The 2018 NCAA Division 1 Softball season is down to the final 8 teams who will be playing for the chance to win the Women’s College World Series. An updated bracket can be found here. Each game of the 2018 Women’s College World Series will take place from ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The 8 teams will compete in a double elimination format until only two teams are left. The last two teams will then play in a best of three championship series to determine the 2018 National Champion.
The Oklahoma Sooners are the two-time defending National Champions after winning in 2016 and 2017. Should the Sooners complete the trifecta, they will join the UCLABruins from 1988 to 1990 as the only teams to win three straight National Titles since 1982. Speaking of UCLA, they too are in this year’s WCWS for the 28th time in school history.
All eight schools in the Women’s College World Series have previously made an appearance in Oklahoma City. Of the eight teams, ArizonaState has had the longest absence since their last appearance in 2013. The below table shows the eight teams taking part in the WCWS along with their last appearance, record, conference affiliation, and all-time WCWS appearances.
The Women’s College World Series will get underway on Thursday, May 31 with four games scheduled for the opening day. The entire schedule can be found in the table below with the Championship Series located in a separate table.
The tables below will be updated with final scores as the games go final each day. Please note all times listed below are Eastern.
# 5 Wash.
Game 11 Winner
Game 11 Loser
The schedule for Championship Series is shown below.
2018 Women’s College World Series Championship Series
We are closing in on week eight and there are some big games this week. Miami (FL) is at Virginia Tech, TCU is at #12 West Virginia, #6 Texas A&M travels to face #1 Alabama in the biggest game of the week, #17 Arkansas is at #21 Auburn, #2 Ohio State plays Penn State on the road, and #23 Ole Miss is at #25 LSU.
Those are big games, but we will take a look at some of the games not listed above that could have an impact on week eight and beyond. Note that these games are listed in order of when they will be played and all times listed are Eastern.
1. Oregon at California (10/21 at 10:30 PM) – This game will be nationally televised, but the implications are huge. Oregon is on a four game losing streak and sits at 2-4 overall. They had a bye last week and one can only assume the defense was the focal point (Oregon has given up at least 35 points each game during their losing streak).
California has alternated between wins and losses this year to get to 3-3. Their offense has been very good this year too with Davis Webb at the helm (2,256 yards at 60.8% with 22 touchdowns and 7 interceptions), which presents a great opportunity against Oregon’s porous defense. Oregon’s defense gives up 522 yards per game including 284 yards through the air.
Oregon needs this win more than California, but the road to end the season for both teams is not easy. Oregon faces Arizona State, USC (away), Stanford, Utah (away), and Oregon State (away) after the Cal game. How many wins are there for the Ducks with this defense?
California has USC (away), Washington, Washington State (away), Stanford, and UCLA after playing Oregon. Their schedule is tough as well and a win will help both teams if they want to make a bowl game.
2. Indiana at Northwestern (10/22 at 12 PM) – On paper, Northwestern seems like the favorite given their back-to-back road wins over Iowa and Michigan State. As of this posting, the Wildcats are favored by a point and a half. Indiana is a scrappy team though and they could make things interesting.
The key in this game, and for Northwestern’s offense, is Justin Jackson. He ran for 339 yards and 3 touchdowns (all in the opener) on 83 carries through his first four games for an average of 4.1 yards per carry. Against Iowa and Michigan State, he has rushed for a combined 359 yards and 3 touchdowns on 60 carries for an average of 6 yards per rush. In turn, he allows the passing game to flourish especially if the ball is headed towards Austin Carr. Carr has 5 touchdowns in the last two games, but he has been producing all season long (at least 5 catches and 73 yards in every game).
For Indiana, this year’s team is different. It is no longer just about out-scoring the opponent and hope the defense can make a stop or two. The defense is a cohesive unit that can consistently play well in 2016. For 2015, the defense gave up 37.6 points per game compared to 25.3 points per game through six games this year. The hiring of Tom Allen has no doubt improved the defense and they will have their hands full with Justin Jackson this week.
Both teams enter this game at 3-3 and it is clear the winner will be in a very good position to make a bowl. However, a loss can be overcome with both teams having 3 winnable games in their final five contests.
3. Akron at Ball State (10/22 at 3 PM) – This is not the biggest game of the week for the MAC. That is listed two slots below, but this is a big game for both teams in their respective division.
Akron is currently a joint-first with Ohio in the MAC East at 2-1 in conference play. They are coming off a shellacking at the hands of the top MAC team Western Michigan 41-0. It was not pretty as the offense put up 283 yards of offense and the defense gave up 585 yards. The offense did not get into Broncos’ territory until late in the first half.
Ball State got their first conference win this year over Buffalo after losses to Northern Illinois and Central Michigan. James Gilbert, who has been good this year, had a monster game with 264 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns on 34 carries. It was his fourth 100 yard rushing game this year and third in a row (at least 2 rushing touchdowns in the last three games as well). It is worth noting that Jarvion Franklin ran for 281 yards and 1 touchdown in Western Michigan’s win over Akron in week 7.
How good is Ball State? How will Akron respond to their drubbing? Those questions will be answered this week and beyond in Ball State’s case. At this point, Akron can only have one more loss prior to their game at Ohio to end the season if they want to have a chance at winning the MAC East. Ball State still has to face Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, and Toledo this year, so a win may be crucial this week just to try to make a bowl game.
4. Memphis at Navy (10/22 at 3:30 PM) – This is a big AAC West Division tilt. Memphis is 2-0 in the AAC while Navy is 3-0 in conference. Plus, Navy has the win over Houston from their last game so a win here would really help the Midshipmen given their schedule to end the season.
The defense for Memphis has been solid this year giving up 19.3 points per game and 140 yards rushing per game. The latter is more pertinent against the triple option of Navy. Navy’s offense puts up 32.2 points per game and 262.4 yards rushing per game. In last year’s game, Navy put up 374 yards rushing against Memphis, but that offense included Keenan Reynolds and and Chris Swain, both of whom are no longer there.
Memphis had Paxton Lynch in 2015 and now Riley Ferguson has taken over at quarterback. Ferguson has done well throwing for 1,596 yards (65.5%) with 12 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Memphis’ toughest opponent this year has been Ole Miss, a game in which Ferguson threw for 343 yards, but with no touchdowns and three interceptions. If he can continue to be accurate and avoid interceptions, this team has a good chance of winning.
Memphis still has to face Tulsa, SMU, South Florida, Cincinnati, and Houston to end the season so a win here will help and give them some confidence. Navy will play South Florida, Notre Dame, Tulsa, East Carolina, SMU, and Army to end the season.
5. Eastern Michigan at Western Michigan (10/22 at 3:30 PM) – Here is another MACtion game, but this one is the marquee matchup this week.
Eastern Michigan has been a surprise this year. They are 5-2 and sit one win away from their first bowl game since 1987. They defeated MAC East contender Ohio on the road last week 27-20. BroganRoback threw for 347 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions to lead the Eagles.
Western Michigan has been a surprise too, but on a national level. They defeated both Northwestern and Illinois on the road in their first three games. They have looked like the best team in the conference to this point and have a legitimate chance at making a big bowl if they go undefeated and win the MAC Championship. Zach Terrell has been fantastic this year throwing for 1,597 yards with 17 touchdowns and ZERO interceptions. He also has 142 yards on the ground and 5 touchdowns. Jarvion Franklin has been good the last three weeks, which coincides with Jamauri Bogan missing time due to an ankle injury. Franklin has 582 yards and 4 touchdowns on 87 carries the last three games (6.7 yards per carry).
This will be the toughest team Eastern Michigan has faced this year in MAC play (possibly all year if one wants to consider WMU better than Missouri). They will have their hands full, but could keep it interesting. A win for Western Michigan would put them in a commanding position for the MAC West title until their game against Toledo in the season finale.
6. Old Dominion at Western Kentucky (10/22 at 7 PM) – Old Dominion enters this game at 4-2 while Western Kentucky is 4-3. The Monarchs two best opponents so far this year have been Appalachian State and North Carolina State, which ODU lost. Those two games were played on the road and the combined final scores were 80-29. Their other four games have all been 2+ touchdown margin of victories.
As for Western Kentucky, they played #1 Alabama and obviously got crushed, 38-10. However, their other two losses were to Vanderbilt 31-30 in overtime and 55-52 against Louisiana Tech. They have close wins against Middle Tennessee (44-43 in 2 OT last week) and Miami (OH) 31-24.
Old Dominion runs a balanced offense (yardage is 53% passing and 47% rushing). David Washington leads the offense and while his numbers are not impressive, he is efficient. He has thrown for 1,250 yards with 12 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. He also has 158 yards and a touchdown on the ground. He completes only 56.4% of his passes, but has only had 1 game with a negative TD to INT ratio (Appalachian State when he threw 1 INT and no touchdowns). The running game will be led by Jeremy Cox (420 yards and 9 touchdowns) and Ray Lawry (373 yards and 3 touchdowns).
Western Kentucky is led by former South Florida quarterback MikeWhite. He has thrown for 2,098 yards with 16 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. In two seasons at USF, he threw for 2,722 yards with 11 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. His favorite targets are Taywan Taylor (54 catches for 870 yards and 5 touchdowns) and Nicholas Norris (43 catches for 647 yards and 8 touchdowns).
If Old Dominion’s pass defense, which gives up 224 yards per game, can stop Western Kentucky’s offense that puts up 372 yards passing per game (and 526 yards of total offense per game), they will have a chance. The more time they run off the clock, the better chance they have of winning this game.
With both teams in the thick of the C-USA East division race, this game will be important. ODU has yet to face FlU and will also play Marshall and Southern Miss. Western Kentucky will also play FIU and Marshall, but have one loss already in C-USA.
Check back next week for the week nine edition of Under The Radar Games. In addition, you can find the previous columns below.
Week four of the college football season will see some non-conference games drop off and big conference tilts become the focus. The big games this week are #12 Georgia at #23 Ole Miss, #11 Wisconsin at #8 Michigan State, #19 Florida at #14 Tennessee, Oklahoma State at #16 Baylor, and #17 Arkansas at #10 Texas A&M.
We like to focus on the games off the national radar keeping an eye on both this week and possibly down the road with their impact on the season. Let’s take a look at some of the under the radar games for week four. Note, these games are listed in order of when they will be played.
1. Central Michigan at Virginia (9/24 at 12:30 PM EST) – Normally there is not much to a 3-0 versus 0-3 matchup, but this would be another big win for Central Michigan and the MAC if it happens. The MAC already owns wins over two Big 12 opponents (CMU over Oklahoma State and Ohio over Kansas) as well as two wins over Big 10 opponents (Western Michigan over both Northwestern and Illinois). A fifth win over a Power 5 opponent would be great for the MAC. The Chips are 3-0 thanks to wins over Presbyterian, Oklahoma State, and UNLV.
Virginia is 0-3 with losses to Richmond at home along with Oregon and Connecticut on the road. This is their last game before opening ACC play in October and the last eight games do not offer many apparent wins. Can Central Michigan keep their great start going against another power five team?
2. Syracuse at Connecticut (9/24 at 1 PM EST) – Is this game getting confused for the hardwood? Nope, but this matchup would be great to see on an annual basis in basketball. The Orange were on this list last week to see how they would handle South Florida after getting trounced 62-28 against Louisville. The answer: Great for 15 minutes, terrible that last 45. Syracuse led 17-0 after the first quarter and lost 45-20.
Connecticut likes to keep their games close (no game decided by more than 4 points), but are still 2-1 on the year. This test will be interesting because the Syracuse offense has shown explosiveness averaging over 500 yards per game. Unfortunately, the defense has nearly yielded that same amount (481 per contest thus far). The Huskies’ defense gives up 355 yards a game while the offense puts up 310.3 yards per game. Both teams need this win if they want to have a hope of making a bowl game this season.
3. Appalachian State at Akron (9/24 at 3:30 PM EST) – Appalachian State (1-2) started with that great defensive effort against Tennessee in the 20-13 overtime loss, but were blitzed last week in a 45-10 loss at home to Miami (FL). Akron is 2-1, but what really put them on this list was their 65-38 win over Marshall last week. The Zips trailed 21-7 after 15 minutes, but a 34 point outburst by the offense in the second quarter made it 41-21 at half.
Prior to the 2015 season, Akron had not been competitive in the MAC since their 2005 Championship winning year. This game, against what is expected to be a solid defense, is a great test going into conference schedule. For Appalachian State, this game is a chance to get their confidence back and possibly prepare for some of the passing offenses they will see in the Sun Belt.
4. Wake Forest at Indiana (9/24 at 3:30 PM EST) – How many people had these two teams coming into this contest undefeated? Wake Forest is 3-0 and they have played solid defense giving up just 12.7 points per game. Indiana is 2-0 and they too appear to have gotten better on defense (16.5 points per game). Not many will probably think much of this undefeated matchup given the teams, but there are implications.
Let’s look at what a win would mean for each team. Wake Forest would be 4-0 with games left against Army, Virginia, and Boston College all at home. A win for Indiana would make them 3-0 with games against Northwestern (away), Maryland (home), Rutgers (away), and Purdue (home). Will Wake Forest be able to score enough points and hold Indiana’s offense in check?
5. Colorado at Oregon (9/24 at 5:30 PM EST) – Colorado opened the season with two blowout wins against Colorado State and Idaho State. They had an amazing start to their game at Michigan taking a 21-7 lead after the opening quarter. The Buffaloes did take a 28-24 lead very early in the third quarter on Sefo Liufau’s 70 yard pass to ShayFields, but it was all Michigan after that in the 45-28 loss.
6. Georgia Southern at Western Michigan (9/24 at 7 PM EST) – Two top mid-major teams in 2016 collide here with both teams at 3-0. Georgia Southern has a perfect record on the heels of their defense, which has allowed only 10 points per game this season. They needed a late field goal block to defeat Louisiana-Monroe to get the win.
Western Michigan is undefeated with two victories over Big 10 opponents Northwestern and Illinois on the road. They did not have much trouble with the Illini as they went out to a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter and cruised from there.
This will be a fun game to watch two really good mid-major teams. Western Michigan is a longshot to make one of the big bowl games, but they need to win all of their games to even be considered.
Check back next week for the week five edition of Under The Radar Games. In addition, you can find the previous columns below.
Five Predictions For The Pac-12 Conference In 2016
The 2016 College Football season is less than two weeks away as Hawaii and California kick off on August 26th (if you are watching in the US) in Sydney, Australia. Below are five predictions for Pac-12 Conference for the 2016 season. Some predictions will be right, some predictions will be wrong, and some will be spectacularly awful (or correct) by the end of the season.
There are no changes for the Pac-12 Conference as the twelve teams remain the same and are split into North and South Divisions. The six teams in the North Division are California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington, and Washington State. The six teams in the South Division are Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, UCLA, USC, and Utah.
Here are five predictions for the Pac-12 Conference in 2016:
1. California and Oregon State will both miss a bowl game – California went 8-5 last year with Jared Goff throwing for 4,719 yards with 43 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. There was a lot of talent coming back in 2015 outside of Goff with eight starters on offense (put up 37.9 points and 529 yards per game) and nine on defense (gave up 30.7 points and 454 yards per game). That will change for 2016 as the offense has only four starters back while the defense has five. 2015 showed the best output on offense under Sonny Dykes and the best defense as well in his three years. It is hard to find six wins for Cal when they have to face both San Diego State (away) and Texas (home) in the non-conference schedule to go along with the nine conference games they will play.
For Oregon State, they had a miserable season going 2-10 overall and 0-9 in Pac-12 play in GaryAndersen’s first season. The offense put up only 19 points and 337 yards per game while the defense gave up 37 points and 482 yards per game, the highest total in nearly three decades (1987). Even with seven starters back on offense and six back on defense (had just two in 2015) they have to face Minnesota on the road and Boise State at home out of conference. Oregon State will be better, but it will not be enough to get to a bowl game.
2. Colorado will make a bowl game – This one is going to be close. Colorado will be in the fourth year of Mike MacIntyre and he has struggled to rebuild this team going 10-27 overall with a 2-25 conference record. 2016 will be his most experienced squad with nine starters back on both offense and defense. The offense has stagnated with the highest total coming in 2014 at 28.5 points and 439 yards a game. SefoLiufau is back for his fourth year at quarterback though he will be missing his top target in Nelson Spruce, who went to the NFL. The rest of the receivers are back including some new enrollees as is running back Phillip Lindsay (653 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2015).
The defense is where the biggest improvements have been made. They went from allowing 39 points and 461 yards per game in 2014 to 27.5 points and 417 yards per game in 2015. There is even more room for improvement as the Buffaloes return those nine starters and will be in their second year under defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt. The defense allowed 199 yards rushing per contest, but can improve on that with the return of five starters as well as 2012 through 2014 mainstay Josh Tupou. The entire secondary returns after improving their passing yards allowed per game by 38 yards and could improve again in 2016.
The schedule opens with Colorado State in Denver before a home game against Idaho State. They close their non-conference with a trip to Michigan before going on the road the next week to open Pac-12 play against Oregon. In total, they have four road games in-conference, which will help their chances. It will take wins against teams like Oregon State (home), Arizona State (home), Arizona (away), Washington State (home), and Utah (home) to get to six wins. They will need a few upsets to get to a bowl game, but Colorado can do it.
3. The duo of Christian McCaffrey and Royce Freeman will rush for a combined 4,000 yards – These two players had wonderful 2015 seasons. Christian McCaffrey ran for 2,019 yards and 8 touchdowns while also catching 45 passes for 645 yards and 5 touchdowns. We cannot forget his return abilities when he added in a combined 1,200 yards and two touchdowns. He was electrifying in 2015. RoyceFreeman did not get the same hype as McCaffrey, but he too was exciting to watch. He ran for 1,836 yards and 17 touchdowns while adding in another 26 receptions for 348 yards and 2 touchdowns.
What leads to this prediction is both Stanford and Oregon will have new quarterbacks. These two players were already likely to get a majority of the touches, but having new quarterbacks only makes it more likely for them to be relied upon. Even Oregon’s Mark Helfrich has made it known what his offensive game plan is for his quarterbacks. Sure the defenses will key in on these two, but these are guys are not easy to contain.
4. Washington will not win the Pac-12 – There is a lot of hype surrounding the Washington Huskies in 2016. Even ESPN wrote an article on the amount of hype the Huskies have around them this year. There is no doubt the Huskies have potential with 15 starters back (8 on offense and 7 on defense) including super sophomores Jake Browning at quarterback (2,955 yards with 16 touchdowns an 10 interceptions) and running back Myles Gaskin (1,302 yards and 14 touchdowns). The defense will be tough again in 2016 after allowing just 18.8 points and 452 yards per game last year.
The Huskies have five Pac-12 games in 2016 against Arizona, Oregon, Utah, California, and Washington State, which are all teams that made bowl games in 2015. Arizona and Utah will not be easy, but are games that should be won by Washington. Their toughest two will be against Oregon (a team they have not beaten since 2003) and Washington State in the Apple Cup (the Huskies have won three in a row and six of the last seven games). They also face Stanford and USC at home this year, which will not be easy even at Husky Stadium.
It feels like Washington is going to peak in 2017 rather than 2016. Even if the Huskies do win the Pac-12 North, they will have to defeat the South winner, which is likely to be UCLA or USC.
5. The Pac-12 will not make the College Football Playoffs – The Pac-12 conference schedule looks like it might cannibalize the conference and keep it out of the College Football Playoffs for the second straight year. Some teams even play a strong non-conference schedule that could provide more losses (or conversely impressive wins to factor in). Let’s take a look at all the contenders and their toughest games.
Stanford – They face Kansas State at home and Notre Dame on the road in their non-conference schedule. In conference, they play USC and Washington State at home while taking on UCLA, Arizona, and Oregon on the road.
Oregon – They face Nebraska on the road in non-conference while in Pac-12 they play Washington State, USC and Utah on the road. At home, they will play Washington and Stanford.
Washington – Their toughest non-conference game is Rutgers at home the opening week in what should be a comfortable win. They face Stanford and USC at home while playing Arizona, Oregon, Utah, and Washington State on the road.
UCLA – They face Texas A&M and BYU on the road as part of their non-conference schedule. In conference, they face Stanford, Arizona, Utah, and USC at home while taking on Washington State on the road.
USC – They open with Alabama in Arlington, Texas and also face Notre Dame at home to end the season. In conference, they have to face Utah, Arizona, Washington and UCLA on the road and play Oregon at home.
Utah – They face BYU at home as well as USC, Arizona, Washington, and Oregon at home in Pac-12 play. On the road, UCLA is their toughest opponent.
Some teams definitely have a manageable schedule, but the Pac-12 will need a team with one loss (preferably none) and that loss better not come in the Pac-12 Championship Game. If it does, it could mean the Pac-12 is left out of the College Football Playoffs for the second straight year.
The Prediction Schedule
With the Pac-12 predictions above, there are now predictions for nine conferences in the books. Below are the predictions completed and which conference is next.
The Good And Bad From The Opening Round Of March Madness 2016
The 2016 version of March Madness has been just that: Madness. Brackets were busted early and then completely blown up by the end of the first round. For as much fun as the 2016 NCAA Basketball Tournament has been, there have been some bad parts of it as well. Below we will take a look at the good and bad from the first four days of the 2016 NCAA Basketball Tournament
Upsets Galore – #15 Middle Tennessee defeated one of the National Title favorites and #2 seed Michigan State in the first round. Double digit seeds won left and right (#13 Hawaii over #4 Cal, #11 Wichita State over #6 Arizona, #12 Yale over #5 Baylor, #11 Northern Iowa over #6 Texas, #10 VCU over #7 Oregon State, #10 Syracuse over #7 Dayton, #11 Gonzaga over #6 Seton Hall, #12 Arkansas-Little Rock over #5 Purdue, and #14 Stephen F. Austin over #3 West Virginia). That all made for some great action, particularly on Friday.
The ACC – The Atlantic Coast Conference has put a record 6 teams through to the Sweet 16 (Miami (FL), North Carolina, Notre Dame, Duke, Syracuse, and Virginia). That is incredible to have 38% of the remaining field, but it also came down to some favorable matchups like Syracuse against Middle Tennessee. However, that is no fault of the ACC as their teams delivered.
“Mid-Majors” – This was a good tournament for the upsets (see above), but the “Mid-Majors” got plenty of support in close games and some great stories. Stephen F. Austin got 33 points from Thomas Walkup, who played incredibly against West Virginia and had a solid game against Notre Dame. Yale won their first ever Tournament game against Baylor. Hawaii defeated Cal. Northern Iowa captivated the nation not once, but twice against teams from the state of Texas. First it was Texas and this buzzer beater, but then it was their collapse against Texas A&M. Saint Joseph’s played a great second round game against top seeded Oregon. Finally, Middle Tennessee going toe-to-toe with Michigan State was easily the biggest story of the first round. Mid-Majors should not be discounted in the future when picking brackets.
The #1 Seeds – The top four seeds in the Tournament all looked good on the first weekend, but also faced some competition at times. Kansas took a big lead against UConn before that dwindled, but the Jayhawks fended off that challenge. North Carolina had a close first half against Florida Gulf Coast and Providence, but dominated the second half of those games to pull away. Virginia and Oregon had tough second round games against Butler and Saint Joseph’s, respectively. However, they were able to get through those games and move to the Sweet 16. The top seeds look mighty tough, but this is March Madness afterall and we have seen that anything is possible.
The Referees – The inconsistency of the officials calling the Tournament made it frustrating to watch at times. Between Duke and UNC-Wilmington, the referees called every soft foul imaginable while other games would let them play. Constant foul calling stems the flow of the game for TV viewers, but how frustrating must that be for a player on the floor? One thing that needs to be looked at is how much contact to allow. It does come down to each referee, but how can one game have a foul called 80 feet from the basket for putting a hand on a player’s hip and another not call a push off?
Game Management – You can call this the Northern Iowa Special. The Panthers blew a 12 point lead with 35 seconds left in the game and then lost in double overtime to Texas A&M. They are not the only team to make questionable calls though. Xavier was up three in the final 10 seconds, but opted not to foul the Badgers’ shooters. Wisconsin subsequently tied the game and then Bronson Koenig hit a three at the buzzer to end Xavier’s season. Purdue deserves mention as well for letting Little Rock comeback late in the game and losing in double OT. There was also near comebacks by Wichita State (trailed 27-6 to Miami) and Yale (down as much as 27 to Duke), but those two were not able to complete the miracle comebacks.
Seeding/Selection Committee – The NCAA Basketball Selection Committee did a bad job selecting teams last Sunday. It turns out they did a bad job of seeding the teams as well. Stephen F. Austin deserved better than a 14 seed as did Middle Tennessee at 15. And this was before the games were played. It is easy to pile on the Committee after the fact, but some of the seeding was questionable beforehand. In addition, the scheduling for Wichita State was brutal. The Shockers had a late game on Tuesday, late game on Thursday, and an early game on Saturday, which may have contributed to them starting as flat as they did.
Wisconsin versus Pittsburgh – This was about as ugly a game to watch in recent tournament memory. The Badgers won 47-43 after scoring only 16 points in the first half. The teams combined to go 35 of 101 from the field and 7 of 30 from beyond the arc. The 90 total points were the fewest since 2000 in the NCAA Tournament. The game was wretched, but Badger fans felt greatest about the result and were lifted in the second round too.
Let’s hope the final two weekends give us as much entertainment as the first weekend provided.
2016 NCAA Basketball Tournament First Four Schedule
The First Four games are now known with announcement of the 2016 NCAA Basketball Tournament teams. There will be two games played on Tuesday, March 15 and two more played on Wednesday, March 16. All four games will be played in Dayton, Ohio and can be seen on TruTV. The schedule for the First Four games is broken down below by date.
First Four Games – Tuesday, March 15, 2016
#16 Florida Gulf Coast versus #16 Fairleigh Dickinson will be played at 6:40 PM Eastern Time with winner facing #1 North Carolina in the East Region on Thursday, March 17.
The second game will be played at 9:10 PM Eastern Time between #11 Vanderbilt and #11 Wichita State. The winner of that contest will play #6 Arizona on Thursday, March 17 in the South Region.
#16 Fairleigh Dickinson
#16 Florida Gulf Coast
#11 Wichita State
First Four Games – Wednesday, March 16, 2016
#16 Holy Cross plays #16 Southern in the first Wednesday game starting at 6:40 PM Eastern Time. The winner will move on to #1 Oregon in the West Region on Friday, March 18.
The final First Four game will be #11 Michigan and #11 Tulsa with a start time of 8:10 PM Eastern Time. Whichever team comes out on top will then move on to face #6 Notre Dame on Friday, March 18 in the East Region.
#16 Holy Cross
Check back for the first and second round schedules.
The Big Ten went 8-6 in the opening week of the college football season, but overall it was not a good weekend for them. Week two was a good chance for the Big Ten to redeem themselves. A closer look at each of the Big Ten’s teams is below.
Oregon State Beavers at Michigan Wolverines
Result: Michigan Win 35-7 (Saturday, September 12)
Jim Harbaugh’s first game in the Big House did not get off to a good start. The Beavers took the opening drive and marched right down the field to take a 7-0 lead. It got worse when quarterback Jake Rudock lost a fumble on the Wolverines’ first possession and put Oregon State in position to add to their lead. The Michigan defense stepped up to force and recover a fumble two plays later while the offense turned it into a field goal.
Michigan looked more like Michigan after that first drive by not allowing another point the rest of the game. De’Veon Smith was effective at rushing the ball and was more decisive as well. He finished with 126 yards and 3 touchdowns on 23 carries. Rudock went 18 of 26 for 180 yards, but did not have a touchdown pass and threw an interception.
The Michigan defense allowed a total of 138 yards the entire game and 79 of those yards came on Oregon State’s opening drive. They were disruptive and all over the field for nearly all of the game. The defense gave up only one third down conversion to the Oregon State offense out of 11 attempts.
The Wolverines face UNLV next week at home with a chance to continue improving on both sides of the ball.
Western Illinois Leathernecks at Illinois Fighting Illini
Result: Illinois Win 44-0 (Saturday, September 12)
The departure of Tim Beckman had no effect in week two as the offense continued to shine. Wes Lunt went 33 of 46 for 316 yards with a touchdown and an interception. His top target was Geronimo Allison who had 8 receptions for 124 yards. Marchie Murdock had a solid game with 6 catches for 51 yards and a touchdown.
One area that the offense struggled in was holding on to the ball. They had four turnovers in total with three of those coming on lost fumbles. Obviously it did not hurt this week, but a similar performance against better competition will have disastrous consequences. The Illini also had 147 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns on 40 carries as a team, which does not even average to 4 yards a carry. That will also need to improve.
The defense pitched a shut out and gave up only 141 yards of offense to Western Illinois. They allowed just 43 yards through the air and intercepted two passes. It was a suffocating performance that bodes well for them.
Illinois looked good for two weeks, but the waters get very deep next week on the road at North Carolina. That will be a great test for Illinois on both sides of the ball against their highest quality opponent to date.
Bowling Green Falcons at Maryland Terrapins
Result: Bowling Green Win 48-27 (Saturday, September 12)
Maryland had a second half surge to beat Richmond last week and it looked like they were going to do well against Bowling Green this week. The Terps led 13-6 at halftime, but struggled mightily in the final 30 minutes.
The defense for Maryland was the biggest culprit as they gave up 42 second half points. They allowed 491 yards and 6 touchdowns through the air while giving up another 201 yards on the ground. They managed just one turnover and allowed 10 of 22 on third and fourth down conversions.
Perry Hills did not have a good game going 15 of 30 with 168 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air. He threw three interceptions, but did run for 94 yards on 8 carries. William Likely was a bright spot again with an 85 yard touchdown return on a punt.
Maryland has a third home game in a row next week against South Florida, but that will not be easy if they continue to struggle.
Buffalo Bulls at Penn State Nittany Lions
Result: Penn State Win 27-14 (Saturday, September 12)
Penn State was atrocious in week one against Temple, but rebounded to beat Buffalo at home this week. However, it was not always pretty as they continued to struggle on offense.
Christian Hackenberg went 14 of 27 with 128 yards and a touchdown. He and the offense would not score until midway through the second quarter, but built a familiar 10-0 score. Buffalo made it 10-7 on their second drive of the second half, but the offense was able to do enough to put the game out of reach. Hackenberg was not sacked at all against Buffalo after being sacked 10 times in week one.
Saquon Barkley had a good game with 115 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries while Akeel Lynch was stifled at times gaining only 46 yards on 19 carries. This duo was able to move the ball at times while the passing game was ineffective under Hackenberg.
The Nittany Lions’ defense was solid allowing only 274 yards of offense to Buffalo and only 69 yards on the ground. They did not force a turnover, but were solid for most of the game.
Penn State kicks off their Big Ten schedule with a home game against Rutgers next week.
Miami (OH) Redhawks at Wisconsin Badgers
Result: Wisconsin Win 58-0 (Saturday, September 12)
Wisconsin was in fine form in week two after their tough opening week game against Alabama. Week two provided Miami (OH), which was a welcome relief as the Badgers crushed them.
Corey Clement did not play this week due to a lingering injury, but it did not matter with Joel Stave slinging the ball around. The running game struggled early on, but eventually got on track as the Redhawks wore down. Dare Ogunbowale ran for 112 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries while Taiwan Deal had 45 yards and 2 touchdowns on 14 carries.
Stave looked sharp again this week going 19 of 30 for 236 yards with 3 touchdown and an interception. His best target was surprising with Robert Wheelwright leading the team. He had 6 catches for 79 yards and 2 touchdowns with the bulk of the catches coming late in the second quarter. Alex Erickson had 5 catches for 73 yards, but was also effective on punt returns with 72 yards on 4 returns.
The defense, as expected, was dominant. They held Miami to -3 yards rushing and a total of 157 yards. They forced four turnovers including two picks Leo Musso and one interception by Tanner McEvoy. McEvoy got snaps at wide receiver as well in this game catching 3 passes for 29 yards.
It was a much better performance, but the run game will need to find its feet quicker and not rely on Stave too much to get the offense going. The Badgers will have Troy in town next week.
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors at #1 Ohio State Buckeyes
Result: Ohio State Win 38-0 (Saturday, September 12)
Ohio State had a quick turnaround from Monday night’s win over Virginia Tech and it may have played a part in their lackadaisical effort at times.
Cardale Jones started the game, but struggled for the first quarter and a half. He was pulled in the second quarter with J.T. Barrett taking over. Neither quarterback was overly impressive with Jones going 12 of 18 for 111 yards and Barrett going 8 of 15 for 70 yards. Neither threw a touchdown or interception.
Ezekiel Elliott was relied on more heavily this game going for 101 yards and 3 touchdowns on 27 carries. Braxton Miller, to no surprise, was used as well with 8 carries for 57 yards, but was held to 2 catches for 16 yards. Curtis Samuel finished as the leading receiver with 7 catches for 53 yards and Michael Thomas had 52 yards on 5 catches.
The defense was very good by allowing only 165 total yards with 85 of those coming through the air and 80 on the ground. They forced four turnovers (2 interceptions and 2 fumbles) and returned one of those fumbles to the house courtesy of Vonn Bell from 14 yards out.
The Buckeyes will certainly be looking to get more a rhythm next week at home against Northern Illinois.
Washington State Cougars at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Result: Washington State Win 37-34 (Saturday, September 12)
It looked like Rutgers was going to pull one out for the Big Ten, but a wild fourth quarter saw these two teams combine for 39 points including touchdowns from each team in the final 1:31.
Kyle Flood opted to play Chris Laviano against the Cougars and he was decent. He finished 23 of 29 for 204 yards with a touchdown, but threw an interception that led to a field goal. He was able to spread the ball around finding 10 different receivers with Janarion Grant leading the way with 5 catches for 65 yards. Josh Hicks led the team in rushing with 91 yards on 16 carries while Robert Martin ran for 61 yards and a touchdown on 9 carries.
The obvious weakness this week was the defense that was shredded by Washington State’s air raid offense. Luke Falk went 47 of 66 for 478 yards with 4 touchdowns. Gabe Marks caught 14 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown while River Cracraft had 8 catches for 121 yards and a score. The Rutgers defense was not able to force a turnover and the critical drive that led to the loss. The defense will need to improve if Rutgers wants to make a bowl game this year.
The Scarlet Knights face Penn State on the road next week.
Minnesota Golden Gophers at Colorado State Rams
Result: Minnesota Win 23-20 in 1 Overtime (Saturday, September 12)
Minnesota played well in week one and did so again in week two on the road at Colorado State. The Gophers needed overtime to get the win, but they were able to force an interception and then kick a field goal to give them the three point victory.
Mitch Leidner’s stats are not overwhelming, but he played well when he had to for the most part. He went 23 of 45 for 233 yards with 2 touchdowns, but no interceptions. He did lose two fumbles with the first one occurring inside the Rams’ 20 yard line on fourth and one. The other happened inside his own red zone that led to a field goal. Still, his ability to lead the offense down the field late in the fourth quarter for a go ahead touchdown was impressive.
Rodney Smith ran for 108 yards on 21 carries while Leidner was the second leading rusher with 47 yards on 11 carries. Drew Wolitarsky was a big target for Leidner with 9 catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. KJ Maye made the biggest catch in the fourth quarter for a touchdown and finished with 6 catches for 54 yards.
The defense played well, especially when it counted the most in overtime. They finished with four turnovers forced and also held the Colorado State offense to 314 yards. The defense got lucky that Colorado State’s Rashard Higgins was out, but still did well overall.
Minnesota’s strong start will look to be continued next week back at home against Kent State.
Eastern Illinois Panthers at Northwestern Wildcats
Result: Northwestern Win 41-0 (Saturday, September 12)
If there was any worry that Northwestern would be too full of themselves after last week’s win over Stanford, it was not apparent in week two.
The offense was far from overwhelming, but was efficient led by Clayton Thorson who went 11 of 16 for 152 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a touchdown and only attempted two runs. Justin Jackson had 22 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown while WarrenLong saw action and finished with 12 rushers for 72 yards and a score.
Austin Carr had 2 catches for 61 yards and a long touchdown of 44 yards. Dan Vitale had 4 catches for 40 yards. The offense was not spectacular, but the defense was even if it was versus a FCS team.
Matthew Harris had a big game this week with two interceptions including one returned 71 yards for a touchdown. The defense allowed only 138 yards of offense to Eastern Illinois and did not allow a third down conversion (0 for 11). It was another dominant performance that bodes incredibly well for the Wildcats.
Northwestern will take on Duke next week on the road in another early season test for the Wildcats.
Iowa Hawkeyes at Iowa State Cyclones
Result: Iowa Win 31-17 (Saturday, September 12)
Iowa had to battle against their in-state rival Iowa State, but they got the job done thanks to a balanced offense. Quarterback C.J. Beathard threw for 215 yards and 3 touchdowns on 15 of 25 passing. He also showed some wheels by running for 77 yards on 10 carries including long runs of 44 yards and 57 yards.
Jordan Canzeri pounded the ball 24 times for 124 yards and a touchdown, but did lose a fumble inside the Iowa State red zone with the game tied at 17. Matt VandeBerg was a safety blanket catching 9 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown.
The defense was not great in the first half allowing all 17 points, but they played well in the final two quarters. With the game still in the balance and Iowa leading 24-17, Desmond King intercepted a pass at the Iowa State 36 and put the offense in great position to salt the game away.
One drive worth noting was Iowa’s final drive of the first half. They started from their own 2, moved the ball down to the Iowa State 22, and were in a great spot to kick a field goal. The game was a 17-10 Iowa State lead at the time, but Kirk Ferentz decided to try a trick play and let Marshall Koehn run the ball on a fake field goal, but he was stopped at the five. It was a bizarre play call that had no effect in the end, but the timing was very curious.
Iowa has another good game next week with Pittsburgh going to Iowa City.
#7 Oregon Ducks at #5 Michigan State Wolverines
Result: Michigan State Win 31-28 (Saturday, September 12)
The Big Ten’s biggest game of the week turned out to be a good one that went their way with a nice performance out of the Michigan State Spartans.
Connor Cook had a decent game going 20 of 32 for 192 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception. Madre London had a good game running the ball with 103 yards on 18 carries while LJ Scott pounded the ball in for two touchdowns and 76 yards on 11 carries. Aaron Burbridge had a great game catching 8 passes for 101 yards and a touchdown.
The Michigan State defense was not great, but they played well considering their opponent. They forced two interceptions in the first half with the first one leading to a touchdown for the offense. They also had a huge goal line stop in the second quarter.
In the fourth quarter, they allowed a touchdown with a 31-21 lead, but were able to force a turnover on downs on the following drive (thanks in large part to a sack by Chris Frey and Lawrence Thomas).
Michigan State will be back at home next week with Air Force coming to town.
South Alabama Jaguars at Nebraska Cornhuskers
Result: Nebraska Win 48-9 (Saturday, September 12)
Nebraska rebounded from week one’s crushing Hail Mary loss to decimate South Alabama. TommyArmstrong went 21 of 30 for 270 yards and 2 touchdowns to lead the Huskers. Terrell Newby had a monster game rushing for 198 yards and 2 touchdowns on 28 carries. Newby also had 2 catches for 38 yards and a score while Brandon Reilly caught 5 passes for 71 yards to lead the team.
The defense was clearly angered by last week’s performance and did well with the starters in. They did not allow a point in the first half and when the Jaguars did get into scoring position, they stopped them both times.
Nebraska faces the Miami Hurricanes next week on the road in another big game for them.
Florida International Panthers at Indiana Hoosiers
Result: Indiana Win 36-22 (Saturday, September 12)
Indiana escaped an upset last week against FCS Southern Illinois while this week’s game was not as dramatic at the end. However, Indiana did struggle early on with FIU. The Hoosiers trailed 22-19 early in the fourth quarter before putting up the final 17 points to make the finish comfortable.
Jordan Howard had another very good game with 27 carries for 159 yards. The defense struggled at times, but sealed the game with a pick six for 96 yards by Jameel Cook. That happened to be on fourth and goal with just over 4 minutes left.
Indiana’s defense will be tested again next week with the high-powered Western Kentucky offense going into Bloomington.
That concludes a look at the second week of the Big Ten football roundup. Look out for the week three edition next week.
2015 College Football Preview: Pac-12 North Division
We have reached the penultimate conference preview with the Pac-12 in focus this week. We will start with the Pac-12 North on Tuesday and finish with the Pac-12 South on Friday. The Pac-12 North is part sixteen of the Sports Enthusiasts 2015 College Football Preview. Below are the previews that have already been completed and the few that are to be completed.
Let’s get started by looking at each team in the Pac-12 North.
1. Oregon Ducks
Oregon is well known for their flashy uniforms, but they have a pretty darn good football team as well. Since 2009, when Chip Kelly was head coach, the Ducks have won at least 10 games ever year and made the National Championship twice. However, they lost both games including last year’s to Ohio State, 42-20. Mark Helfrich has continued the success started by Kelly, but can he get them to the ultimate conclusion with a National Championship?
The offense has six starters returning from a group that put up 45.4 points and 547 yards per game. Of course, Marcus Mariota is not one of the returning starters, but the Ducks do add in Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams. Adams is very much like Mariota with his ability to throw and run while knowing how to play against Pac-12 competition. At EWU, Adams faced Washington State, Oregon State, and Washington. In those three games, he beat Oregon State 49-46 and lost to the Cougars and Huskies by a combined 11 points. Royce Freeman will be back to run the ball after rushing for 1,365 yards and 18 touchdowns. The receiving unit returns intact with the top five all coming back. Byron Marshall had 74 catches for 1,003 yards and 6 touchdowns (ran for 392 yards and a touchdown as well), Darren Carrington had 37 catches for 704 yards and 4 touchdowns, Devon Allen caught 41 passes for 684 yards and 7 touchdowns, and Dwayne Stanford had 43 catches for 639 yards and 6 touchdowns. Returning at wide out is Bralon Addison, who missed all of 2014. Only two starters are back on the line from 2014, but Tyler Johnstone returns from a torn ACL, which basically gives them three. The drop off from Mariota will be present, but it will not be nearly as bad with Adams coming in. Expect more high-flying offensive production from Oregon in 2015.
The defense has six starters back from a group that allowed 23.6 points and 430 yards per game. The line returns two starters led by DeForest Buckner, who was a monster last year. Buckner recorded 81 tackles (tied for fourth most on team), 4 sacks, 9 tackles for loss, and 4 pass breakups as a defensive end. Three linebackers return this year in Rodney Hardrick (75 tackles, 1 sack, and 5 tackles for loss), Joe Walker (81 tackles, 1 sack, and 7 tackles for loss), and Tyson Coleman (44 tackles, 3 sacks, and 4 tackles for loss). There is just one starter back in the secondary and that is Reggie Daniels. Daniels is the top returning tackler after recording 83 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 9 pass breakups, and an interception in 2014. The defense will probably put up slightly better numbers in 2015.
Oregon opens the season with a home game against Vernon Adams’ former school in Eastern Washington. They will have a tough road trip to Michigan State in the second game before welcoming Georgia State home in the final non-conference game. In division, Oregon will face Washington State, California, and Oregon State at home while taking on Washington and Stanford on the road. Oregon will have to play Utah (home), Colorado (road), Arizona State (road), and USC (home) from the South. Once again, the Ducks are a contender for the Pac-12 title and a spot in the College Football Playoff.
2. Stanford Cardinal
Stanford was completely turned around under Jim Harbaugh. In 2006, the year before Harbaugh took over, the Cardinal went 1-11. By 2010, Harbaugh led Stanford to a 12-1 record including a demolition job of Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl that year. David Shaw has done a very nice job continuing that success, as he led the Cardinal to three straight double digit win seasons in 2011, 2012, and 2013. In addition, Shaw led them to three straight BCS Bowls before the bump in the road during 2014 when the Cardinal finished 8-5.
The offense has nine starters returning from a group that put up 27.2 points and 389 yards per game. Kevin Hogan will be under center again after throwing for 2,792 yards with 19 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Remound Wright had 601 yards and 11 touchdowns as the top rusher last year and he returns along with Barry Sanders Jr. (315 yards) and Christian McCaffrey (300 yards). The wide receiver group returns nearly intact except for Ty Montgomery, who led the team with 61 catches for 604 yards and 3 touchdowns. Devon Cajuste had 34 catches for 557 yards and 6 touchdowns, Austin Hooper had 40 catches for 499 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Michael Rector had 24 catches for 324 yards and 2 touchdowns. Four starters are back on the offensive line and the offense should be able to have a better year on offense.
The defense has been very good for Stanford the last five years. The “worst” season was in 2011 when they allowed 21.9 points and 338 yards per game. In 2014, the defense allowed 16.4 points and 282 yards per game with seven starters back. In 2015, only four starters return, which is the lowest number in at least 8 years. The defensive line has no starters returning, but Brennan Scarlett has transferred in from Cal. Linebacker is in much better shape than the line with two starters back. Blake Martinez is back after recording 102 tackles (#1 on team), 4.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss, and 3 interceptions. Kevin Anderson also returns after recording 52 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and 6 tackles for loss. The secondary has two starters back in Ronnie Harris (29 tackles and 5 tackles for loss) and Zach Hoffpauir (44 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and 5 pass breakups). The defense is a bit of a concern and will probably not match even the “worst” defensive season on 2011. However, the defense will still be good for Stanford.
Stanford starts the season on the road at Northwestern before a home game against Central Florida. Their final non-conference game is on November 28 at home versus Notre Dame. Within their division, Stanford will face Oregon State and Washington State on the road while playing Washington, Oregon, and California at home. From the South division, the Cardinal draw USC (road), Arizona (home), UCLA (home), and Colorado (road). Stanford will probably be a win over Oregon away from the Pac-12 Championship Game and should get back to a double-digit win season in 2015.
3. California Golden Bears
Sonny Dykes will be in his third year at Cal in 2015. Both sides of the ball are trending in the right direction and the 2015 squad will be his most experienced. In 2013, Cal had just 10 returning starters and went 1-11. The number of returning starters went up to 14 last year, as did the record to 5-7. This year has 17 starters returning and will the pattern continue?
The offense went from 23 points and 454 yards per game in 2013 (five starters back) to 38.3 points and 495 yards per game in 2014 (nine starters back). There will be eight starters returning this year including all the skill positions. Jared Goff threw for 3,973 yards with 35 touchdowns and 7 interceptions and he will have all but one of his top ten receivers from 2014 to throw to. Kenny Lawler led the team with 54 catches for 701 yards and 9 touchdowns, Stephen Anderson caught 46 passes for 661 yards and 5 touchdowns, and Bryce Treggs had 52 catches for 583 yards and 6 touchdowns. Daniel Lasco is back after rushing for 1,115 yards and 12 touchdowns. The offensive line has three starters back and it would be no surprise to see the numbers go above 40 points and 500 yards per game in 2015 for Cal.
The defense allowed 45.9 points and 503 yards per game with five starters back in 2013. In 2014, the defense allowed 39.8 points and 512 yards per game with five starters back once again. For 2015, the defense has nine starters back including 12 of the top 13 tacklers from last season. The defensive line has three starters back led by Mustafa Jalil, who had 35 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 4 tackles for loss. The linebackers all return with the trio of Michael Barton (80 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 6 tackles for loss), HardyNickerson (69 tackles and 2 tackles for loss), and Jalen Jefferson (58 tackles, 2 sacks, and 4.5 tackles for loss). Three starters return in the secondary led by Cedric Dozier (52 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 5 pass breakups) and Stefan McClure (50 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and an interception). Also returning from injury is Griffin Piatt, who had 40 tackles, 1 sack, 6 pass breakups, and 3 interceptions in only six games before an injury forced him to miss the rest of the season. Expect another improvement in the defense in year three of Sonny Dykes’ tenure.
California opens with home games versus Grambling and San Diego State before a stern test on the road at Texas. Within the North division, Cal will face Washington, Oregon, and Stanford on the road while playing Washington State and Oregon State at home. From the South, Cal draws Utah (road), UCLA (road), USC (home), and Arizona State (home). Cal has not made a bowl game since 2011, but that should change in 2015 with this improved team.
4. Washington State Cougars
Mike Leach was hired by Washington State late in 2011 to coach the team. Leach had previously coached at Texas Tech from 2000 to 2009 and led the Red Raiders to a bowl game each year. Leach’s first year was in 2012 and the Cougars went 3-9, but improved to 6-7 in 2013 with a bowl appearance (lost 48-45 to Colorado State). Last year, the Cougars went back down to 3-9 and 2015 must produce a better result.
Leach’s offense are known for putting up big points and 2014 was the best year under Leach for WSU. The offense put up 31.8 points and 518 yards per game with seven starters back. This year, the number of starters returning goes up by one, to eight, but quarterback is not one of them. Connor Halliday threw for 3,873 yards with 32 touchdowns and 11 touchdowns in nine games, but departs while his heir apparent Luke Falk threw for 1,859 yards with 13 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. The running game is usually not a strong suit for Leach, but the rushing attack has been poor in his three years at WSU. The best output is 53 yards per game in 2013 and was only 40 yards rushing per game in 2014. Jamal Morrow is back after leading the team with 351 yards and Gerard Wicks ran for 234 yards and 4 touchdowns. The top two wide receivers depart (combined for 184 catches for 2,455 yards and 21 touchdowns), which will hurt, but the good thing about the Air Raid offense is that receivers always do well. River Cracraft had 66 catches for 771 yards and 8 touchdowns, Dom Williams caught 43 passes for 656 yards and 9 touchdowns, and running back Jamal Morrow had 61 catches for 460 yards. Also in the mix will be Robert Lewis (41 catches for 370 yards and 2 touchdowns), Tyler Baker (27 catches for 308 yards and 2 touchdowns), and Gabe Marks (74 catches for 807 and 7 touchdowns in 2013). The entire offensive line returns intact and despite the losses of the top two receivers and quarterback, the offense has a chance at topping last year’s production.
The defense has been a liability under Leach. In 2012, they allowed 33.7 points and 426 yards per game while they gave up 32.5 points and 458 yards per game in 2013. Last year, the defense regressed by surrendering 38.6 points and 442 yards per game. This year, six starters return with one on the defensive line in Destiny Vaeao (14 tackles, 2 sacks, and 1.5 tackles for loss). Two linebackers return in JeremiahAllison and Kache Palacio. Allison was the second leading tackler with 78 tackles and also recorded 3.5 sacks and 5 tackles for loss. Palacio had 57 tackles, 6.5 sacks, and 2.5 tackles for loss. The secondary will have three starters back in Darius Lemora (68 tackles), Charleston White (34 tackles, 13 pass breakups, and an interception), and Taylor Taliulu (66 tackles and 4 pass breakups). The defense should improve from last year’s poor performance and could produce the best defense yet under Leach.
Washington state has an easy non-conference schedule with Portland State (home), Rutgers (road), and Wyoming (road). WSU will face California, Oregon, and Washington on the road while playing Oregon State and Stanford at home. From the South, they will take on Arizona (road), Arizona State (home), UCLA (road), and Colorado (home). The final two weeks of the season could determine if the Cougars reach a bowl game with games versus Colorado and Washington.
5. Washington Huskies
Steve Sarkisian was the head coach at Washington from 2009 through 2013, leading the Huskies to four bowl games in five seasons. He left for USC and in came Chris Petersen for the 2014 season. Petersen went 8-6 in his first year after eight years at Boise State. How will Petersen and the Huskies perform in 2015?
The offense has five starters returning from a group that put up 30.2 points and 389 yards per game. The top returning quarterback is Jeff Lindquist with 162 yards and a touchdown. He will be battling with KJCarta-Samuels and Jake Browning to win the job. Dwyane Washington ran for 697 yards and 9 touchdowns while Lavon Coleman had 565 yards and 1 touchdown with both returning this year. The top four receivers are back led by Jaydon Mickens, who had 60 catches for 617 yards and 4 touchdowns. Also returning are John Ross (17 catches for 371 yards and 4 touchdowns), Joshua Perkins (25 catches for 315 yards and 3 touchdowns), and Dante Pettis (17 catches 259 yards and a touchdown). The offensive line has only one returning starter and the offense will have some growing pains in year two with the losses at quarterback and on the line.
The defense was solid last year allowing just 24.8 points, but giving up 411 yards per game. This year, the defense has only four starters back. The defensive line has no starters back from a unit that allowed 124 yards rushing per game. At line backer, only Travis Feeney returns after recording 60 tackles, 1 sack, 3.4 tackles for loss, and 2 interceptions. The secondary is the strength this year with three starters back led by Budda Baker. Baker had 80 tackles (#4 on team), 1 sack, 6 pass breakups, and an interception. KevinKing (65 tackles and an interception) and Sidney Jones (61 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 5 pass breakups, and 2 interceptions). The defense will be much like the offense with growing pains and may not match their points per game number from 2014.
Washington opens with Boise State on the road, in a game that is sure to be fiery. After that, they will welcome both Sacramento State and Utah State to Seattle. In division, Washington faces California, Oregon, and Washington State at home while taking on Stanford and Oregon on the road. From the South, the Huskies will face USC (road), Arizona (home), Utah (home), and Arizona State (road). The Huskies will probably need an upset or two to reach a bowl game and it could come down to the regular season finale against Washington State at home to get to 6 wins.
6. Oregon State Beavers
Mike Riley was at Oregon State from 2003 through last season, but decided to move on to Nebraska. Filling the vacancy was Gary Andersen, who was previously at Utah State (26-24 record) from 2009 through 2012 and then at Wisconsin in 2013 and 2014 (19-7 record). Andersen does not inherit the best situation, but he is known for his work on defense, which will come in handy this year.
The offense has eight starters back from a group that put up 25.7 points and 394 yards per game. SeanMannion has graduated and that leaves Seth Collins, Nick Mitchell, and Marcus McMaryion to battle it out for the top spot with none of them having thrown a pass in college. Storm Woods will be the running back after rushing for 766 yards and 5 touchdowns. Three of the top four receivers return in VictorBolden (72 catches for 798 yards and 2 touchdowns), Jordan Villamin (35 catches for 578 yards and 6 touchdowns), and Hunter Jarmon (20 catches for 334 yards and 1 touchdown). The offensive line has four starters back as well, but the change in schemes and lack of experience at quarterback will hurt the offense.
The defense was poor the last two years of Riley’s tenure. They allowed more than 31 points and 400 yards per game in both 2013 and 2014. This year, only two starters return making the transition difficult for Andersen. Jaswha James is back after recording 16 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 tackle for loss last year while Lavonte Barnett had better stats in only four starts. Barnett recorded 18 tackles and 4.5 sacks last year. The linebackers were decimated with the top three all gone. Those three were the second, third, and fifth leading tacklers last year and the top returner is Rommel Mageo, who had 23 tackles. The secondary has only one starter back in Larry Scott (43 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 11 pass breakups), but also have Justin Strong returning (56 tackles, 1 sack, 4 tackles for loss, and 3 pass breakups). Andersen has solid defenses, but a lot was lost this year and it may not perform better this year in the numbers.
Oregon State has Weber State (home), Michigan (road), and San Jose State (home) to start the year. In conference, OSU has Stanford and Washington at home while playing Washington State, California, and Oregon on the road. From the South, OSU will play Arizona (road), Colorado (home), Utah (home), and UCLA (home). It looks like a rough year is store for Oregon State in Andersen’s first year.
The Pac-12 North will likely come down to the Oregon at Stanford game on November 14 to determine the winner of the division. California appears to be the third best team in the division while the trio of Washington State, Washington, and Oregon State will battle for bowl eligibility and to stay out of the cellar. Below is the predicted order of finish.
4. Washington State
6. Oregon State
Check back on Friday to see a preview of the Pac-12 South as well as a prediction for the Pac-12 Championship Game.
Elimination Saturday comprised four games that would cut the field in a half from eight teams to four teams. It was an exciting day that sets up Sunday to determine the two teams that will contest the Championship Series starting on Monday.
Auburn started a two out rally with a walk drawn by Kasey Cooper and single to left field by BranndiMelero, but a ground out ended the rally in the top of the first.
The Volunteers also had a two out rally of their own in the bottom of the first. A single past the shortstop by Megan Geer was followed by a single from Annie Aldrete to put runners on the corners. A pop out in shallow left field also left Tennessee without any runs.
The top of the second produced an even better chance for Auburn. Haley Fagan led off with a single and Carlee Wallace did the same. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners up to second and third, but like the first inning, the Tigers could not capitalize.
Tennessee also had a great opportunity to put up the first runs of the game. A one out double by RaineyGaffin was followed up with a walk and single to load the bases. A line out by Meghan Gregg to short allowed a double play to occur as Tory Lewis was too far off the base and thrown out at first. After two innings, the game was still scoreless.
The top of the third was a similar story for Auburn, but a different ending this time. Cooper drew a one out walk and moved up to second on a ground out by Melero. Morgan Estell hit an infield single and then stole second to put runners on second and third. A little dribbler off the end of the bat by Fagan was perfectly placed with the infield back and the Tigers took a 1-0 lead.
The Tigers continue to build their lead with a double by Wallace to the right center field wall to clear the bases. At this point, Tennessee’s Erin Gabriel was removed from the pitching circle for Cheyanne Tarango with Auburn leading 3-0. Auburn added another run with Jade Rhodes hitting a pop fly down the left field line that could not be caught by Shaliyah Geathers despite it being in her glove. Wallace scored to make it 4-0, which is the lead the Tigers took after the top of the third.
Tennessee was finally able to put their first run on the board in the bottom of the fourth. Scarlet McSwain started with a lead off single while a ground out two batters later saw he thrown out at second, but Gaffin reach base. Geathers then hit a double that reached the left center field wall to bring home Gaffin while the Vols trailed 4-1 after four innings.
The Tigers had a chance to rebuild their lead to four runs with runners on first and second with two outs, but the Volunteers did not give up a run by forcing a ground out to end the threat.
The Vols had a chance to cut into their deficit in the bottom of the fifth and did so. Gregg reached on a funky hop over the pitcher’s glove while Lexi Overstreet singled to right field. Geer hit into a double play with a line out to right field while Overstreet was doubled up at first on an overzealous base running trip. A single by Aldrete and hit by pitch from McSwain loaded the bases with two outs.
After going to a full count, Tarango was able to hit an opposite field single to right field to score Gregg to make it a 4-2 game. Auburn decided to replace Lexi Davis in the circle with Rachael Walters who was able to get the last out of the inning with a fly out to left field by Gaffin.
A formful sixth inning set up a tense finish between the Tigers and Volunteers in the bottom of the seventh with Auburn holding a 4-2 lead. Overstreet struck out to start the bottom half of the inning while an error by at second base by Emily Carosone allowed Megan Geer to reach first base. It was just the third error by Carosone all season.
Walters was able to get Aldrete to chase a rise ball for a strike out and out number two. Walters then struck out McSwain to end the game and keep Auburn alive. Tennessee was eliminated with the loss.
The win against Tennessee was Auburn’s first Women’s College World Series win in program history. They will be back on the field again on Saturday with a game against UCLA at 7 PM Eastern Time.
In the bottom of the first, Alabama got a one out walk from Haylie McCleney and she then stole second. A strike out by Jadyn Spencer and deep fly out to the warning track by Chaunsey Bell left McCleney stranded.
The Tide were in better position to score in the bottom of the second. A one out single by Danae Hays was followed by a double off the right center field wall from Daniell Richard, however, the runners were stopped at second and third. Cheridan Hawkins struck out Leona Lafaele, but a flare single into right field by Chandler Dare brought home both runners for a 2-0 Alabama lead after two innings.
Oregon was able to cut the deficit in half to 2-1 in the top of the third inning. Lauren Lindvall drew a one out walk while a ground ball moved her up to second. A single from Janie Takeda drove Lindvall home for a 2-1 game after two and a half innings of play.
The Ducks had a chance in the top of the fourth to tie the game. Jenna Lilley started with single to right center field and she was sacrificed to second by Hailey Decker. A strike out, walk, and hit by pitch loaded the bases for Oregon with two down, however, Lindvall grounded out to second to end the inning.
Oregon’s Janie Takeda bunted to reach base in the top of the fifth, but was thrown out trying to steal second and the Ducks could not continue the rally. In the bottom of the fifth, Dare had a one out double over the right fielder to put Alabama in position to score a crucial insurance run. Dare would be run down after a ground ball back to Hawkins while Demi Turner was able to get all the way to second. After intentionally walking McCleney to put runners on first and second, Hawkins was able to strike out Jadyn Spencer to keep the game at 2-1 in favor of Alabama.
Both teams went down in order in the sixth inning to set the stage for a last chance in the top of the seventh for Oregon. The Ducks would provide an anticlimactic finish with a pop out and two strikeouts to end the game.
Alexis Osorio ended up going the distance giving up only one run, three hits, and two walks, but struck out nine Oregon batters in the win.
Oregon has been eliminated from the Women’s College World Series while Alabama will play LSU on Saturday night after UCLA versus Auburn.
#7 UCLA Versus #4 Auburn – Game 9 Recap
The game of the tournament thus far was wild from start to finish. Both teams had plenty of action while UCLA blew a five run lead in the third inning and Auburn blew a two run lead in the top of the seventh. In the end, Auburn won 11-10 on a walk off walk of all plays. (The box score is worth checking out and is linked at the end of the previous sentence).
UCLA’s top of the first began with a hard hit to right center field by Delaney Spaulding that went to the warning track, but the ball was caught. After a bunt out, Ally Carda hit a soft single to right center field while Stephany LaRosa hit a two out double to right field to put runners on second and third. A check swing by Mysha Sataraka led to a Carda being thrown out at home to keep the game scoreless after half an inning.
The bottom of the first gave Auburn a chance to take the lead with a two out rally. Back-to-back walks ended up not leading to anything more as a fly out ended the first inning with no score in the game.
In the top of the second, UCLA was able to get runners on first and second with one out after an error by Auburn’s Kasey Cooper and a single to shortstop. Once again, the Bruins could not take advantage as a foul out and ground out ended the top of the second.
The Bruins finally got on the board in the top of the third. A lead off walk by Allexis Bennett turned into a runner on second after she stole second easily. Another walk drawn by Carda and a sacrifice bunt moved the runners up to second and third with only one out. Another walk to Sataraka loaded the bases while Auburn elected to take Lexi Davis out of the circle in favor of Rachael Walters.
The first pitch to Gabrielle Maurice was crushed into the right center field gap for a bases clearing triple and a 3-0 UCLA lead. After another walk, a bunt by Gracie Goulder was fielded and thrown back to home to get Maurice at the plate to keep it a 3-0 game. The Bruins added a fourth run with a single to right center by Kylee Perez that scored Maddy Jelenicki. The Tigers then made another pitching change with Marcy Harper coming in for Walters. One more run scored after a double steal of second and home (to go along with a blown call at second on the steal) to make it a 5-0 game after the top of the third.
Auburn’s offense responded in the bottom of the third. A walk by Jenna Abbott and back-to-back singles from Tiffany Howard and Emily Carosone loaded the bases with no outs for the Tigers. Kasey Cooper drew a walk to bring home one run while Branndi Melero single to right field to make it a 5-2 UCLA. At this point, Ally Carda was taken out with Selina Ta’amilo stepping into the pitching circle.
The first pitch by Ta’amilo was a wild pitch that allowed Carosone to score and the two runners to move up to second and third. The bases were loaded again after a four pitch walk to Morgan Estell with still no outs on the board. After a force out at home, Carlee Wallace cleared the bases with a double to left center field to give Auburn a 6-5 lead and still only one out in the bottom of the third.
Ally Carda then re-entered the game after the double and her second pitch was well over the catcher’s head to move Wallace to third base. Wallace was thrown out at third on a ground ball from Jadyn Rhodes. Carda and UCLA finally got out of the third inning, but blew a five run lead and trailed 6-5.
The Bruins were able to tie the game in the top of the fourth. A fielding error and bunt single followed a wild pitch put runners on second and third with one out. Sataraka hit a fly ball to left field that scored Bennett to knot the game up at six while Jelenicki flied out to end the inning.
Auburn would reclaim the lead in the bottom of the fourth. A single by Emily Carosone and walk by Kasey Cooper set up Branddi Melero, who drilled a line drive over the left center field wall for a three run shot and a 9-6 lead.
The Bruins continued to battle in the top of the fifth. A lead off single from Gabrielle Goulder was followed up with an infield single by Kylee Perez to put runners on with no outs. A single from Delaney Spaulding to right field scored Goulder as she slid into home to make it a 9-7 Auburn lead. Both runners also moved up to second and third with no outs on the board.
Bennett struck out looking before Ally Carda drew a walk to load the bases. A foul out behind home plate from Stephany LaRosa and a nice jumping catch by Auburn’s Kasey Cooper at third kept the game at 9-7 after the top of the fifth.
The Bruins had a two out rally in the top of the sixth with a walk by Goulder and single up the middle by Perez. A grounder through the infield by Spaulding loaded the bases, but a pop out to left field by Allexis Bennett ended the bases loaded threat.
UCLA had one final chance in the top of the seventh and they made the most of it. Carda led off with a single and LaRosa singled back to the pitcher to put runners on first and second. A sacrifice moved them up one base before a ground out by Gabrielle Maurice scored Carda who slid around the tag to make it 9-8 with two down. Jelenicki came up and crushed a two run blast to left center for a shocking 10-9 lead in the top of the seventh.
The Tigers still had a chance to come back and tie or win. Haley Fagan started with a lead off single back up the middle and Carlee Wallace crushed a ball into the gap in left field to score Fagan to tie the game at ten while Wallace was at second with no outs. Wallace was replaced by Victoria Draper. Jade Rhodes sacrificed Draper to third to set up Jenna Abbott, but she grounded to third with Draper caught in a run down and thrown out at third. Abbott was also thrown out on the play going for second in a bizarre ending to the seventh inning.
In the top of the eighth, Perez led off with a single before a ground out and infield single from Bennett put runners on first and second with one out. Carda then flew out to center and LaRosa grounded straight to third base to set Auburn up with a chance to win the bottom of the inning.
Carosone was hit in the helmet by a pitch, but was okay and took first base with one out and advanced to second on a wild pitch. A walk drawn by Melero put Morgan Estell in the batter’s box and she too was able to draw a walk to load the bases with two outs. Haley Fagan hit a deep shot to right field, but it was on the warning track for the third out of the inning and the two teams continued to play into the ninth inning.
UCLA had another scoring chance in the top of the ninth. Gabrielle hit a one out double to left center field past the diving left fielder and she advanced to third on a passed ball. However, Jelenicki struck out and Goulder grounded out to first to keep the game at 10 apiece heading into the bottom of the ninth.
Auburn’s Wallace drew a lead off walk, but was thrown out at second on a fielder’s choice. Strikeouts by Abbott and Howard sent the game into a tenth inning.
Auburn had yet another chance to end the game in the bottom of the tenth. Carosone was walked on four pitches while Cooper singled to center field to put runners on first and second with no outs. Melero then flared a single to left field to load the bases, which brought up Morgan Estell. Estell drew a walk to give the Auburn Tigers the walk off win by a score of 11-10.
UCLA has been eliminated from the 2015 Women’s College World Series and Auburn will face the Florida Gators on Sunday at 1 PM Eastern. Auburn will need to defeat Florida twice on Sunday to reach the Championship Series.
Alabama got on the board in the top of the first. Demi Turner drew a lead off walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. She later advanced to third on a ground out and was able to score on a single to right field by Marisa Runyon. After the top of the first, Alabama held a 1-0 lead.
LSU answered back in the bottom of the first. LSU had a runner on first after a single by Bailey Landry. She later stole second base with two outs and scored after a rope single to center field by SahvannaJaquish. Kellsi Kloss came up and hit a single between the left fielder, center fielder, and shortstop that scored Jaquish. However, Kloss was able to move to second and then scored after a bad throw to second base to make it a 3-1 LSU lead after the first inning.
Alabama’s defensive problems continued in the bottom of the second. After Constance Quinn drew a lead off walk, she was able to advance to second after a bunt. A single by Emily Griggs was not fielded properly, but no error was charged to put runners on the corners with one out. A ground out by A.J. Andrews to first base allowed Griggs to move to second and Landry hit a two run single past the second baseman to bring the score up to 5-1 after two innings.
The third and fourth innings were mostly uneventful. LSU got a lead off walk from Quinn, which led to Alabama’s Sydney Littlejohn being replaced by Leslie Jury as pitcher. Quinn tried to steal second, but was thrown out and LSU held a 5-1 lead after four innings.
Alabama’s Andrea Hawkins reached first base after a fielding error at shortstop to start the top of the fifth. After back-to-back ground outs, Hawkins was on third, but could not be brought home after a fly out to right field ended the frame. LSU started with a lead off single from Andrews in the bottom of the fifth, but were set down in order after that.
The Tide put together an excellent rally to start the top of the sixth. An error allowed Jadyn Spencer to reach first and Runyon hit a single to center field to put the first two runners on with no outs. Runyon was taken off the base paths for Rachel Bobo. LSU’s Allie Walljasper induced two fly outs to left field from the next two batters and a pop out to short to get out of the jam unscathed.
LSU tried to put together a two out rally and increase the lead in the bottom of the sixth. Quinn hit a single up the middle while Dylan Supak drew a walk and was pinch ran for by Sydney Bourg. The Tigers would not be able to advance as Emily Griggs grounded out to third to end the inning. LSU led 5-1 heading to the top of the seventh.
Alabama’s last chance in the top of the seventh started with a ground ball by Hawkins and she was able to leg out an infield single. Chandler Dare had the same result for the Tide to put runners, which led to Walljasper coming out and Carlee Hoover entering to try and close the game out.
Hoover started with a strikeout of Demi Turner and a wild pitch allowed the runners to move up to second and third. Haylie McCleney drew a walk to load the bases while Jadyn Spencer hit a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Hawkins to make it a 5-2 deficit with two outs. Both runners also moved up to second and third while a wild pitch by Hoover allowed a run to score to make it 5-3, but Hoover forced a ground out to end the game.
Alabama has been eliminated while LSU will face Michigan on Sunday at 3:30 PM Eastern Time. LSU will need to win twice against Michigan on Sunday to make the Championship Series.
The 2015 Women’s College World Series got underway with four games played on Thursday night and into early Friday morning due to some severe weather in Oklahoma City. Each game is recapped below while a schedule for the upcoming games can be found here.
#8 Tennessee Versus #1 Florida – Game 1 Recap
The Florida Gators opened their defense of the National Championship with a 7-2 win over Tennessee on Thursday. Another complete game by Lauren Haeger lifted the Gators to the victory.
The Gators started the scoring in the bottom of the first with a rocket to left field by Haeger to give them a 1-0 lead. Florida loaded the bases after a walk, single, and hit by pitch, but could not add to their lead.
The Gators would have another chance to add to their lead in the bottom of the second. Following a walk and ground out, Kelsey Stewart singled to put runners on first and second with only one out. A grounder back to the pitcher advanced the runners and the Volunteers opted to load the bases by intentionally walking Haeger. Bailey Castro came up next, but could not capitalized as her strike out ended the rally.
Florida did add to their lead in the bottom of the third. Following a strike out and walk, Kayli Kvistad came up and drilled a shot to right center field to put the Gators up 3-0. The three run lead would not last long, however.
The Volunteers finally got their first runner on base in the top of the fourth following Shaliyah Geathers being hit by a pitch. A fly out brought Megan Geer up to the plate and she hit a two run shot to left field to make it a one run game again at 3-2.
Florida would respond in the bottom of the fourth. After two quick outs, Haeger was able to single to left field and advanced to second on a wild pitch while Castro was hit by a pitch. Kirsti Merritt was able to hit a hard ground ball to second, but it was not fielded by Geer that allowed Haeger to score. Merritt then stole second and while sliding head first the ball went off her helmet allowing Castro to waltz home for a 5-2 Florida lead after four innings.
The bottom of the sixth saw the Gators add more insurance runs. A lead off single from Stewart was followed by a ground out and Stewart was able to get to third on a stolen base. After Haeger was hit by a pitch (and pinch ran for by Jessica Damico), a throw by the catcher to third base went into left field that scored Stewart. Damico scored on a bunt back to the pitcher that was not fielded cleanly to make it 7-2.
The Gators were able to load the bases, but could not score another run. It would not matter as the Volunteers went down in order to end the game in the top of the seventh.
Haeger gave up only one hit (the two run homer by Geer) while striking out four batters and allowing no walks.
Florida moves into the winner’s bracket and will face the winner of LSU and Auburn game on Friday at 7 PM Eastern Time. Tennessee will be playing the loser of LSU and Auburn on Saturday at 12 PM Eastern Time.
#5 LSU Versus #4 Auburn – Game 2 Recap
The LSU Tigers sound defeated fellow SEC rival Auburn 6-1 on Friday afternoon in the second game of the Women’s College World Series. LSU’s Carley Hoover gave up only one run in a complete game.
LSU got on top first with a solo shot to left field by Bianka bell in the top half of the first inning. Auburn was unable to answer with LSU taking a 1-0 lead after one inning.
In the top of the second, LSU Constance Quinn hit a bloop single to right field and an error fielding the ball put her on second. Sydney Bourg came up and struck out to end the rally.
In the top of the third, Emily Griggs led off with a lead off single to left field before a double play with Auburn’s third baseman Kasey Cooper charging and catch a bunt then throwing down to first. LSU, however, would still come out with a bigger lead.
A two out single by Bailey Landry and walk drawn by Bell put runners on first and second. SahvannaJaquish then delivered a ball into the right center field gap to drive home two runs on a double. Up next was Kellsi Kloss and she drove an 0-1 pitch to left off the foul pole. LSU led 5-0 after just two and a half innings of play.
Auburn was in great position to score in the bottom of the third. Back-to-back singles put runners on first and second while a close ground out put runners on the corners. A fly out by Cooper ended the threat and Auburn was still looking for their first run of the game.
LSU put runners on first and second in the top of the fourth following back-to-back singles, but were unable to take advantage of the opportunity. The bottom of the fourth saw a tremendous catch by A.J. Andrews in center field as LSU led 5-0 after four innings.
In the bottom of the fifth, Auburn got a lead off double from Morgan Estell and she was sacrificed to third on a bunt by the next batter. Up next was Jenna Abbott who hit a sacrifice fly to center field to bring home Estell and make it a 5-1 deficit.
LSU started the top of the sixth with a single from Quinn while Griggs singled two batters later. A ground ball by Andrews back to the pitcher was thrown over the third baseman’s head and Quinn was able to score. Griggs moved to third and Andrews, despite a stumbling out of the batter’s box, was able to move all the way to second. Auburn settled down to limit the damage to one run in the top of the sixth to trail 6-1.
The bottom of the sixth began with a single by Emily Carosone and she advanced to third on back-to-back ground outs. She could not score after another ground out ended the inning and Auburn trailed 6-1 after six.
Auburn had one last chance in the bottom of the seventh. H Fagan reached first base after LSU’s SandraSimmons could not hold on to the ball. Estell then came up to hit a bunt single with her speed to put runners on first and second with no outs. Jade Rhodes then hit into a double play with a ground ball back to third base and she was thrown out at first. A strike out ended the game.
Carley Hoover went the distance giving up only one run on six hits while striking out five Auburn Tigers.
LSU will move to the winner’s bracket and face the defending National Champions, the Florida Gators on Friday at 7 PM Eastern Time.
Auburn drops into the loser’s bracket and will face the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday at 12 PM Eastern Time. The loser of that game will be eliminated while the winner will play a second game on Saturday.
The Wolverines struck first in the bottom of the first. Kelly Christner took an 0-2 pitch to right field with a line drive over the wall and a 1-0 Michigan lead.
Neither team was able to get a runner on base in the second and third innings. Alabama got their second base runner and first hit in the top of the fourth, but that was the extent of that rally for the Tide.
Michigan was able to load the bases in the bottom half of the fourth after a single by Sierra Romero, walk by Christner, and single by Kelsey Susalla. After battling back to get a full count, Lauren Sweet took a 3-2 pitch to right center field that just go over the fence for a grand slam and a 5-0 Michigan lead. Michigan was unable to add to the lead despite putting a runner in scoring position.
Michigan had another chance to tack on runs in the bottom of the fifth after a walk by Romero, but she was thrown out trying to steal second. Christner then drew a walk and she successfully stole second, but Susalla’s strike out ended the inning.
Alabama finally put together a serious threat in the top of the sixth. Demi Turner singled up the middle with one out and then tagged up to second base following a fly out. Jadyn Spencer singled to shortstop to put runners on first and second, the first time Alabama had a runner in scoring position in the game. The Wolverines got out of the jam by forcing a pop out from Marisa Runyon to end the top of the sixth still five runs to the good.
Despite a steady rain in the first couple of innings, the game was played through the precipitation. Oregon had a great opportunity in the bottom of the first, but an uncharacteristic base running mistake hurt them. After a fielder’s choice got Janie Takeda on base, Jenna Lilley hit a single to right field, but Takeda hesitated rounding second and was thrown out at third. The Ducks would not score in the bottom of the first.
The Bruins were able to get a couple of runs of Cheridan Hawkins in the top of the second. StephanyLaRosa hit a bomb to straightaway center field to lead off the inning. Gabrielle Maurice did the same, but to left field with two outs and UCLA led 2-0 after the top of the second.
The game was delayed at the start of the top of the third with UCLA leading 2-0. A lightning strike in the area was the cause for the delay that lasted about 45 minutes.
Delaney Spaulding hit a one out double in the top of the third and later advanced to third on a ground out, but Carda’s ground out ended the rally. Oregon had a chance to get on the board in the bottom of the third with a lead off runner getting on after an error. Nikki Udria was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second, but Takeda lined out into a double play while Lilley lined out to end the inning.
The Ducks threatened again in the bottom of the fourth back-to-back singles to open the frame put the Ducks in great scoring position. Carda settled down to get the next two batters out before another single loaded the bases. Yet another ground out ended the threat and UCLA held a 2-0 lead after four innings.
A largely uneventful fifth inning gave way to the game changing sixth inning. With runners on second and third with two outs, Mysha Sataraka hit a pop fly to right field that could not be handled properly allowing both runners to score for a 4-0 lead. More defensive issues would haunt the the Ducks.
Maurice struck out for the third out of the inning, but a wild pitch allowed her to make it to first to keep the inning alive. A single by Gracie Goulder brought home one run while Kylee Perez‘s single to right field brought home to more runs to make it 7-0.
Oregon was able to get one run across in the bottom of the seventh after a lead off double from Koral Costa and a single by Lauren Lindvall scored Costa. A wild pitch allowed Lindvall to move to second, but Carda forced a foul out and then hit Udria with a pitch. Another pop out and another wild pitch moved the runners to second and third, but Carda was able to work out of the jam by forcing a pop out to end the game.
UCLA will have a quick turnaround by taking on the Michigan Wolverines on Friday evening at 9:30 PM Eastern Time. Oregon will play on Saturday to keep their Championship hopes alive against Alabama at 2:30 PM Eastern Time.