-handed pitchers this season, doubles to wall near left-field foul pole off of left-handed O'Toole, tying game... Taylor Ellis doubles as outfield flare just eludes Wildcat fielders, driving home two more Baylor runs, 6-4 Bears... K ends inning... Arizona down to final three outs, in trying to avoid a Game 3 tomorrow...  Lead-off single for Cats... Pop-up to 2B for first out... K for second out... Grounder to first ends it... We'll have a Game 3...

Washington-Utah also underway, likewise scoreless in top of second, with Huskies up... This game becoming a high-scoring affair early on, with Utah leading 6-4. Utes get two in second (on Kelly Martinez homer) and four in third; Huskies with four in their half of third. Julia DePonte and Morganne Flores with dingers for UW... Still bottom 3, BreOnna Castaneda's three-run blast extends Utah's lead to 9-4... Washington closes gap to 9-6, and we're only in the bottom of the fourth inning!... The late-night action finally ends with Utah holding on for a 9-8 victory, to force a Game 3 Sunday...

Friday, May 26, 2017

Super-Regional Tracker -- Friday (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)*AlabamaFlorida
Baylor (15) at Arizona (2)**Arizona

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

Mississippi (12) at UCLA (5)*UCLAUCLA---
Utah (11) at Washington (6)**Washington

Oklahoma (10) at Auburn (7)**Oklahoma

Texas A&M (9) at Tennessee (8)**Tennessee
*Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (if necessary)
**Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (if necessary). 

Oklahoma at Auburn underway. Sooners leave bases loaded in top of first, without scoring... Auburn does the same in the bottom of the second... Oklahoma is leading 2-0, top 6, and has the bases loaded with two out... Pop to 2B ends threat... Final score is 4-0 Sooners...

Florida State leads LSU 1-0, bottom 4... After Tigers tie the game in the top of the fifth on this slide, Noles put two across in bottom of sixth; final is 3-1...

Texas A&M and Tennessee are just beginning... Vols lead 3-0 in the bottom of the third; can blow it open with bases loaded and none out... 6-0 Tennessee, still bases loaded, still none out... 8-1 Vols is the final...

Kentucky at Oregon underway... Ducks take 1-0 lead... Oregon threatening to open up some daylight, with bases loaded and none out, bottom 6... Ground-out to first advances UO runners a base each, making score 2-0... Ground-out to short brings in another run, 3-0 Ducks... (Apparent) error on grounder to short makes it 4-0... UK retired uneventfully in top 7, 4-0 is your final...

Two-run shot from Amanda Lorenz has Florida on top of Alabama, 2-0, top 3... Still 2-0 as Bama bats in bottom of seventh. Tide, down to final out, gets runner on first via grounder to short, as ump rules throw pulled 1B-person off the bag; replay shows 1B-person's foot still was on bag, but evidently no replay appeals... All moot, as next batter grounds out to pitcher... Gators even the series... 

Arizona up 1-zip over Baylor, bottom 2, Wildcats with a runner on second with none out. No more scoring in this at-bat for U of A... However, Wildcats add a run in third on Katiyana Mauga's 92nd career homer to make it 2-0... Home-run record is 95 by Lauren Chamberlain... With the score still 2-0, top 6, Baylor puts together a triple and homer (by Ari Hawkins) to tie the score, 2-2... Same score, with Arizona batting in bottom of seventh; runners on first and second after walk to Mauga, none out... Sharp single to left loads bases... Line single to center wins it for Wildcats, 3-2...

UCLA up 1-zip on Ole Miss, but Rebels get lead-off runner on first in bottom of second... A Bruin throwing error gives Ole Miss runners on second and third with one out... Nice catch in left for UCLA saves a run... Infield pop-up ends Rebel threat... Mississippi down to its final three outs, as it comes up in the bottom of the seventh, trailing 1-0... Rebels go down quietly, Bruins become first team to qualify for Women's College World Series...

Washington takes early 5-0 lead over Utah, aided substantially by first-inning three-run homer...   Utes get back into game in top of fourth with their own three-run blast... Huskies trying to pad their 5-3 lead in bottom of fourth, with runners on first and second and one out... Walk loads the bases... Morganne Flores, who homered earlier for Washington, trying to do it again... She does, adding a grand-slam to her earlier three-run shot! 9-3 Huskies...

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.

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
Okla. (10)*N. Dakota St.Arkansas
Salt Lake City, UT BYUMississippi St.Fordham
Oxford, MS N. CarolinaArizona St.S. Illinois
Baton Rouge, LA
LSU (13)*McNeese St.Fairfield
Lexington, KY IllinoisMarshallDePaul
Waco, TXBaylor (15)J. MadisonOregon St.Kent St.
Tuscaloosa, ALAlabama (16)
*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 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.